Top Chef Las Vegas: Big Gambles on the Strip

Top Chef Las Vegas: Big Gambles on the Strip

Joanna Miller
Nov 12, 2009

This week's episode started with breakfast in bed for Padma and guest judge Nigella Lawson, but it certainly wasn't a leisurely day for anyone. The chefs were hard at work with a catering event, and the judges struggled to get through a few of their dishes.

Note: We reveal the winner and losers below.

One of our favorite food TV personalities, Nigella Lawson, stopped by last night to serve as guest judge. Here are our thoughts on the episode:

  1. Padma and Nigella look GREAT first thing in the morning. They also seemed a little awkward in this painfully staged Quickfire. We love that Jennifer offered them chipped beef on toast (or S.O.S.), and although Nigella made a bit of a face, we could totally imagine her sneaking into the kitchen at the end of one of her shows and making herself that very dish. The vanilla in Bryan's egg with crab, asparagus and polenta ruined it for Nigella, but the dish at least looked beautiful. Eli won the challenge for his hangover breakfast of Egg Reuben Benedict with Thousand Island Hollandaise Sauce.
  2. The luck of the draw. For the elimination challenge, the chefs were set loose on the strip, each with a specific casino to build a dish around. Kevin and Bryan lucked out with the Mirage and Mandalay Bay, allowing them to focus on sustainable seafood (though surely some will take issue with this being played out in the middle of the desert). Jennifer seemed to really enjoy herself at the Medieval Times-like dinner show at Excalibur, but she set herself up for cheesy soundbite criticisms when she served an overcooked steak skewer inspired by "The Sword in the Stone."
  3. Trend alert: hot wings and blue cheese. Michael's New York New York-inspired Boneless Chicken Wing Confit with Curry and Blue Cheese Disc looked very tasty and ended up winning the challenge. But we had to giggle when Padma marveled at how the cool blue cheese played off the spiciness of the chicken.
  4. Clichés and insults and metaphors, oh my! Eli didn't try very hard to mask his feelings about Circus Circus, describing it as sad and using a raspberry to represent the hotel's "one redeeming aesthetic element." His feelings must have come through in his dish because the Caramel Apple Peanut Soup was a complete disaster. Toby Young put the nail in the cliché coffin, saying, "Like most people who come to Vegas, he has gambled and lost." (We'll admit to using a few Vegas clichés ourselves.) But, for us, the standout comment of the night was Eli's double mixed metaphor in reference to Robin: "She's oftentimes been lucky enough to be the lesser of two equals. Hopefully the buck's about to run out on that one." We played that one back several times.
  5. The buck, indeed, has run out. We were inclined to stick up for Robin earlier in the competition, but we found ourselves dumbfounded at her choices last night. It's almost like she's never watched the show, or participated in 10 previous challenges. Let's count the head-shaking moments: She 1) made panna cotta, the perennial Top Chef disaster dish, despite the fact that 2) she'd never made it before, 3) for a catering event. When her sugar sculpture element didn't work out, she 4) made excuses to the judges as she handed them their plates. The judges also found this too much to bear, and Robin was sent home. Who will the chefs gang up on now?

What did you think of the episode?

Top Chef Las Vegas Roundups
Week 10: Hold the Meat
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)

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