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.
Nigella’s least favorite dishes were Robin and Bryan, and her favorites were Kevin and Eli. But she had to choose one winner, and that person was Eli. Since immunity is no longer issued, Eli’s prize was also quite cool…to have his recipe featured in the Top Chef Quick Fire Cookbook.
For the main challenge, the chefs had to draw knives, with each one representing a popular Vegas hotel. They would then have to create a dish based on the theme of that hotel for 175 guests, including the judging panel. The judges would be the regulars Tom Colicchio and Padma, as well as Toby Young and Nigella.
Mike drew New York, New York and he made boneless Buffalo chicken wings with a blue cheese dipping sauce. Jen had Excalibur and her idea was a medieval themed meat…so she made a New York strip with beets and red wine. Bryan had Mandalay Bay and made a halibut with a bouillabaise consomme.
Robin had the Bellagio and went with a panna cotta, which is like an Italian custard, but she also tried to make stained glass panels out of sugar and it all fell apart. Kevin had the Mirage and he made a wild sockeye salmon with compressed vegetables and a tomato broth. Finally, Eli had Circus Circus and took the biggest gamble by making a caramel apple and peanut soup with pulverized popcorn. Say what?
At this point, we’re all thinking Robin has hung around long enough….but for whatever reason, she’s been lucky because someone else in the field has performed worse each week. Well, let’s see what happens….
The favorites were Kevin, Mike and Bryan….and the winner was…Mike. You might think making boneless Buffalo wings was almost a copout, but he won based on execution, as Toby Young mentioned how perfectly crispy the chicken was. I’m getting hungry. Mike’s prize was a bottle of Terrato wine and a trip for two to the Terrato vinyards in Napa Valley.
The least favorites were (well who is left, right?) Eli, Jen and Robin. The judges mentioned that Jen’s steak was tough and that she has been floundering the last few weeks after getting off to a great start. Eli’s soup was pretty much a disaster, and Colicchio mentioned that it “texturally failed.” Yikes. And Robin’s panna cotta just didn’t work. She went on an on about how she bit off more than she could chew with the stained glass, saying, “I”m such a jerk.” Okay, that’s a bit harsh, but Colicchio then asked Robin if she was being influenced by the other judges. Meaning, was she trying to overcompesate for being less talented and trying to wow the judges instead? Good point, and last night that is what sent Robin home…or perhaps it was her body of work this season, because clearly she is not in the same class as Mike, Bryan, Kevin, Eli and Jen.
So FINALLY Robin is off the show and we can focus on these five really talented chefs heading into the final rounds. I think Jen or Eli is next, and this is going to come down to Kevin and the brothers Voltaggio. It has to, right?
Thanks for reading and see you all next week…