Top Chef Las Vegas: huh?

Last night was the finale of the finale of “Top Chef Las Vegas” on Bravo, and the three remaining chefs–Kevin, Michael and Bryan–had a lot of creative leeway this time around. The final challenge of the season would be to make a 3-course meal at Cyrus Restaurant in Napa Valley. The first course would be using specific ingredients in a box–and all three chefs had the same items. The second course was anything they wanted to make based on what was on hand, and the third was a dessert, also using what was on hand in the kitchen.

But first the other 14 contestants from this season were brought back, and each finalist would draw two knives to find out who their sous chefs would be. Kevin drew Preeti and Ash; Bryan picked Jen and Ashley (Ben Folds); and Michael drew Jesse and Eli. Then as they were working on their ideas back in their suite, the chefs had a surprise visit–from their moms. After hanging with them and getting pep talks, the chefs made their way to Cyrus, where they were greeted by head judge Tom Colicchio. Tom informed them that they would be making one additional dish to start out–a dish inspired by their moms or something that brought to mind their childhood memories.

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Top Chef Las Vegas….errr Napa Valley

Last night on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas,” the scene shifted to the Napa Valley in California, and some of the cast had physically changed. That’s because there was a decided time lag between when the final four left Las Vegas to when they re-convened in Napa…we’re not sure how much time, but enough for host Padma Lakshmi to have her pregnant belly start showing. Also, Kevin’s hair was different (and there was less of it)and Jen looked like she had gotten some sleep. The brothers Voltaggio pretty much looked and acted exactly the same.

So Padma announced that for part one of the finale, there would be a quick fire challenge to start, and she introduced guest judge and Top Chef Master Michael Chiarello, a Napa Valley restauranteur himself. For the challenge, they would have to cook Padma and Michael a dish in 30 minutes using Napa grapes and whatever else was in a pantry on the Napa Valley train….and of course, they would all have to share the train’s kitchen. This was a high stakes challenge, too…the winner would win a third generation 2010 Toyota Prius. Wow, these sponsors are really ponying up!

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Top Chef Las Vegas: breakfast in bed

Last night on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas,” the six remaining contestants were greeted in the kitchen of the Venetian Hotel with a phone call from host Padma Lakshmi. Padma was hanging out in a hotel room with cookbook author and TV personality Nigella Lawson, and the quick fire challenge was to cook and deliver to them breakfast in bed.

Robin went first (how is she still here?) and made blintzes with goat cheese and pineapple. I don’t like goat cheese, but either way, that sounds disgusting. Eli made a reuben benedict with thousand island hollandaise sauce. Since they were staggered in groups of two, next was Mike and Kevin. Mike made a huevos Cubana with banana puree, and Kevin made steak and eggs. Then it was Jen and Bryan–Jen went with creamed chipped beef and Bryan made a 4-minute egg over corn polenta.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: more veggie tales

Last night’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas” on Bravo featured the remaining seven chefs facing more and more pressure. Some would respond while others would start to wilt, and we’re almost to final four territory (just where has this season gone??).

We began with a quick fire challenge as host Padma Lakshmi introduced Italian chef Paul Bartolotta, who has an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas and is known as one of the best in the cuisine. But oddly, their quick fire was not Italian-oriented. Instead, they each had to create a “TV dinner” style dish based on a popular show, drawing knives to determine who would be representing which show.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: restaurant wars return

I confess I’ve only been watching Bravo’s “Top Chef” for one-plus seasons now, but I’ve become hooked in a hurry. So this was just my second time experiencing “restaurant wars,” when they break up the final eight contestants into two teams and have them run an actual restaurant for the night.

But first, the episode began with a Quick Fire challenge, and the guest judge this week was Rick Moonen, who owns a sustainable seafood restaurant in Vegas. They would have a tag team cookoff, in which each chef had 10 minutes out of 40 to complete a dish, but while one chef was working the others were blindfolded. Man, that looked HARD. They drew knives and Jennifer and Michael V. had to choose teams…Jen chose Kris Kringle (Kevin), Mike Isabella and Laurine, deciding to let the brothers be on the same team and duke it out, literally. So Michael had Brian, Eli and Robin.

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