On Bravo’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas” last night, Penn and Teller were guests as well as chef Michelle Bernstein. But there was no magic act when it came to elimination time….because there are a few of these contestants that are hanging by a thread with the likes of Jennifer, Kris Kringle (Kevin) and the brothers Voltaggio that are barreling toward a showdown.

For the quick fire challenge with Bernstein as the judge, the chefs had to create a dish that displayed their own personal battle (i.e. something like an artery clogging dish alongside a heart-healthy one). The winner would have immunity for the elimination challenge.

The least favorites were Ash, who made some sort of custard; Brian, who made a chocolate dish that probably tasted better than it looked, or maybe not; and Laurine, who Bernstein said made a dish with no inspiration. Yikes. The favorites were Michael, who made two kinds of salmon; Eli, who made a risotto; and Robin, who made a raw salad that representer her surviving cancer, and a decadent apple crisp. Robin won, and Eli was bitter afterward, saying Robin used her cancer to gain an edge. Dude, easy!

On to the main challenge and replacing Gail Simmons this week would be British wiseass critic Toby Young. Vegas staples Penn & Teller would also be on hand to help eat and judge. The challenge was to de-construct classic dishes so that all of the flavors would blend together at the end to taste like the original dish. Some of the chefs were baffled by this challenge, including Jennifer who was fearing elimination for once.

Here is what they wound up choosing randomly:
Mike Isabella: eggs florentine
Mike V.: Caesar salad
Brian: Reuben sandwich
Laurine: fish & chips
Ash: shepherd’s pie
Jen: meat lasagna
Ron: paella
Eli: sweet & sour pork
Ben Folds (Ashley): pot roast
Kris Kringle: chicken mole
Robin: New England clam chowder

As they were cooking, Eli’s pressure cooker blew its top….and considering that he brought his own pressure cooker and the kitchen had plenty of their own, we had to wonder why he did this. And who travels with a presssure cooker anyway? Oh wait, my mom does, to make her famous mashed potatoes when she visits us.

Anyway, as host Tom Colicchio visited with each chef as they were preparing the dishes, Jennifer was trying to avoid him because she was so busy trying to make her dish a good one. Ron and Mike I. were totally confused by the challenge.

Anyway, at judgment time, Ben Folds, Michael V., Kris Kringle and Jennifer were the favorites. They loved the flavor of Ben’s pot roast, loved the way Michael de-constructed his Caesar salad, the way Jen melted cheese on top of meat and pasta and especially the thought and intricacy that went into Kris Kringle’s mole….and he was declared the winner this week.

The worst dishes this week were by Laurine, Ron and Ash. Laurine’s fish was overcooked and she only served two chips with each dish because many of the ones she cooked were soggy. Ron did a lousy job de-constructing his paella, and he was probably hurt by the fact that every other chef was trying to give him advice (in fairness, he did ask them for the advice). And Ash was pretty clueless about shepherd’s pie, and when his potatoes did not cook properly, he tried to substitute some sort of parsley puree. Think about that for a minute….parsley for potatoes? What was this guy thinking??? Anyway, I really thought Ash should have gotten the boot for that, but they instead chose Ron. All I can say is his paella must have really tasted awful for them to choose him.

So okay…..we’re down to 10 now….Mike, Mike, Brian, Laurine, Ash, Jen, Eli, Ben Folds, Kris Kringle and Robin…and you can bet Ash and Laurine are going to be next to go…with Robin, Ben Folds, Eli and Mike I. the next tier. I’d be really surprised if Jen, Mike V. Brian and Kris Kringle weren’t the final four, but who knows? This is reality TV after all, so anything can happen.

Who do you like? Who don’t you like? Let me know in the space below and see you next week….