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Top Chef: Las Vegas, Episode 9 – REVolting Restaurant Wins


I have to be honest. I really didn’t see the outcome of this episode coming. If it were me, I would have bet my Quickfire winnings that Jen’s team was going to win too. As they say in sports, that’s why they play the games.

Before we talk about the latest Restaurant Wars, my apologies for the lateness of this week’s commentary. It was a rather busy week professionally, coupled with the necessity of the ALCS. I’m telling you, the Yankees are speeding up my eventual need for 24-hour psychiatric care. Hopefully I will be facing a similar quandary next week if they manage to win a game this weekend and move to the World Series.

But enough of that.

The cheftestants love restaurant wars. Most of them want to make sure that they get to this challenge. So it becomes a matter of pride to win this challenge. What we saw this time was a very interesting breakdown of teams. Our expected Final Four were split in half – with the brothers joining forces against Jen and Kevin. The second tier was also split, with Eli joining the brothers, and MM going to the other squad. The bottom feeders – or the How The Hell Have They Gotten This Far Duo – of Laurine and Robin were also split up, with Robin following her “lover” Eli.

To me – this was a no-brainer. Jen/Kevin were a shoo-in. However, that is not what happened. Despite the ridiculous and awful name for the restaurant (REVolt – R for Robin, E for Eli and Volt for the brothers), the brothers’ team kicked ass to the point where Tom informed them that they were the best team in restaurant wars to date. How? They won thanks to a couple of factors:

• Hawk took to the leadership role with gusto. He was arrogant, obnoxious and smug. But he was good. And the team got their food out quickly and it tasted good.

• The brothers may squabble, but they do work very well together. They also wisely chose to team up on the dishes for each course. Jen and Kevin doubled up their responsibilities for each course and were swamped.

• They chose to do dessert. While this is the bugaboo for chefs on this show, when building a full menu, it helps to have dessert. Not having the sweet end to the meal gives you very little margin for error. Hosea pulled it off last year, but Team Mission failed.

• Laurine was perhaps the worst waitress/hostess since this guy. The food was struggling, and she added nothing to it, but she made it even worse by giving the absolute worst front of house performance in all of the restaurant wars. Heck, she even forgot to describe the food to the judges! Editors had some fun and didn’t even provide the graphic for MM’s first course. Padma had to call her back and ask for information. Kiss of death. I knew right then and there that Laurine was doomed.

The Restaurant Menus – Tom, Padma, Toby and Chef Rick Moonen, who preaches sustainability, judged them. He was also a contestant on Masters. Jen’s team gambled away their Quickfire win by trying to win $10,000 each in the Elimination. They also chose the dining room in Rick’s restaurant to serve in. This time, teams are not required to create décor. Front of House is also responsible for creating a dish.

REVolt – The judges snicker about the name.
Eli/Bryan – Smoked Arctic Char with Beets, Horseradish Sour Cream and Potatoes.
Hawk – Pressed Chicken with Calamari Noodles, Tomato Confit and Fennel Salad.
Padma found the chicken to be amazing, and Tom wants more. No real love for Eli’s char, but no hate either. After a long wait between courses, the next serve.

BryanBot – Duo of Beef: Braised Short Rib and Prime N.Y. Strip Steak.
Hawk – Cod with Parsley Sauce, Billi-Bi Croquette and Zucchini Tenderloin.

Rick thinks the cod melts in his mouth and is brilliant. The meat is too cold, and Toby finds it to be bland. Next is the sweetness …

BryanBot – Ganache with Spearmint Ice Cream and Chocolate Tuiles.
Robin – Pear Pithivier with Vanilla Ice Cream and Elder Flower Syrup.

Toby says that this is Robin’s best so far, and Rick finds the ganache to be the perfect massage of flavors.

Bottom line – they love it. They also loved Eli’s intensity and approach to Front of the House.


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