Top Chef Las Vegas: Of Pigs and Pinot

We love a good pairing, so this week's episode was right up our alley. The challenges featured both high- and low-end combinations, both good and bad.

Note: We reveal the winner and losers below ...

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Chef Charlie Palmer was this week's guest judge and the challenges were all about pairings. For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs had to create a dish using Alexia Crunchy Snacks. The Elimination Challenge went a little more high end, pairing various cuts of pork with Pinot Noir for the annual Pigs and Pinot event. Here are a few of our thoughts:

  1. Mmm ... green bean casserole. A lot of the chefs went with the Onion Strips Crunchy Snacks for their Quickfire dish. Kevin said they reminded him of green bean casserole so he made a variation of that dish. We found ourselves wanting to eat those snacks and make a green bean casserole of our own.
  2. Pinot Noir is a complicated wine. It can be a bit of a challenge to pair with, and describe. Tom Colicchio explained in his blog:
    "It can be very feminine, with sweet, bright red notes like strawberries or cherries, or it can go to barnyard complexity (as Toby was trying to articulate) with cooked fruits and wet hay-like notes … and it runs everything in between. Chocolate notes, leather notes, stewed fruits, tar … all kinds of stuff."
  3. But there's only one way to make rillettes. As Laurine learned at judges table, it's not made by braising the meat – as she did, prompting Dana Colwin to describe her dish as "cat food." Ouch. Instead, it's poached in fat.
  4. Robin vs. everyone. Robin is clearly the house villain this season, and while we'll admit to loving a good fight in past seasons (see: Lisa, Marcel, Dale, etc.), her confrontations with Eli just aren't all that interesting. Perhaps the civility of Top Chef Masters has taken all the fun out of petty bickering for us. We did find it amusing, however, that Robin used not one, but two classic reality show lines in this episode: "This is a competition and someone is going home," and, of course, "I'm not here to make friends." Mission accomplished.
  5. And, indeed, someone did need to go home. That someone was Ash, who second-guessed himself too many times and served a dish that was deemed underseasoned and "clammy," which isn't the best way to go with pork tenderloin. Kevin won the challenge for his pork leg pate.

What did you think of this week's episode?

Previous Top Chef Las Vegas Roundups
Week 7: Like No Dinner Party We've Ever Had
Week 6: Angels and Devils
Week 5: Foam on the Range
Week 4: All Things French
Week 3: The Best of Plates, The Worst of Plates
Week 2: A Shot At Love With Tequila

(Images: Bravo)