S.O.S. Please Someone Help Me
... It's not healthy to be this obsessed with 'Top Chef.' Bravotv.com's Editor breaks down the remaining six competitors.
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.
Onto the bottom: let's start with Jennifer. Although Tom actually insulted her whole concept at the end, I thought her sword in the stone idea was pretty original, and although I enjoyed Tom's little lesson on medieval cooking, is that common knowledge? If her meat had been cooked correctly and her sauce not so thick, I think the concept was just fine. Tom, as well as the other judges, is recognizing that Jennifer is losing her heat. It'll be interesting to see if she can snap out of it. I don't think we've ever seen so intimately how this process takes its toll on the contestants until this season. Are you guys enjoying that or would you rather not know?
Eli's dish was a complete disaster. Peanut soup just kind of sounds gross to me, but I looove peanuts and peanut-flavored things (with the exception of some Thai dishes), so if it had been executed correctly I probably would've eaten it. It didn't sound like he was very inspired by Circus Circus. Even Michael V. called him out on not understanding the correct way to be inspired! Circus Circus doesn't actually have a circus, so it's more like a fair. Eli really could have gone home for this one, but Robin's crime was bigger.
She doesn't know how to make a panna cotta! Even Nigella referred to panna cottas as "child's play," and I think we've seen enough seasons of Top Chef to know that this custard-like dessert is known as something of a chef's dessert, in that most chefs know how to make it and have it on their menu and don't need a pastry chef to pull it off. What makes me always die a little inside for Robin is when she just doesn't really get what her weaknesses are. While everyone agrees that she went above her skill level, making a panna cotta isn't, well, impressive. The very fact that it was reaching for her was the real problem. Making a panna cotta shouldn't be "risky." And so, dear Robin, we bid you adieu.
And perhaps what I'm sure what many of you are thinking, is that the competition has now really begun. We have five strong competitors looking to make it to the finals. Who do you think will get the ax next week?