Team Top Chef's Editor recognizes that her affinity for the Voltaggios is completely irrational.

Nov 18, 2009

Hello my little ballotines! I'm so sorry for being so tardy to this party, but now you have a blog to read on our week off! I do also hope that you took my advice and read Richard Blais' blog this past week -- it was one of his best. Before I start, just want to say that no, "lina2000," that was not me at the dining table during last week's Elimination. I wish! The only taping I've ever been able to attend was last year's Super Bowl episode, and it was my birthday, and it was maybe the greatest moment of my foodie life.

Onto this week's episode, which was maybe the greatest moment of some of our chefs' young chef lives. For the Quickfire Challenge, Padma introduced Gavin Kaysen who competed in the Bocuse d'Or in 2007. Seriously, you HAVE to read "The Bocuse d'Or incident" on Gavin's entry on Wikipedia. It's crazy! I just got a copy of Andrew Friedman's book on the Bocuse d'Or, Knives at Dawn, so I should be an expert on the subject pretty soon. Anyway, Gavin and Padma asked the chefs to create dishes inspired by his Bocuse d'Or dish: to create a dish composed of a protein within a protein within a protein. Most of the chefs handled this pretty well. I didn't even know what a Scotch egg was before Art Smith attempted one on this past season of Top Chef Masters. Thankfully Eli's came out better than Art's did! Jennifer was back to her old self, even getting a "Welcome back" from Padma, which was kind of hilarious. Michael didn't make a ballotine and argued that those weren't the instructions. I'm sure this would've been a bigger deal had it affected an elimination, but alas it just gave Michael the opportunity to make a comment about how he could have created a better ballotine than Gavin. I think I've finally realized that my affinity for the Voltaggios is boundless because rather than being totally turned off by Michael's comment, I just laughed.

Onto the main event, which I lovingly refer to as the “Faux-cuse d'Or.” The chefs were given the option of using either salmon or lamb to create a main dish with two side dishes, but these aren't just any side dishes. These are crazy side dishes. You know that person who takes the time to make a basket out of a watermelon? That person would probably do really well in this sort of competition. The chefs are put under even more pressure when they are told that Thomas Keller will be at the table, and then he makes a surprise visit to the kitchen! The rest of the guests at the table were pretty scary too.

Let's start with Kevin's dish: He decided to go simple, and it paid off. It seemed like he won because his was the only dish where the protein was actually cooked correctly. I'm a little on the fence about his win, but in Gail's blog, she explained that the dishes had to be judged not only by Bocuse d'Or standards but as a regular winning Top Chef dish too.