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Top Chef Las Vegas Recap: Episode 12, Culinary Olympics

Picture 4 When we rejoin our heroes the top 5 chefs are getting ready for their most difficult challenge to date. Everyone is being sweet and and talking about our inspirations when Eli does something that I cannot abide.

The bitch misquotes "The Princess Bride".

You see, Eli is going on and on about how tight he is with Richard Blais (the semi-finalist from and guy I thought was going to win Season 4) and how he has known him since he was 17 and how was Richard's Best Man when Eli tries to infer that he is going to right the wrongs and vindicate Richard's Top Chef legacy.

Eli says "It's kind of a 'My name is Indigo Montoya you killed my father now prepare to die' sort of situation".


Oh no, no, no.

Listen, my little friend. His name is INIGO Montoya and that jerk wad Count Rugen killed his father. Indigo is the "I" in Roy G. Biv and Richard just came in as a strong second so I wash my hands of you Eli. You and your lemon-lime Bubble Yum shoes are dead to me.


Screw you, misquoter. On to the QuickFire.

Wow. I am grumpy. I should write the rest of this post in the morning. Meh. Not yet. Maybe before the elimination challenge.

The QuickFire Challenge

Padma shows up with Gavin Kaysen who is a James Beard rising star award winner. Padma says that Gavin also represented the USA in the Bocuse d'Or. The Bocuse d'Or is the equivalent of the culinary olympics and hard as shit to spell if you aren't French.  Kaysen tells the chefs that he cooked some fancy pants protein in a protein in a protein for the Bocuse d'Or and now they have to do it too.

Jennifer says she is going to make a turducken.


I believe her since I am tired, half in the bag and kind of stupid. Also because it is the only thing that pops into my head when someone says protein in a protein in a protein.

My God! It's full of stars.

(I am 350 words deep four minutes into this episode. You might want to grab and sandwich and go to the bathroom now, people. This might take a while.)

The chefs get 90 minutes to complete this task. There will be no immunity, but Padma assures us that there will be a significant advantage in the final elimination challenge for the winner of the QuickFire.

The final elimination! We're closing in on this!

Crap. What am I going to write about on Thursdays when this is over?


You are right, Mattin. I will pull something out of something.

Aside: So I went over to Tom Colicchio's blog looking for the correct spelling of "ballotine". Did you know he calls these guys cheftestants? CHEFTESTANTS? I love me some Tom Colicchio, but DUDE cheftestants is a stupid word. I forbid anyone to say it starting... now.

Jennifer doesn't make a turducken. In fact she makes some lovely calamari steak, scallops, salmon, shiitake and shiso with Rice Noodle Salad. It must have been good too, because Padma said "welcome back". Jennifer's food looks great, but don't get me started on her grammatical issues for they are many.

Michael again shows up that he can't take criticism when when Kaysen says Michael's dish is more of a tureen the little Voltaggio whines that nobody said he had to make a ballotine and if he had made a ballotine it would have been better than the one Gavin Kaysen made for Bocuse d'Or.

I think we have a new Mike the Douche!


Jennifer wins the QuickFire. Of course there is no immunity but she does win an extra 30 minutes of cooking time for the Elimination Challenge. Not a bad prize.

The Final Las Vegas Elimination Challenge

Oh shit! This is getting good.

For the Elimination Challenge our chefs (notice I didn't say cheftestants?) each have to create a presentation platter for a Top Chef Bocuse d'Or. They each have to make one protein and two garnishes. The garnishes are supposed to show technique and skills in general. The chefs will have four hours to cook.

But that isn't the crazy part. The crazy part is that one of the judges is THOMAS FUCKING KELLER!


You know, Thomas Keller: The French Laundry, Bouchon, Ad Hoc, Per Se, James Beard Award winning, multiple three Michelin star having, masterful cookbook writing, chef of the year and bad ass extrarodinaire, Thomas Keller.


The chefs shop and then go home to plan their meals. Well, Michael goes to sleep and the other four watch video of The Bocuse d'Or and plan their meals. Bryan reveals himself as the kinder of the Voltaggii when he honestly answers Kevin's questions about sous vide temperatures.


Everyone cooks their little hearts out, and it is a good freaking thing because when they present the dishes the judges are hardcore. It isn't just Keller, Kaysen and the normal judges. No. Daniel Boulud, Alex Stratta, Timothy Hollingsworth, Traci Des Jardin and Jerome Bocuse are there too.

Jerome Bocuse. Why does that name sound familiar? Oh, right like Bocuse d'Or. The freaking Bocuse d'Or was named after his dad.

I would pee myself in the presence of any one of these people. These guys have too cook for and be judged by all of them.

The judges are picky, but I guess they have to be because everything looks awesome. Also, they are allowed to be. I mean, have you eaten these people's food? I've eaten at The French Laundry and I give Keller and Hollingsworth full permission to say anything else is garbage. My meal there in October was culinary perfection.

Oh, and did the judges forget to mention that the winner will win a spot to compete in the 2011 Bocuse d'Or?

Judges Table

Padma come into the stew room and calls all five chefs to the judges table. The final judges table in Las Vegas. After this the final four contestants go to Napa.

The judges give everyone a hard time: there was a bone in Michael's fish and the concept was weak, Bryan's lamb was underdone, Kevin's dish was too simple and may have played it safe, Jennifer had some technical issues with her fish and Eli had undercooked fatty meat.

I have some serious concerns about the Brooke Shields commercial that involves growing new eyelashes, but we are going to have to talk about that some other time.

In the end, Eli took one for the team.

Picture 10

I honestly believe we are left with the four best chefs. I'm pleased the Jennifer pulled her shit back together. I'm looking forward to the finals.

Picture 8 

Now, if you will excuse me I have to figure out how to vote for Kevin for my fan favorite without getting raped for the $ .99 texting fee.

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LOVED this.

BTW, I was voting as much as I could last night. You can do it on the Bravo web site and save the fee. I was looking for a way around, too. :)

Awesome episode. So glad Kevin squeaked through. I really wasn't sure if they would like his stuff, since he does go for simple.


This recap just made a crappy day a whole lot better. Thank you.

I, too, immediately thought 'Turducken!' When I heard protein inside protein inside protein. I was pleased that this was not the case. I'm glad Jennifer is back on track, and I hope Kevin (a.k.a. Yukon Cornelius) kicks some Voltaggio ass in Napa.

BTW, you can vote for fan fave directly on the Bravo website. Screw that 99 cent nonsense.


Michael V. belongs back in season 2 with Ilan and Marcel and all the other douche bags. Honestly. How about being a professional and just doing your thing, man. Why all the commentary on how superior you are? Prove it.

Has Kevin broken some kind of record with the number of challenges he's won?

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

@Becky Awesome thanks!

@JennC I am laughing so hard that I am choking. He is EXACTLY Yukon Cornelius. You are a genius.


I wish I could take credit for Yukon Cornelius, but I believe I heard it from BaltimoreGal a few weeks back...it has stuck sense. I keep expecting Kev to talk about 'Bumbles' and looking for gold.


or, you know, since

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

You are killing me!

Snarky Amber

I have friggin' had it with Michael V's attitude. The fact of the matter is that Kevin has consistently made food with better flavor that was better prepared, simple or not. I hope at some point he learns that no matter what fancy techniques you have up your sleeve, what truly matters most is how well prepared the food is and how it tastes.

And seriously, I have a huge prejudice against foams. I want foams to be over now. Like, I want them to be sun-dried-tomato OVER.


I can say (as I know I have in the past) that yes, Kevin's food is simple, but it is f***ing AMAZING. The flavors, the way he assembles them, how they taste like one thing by themselves, but mixing the components together, it is entirely a different experience. He is a phenomenal chef, and I am proud that he is here in Atlanta and showing the world what he is capable of.

He is proof that you don't have to have flashy presentation and zucchini baskets with foam to be the best. (And yes, I fully anticipate that he wins -- he so deserves it.)


This is a phenomenal write up. I spit out my diet Coke (recommended by Tom, of course) at that picture of Matyin with the rabbit and your joke.

This is the second week in a row they've used Mike's quote about Kevin's food. I also noticed they got a quote from Kevin about Mike's food. This leads me to believe it's really going to come down to those two with Kevin winning, trying to pit good versus evil.

Personally when I heard protein in protein in protein, I was hoping Kevin would give us some pork in pork in pork with some dried pork chips.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

I'm going to Atlanta in April and I totally want to eat there.


I was going to say something about Indigo or the Voltbags or Eli but: Yukon Cornelius.

I'm done.

I keep hearing "it would be an honor to represent my country, but it would scare the ever living shit out of me too" in Yukon Cornelius' voice.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

I freaking love you.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

Good vs. Evil! Genius!


Yes, Eli was dead to me the moment he said "Indigo."

Mike V- I've had problems with him for a while (plus I heart Bryan V) but I think Mike Isabella so overshadowed him in the douche category that he is just now coming into his own. I just want to smack him on the forehead. You can talk all you want about how your food is prettier than someone else's, but if their food tastes better than yours, pretty ain't shit. And his quickfire whining was just sad.

Also, I didn't invent Yukon Cornelius either, I saw it somewhere on Twitter. Perfect fit though, isn't it?


Sarah - let me know when you're in Atlanta, I can recommend plenty of other culinary explorations in my city! :)

And it's funny that we're going into the whole pretty vs. tasty conversations with Mike vs. Kevin -- I just had a client in today, to whom I said, "yes, Americans do judge a book by it's cover when it comes to eating, and all, but if something looks pretty but tastes like sh*t, you're not going to keep eating it."


I just hope that in their time off, Jennifer remembers why she is doing this. I'd love her to be in the top two.

I am a little worried about you. What will you do without using Mattin's picture once a week? Should we do a Mattin intervention this week?


I have said it before, but I'll say it again here, if Kevin were not married I would totally be sending him naughty food-related letters.

I know anything can happen but I just don't want another Blaise situation. I thought he was going to win too!

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

@issaI have no idea what I will do with my Thursday mornings after the finale. 


I'm just dropping in to let you know that this weblog entry is being featured on Five Star Friday - http://www.fivestarfriday.com/2009/11/five-star-fridays-edition-80.html


Oh man, he's totally Yukon!


May I just say, this is the best re-cap of Top Chef, EVAH.
Notice how Padma was all shy and demure amongst the REAL judges? I can't help but wonder when this show was taped and if she was pregnant at the time. I imagine her with a small, silver plated champagne bucket to puke in between courses.
Am I ignorant because I said outloud, "What the F is Boku's Door?"

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

Awwww. Thanks.

(I had to look it up too.P

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