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Top Chef Vegas Recap: Episode 8, Pigs and Pinot

Chef tattoos Oh Top Chef producers, have you been reading my diary? Pork and Pinot Noir? Charlie Palmer? Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings? Those are a few of my favorite things.

Especially the part where there is pork belly and wine.

The guest judge is Charlie Palmer who not only has a high end steak house near my house (Hi Charlie!) but also happens to be the former boss of not one, but BOTH Voltaggio brothers.

Cue the ominous music people.

Bryan worked with Palmer for 10 years. Michael worked with the chef for one year. Chef Palmer assures the other contestants that he won't show any favoritism.

It gets interesting here. I was starting to tire of the brother on brother competition but as we get deeper into the season Michael seems to be spazzing out. I think the pressure is getting to him. He actually admits that he doesn't think Charlie Palmer likes him very much (which his big brother assures him isn't true) which made me uncomfortable. Back to the competition part, Charlie Palmer starts taking about pairings. This gentleman has got my number. Red meat? Wine pairings? I freaking love this guy!

For the Quick Fire Challenge the chefs have to pair a snack food with a dish.

I know! They tricked me too! It is almost like me doing this to you:

Picture 8

(Hey, I'm sorry. I truly can't help myself. It is some sort of compulsion for me at this point. I promise to seek help right after the season finale.)

And the chefs couldn't use just any snack, they had to use a product placement snack.

Listen, I am all about corporate sponsorship (Hi Charlie!) but this one was so forced and poorly done that I refuse to write about it.

All I will say about the Quick Fire is that Eli won and didn't get a damn thing. He didn't get immunity, he didn't get $15,000, he didn't get and Calphalon.

If I were Eli I would want to cut a bitch right about now.

Then, before we move on to more actual cooking the Bravo people show us dinner time at the Top Chef dorm (which is a fabulous house). Robin and Eli get in a fight. It was kind of boring. Robin thinks everyone hates her because they don't think she belongs there.

I think that:

1) They are right. She shouldn't still be there, but they shouldn't worry. It is only a matter of time. She is only still around because other people keep screwing up worse.

2) That isn't why they hate her. They hate her because SHE WON'T SHUT THE FUCK UP!

3) It is also possible that, like me, they are still just mad about this get up.

JESUS! Nice boots and collar. 'Round these parts we call that outfit trying way to hard.


The Elimination Challenge

Everyone had to draw a knife and each knife had a section of a pig on it. Each chef had to cook that part of the pig. Simple enough, right? Then they tasted a bunch of different Pinot Noir and each chef picked a wine to pair with their pork dish.

Eli talks really big about his wine knowledge and ends up with a pairing that the judges don't like.


Burn Eli.

I'm not going to go through each dish because honestly, it wasn't that interesting, but I will mention the following things:

  • Pork balls. I don't care who you are. That is hilarious.
  • Attention: Editors: If Dana Cowin says your dish has the consistency of cat food and you don't get sent home (Laurine) things looks fishy and I shouldn't have to go to Tom Colicchio's blog to see that it actually had some flavor.
  • I have to look up the spelling of Tom Colicchio's last name every time I write about him and I have been talking about him for years! Welcome to senility, Sarah.
  • Mike I. still does at least one thing each episode that makes me cringe. Calling a cancer survivor "Rotten Robin" is really fucked up.
  • If you lose power during your Thursday morning viewing of Top Chef you will be pleased that you stayed up way past your bedtime last night watching the end.

The top four were our usual suspects, the Voltaggios (Voltaggi?), Kevin and Jennifer. These folks should band together and form a super group. They could do an arena tour. He of the pig tattoo a.k.a Kevin won with a pork leg pate. The pork leg pate looked and sounded ill but at this point I would pretty much eat anything Kevin cooked. As the winner, Kevin was invited to be a guest chef at next year's Pigs and Pinot event. He turned bright red so I am gathering that this is an honor.

I really want to be invited to be a guest eater at the 2010 Pigs and Pinot. (Hi Charlie!)

Sadly, even thought I really thought it would be Laurine, our friend Ash was sent home. As my Twitter friend (and Tampa homie) @thestew said last night:

Ash. Please pack your self-doubt and go. #topchef

Next week: Restaurant Wars. The lovely Amalah will be filling in for me as I will actually be IN wine country eating fabulous food. In fact on Wednesday night I will most likely still be recovering from my meal at The French Laundry. It is okay if you are jealous. When I get back I will show you my receipt and then we will ALL feel sad.

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Forgive me, I read "Top Chef dorm" as "Top Chef dom," but given the recent fights, maybe that would be a good spinoff for Bravo.

Or let me propose another "Mattin Du Matin" featuring breakfast cuisine.


Oh my goodness The French Laundry. We went there this summer--we were on the wait list for 2 months before our vacation, and they called us-it worked out-the meal of a lifetime. 4 hours of bliss. And the town is so pretty-there's a public rose garden within walking distance.


All I can think of looking at that tat is this: http://www.marriedtothesea.com/071108/tastes-of-the-swine.gif. Pig = awesome. I'm so mad, I have to work during restaurant wars. Please write something awesome for me to enjoy before I actually get to it :\


I fully did the leaning-out-of-my-chair-waving-my-hand-in-my-husband's-face-shouting-"UNH!-SEE!-SEE!" thing when the Voltaggi, Jennifer and Kevin were all in the top again. From day 1 I had a feeling that those 4 would be consistently good, and, yet again, I'm proven correct. My only hope is that Kevin doesn't stick his neck out too far and end up going home over something dumb. But I have faith in him.

Restaurant Wars gives me heartburn. So tense. Hope you don't get heartburn from your fabulous dinner. Or choke on it.

Still giggling maniacally when I see the bunny.


I really want you to be Mattin for Halloween.

Also, "You're not my MOM, Robin!" Shining moment for that dude for sure. Big old baby. I still can't stand her, can't can't can't, but he's a big old baby. (And wow, those scallops looked GOOD.)


That picture of Mattin will never not be funny. I kind of want you to Mattin-roll us when you're not writing about Top Chef.

I was sorry to see Ash go, I did like him, but throughout the whole competition I got the feeling that his heart wasn't in it - like he knew he couldn't compete with the Voltaggio bros. and Kevin, so why bother?

I laughed at your 'Voltaggi' line. For some reason made me think of the Volturi from Twilight. Next time I see the brothers I'll be thinking of them in black capes and shit.


Thing the First: Eli really didn't get anything for winning the quickfire? I thought I just missed it.

Thing the Second: I know SOMEbody has to be the least-favorite in the house, but the whole "make fun of Robin because she's old" thing pisses me off. What the hell was that? I mean, make fun of her because she cooks lousy food and is annoying and makes poor fashion choices, but don't insult her age. (Since I'm closer to her age than the age of those punk kids, I take great offense.)

Thing the Third: Will you take me with you to Charlie Palmer Steak even though I kept referring to him as "Mike Ditka" throughout the episode? And will you take my husband, even though he referred to him as "Mike Ditka dressed as an accountant"? (Hi DitkaCharlie!)


Agree: lamest quickfire ever.
So jealous about your French Laundry meal. How the hell did you get reservations? I tried last Fall when we were out there and couldn't. Be sure to blog about your meal.


the reason Eli didn't win anything for the Quick Fire was that winners must MOVE OUT OF THEIR MOTHER'S HOUSE.


also, i believe it is "Voltaggii" (Vole-tah-gee-EYE). my husband is a scientist, so i know all that Latin shit, yo.

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