Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 8

In this episode, which was all about the art of pairing, we learned a few things: Eli lives with his parents, Robin does pilates, the Voltaggio brothers have emotions, and Kevin's good with pig. Oh, we knew that last one already? Well, he's also got a pig tattooed on his arm. Along with some other stuff.

The guest judge this round is Charlie Palmer, who everyone gushes over as an important figure in American cuisine, and who both Volt brothers worked with - Bryan for 10 years and Michael apparently not that successfully. Palmer insists he'll be impartial, though, and he probably is.

For the Quickfire Product Placement challenge, the cheftestants have to do a slightly fancier version of the vending machine Quickfire. This year, they create a pairing with one of several Alexia snacks (which actually do look pretty good, but then I like anything chip-related).

Most of the chefs turn out a dish that's at least decent, though Robin, Ash, and a nervous Jen end up on the bottom. Palmer protege Bryan, Kevin, and Eli end up on top and Eli takes the win. Unfortunately for him, this is not a high stakes Quickfire, so he gets a big fat nothing for his effort. Except satisfaction, I guess.

The Elimination Challenge is kind of fantastic, even if it is a catering challenge. The cheftestants will be creating pig-based dishes to pair with specific Pinot Noirs, serving them at Palmer's annual Pig and Pinot charity event.

As an aside: Could there be a better charity event? I don't even care who gets the money. Pig. Pinot. Perfect.

The chefs pick knives to figure out which part of the pig they'll work with, then they visit Aureole with its kickass wine storage, to taste a bunch of Pinots and pick one to pair. I am jealous.

Cut to the McMansion kitchen, where Kevin explains that he just tries to get along with everybody, and that he's sure Robin has good intentions. He nearly leaves it at that, but the steady stream of her conversation in the background is enough to nearly even push him over the edge.

Robin thinks that nobody likes her because they don't think she belongs there. That may be the case, but I'm going to guess that nobody likes her because she narrates every single second of her day. So does my three year old, but he has an excuse. He's three.

Robin and Eli get in an adorable little fight, then Robin drops the bomb: she's not here to make friends. Really, Robin? Nobody has ever said that before.

On to the elimination. There's cooking. And worrying. The Volt brothers yell at each other over plastic wrap. Then they serve a big crowd, plus Padma in a Kentucky Derby hat.

Then we get to Judges' Table, where the top tier includes the Volt brothers, Jen and Kevin. Mr. Piggy, Kevin, takes the win, along with a chance to cook at next year's event, for his pork leg pate, which incorporated hazelnuts - which happen to grow on the property where the wine is made. Man, he's good. Good thing, too, since he's got a pig on his arm and would've been embarrassed to lose this challenge.

But there are losers, too. Nobody's surprised to see Robin, Ash, and Laurine head to the gauntlet, though I was suprised that Laurine made it through for her cat foody rillettes.

Ultimately, poor sweet under-confident Ash goes home for his Mike I.-recommended chilled pork tenderloin with a cherry and corn salad. F&W's Dana Cowin found the pork clammy and all the judges agreed that the wine was a poor match for the simple food and that Ash should really listen to his instincts and not cave to other people's suggestions.


I loved this episode, mostly because I love pig, pinot, and Robin and Eli fights. But what did you think? Please leave a comment with your thoughts....


ellen said...

I have to say I'm getting tired of building Robin as the bad guy. It's ageist - the 'grandma' remark included - she's five years old than Padma for crissake. I can understand Eli, who is 25 and lives with his Mom, having problems with women that age - but the others? If she's annoying, rather than rolling your eyes, tell her. I think Kevin comes off as the most decent person of the bunch that remains.

Mike for Biden in Reno said...

Kudos to Robin for dealing with this professionally as long as she could. Eli is a punk/troll. His career will suffer, Mike seems to like being a jerk and thinks it's funny, it's sad and his next boss won't look at him as a professional. The first problem either of them have at their place of work and their done. Michael and Jen were both rude as well. I'm tired of Jen and her woa is me moapy attitude. I'm sure in editing they decided all this was juicy and good for TV. Kevin and Bryan will go head to head in the end and I hope Robin continues on everyweek till then.

Tina said...

While I agree that the producers are over milking the "we hate Robin" schtick, I also think it's ludicrous to use this as a reason to cheer her on. Frankly, she has not done a single thing on the show – cooking wise – that suggests to me that she deserves to be Top Chef. Her food is unambitious and seems to land her either in the middle-of-the-pack or the bottom. Remember her shrimp that tasted like chlorine? Or the congealed soup that was her attempt to "deconstruct" clam chowder? Robin has every right to be proud of her accomplishments, and the way she has battle life-threatening diseases, but this does not make her Top Chef; and neither does the fact that people talk trash behind her back.

lou said...

I'm hoping Robin goes not just because she hasn't been very strong on the show, but just so we don't see the bullying anymore. sheesh.

But I have a horrible, creeping feeling that one of the top contenders will get ousted next week, per the hint on Tom Colicchio's blog. And that Robin will end up like Lisa or PR's Wendy -- always on the bottom but never serving the absolutely worst dish (or design) and somehow lands in the Top 3. Hope it doesn't end that way, but the editing is pointing in that direction.

theminx said...

It's scary how you and I are attuned to the same things in each episode - apart from this week's "grandma" comment, that is. :)

Laura K said...

I do not understand why everyone is so mean to Robin.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments made. I think the picking/bullying on Robin is outright mean, petty, and immature AND agist. I'm sure Robin's consistant talking and feeling the need to comment on the other cheftestants every move can be really annoying. God knows it would send me over the edge, but with that being said that is still no excuse for being rude and impolite. On the flip side, I still don't understand why Robin is still there. I don't want to sound mean but her dishes have been far less than stellar.

Cliff O'Neill said...

OK, I cannot abide Eli now and put him right alongside DoucheyMike for the honors of biggest pill.

But I'm pretty sure Robin would send me up the wall, too. I think I'd react like Laurine to her, annoyed but not going out of the way to be mean to her.