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Top Chef: Las Vegas, Ep. 11 – Quiver of a 17th Century Courtesan’s Inner Thigh


Elimination Challenge – Make a dish for 175 people inspired by a casino. Or as Padma calls it, the “crown jewel of Vegas … the strip.” Not this. She means this.
Hawk – New York, New York. He sees a boat on the fake river and is inspired to cook a dish that NY firefighters would eat. Chicken wings. Because that is a New York staple. Perhaps someone should show Hawk a map from NYC to Buffalo.
Jen – Excalibur. She goes to the Tournament of Kings and gets to drink mead and bang her bowl on the table. She chooses to make a literal sword in stone dish.
BryanBot – Mandalay Bay. He heads to the Shark Reef and is inspired by the sustainability sign. He also decides to get a stuffed shark for his kid. Aww…
Robin – Bellagio. She is inspired by the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture from the lobby of the Bellagio. So she tries to make spun sugar “glass” on top of panna cotta. Typical for Robin, it was disastrous and doesn’t even make the plate.
Kevin – Mirage. He plays with the dolphins and elects to go with a tropical, colorful theme.
Eli – Circus, Circus. To me, this place looks more like Carnival, Carnival. Just watch out for this guy. He is disappointed by the lack of places to get food other than carnival food, but as Hawk later explains, the task was to be inspired by the place, not by the food.

Jen – New York Strip Steak, with red wine reduction, beets, truffles and herbs.
She has a little sword sticking out of the steak and makes the portion size large to reflect medieval times. Nigella thinks she needs Excalibur to cut it and later compares the piece of meat to the stone since she can’t cut it. Toby says it is more Spamalot than Camelot.
Kevin – Wild Alaskan Sockey Salmon with Napa cabbage and cucumber.
Kevin’s description includes instructions to eat the fish with the salad and then drink back the tomato broth. Toby likes the Thai-like flavor the dish has. Tom thinks the tomato water is stunning.
Hawk – Boneless chicken wing confit with curry and bleu cheese disc.
Toby loves the hot sauce. Nigella raves about the crisp skin. Padma is surprised by the bleu cheese; she must not be aware of how you are supposed to eat Buffalo wings.
Robin – Panna Cotta with … well, nothing.
Nigella likes the smell, but the texture is too gelatinous. Toby says it is way too solid. Padma likes the idea, and Nigella says that the discarded glass was a good thought. Tom reminds her that it wasn’t included in the dish.
BryanBot – Escabeche of halibut with bouillabaisse consumme, parsley coulis, and garlic chips.
Padma thinks it sounded gross, but tasted great. Nigella agrees. Tom loves the sauce and Toby thinks the whole thing was professionally done.
Eli – Caramel apple peanut soup, with popcorn and raspberry froth.
He implies that the pink dome of raspberry was meant to represent the circus. Nigella is frightened and Padma doesn’t like it at all. Tom says the soup is grainy, and he wishes the dome was on top to better represent the Big Top. Toby says he admires the effort, but like others in Vegas. Eli gambled big and lost.

The Top Three is as expected – Kevin, BryanBot and Hawk.
Kevin – Tom praises the texture and colors, and Toby tells him everyone was tipping their heads back to drink the juice.
BryanBot – Nigella tells him how elegant the dish was.
Hawk – Tom thought it was impressive to make wings better than we are used to. Toby calls the dish effeminate and Hawk surprisingly liked that.
Hawk wins, and takes back what appears to be a novelty-sized bottle of wine. He also wins two days in Napa Valley.

The Bottom Three …
Jen – Tom thinks her lack of knowledge of medieval cooking hurt her. They spiced everything up to cover up the rancid meats. In fact, that is why we actually had a spice trade. Jen was embarrassed by Nigella’s dismissal of the meat’s texture. She didn’t do well here, but she was clearly not the worst.
Robin – Tom wonders why she worked with two things she had never worked with before. Word. Nigella gives the awesome line I used for the title of the commentary. Robin is also called out for trying to live up to her competition’s skills, of which she is “envious and inspired by.” As she later rightly points out, she needed to stay with what got her on the show – cooking simple comfort food well.
Eli – Bottom line for him, Padma would never eat the dish again. And Nigella would rather eat sawdust.


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