Team Top Chef

... It's not healthy to be this obsessed with 'Top Chef.''s Editor breaks down the remaining six competitors.

Nov 10, 2009

Well, my little SOSes (That's Shit(s) on a Shingle, for those who have forgotten), this episode was certainly prime for our male viewers and our ladies who love ladies, wasn't it? Seeing Padma and Nigella in bed I'm sure was a dream come true for some ... too bad it wasn't for some of our chefs. I've only stayed in Las Vegas twice, one of which I stayed at The Venetian, which is probably one of my favorite hotels on the strip. When I stayed there, we were upgraded, and given these amazing rooms in a tower, far, far away. After we saw what a shlep the room was from the casino, we opted to have regular rooms that were closer to the casino, so I'm not exactly sure where Padma and Nigella were, but I believe they were probably in that second tower. I'm not surprised keeping the chefs' food hot was a concern — it truly is a hike from the main tower.

Anyway, the chefs all create seemingly standard breakfasts, except for Ms. Jennifer, who opened Nigella to the American tradition of chipped beef. I've never had this, and for some reason it didn't look too appetizing to me, but I liked that Jennifer was so into it. I think it gave her food a little "soul," something our top competitors have been criticized for in prior seasons. Bryan's dish was criticized for his overuse of vanilla. Although I don't love steak and eggs for breakfast, I applauded Kevin's desire to use meat. I looove bacon and find more and more that I need a little meat in my breakfast. In the end, Eli's take on a Reuben really worked out for him. I'm something of a Reuben connoisseur, and if it's on a menu, I'm ordering it. One of my fave things to do is dip the fries that usually accompany the Reuben into the Russian dressing, which is delicious! In fact, when I was younger, they used to have a Reuben on the TGI Fridays menu and my mother would always order it. She would order an extra side of cranberry sauce, and dip her fries in that. It was delicious! But enough about my gross eating habits, after the Quickfire, the chefs are told to draw knives.

They each draw a different hotel on the strip, and told that they will have to create dishes inspired by the hotels. I'm actually surprised we waited this long in the season to feature the strip hotels, but thankfully with so few chefs left, we really get a feel of each hotel. My favorite hotels on the strip are probably the Venetian and the Bellagio, which have a nice mix of the cheesy and elegant. Now that there are only six chefs left, let's give each their due attention, shall we?

Let's start with the top: Bryan was inspired by the sustainability of the fish at Mandalay Bay. We got to see a bit more about this hotel's philosophies and such when Rick Moonen was guest judge during Restaurant Wars, but it was nice to see more of the aquarium, etc. And, no, Bryan didn't steal that plush doll for his son, although it kind of looked like it. Ha! I believe Nigella described Bryan's food as "quiet and elegant," while Toby said his was very "professional." I think both of these words encapsulate Bryan and his style of cooking very well. I'm going to venture to say his food was probably "hot" too (wink!)

Kevin was able to go to the Mirage and decided to make a fish dish. I probably would have opted to make white tiger ... hee hee. His dish was pretty straightforward, and once again, landed him on top.

Finally, Michael won with his take on the NYC chicken wing. When I think of wings, I think of Upstate New York, Buffalo specifically, and not necessarily the city and its fire fighters, but that's pretty much only based on the fact that I didn't start eating wings until I went to grad school in Syracuse. Even as an undergrad in Rochester, they never did it for me, but now I'm addicted. It's actually a pretty horrible addiction. But Michael was inspired by his destination, New York New York, and brought something iconic and elevated it to his standards. I would love to try that blue cheese disc sometime. Kudos to you, Michael.