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Top Chef: Las Vegas, Episode 3 – “I Forgot I Was In a Competition”


The judges all like the Beef Strip and agree that considering it had to be held for awhile, the temperature is good.

Gail thinks the Pasta Salad is not creative, interesting or inspired. Tom thinks it is salty.

All of the judges like the chili. Hector is endearing to a child in the line when serving his dish. Padma thinks it’s “yummy”; Tom thinks that it has very authentic flavors. Gail really likes the coolness that the celery leaves add to it. I will have to try that when it gets a little cooler outside.

The clam chowder is good, but they do question serving it on such a hot day. Gail brings up the fact that she doesn’t mind eating the spicy hot chili, but does mind eating the hot cream of the soup. They think it is a bit thick. A Boston native Airman loves the fact that there was chowder and was surprised.

The potato salad is a big hit with the braised pork. Chef Peel wants to go on record stating it tastes likes his aunt’s salad that she was famous for. Padma adds another “Yummy.” I wonder if I am just noticing this now because I am recapping. I don’t think I have ever heard her say that before, and now it is twice in one night. One of the Airmen thanks them for the potato salad and wishes they had it in Iraq. The Top Chef chefs should leave their recipes behind for the base.

The porkbelly lettuce wrap is a huge hit with Gail, super mega delicious is how she describes it. Tom also loves it. The salad however did not go over as well, and the shrimp were a little under-cooked. Another reality cooking 101 tip – never make a second dish unless it is equally going to go out of the ballpark as your first.

The dessert is the bread pudding and the judges think it is a little dense and dry. Gail likes it and finds it satisfying; Tom thinks it tastes like a Reese’s.

Jesse is worried about serving a hot soup. Eli thinks that their flavors were spot on and that others need to worry more then they do. The Colonel congratulates and thanks the chefs for a wonderful afternoon and meal and then dismisses them. It was very emotional for a few of the chefs.

Padma walks in and wants to see Mike, Michael, Eli and Kevin. Eli and Kevin are up first and are praised on the dish. Michael is praised for his creative thinking on the use of bacon. Tom was very impressed with it. Mike tells the judges that the pork dish was all Michael, and he was solely responsible for the salad. When asked what he thought of his dish he tells the judges that he liked it. Chef Peel announces the winner of the challenge, Michael V. This brings the brothers’ tally to one win each.

Padma then asks them to send in Preeti, Laurine, and in a surprising twist, Mike is asked to come back. You can see the anger in Mike’s face.

Right away, Mike is the focus of the losing group discussion. He is rocking back and forth and is obviously very angry. He says that he didn’t have to make that dish, but rather than stand around while Michael makes the sauce, he decided to make a salad. Chef Peel tells him that the shrimp were tasteless, and Mike admits he thought about not even serving the dish. Padma tells him he shouldn’t have. Gail tells him he was the one that decided to split off, she tasted no flavors in the dish, and that is the dish he represented himself with.

Tom wants to know who decided to make the pasta salad. Neither of Laurine or Preeti is jumping up raising their hand. Laurine is blaming the ingredients they had to work with. Considering everyone had the same choices, this is not a smart defense, Preeti, however, thinks that the dish was very good and is going to stand behind it. This is an even worse defense. She thinks her dish is seasoned better and had better flavor than a lot of the dishes. Tom looks really uncomfortable with that statement. Preeti, for some reason, decides to throw Jesse and Ron under the bus and asks the judges if chowder was a smart decision on such a hot day. Tom says no, but points out that the chowder had good flavors.

Padma asks Laurine if she felt like it was a winning dish. She answers no, and then goes on to say she forgot it was a competition. Right after it leaves her mouth, she realizes what she said and quickly backpedals, saying that was a bad answer. Tom says that it is a bad answer, a bad dish and a bad idea. Chef Peel comes out and asks them who the better chef is. Preeti thinks they worked well as a team. Tom asks if either of them want to win this thing or do they just want to get by. Laurine says that she does want to win it. They are excused from the room so the judges can decide.

The judges are still not sure who the original creator of the pasta dish was. Tom points out that Loraine seemed almost embarrassed to serve the pasta salad, while Preeti didn’t understand why they were even in the bottom three. Gail is upset that Laurine forgot it was a competition, and feels that is the worse evil. Chef Peel felt that Mike was about ready to throw a punch he was so angry that he was there. They agree that he looked at that dish as a throw away dish that he didn’t want his name on.

The judges come to a decision. Addressing the bottom three, Tom tells Michael that throw-away dishes are not going to cut it in this competition. He tells Preeti and Laurine that they gave an uninspired dish. He goes on to tell Preeti that he believes that she doesn’t get that the dish wasn’t up to snuff. Laurine is told that he knows she was embarrassed by it, but wishes that she would have better thought out a dish before starting to cook it. Preeti is asked to pack her knives and go. She leaves with no regrets and is reminded how much she loves doing what she does.

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