Top Chef Las Vegas: Hold The Meat, Please

TV dinners! Natalie Portman! Vegetables! This week's episode of Top Chef brought us another movie star vegetarian challenge and some interesting interpretations of what constitutes a "protein."

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

Paul Bartolotta and Natalie Portman served as guest judges for this week's episode, with TV dinners inspired by classic shows and a vegetarian meal for the lovely movie star. Here are a few of our thoughts:

  1. Get out the tray tables. For the Quickfire, the chefs made updated TV dinners inspired by classic shows. Kevin won for his Soprano's dinner of meatballs, polenta, roasted cauliflower and roasted pear. Sounds a lot like what we've been eating lately! But back to the tray tables. How funny did Paul Bartolotta and Padma – in her jumpsuit and heels – look trying to eat off those tiny little things?
  2. What you want, Natalie? To not eat meat! When the chefs got to the kitchen at Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak, they ran around like kids in a candy store looking at all the high-quality meat products. Of course, they were just being set up for a twist. Enter Natalie Portman, vegetarian. It's been a big week for Portman who on Tuesday posted an essay on the Huffington Post about how reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals turned her from a "twenty-year vegetarian to a vegan activist." Comments from the article have since been twisted into predictably ridiculous tabloid headlines. Oddly enough, no photos of Portman in the episode are available on Bravo's site.
  3. Once again, Kevin. Kevin revealed that he and his wife give up meat during Lent every year and was eager to show his vegetarian chops. Portman called his braised mushrooms, smoked kale and turnip dish a "manly vegetarian meal." Michael V., angry that his asparagus and banana polenta concoction didn't take the prize, called it something he could have made in 20 minutes.
  4. Whatever, whatever. It is what it is. Mike I. made a classic mistake in his approach to the vegetarian challenge – he tried to make something look like meat and focused less on how it tasted. Unfortunately, his dish failed on both levels. Not only did the leek look nothing like a scallop, it didn't look good at all and was undercooked. Ultimately, it was deemed less forgivable than Robin's schizophrenic jumble of vegetables and Jen's garnish-like offering. Whattaya gonna do?
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  5. Huffington Post: Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals Turned Me Vegan
  6. Previous Top Chef Las Vegas Roundups
    Week 9: Restaurant Wars!
    Week 8: Top Chef Las Vegas: Of Pigs and Pinot
    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)