Trouble With Toast

Top Chef Las Vegas, Episode 10 | November 3, 2009

We are inching closer, kittens.  Closer and closer to the elimination of mediocrity and the emergence of the final competitors.  Thank the baby jeebus–I feel like this season has dragged on and on and on.  Of course I’ll be sad when it’s all over, but for now I feel like complaining about THIS, thankyouverymuch.

Blah blah blah, the episode starts with everyone being kind of down about Restaurant Wars and, of course, about the fact that Robin is still there.  They head over to the M Resort, where Padma is waiting for them with Paul Bartolotta.  They announce a TV dinner challenge, so I’m thinking, cool, they’ll have to develop a concept that is microwaveable and still tasty.  WRONG.  Apparently, “TV dinner challenge” means “create a dish inspired by a random TV show and put it on a segmented plate.”  Oh, and it also means “Padma and Chef Bartolotta will eat the dishes while sitting on a 70s-esque couch in front of a fake television set.”  Lame, lame, lame.  I was pretty disinterested in the challenge, but I paid attention long enough to see Kevin win for his Sopranos-inspired meatballs, roasted cauliflower, and roasted pears.  YAY, TEAM KEVIN!!!  Even though your stellar Top Chef performance is making it frickin’ IMPOSSIBLE to get a reservation at your restaurant, I still heart you the mostest.

Padma announces that the elimination challenge will involve the chefs taking over craftsteak (Tom Colicchio’s Vegas steakhouse) for the night.  That’s all the explanation she provides.  If I were a contestant, I would be very suspicious.  There is NO WAY the challenge could be so simple and straightforward.  I would immediately brainstorm potential tricks and twists.  Of course, I have WATCHED THE SHOW BEFORE.  Apparently, the actual contestants have not, as they proceed to lounge around the house and dream up delicious, meaty scenarios.  Dumbasses.

When the chefs walk into craftsteak, they head straight to the walk-in and peruse the beefy offerings.  Not so fast, oh naive ones.  Tom and Padma have a surprise guest to introduce!  Her name is Natalie Portman…and she’s a vegetarian.  Cue ominous music.  The chefs scramble back into the chiller to fight over produce.  There’s a lot of grandstanding from Robin and Mike I. about how they cook vegetarian all the time, which clearly means that their dishes will suck.  Kevin mentions that he and his wife give up meat for Lent, but because it’s Kevin, it’s not grandstanding and it means that he will rock out.  YAY, TEAM KEVIN!!!

Robin serves first, and she presents “Stuffed Squash Blossom, Beet Carpaccio, Fresh Garbanzo Beans and Chermoula.”  It looks like a mess to me, but Natalie thinks it is beautiful.  Unfortunately, it is oversalted and not so tasty.  Eli is up next with his “Confit of Eggplant, Lentils, Garlic Puree and Radish Salad.”  It looks delicious, and it gets good reviews from the diners and judges.  Mike V.’s “Asparagus Salad, Japanese Tomato Sashimi and Banana Polenta” is next, and initially the guests balk at the whole banana polenta concept.  However, the dish prompts one of Natalie’s cohorts to compare Mike to Picasso, so I think he ended up alright.  Not so for Jen, whose “Charred Baby Eggplant, Braised Fennel, Tomatoes and Verjus Nage” is deemed not substantial enough for a main course.  In addition, Jen sauces each plate individually, which would have been charming but for her shaking hands and awkward general nervousness.  Bryan’s “Artichoke Barigoule, Confit of Shallot, Wild Asparagus and Fennel Puree” is also a pretty darn small portion, but it spawns some sort of innuendo-laden conversation among the ladies, with Tom looking as uncomfortable as ever.  Kevin rounds out the group (literally and figuratively) with his “Duo of Mushrooms, Smoked Kale, Candied Garlic and Turnip Puree,” which just SOUNDS hearty.  And apparently it is, and the dish, while not so pretty, gets a lot of positive feedback.

Kevin, Eli, and Mike V. get called to judges’ table first, and Kevin ends up winning the challenge.  YAY, TEAM KEVIN!!!  He wins a bunch of GE appliances, and he doesn’t look particularly jazzed about that part of the victory, but whatev.  Mike V. immediately gets a sour face and complains that he could have made Kevin’s dish “in 20 minutes” and “in my second year of apprenticeship.”  The producers/editors of TC have clearly passed the obnoxious, arrogant douchebag torch from Mike I. to Mike V.  I want to kick both of them in the teeth.

Alas, I will have no further opportunities to express my dislike of Mike I. (until the reunion special, of course), as he is booted for his ignorance of what constitutes a protein and for his yucky, poorly-cooked leeks.  Yes, children, despite Robin’s all over the place-ness, and despite the fact that Jen is seemingly crumbling under the pressure of the competition, Mike I. is eliminated with a “whatever, whatever” and an emotional “it is what it is.”

More of Mike V.’s arrogance and Robin’s annoyingness next week, it seems.  Can we get rid of both of them at the same time?  A girl can dream…



  1. I was glad to see Mike go, even if it means that Robin is still there because his particular brand of douchetastic arrogance need not be rewarded any further. Yes, Michael is also on that list, but Mike’s pathetic apathy/arrogance mix was driving me nuts.

    Comment by restaurant refugee — November 4, 2009 @ 2:40 am

    • Amen. Robin doesn’t piss me off nearly as much as the Mikes. Who are you calling for the final three? I feel pretty confident about Kevin and Bryan, but we’ll see if Jen can rally or if Mike V. makes any big-time mistakes.

      Comment by bettyjoan — November 4, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

  2. They will be exiting in the following order (assuming that culinary karma exists and it’s paying attention)
    Michael (I’m praying that Jen get’s her shit together, if only because disappointing Eric Rippert would suck)

    Comment by restaurant refugee — November 7, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

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