August 22, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas: Week 1 - Wolfgang Puck chucks a donut

Top Chef is back! Woot! I am so excited that Project Runway & Top Chef are both back, I love both. I'm going to try to keep up with my weekly recaps. I know I blew it on the last 3 weeks of SYTYCD this year, but unless we move again (NEVER), that problem shouldn't happen again! So, this season we're in Las Vegas, and according to the intro, we've got some very talented chefs... and a pair of brothers? We-eird.

First we meet Kevin. Aka Beardy. Followed his dreams away from MIT to chefhood. Next we meet Preeti, who totally reminds me of a woman I used to work with, and Ron from Haiti. Then come Eve from Michigan, Mattin from France (cute!), and Eli from Atlanta, self-proclaimed Fat Kid. Ash from New York is also cute, and apparently the only gay guy on the show this season. Jesse with the awful lip piercing is next, then Jennifer who refuses to unpack because she's superstitious. She has a 3 year old, so that is cool. Another Jennifer from PA and Bryan from MD. Aaaand... his brother Michael. Next we meet Mike from L.A., and Ashley. Later, at the kitchen, we meet Hector, Robin, Laurine.

They take off to the M Hotel Resort & Casino where their LV Top Chef Kitchen is. Tom & Padma are there, yay! So glad they're back. I totally want to hang out with Tom Coliccio.

Quickfire Challenge

Teams of 4 compete in a Mise en Place relay race.

Then some red sparkly Las Vegas showgirls walk in. Why? I don't know. They draw poker chips to determine their teams. Robin draws the gold chip and doesn't have to compete and gets immunity for the elimination challenge! Sweet chip.

They start with the clams, and unfortunately Preeti has no idea what she's doing and got stuck with that task. The teams varied so widely in their time, blue and black lead and green and red are lagging. While two teams are on their final leg, Preeti is STILL trying to shuck the clams.

Winning Team Competes Head to Head

Padma announces that the winning team will have to compete against each other in a cook off and they are competing for a $15,000 chip. It's a little crazy that all this is coming out in the first episode, it makes me wonder what they're going to pull out later in the season and also makes me wonder if this season is going to be full of stunts. I like Top Chef because I like watching them cook, I guess having higher stakes ups the ante, but I'd rather have it simple I think.

Mike is a jerk. I've decided that by now as he calls Robin "one less old lady I have to worry about" AND has already said he should be able to beat a girl while shucking clams.

Ryan made caramelized celery. That is so nasty. Tom liked it.

Jen won the quickfire, immunity and $15,000.

Elimination Challenge

Create a dish based on a personal vice. Each group will cook against each other, and one person from each group will be up for challenge and one for elimination.

Robin is allowed to choose her team, she chose blue, the winning team. And the first guest judge this season is Wolfgang Puck. Wow! In Whole Foods, Mike shows his winning personality again. Ron reveals that he came to the U.S. on a raft and it took 27 days. I just can't even imagine. At all.

After shopping, the chefs head for the kitchen at Cut, Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in Vegas. Laurine is making BACON DONUTS. I am in love. I'm starting to pick out who I think I'll be rooting for, and Ron is definitely making the list so far. I'm also liking Kevin so far, there is something about his fluffy beard that makes me like him.

Mike's vice is hot temper & foul mouth. Eli's was arrogance, drinking, and bitterness/being jaded. Ashley loves red wine & bourbon. Hector's is cigars. You can learn a lot from people in this challenge, huh? They judges did not like Hector's fried steak. They did like Mike's dish. Boo.

Second group comes up, and Bryan's vice is bourbon & a cigar. Mattin is stubborn. Jennifer's is alcohol, and her dish wasn't pretty to me. Jesse's vices are whiskey & excess. Robin says her vice is pork. She told them something was missing from the plate, and I'm not sure that's ever a good idea. Sometimes the dish flies without it, and why reveal your mistake? Wolfgang Puck provides perhaps my favorite quote of the night: "Everybody has to put purees underneath everything right now. It's like people think we need the steak and then we need some baby food with it." Ha. Jesse's dry chicken may be her downfall and the judges didn't think that Mattin's dish revealed anything about him.

Third group is on. Ash's vice was procrastination. Jen Z is hot tempered. I don't really know why she decided to use seitan. It's not a great food in my opinion and it seems like it would be hard to make it good enough to try and represent yourself to the judges for the first time. I was a little confused about how Ron's dish represented his vice, I guess his vice was just not letting go of the trip fron Haiti to the US. Laurine's dish comes last - her vices? Bacon, donuts, chocolate & beer. The judges didn't really get Ron's dish in relation to the challenge. They did not like Jen's chile relleno. Wolfgang Puck did not care for the donuts, but he liked the sauce. I totally enjoyed watching Wolfgang Puck chuck a donut.

The last group comes out, and presents their dishes. Michael V comes out with maybe not a personal vice (but probably, I mean hey, guys like boobies, right) and represents plastic surgery etc. RACK! Haha. Preeti's vice is a Maker's Mark Manhattan. Eve wishes she was less complicated. Her plate looked like a rainbow. Kevin's vice was procrastination. They liked Kevin's dish, Eve's dish was unbalanced. They thought Michael's dish was amusing, and Wolfgang said he was clearly a professional.

Ron, Kevin, Jennifer & Mike the Man were the best of their groups. The winner of the challenge? Kevin! Yay beardy!

Hector, Jen, Eve & Jesse were the bottom four.

In the end, Jen's seitan sends her home. Well, at least her 3 year old gets his Mama back, right?

And later this season things involve fire, pans and a casino table. And PENN & TELLER - wooo! Love 'em.

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