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Top Chef: Las Vegas Ep. 1 – Don't Forget to Suck the Head, That's Where The Best Part Is


Quickfire – An early appearance of the Mise En Place Relay Race.  The four legs – shuck 15 clams, peel 30 prawns, break down 5 lobsters and butcher two chops from Prime Ribs.  Robin draws the lucky chip and gets immunity and sits out the challenge.  Two teams dominate – Jennifer, Jesse, Flais, and Bryan win it, edging out the team of MM, Eli, Ashley and Hector.  Of note, Jen Z struggles at shucking, drawing blood from her fingers.  However, Preeti may be the worst ever at the relay race.  Don’t look know, but she/he may still be shucking.  Never a good idea to volunteer for something you don’t know how to do.
 
Team Jennifer then battles to win $15,000 amongst themselves.  Robin elects to keep immunity.  They must make a dish based on their leg of the race.  Tom and Padma judge.

Jennifer – Clam Ceviche with Citron Vinegar
Flais – Lobster with Bay leaves and Star Anise
Jesse – Shrimp with Grits and Polenta (she provides the title of the commentary here)
Bryan – Crusted Ribeye with caramelized celery.

Tom dings Bryan and Flais a bit, and calls Jesse’s a “mouthful of ocean.”  But it is Jennifer who wins and gives Tom a big smooch.  Many women I know swoon.
 
Elimination – Pick your worst vice and make a dish based on it.  Teams from the Quickfire will cook together, with the best of the group making the winners table and the worst of each group facing elimination.  Wolfgang Puck takes time away from planning his Oscar party to guest judge and provide the restaurant for the challenge.

MM – Hot Temper and Foul Mouth – Olive Oil Poached Halibut with Eggplant Puree.  The halibut is shaped like a bar of soap for mouth washing.  Clever.

Eli – Arrogance, Drinking and Bitterness.  “Buttered” scotch with Scallops, cashews and beer powder.

Ashley – Red Wine and Bourbon.  Chicken Liver Ravioli with Red Wine Demi-glace

Hector – Cigar Smoking.  Smoked ribeye with carrot puree and ceviche of celery.

MM gets good grades from Wolfy and Gail and wins the group.  Hector’s deep fried steak earns him a trip to the loser group.
 
Bryan – Bourbon and Cigars.  Not very original.  NY Strip Steak with Parsnip Puree and Bourbon Reduction.  He made a caramel brush to represent the bourbon caske.  OK, that was original.

Flais – No idea.  Something about a tourist?  Or a cow?  Buffalo ribeye with Madeira Sauce, Zucchini and Mashed Potatoes. 

Jennifer – Alcohol and stupidity.  Poached halibut with whiskey, burbon, scotch and black Peppercorn Sauce.

Jesse – Whisky and excess.  Braised chicken with a whisky reduction, Yukon potatoes, and a fried egg.  All fried in chicken fat.  Get it, excess chicken.

Robin – Pork, being a bad Jew.  Take it up with your rabbi.  Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Chorizo and Bread Pudding.

Jennifer gets “depth of flavor” from Gail, who also thinks Jesse’s was overcooked.  Jen gets elevated, Jesse gets demoted.
 
Ash – Procrastination.  Poached Halibut (again with the halibut!) with Ratatouille and Parsley Coulis Sauce on half of the plate.

Jen Z – Hot tempered – Chile Rellano stuffed with Seitan and Tomatillo Salsa.  Chef Spike describes seitan as “meat glue.”  Ew.

Kingpin – I guess, escaping Haiti is his vice.  Got me there.  Jerk Bass with Collard Greens and Haitian Hash.  Didn’t think something like Haitian Hash would be a food rather than something dogs sniff out in airports.

Laurine – Bad foods, I guess.  Bacon donuts with chocolate and beer sauces.

Wolfy and Gail loved Kingpin’s, while Tom won’t even eat Jen Z’s meal.  I can’t even describe what her meal looks like except it rhymes with “Giant Sturd.”
 
Hawk – Plastic Surgery.  Rack of lamb with coconut sauce and gnocchi.  Rack and Coconuts.  Clever.

Preeti – Maker’s Mark Manhattan.  Ugh.  I hate it when people choose a specific drink with a specific name brand as their “signature” drink.  It is wildly pretentious.  Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Sweet Potato Puree.

Eve – wishes things were simpler.  Um, again, HOW IS THIS A VICE?  Shrimp and scallops in curry cream sauce.

Kevin - Procrastination.  Arctic Char with Turnip Salsa Verde.  He sped up usually slow cooked foods and slowed down the quick ones.  

Padma loves Kevin’s, while Gail says Eve’s is out of balance.  Kevin moves on, Eve is on the chopping block.
 


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