Hot Hot Heat

Best of the Best

Francis Lam: What's on the Menu?

Curtis Stone's Lemon Creams with Poached Cherries

Bryan Voltaggio: "I Thought I Won. I Know I Won."

Jennifer Jasinski Was a "Great Miracle"

Lesley Suter's 'Ratatouille' Moment

What it Takes to Be Top Chef Master

The Finale Countdown

Doug and Sang: Bad Romance?

Sang is Back!

David Burke Has Titanium Balls

See Ya, Suckers!

Why Jennifer Jasinski Didn't Go Home

James Oseland's Teacher Tribute

Gail: "I Still Can't Believe Sang was Eliminated"

The Strangest Episode of 'Top Chef Masters' Yet?

Lesley Suter: On Tongue, Flautadillas, and Birthday Cake

What Has Curtis Stone "Spewing"?

A Series of Unfortunate Culinary Events Leaves Blood on the Mat

Gail: "We Couldn't Excuse Neal"

Lesley Suter: Hey, Chefs, Why So Raw?

Pull it Together, Sang!

Francis Lam: I liked Sang's Fish

Curtis Stone in Nacho Libre

Gail Simmons: "Neil Went for Our Bellies"

The Evolution of Sue Zemanick

Curtis Stone: Throwing Curveballs

Ruth Reichl: "I'd Rather Be Training a Nation of Food Warriors"

When Plex Met Toodee

'Top Chef Masters' ' Toughest Critics Yet

Gail Simmons: No "Chef" in Lynn's Dish

Restaurant Wars: 'Getting' Busy

Francis: A New Kind of Locavorism

What Being a Chef Really Means

Ruth Reichl's Perfect Los Angeles Restaurant

Restaurant Wars' Controlled Chaos

Franklin Just Did Too Much

Curtis and Lindsay: A Perfect Pairing

Curtis Stone: This Episode Sends Hearts Racing

Franklin, Can You Hear Me?

Hot Hot Heat

Krista Simmons explains how the heat affected the dining experience.

Let me preface this post with one thing: having just been out to 100-degree Las Vegas for a bachelorette party, trust me when I say that you do not want to be doing any sort of cooking (or eating) in that weather. Period. So I have to give props to the chefs for breaking brunch down canape-style for Holly and her Playboy crew -- and managing to stay focused for that matter.

If only I could say the same for the judges. For once in my Vegas party girl career, I was outdone by James, who like a hormonal Lance Burton managed to get the guys' shirts off in the blink of an eye. The two of us tag-teamed any party poopers during cocktail hour, coaxing them out of their shells—and their clothes. And as you saw, it was worth it. 

But all those washboard abs weren't the only eye candy around. Some of the dishes were downright stunning: Lorena's Venezuelan buñuelos (which I had to repeatedly coach Curtis to pronounce properly in his darling Aussie accent) were little fried gifts fit for the gods, and even the dieting Playboy bunnies couldn't turn them down. Then there was Art's burger, which defied the oh-so-dry reputation that the turkey burgers have come to carry. His drop biscuits, were doubtably bikini body-conscious, but totally worth the carbs. And then there was Chris' tuna bacon dish with compressed watermelon, which was just plain smart. Perhaps it was bit too complex for the audience, but I loved its cerebral boldness. The mushiness of the tuna, melon, and tomato could have used some crunch though, as I mentioned at Critics' Table, but other than that I thought it was clever of him to cook to the occasion. Which is where Thierry fell flat. Eating a heavy bechamel sauce poolside in that heat? No thanks. And what was the deal with that teensy thimble of booze? At the time we couldn't even figure out what it was. Was it Tabasco? Was it tomato soup? Come to find out it was a bloody mary. Come on, Thierry. We are in Vegas! We should be drinking bloodies out of yard glasses for breakfast.

Truly though, it was sad to see the French firecracker go, especially for for something as classically French as one of the mother sauces. But it just goes to show you that the heat of the competition can get to your head. It will remain to be seen who can keep their cool in the episodes to come.