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Top Chef: Season 6 – Las Vegas


Chris Hennes
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In every season there are always a few chefs who just out of their depths. I can't remember a year, though, when the gap between the front runners and the middle pack has been so wide.

Is this why I'm feeling bored by this Vegas season? Will it get more interesting at the end?

(On a side note, who thinks that ugly, big house is in foreclosure?)

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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In every season there are always a few chefs who just out of their depths. I can't remember a year, though, when the gap between the front runners and the middle pack has been so wide.

Is this why I'm feeling bored by this Vegas season? Will it get more interesting at the end?

(On a side note, who thinks that ugly, big house is in foreclosure?)

I hate to say I agree, but it has been kinda boring. Not because I hate agreement, but because there are some very talented and very professional contestants competing, which is itself a good thing, but there seems to be very little suspense at this point about who will be in the top. Sure, one of the brothers dropped this week, and Jen didn't win the quickfire, but the dividing lines between the good, mediocre, and the not very good at all have been pretty clear this year.

Now we are down to the suspense of how long Ash will be able to dodge elimination while the judges pick off the likes of Robin, Laurine, Eli, and Mike I. Then we'll have a competition about who is the best, rather than who will be worst in a particular episode, which is what we often got from the motley bunch last year.

Edited by Dignan (log)
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My big issue with this episode was Jennifer's illness. I think that the show should make some effort to accommodate such situations.

I don't think a contestant should be removed for being sick, it isn't a long-term event like breaking both of your legs or some other big catastrophe, it's an everyday part of kitchen life and the show should be prepared to work around it.

On the one hand, I know that people admire the trooper who toughs it out, but, on the other hand, it is a violation of most health department codes to prepare food when a person is sick. I wouldn't want to be a judge tasting her food that day, that's for sure!

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I will be totally turned off if Ash ends up winning - ala Hosea - because everyone else messes up! BTW - did anyone notice Mike I (not the brother, the jerk) say that he threw out everyting he let Robin do?

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That was one weird episode and I can't for the life of me see how Ashley got sent home. She is not my favorite, but dang. Ash did nothing and admitted it. Mike and Robin's stuff looked horrible and they were at each other's throats. Robin should have been gone looooong ago.

My biggest beef is making them cook in the house on Macy's "Mr Wok" and such. Come on. And the preview looks like they get to do it again next week.

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My big issue with this episode was Jennifer's illness. I think that the show should make some effort to accommodate such situations.

I am not sure what they could realistically do. The challenges are scheduled months in advance. They can't put the whole show on ice because one chef is not feeling well. The knock-on effects would be unacceptable. Giving her a free pass would be unfair to the other chefs. As far as whether it was appropriate to cook when sick, several chefs (including Colicchio) said, "We've all done it."

I will be totally turned off if Ash ends up winning - ala Hosea - because everyone else messes up! BTW - did anyone notice Mike I (not the brother, the jerk) say that he threw out everyting he let Robin do?

Ash is highly unlikely to win. Hosea wasn't the best chef of Season 5, but in relation to the competition, he was near the top, which put him in position to benefit when a few others, notably Stefan, screwed up. It wasn't his fault that the producers recruited a weak cast. This year, there are at least 5 chefs remaining who are way better than Ash. I just don't see a scenario where all of them falter.

That was one weird episode and I can't for the life of me see how Ashley got sent home. She is not my favorite, but dang. Ash did nothing and admitted it. Mike and Robin's stuff looked horrible and they were at each other's throats. Robin should have been gone looooong ago.

It is pretty obvious why Ashley was sent home. The judging process was to choose the worst dish, and then, choose the most blameworthy person on the team that created it. The horrible interaction between Mike and Robin was not seen by the judges, and dishes aren't graded solely by what they look like. There is an element of luck, too. Robin managed to get immunity last episode, and this time the dish she worked on wasn't the worst. Ashley and Eli were on the bottom, because the gnocchi and the prawns were both ruined. In such cases, they usually send home the person who cooked the protein: hence, Ashley.

If Mike and Ash's dish had been the worst, the judges would have had a dilemma. On the one hand, Ash did very little. But on the other hand, by virtue of that, he wasn't the one who ruined it. But the issue was moot, as their dish was not the worst, so Ash skated through. On team challenges, a weak person sometimes survives because the team as a whole was not the worst.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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So far, Thomas Keller has not succumbed to the tv chef thing. I will be surprised if it's him. But, if it is, I will be happy and interested to watch!

It's Charlie Palmer:

"Season 6, Episode 8 – Aired: 10/14/2009

Pigs and Pinot

The chefs create their version of Charlie Palmer's annual Pigs & Pinot event at his restaurant Aureole, hoping to perfectly pair their pork dishes with wine."

I think it will be a cold day in the Top Chef kitchen before Thomas Keller appeared on this show.

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I happened to stumble onto a repeat of an old Iron Chef America episode last night, where Richard Blais went up against Mario. Who do you think was one of Blais' sous chefs? Why none other than Eli from TC6. Small culinary world, apparently.....

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

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I happened to stumble onto a repeat of an old Iron Chef America episode last night, where Richard Blais went up against Mario. Who do you think was one of Blais' sous chefs? Why none other than Eli from TC6. Small culinary world, apparently.....

Well, they are/were both in Atlanta, which certainly narrows the world down some.

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The preview of next week's episode suggested that they are going to be cooking for a "Big Deal" guest judge. Any guesses as to who it could be? I am guessing Thomas Keller.

The ghosts of James Beard, Craig Claiborne, and Julia Child.

Magical Elves have powers.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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This weeks was a yawner imho

I agree, and funnily enough, despite the very high quality of a number of the contestants this season, I've found a couple of episodes to be dull. My two theories are:

1)As others have mentioned, there is a big gap between the top 4 contestants and everyone else, so there is less drama in the competitions and no opportunity to create a come from behind story arc, for example

2) Las Vegas, while a restaurant mecca, seems to have limited and less interesting venues to stage competitions than places like Chicago, NY and Miami

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I happened to stumble onto a repeat of an old Iron Chef America episode last night, where Richard Blais went up against Mario. Who do you think was one of Blais' sous chefs? Why none other than Eli from TC6. Small culinary world, apparently.....

Well, they are/were both in Atlanta, which certainly narrows the world down some.

They've worked together on and off for at least three years. Eli was sort of the "keeper of the chemicals" when Blais was the executive chef at One.Midtown Kitchen.

Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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The gap between the best contestants and the okay contestants has been noticable, but I haven't really minded because I have been so into seeing the best chef's food. For me it isn't so much how the competition goes, but seeing what these people come up with when my brain could never even fathom the combinations and techniques they produce. But then, that is why they are there and I am not a chef!

OTOH, I too am waiting for Robin and Ash to be picked off. Ash has been in the bottom quite a few times and has seemed to talk his way out of being kicked off. His speech about how he hero-worships Mike almost came across to me as a smokescreen to get Mike kicked off - by stressing how much of the dish was Mike's direct responsibility. As someone posted above, in the situation where one chef does most of the work on a bad dish, that chef usually gets sent home. As for Robin, she seems like a nice lady -and she didn't deserve the shit-talk she got from Mike I - but she is also way out of her league here.

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But for Mike, this season's group of chefs don't have much in the way of personality. They're serious about their food, and that doesn't always make for interesting TV. So although he often comes across as an ass (wonder how much he is egged on by the producers to run his mouth??), Mike is good for the show.

I'm having hard time picking a winner at this point. In prior seasons, one or two were head and shoulders above the rest. With this group, it's still a toss up between the V brothers, Jennifer and Kevin.

John

"I can't believe a roasted dead animal could look so appealing."--my 10 year old upon seeing Peking Duck for the first time.

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I happened to stumble onto a repeat of an old Iron Chef America episode last night, where Richard Blais went up against Mario. Who do you think was one of Blais' sous chefs? Why none other than Eli from TC6. Small culinary world, apparently.....

Well, they are/were both in Atlanta, which certainly narrows the world down some.

They've worked together on and off for at least three years. Eli was sort of the "keeper of the chemicals" when Blais was the executive chef at One.Midtown Kitchen.

Eli was also Richard's best man at his wedding. They were both at FLIP recently trying out some new things.

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Whenever there's an equipment problem, the judges say "What went wrong?", the chef says "this happened" and the judges say "we don't accept excuses". What are they supposed to say? "I'm not going to answer your question because you'll just say I'm making excuses." That would make them popular with the judges. Michael V's comment in the waiting room after facing the judges finally said on air what I've been thinking for a long time. Bobby Flay said if the power goes out in your restaurant, the guests won't accept that as a reason the food sucks (not his exact words but that was the point behind it and it's been said many times by many judges on this show). Michaels comment on that (which I would have loved to see him make to Bobby rather than in the waiting room) was that in his restaurant he would have backup product available and would redo it correctly rather than send it. A luxury not allowed for in most Top Chef challenges. If you send something you're not happy with, you may go home. If you send nothing, you will go home. So, while equipment trouble isn't an excuse, it has no relationship to what the contestant would do in other circumstances and is certainly a valid answer to the question "what went wrong".

Anyway, I didn't find the episode overly boring. I find challenges where they all have to cook on one domestic stove in a room the size of a large closet and things like that a bit absurd for this type of show but I guess it does push them to think on the fly. I was glad to see Jennifer take an elimination win, even if it was a team challenge. She's been better than the editing shows her giving herself credit for all along, maybe it boosted her confidence a bit. I was impressed that Michael V had the cojones to do a dessert for the quickfire and end up among the 3 favorites. It was also cool to see Bryan sticking up for his brother when Kevin was trying to backseat analyze the dish. I think the key to enjoying this show is just watching it for what it is, not what we might wish it would be.

On the one hand, I know that people admire the trooper who toughs it out, but, on the other hand, it is a violation of most health department codes to prepare food when a person is sick. I wouldn't want to be a judge tasting her food that day, that's for sure!

I understand where you're coming from with that but if it were strongly enforced, the restaurant industry would be in very bad shape. I think it depends on the nature of the problem, which they didn't disclose. I've missed work twice in 6 years. A few days when I had my appendix removed and a week when my mom passed away. I didn't miss a single shift when I broke my ribs and dislocated my shoulder in a mountain bike accident so I'm not going to stay home because I have the sniffles or a headache or something.

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Actually it was Tyler Florence, not Bobby Flay.

Yep, it was Tyler Florence. I shouldn't post my thoughts a day or two after the fact, my memory isn't always reliable when it comes to unimportant stuff.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Actually it was Tyler Florence, not Bobby Flay.

Yep, it was Tyler Florence. I shouldn't post my thoughts a day or two after the fact, my memory isn't always reliable when it comes to unimportant stuff.

Eh, it's understandable. Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence...same difference. I was more surprised that FN would let him show up on another show - that isn't on the Food Network.

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Ash has been in the bottom quite a few times and has seemed to talk his way out of being kicked off. His speech about how he hero-worships Mike almost came across to me as a smokescreen to get Mike kicked off - by stressing how much of the dish was Mike's direct responsibility.

I saw it the same way . . . I was actually kind of surprised at how grateful Mike was for Ash's commmentary.

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