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Top Chef: Las Vegas, Episode 2 – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother


Elimination Challenge – Battle of the Sexes. Guys cook for a bachelorette, girls cook for the bachelor. Karen and Greg are getting married and have somehow landed Top Chef for their parties. My bachelor party was a Yankee game – of note as the one and only Yankee start for Wally Whitehurst. The food must be paired with one of three shots, with each shot getting at least two dishes. The shots are – with description provided by Ash – a Moscow Mule (Gingery, vodka, grapefruit), a tequila shot, and the Golden Delicious (sweet, gooey and disgusting. I would add that it probably tastes like apples).

The Guys – ranked from what seems to be the bottom up to the winner of the challenge.

MM: Tequila – Arctic char with smokey caper sauce and cara cara orange. Todd calls it flabby and fat, or perhaps he was talking about MM. Tom hated it to.
Kingpin: Tequila – Lobster cocktail with Habanero tomato sauce. Gail sees no flavor, even though Karen likes it.
Flais: Moscow Mule – Bouillabaisse with Aioli crouton and petit Basque croquette. Gail finds it to be quite off.
Ash: Moscow Mule – Asian Chicken Wing with Pickled Pearl Onions. Todd found it to be perfect, he must have just missed the Top Four.
Kevin: Golden Delicious – Chilled Almond soupe, with King Crab, Cucumber and white grape. Todd really liked it.

An aside, sadly, the boys won this challenge, because if they had lost, MM would have likely been sent home. Oh well.

Eli: Moscow Mule – Thai tuna tartare with Puffed wild rice. Todd and Gail each give it positive reviews.
Hector: Tequila – Tofu, lemon-lime, tequila ceviche, and guajillo-achiole tortilla. The judges are amazed he made tofu taste good.
Hawk: Golden Delicious – Apple sorbet and goat cheese cookie. All of the judges rave, as does Karen.
Bryan: Tequila – Sweet and Sour Macaroon, filled with guacamole, corn nuts and corn puree. All go apesh*t over it, call it an awesome twist on chips, guac and margaritas. Bryan wins, so it is a big week for the brothers.

The Ladies – also ranked from bottom to top.

Eve: Tequila – Shrimp and avocado ceviche with smokey tomato salsa and popcorn. “Smokey” seems to be a poor choice of words (see MM above). Also a poor choice? Everything on this dish. She can’t get the vinaigrette to penetrate the shrimp, so … no flavor. And, popcorn? Really? Is she a 20-year-old college student?
Jesse: Moscow Mule – Thai chicken lettuce cup with shiitake mushrooms, shiso and ginger beer. There is too much going on here, and it does not work with the shot.
Preeti: Moscow Mule – Coriander and sesame crusted tuna with spicy eggpant and wonton crisp. Tom calls it both “pedestrian” and “not professionally made.” Turns out she marinated for far too long.
Ashley: Tequila – Watermelon Carpaccio with ricotta salata and aged balsamic. AND! Moscow Mule paired Bay leaf panna cotta with cranberry powder and honey. That’s right, she made two dishes for no real reason. The judges loved the watermelon, and hated the panna cotta, which Padma calls out for being bitter.

Others

Robin: Golden Delicious – Duck Mole with cocoa nibs and apricot. Rather tepid praise from the judges
Laurine: Golden Delicious – Moroccan lamb chop with pomegranate pine nut relish. Todd and Tom each give it praise
Jennifer: Tequila – Octopus ceviche with citrus vinaigrette. Tom thinks it pairs well with the drink, but it needs salt.

Quickfire Hits

• The opening montage returns. And was I the only one who felt as if Jenn was getting naked?

• Not sure how I feel about the MasterCard Exclusive Peek, as we see how the Quickfire was won. I can’t imagine caring enough how to make these meals, since there is a bigger chance of Sarah Palin and David Letterman attending the PETA Awards together, than I have of actually cooking that gazpacho.

• I learned a new word – pescatarian. Only fish, no other meat. In other words, eat like a pelican.

• Who else dug Kingpin’s funky red shoes?

• Jenn at Whole Foods – “I NEED A WORKER!” Don’t mess with this chick! She actually scares me a little bit.

• I found Hawk’s preparation hypnotic. He is so meticulous and conservative with his movements. His apple slicing was like none I have ever seen. He could have done that one-handed while getting another tattoo with the other.

• Ash on the jumping in the pool – “What are we, 10?” No cannonballs, guys!

• Extra scene – MM is a nicknamer. While I may do that on a blog, if I ever met Flais I would be calling him Mattin. To give grown men and women nicknames is a bit condescending. George W. Bush did that, and he did it to belittle other people. That said, I must know why he calls Jesse “pancake.”

• After Bryan came back to the Stew Room with the win, what genius among the women uttered “So, did the boys win?”

Next week – the Air Force. Things have gotten bad with budget cuts that airmen have to rely on reality shows for good meals.

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