Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bacon Jam: 'Top Chef' Las Vegas, Episode Four

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 1:20 PM

click to enlarge HE PUT HIS HEART INTO IT: Pura Vida's Hector is the first Atlantan to go home
  • HE PUT HIS HEART INTO IT: Pura Vida's Hector is the first Atlantan to go home

Nothing's better than bacon jam.

In last night's episode of “Top Chef” Las Vegas, hometown hero Kevin Gillespie became cheftestant royalty as he sat down for dinner alongside a panel of crazy famous French chefs, including the chef of the century “unicorn” Joel Robuchon. Kevin's take on snails paired with southern inspired bacon jam (“I think you could put bacon jam on anything and you're golden”) won him the affection of guest judge Daniel Boulud and, in a very cool twist, the opportunity to clean up, don a suit (production actually bought him a new one), and eat rather than cook during the elimination challenge.

Bacon didn't work as well for Frenchman Mattin, whose embarassing bacon infused veloute landed him at the loser's table. While it was too obvious Mattin would fail the challenge (just how much country-pride pressure can you put on one neckerchiefed man?), it was surprising that he didn't take more heat, or responsibility, for his role in the dish. After lying at judge's table about his level of input on Ashley's ideas (he volunteered his disapproval of the asparagus, but didn't cop up that he vetoed putting it in the sauce, a suggestion Tom had liked), Mattin showed that even in a challenge geared towards his strengths (“I think they make a challenge just for me”), he wasn't much of a chef. At least Robuchon complimented his French.

The rest of the evening's French sounded too americaine. Again, aside from the Voltaggio brothers and bitchy-face Jen (here I have to give Jen credit for her rather endearing nervousness about cooking the snails and her giddy girl smile about Michael V.) who turned out French classics with modern twists like the decomposed bearnaise and the reconstructed trout, the cheftestants' French dishes were lackluster. Eli cooked cream sauce instead of a traditional sauce americaine and Robin and Ron's clash in personalities (having one vs. not) created a mismatched dish with wilted greens and overcooked frog legs.

Sadly, though, it was Hector's bloody, bloody chateaubriand that was deemed the worst offense, sending my gentle giant and season favorite to pack his knives. I agree with the judges that the meat was unacceptable, but I also think that Hector's point of view was largely unappreciated. The judges may have got that he had balls, but they never really got his deep fried steak heart.

I for one am taking Hector up on his invite to Pura Vida. Tofu ceviche, anyone?

(Photo courtesy Bravo)

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