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Thursday, October 29, 2009

'Top Chef' Las Vegas, Episode Ten: Whatever, Whatever

I guess one good turn, or challenge, deserves a repeat.

Last night's episode of "Top Chef" Las Vegas was a virtual vegetarian deja vu as the remaining cheftestants cooked up veggie entrees for quirky actress Natalie Portman, taking a cue from last summer's "Top Chef Masters" where the masters cooked a dinner for quirky vegan actress Zooey Deschanel. While the first incarnation was mostly interesting (Art Smith making vegan food with love, come on!), this time around the majority of the cheftestants served up plates of thrown together veggies and then freaked out about it. The most interesting thing about the meal, aside from Padma and Natalie's giggle-worthy double entendres, was Michael Voltaggio's banana polenta, and even that wasn't his original idea.

In the end out of all of the boring dishes, it was Michael Isabella's rare leek “scallops” (“looks like scallops, taste like shit”) that sent the season's douchiest chef packing his knives. Mike's leeks were undoubtedly gross and most certainly not a protein, but between his lackluster dish and Robin's plate of crayola components, it was hard to tell which was actually “worse or not as worse.” Ultimately, though, I think Mike's attitude did him in. “Whatever, whatever” may seem like a great catch phrase, but it's not going to impress Tom Colicchio or convince him you're taking yourself or your food seriously. It's time to improve your vocabulary, Mike, or whatever, whatever.

The season's remaining Michael may have a more refined vocabulary, but he is certainly giving Mike a run for his money in the villain category. After losing to Kevin in last night's elimination challenge, Michael was downright nasty, coming across equal parts arrogant jerk and schoolyard sore loser. I'll give Michael that his dish was perhaps more inventive, but to dismiss Kevin's dish as something he could've made during his “second year of apprenticeship” is to ignore the fact that Kevin's kale and mushroom dish was hearty, well executed, and, oh yeah, tasty. Kevin succeeded in making an entree out of vegetables that matched his style of food. The meat wasn't missing; all of the meat in Michael Voltaggio's dish, instead, was in his head.

I'm not sure what was in Jen's head last night, but it's seems like the competition is wearing down on the lone female superstar. With only six cheftestants left, her nerves are becoming more of liability, and if she doesn't get them in check, she could easily be the next to go, regardless of Robin's lack of talent. Jen deserves to be in the finale, so I'm hoping she gets it together - maybe she should give that whole cooking in her bikini thing a try.

Now that the end of the season is drawing near, I think it's time to lay my cards on the table. My top three prediction? Hometown hero and “fat by choice” Kevin, the arrogant Voltaggio Michael, and maybe, just maybe, Jen. Let's hope that doesn't come back to bite me.

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