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Chris Hennes

Top Chef: Season 6 – Las Vegas

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Was I the only one skeeved out by Nigella Lawson's comment regarding Robin's panna cotta? She said something like "when you poke panna cotta it should resemble the inner thigh of a 17th-century French courtesan." If the image brought to mind when I'm eating panna cotta is the pasty-fleshed plump thigh of someone who covers up her lack of regular bathing with a lot of perfume and wears lice-infested powdered wigs, I may never eat panna cotta again.

Jennifer has basically given up. Unless a miracle occurs or someone else totally bombs, I predict she will be gone soon. I would be cool with Kevin or either Voltaggio brother winning, although I'm tired of Michael's "what Kevin cooks I cook on my day off" crap.

What a dope, maybe he should be trying to cook some of it while he's working. Kevin isn't intimidated by that crap. He is a professional and hardly a "boy". All of this talk about "this is how it is in a professional kitchen", the chef's I've always respected were those whose ego didn't run the kitchen. There is no insecurity in Kevin. The only person he berates is himself to make himself better at what he does.


Even Samantha Brown would have hard time summoning a "wow" for this. Anthony Bourdain

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I can't help wondering WHY TC producers chose Robin out of hundreds (could it be thousands?) chefs willing to participate in the Top Chef competition 2009. After seeing the show so far I can't believe that her "test food" was close to Kevin's or either of the brothers'...

I don't know why you're heaping such scorn on Robin. Why her, and not Jen, Eve, Preeti, Jesse, or any of the other chefs eliminated very early? Robin got lucky towards the end of her run, but she is probably better than those long-forgotten chefs from the first few episodes.

Now, as for your question: I believe a few factors are involved. The best chefs do not necessarily want to be on Top Chef. The show requires a very substantial time commitment, with no assurance of getting anything out of it. The conditions under which they live during the shoot aren't very pleasant: big frat-like house, no communication with the outside world, intense pressure.

Another factor is that professional cooking is a male-dominated profession. The producers want a gender-balanced cast, which means that some of the women they choose aren't on the same level as the men. It's no surprise that the first four, and seven of the first ten chefs to be eliminated, were women; that the final five include only one woman; and that four of the first five seasons have been won by men. I am not suggesting that men are inherently better at this, only that they dominate the pool from which the cheftestants are chosen.

Lastly, the contrived and time-bound nature of the challenges, often with surprises and curve balls thrown in, leads to screw-ups. Robin might not be Paul Bocuse, but I suspect that when she's in her own kitchen, working under conditions she controls, she's better than she seemed on this show. Actually, that is probably true of almost all of them.


Edited by oakapple (log)

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I was SO worried for Kevin when he said he was going to do sous vide and he had never done it before.

Thank GOD he won! I was so happy for him! Especailly after Michaels constant derogatory comments about his food. HA! He makes food people want to eat!

I cannot believe Michael went right to bed in his chef coat and black pants :rolleyes:

That was a fantastic challenge and I would be totally lost. They all should be proud they got something out even though they had their shortcomings.

And next week is Napa and Padma in some nasty looking bangs!

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Gail's dress looked pretty normal in this show. We need to get Tim Gunn to audit her closet. That green thing she wore last week was bizarre.

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I was glad Jen made it through, and really glad to see her helping others when she had the time. Unfortunately, I just can't see her making it to the top. Kevin, he's growing on me, and even though I'm tired of some of the comments from the brothers, I would eat at one of their restaurant's before I would eat at Kevin's.

Whatever happens, though, I'm glad the people there are there.

Rhonda

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Wow, that was a tough challenge and a tough set of judges. Must have been nerve racking. I was surprised Jen sauced her plates without shaking like a leaf. Hurray for Kevin. I had a strong feeling he would win even though he looked totally defeated. The only criticism was that it wasn't technically challenging given the time. The food was prepared correctly and tasted good. That trumps overly fancy but cooked poorly every time.

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Sorry, I know I should be lauding the efforts of the Chefs this week and providing some encouragement for next week in Napa, but one of the primary thoughts that has stuck with me since last night is the gift the judges finally gave us last week. I can't stop thinking how thankful I am that the judges spared us the horror of having to sit through watching Robin present a Bocuse D'Or quality platter last night to Thomas Keller, Alex Stratta and Daniel Boulud among others.

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Awesome challenge. Can't even think about how stressed everyone must have been. Personally I think though that if the brothers hadn't messed up with the things they had, Kevin wouldn't have won. I know he had a solid dish, but I just felt this was one time where Kevin's simple presentation was out of place, normally I am perfectly cool with how he does things.

Sad Eli left, was rooting for him, even though I knew in the back of my mind he probably wouldn't win it all, but I did at least figure he would make it far. Honestly I would rather have seen Eli make it than Jen. She started off strong but I just haven't been a fan lately, I don't think I would have cried too much if she had left. I don't see her winning at least.

Also, Richard Blais' blog was a touching piece on Eli over on the bravo site.


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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I think this is the final 4 most of us expected. Now the tension really gets kicked up. We are at a point when we could see 4 solid presentations and then who would go?

I liked Eli, he did well, and he went as far as he should of gone. Finishing 5th is quite admirable considering who is still left. David Ross makes a good point of how difficult (to be polite) a time Robin would have had with this last challenge. Since Eli was close to going last time, perhaps the judges refelction on who had the better chance in this last challenge factored into Robin's dismissal.

I liked Padma's "welcome back" remark to Jen after she went back to using seafood. The fact that she didn't shake when saucing might mean that she has got her equilibrium back. I'd certainly like to see her best in the next challenge.

Once again Mike V continues to dis Kevin's food. Kevin is probably my favorite chef on any of the Top Chef seasons, for several reasons which I'm sure makes me even more livid over MV's comments.

One of our first impressions of Kevin that they emphasized was his cutting up in the pool. His child-like playfulness and cutting up sort of conjured up an image of someone who might not be such a serious competitor. I admit having that initial thought myself. I think what we've seen though is a person who is not only an excellent chef but a well balanced personality and someone who is just plain passionate about everything he does. I think it was on Bravo but there was a question and answer with Kevin and he was asked about MV's comments and he said they'd talked things out. Kevin has given everyone there due respect and then just goes on about putting down good food and staying true to his values. Every week we see more and more of not just his skills but his passion and focus.

Kudos to Bryan. Kevin asked for his help and he stepped right up to the plate. The way he handled and handles himself is so different than his brother.

I think we're in for a treat in the upcoming weeks.


Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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"People! This is drama not cooking. I think Mike I. was thoroughly disliked by the judges. Robin could have gone home for the past three or four weeks, but Mike was such an unmitigated jerk that they kicked him out the door and reminded him on the way out that Robin was staying. This Jen thing has been a complete setup. If you watched the teaser for next week carefully you will notice that all of a sudden the wan, desheveled, babbling Jen is gone. She's had her hair done and highlighted, she is speaking coherently and I will predict that seafood will somehow reappear along with a miraculous turnaround. I have not been suprised by Jen's emotional breakdown but rather her total inability to expand her culinary range. Putting her out there as broken, stressed and put upon merely hides the fact that she can't cook with the others when her scallops and fish are taken away from her. There will be some Kevin or V Brother screw up where they will barely hang on for drama's sake but hang on none the less. Eli is easily the weakest link left but they may let him hang around for the sake of shock at someone else's expense. "

For my next trick I will predict the fifth race at Aqueduct and the national lottery numbers. Is it contrived? Not really, simply predictable. All of you down in the dumps, unfocused people out there remember, nothing is so bad that it can't be cured with a trip to the hairdresser, a little peroxide and some seafood, just like the "dude" on the Next Food Network Star.

Bob


Even Samantha Brown would have hard time summoning a "wow" for this. Anthony Bourdain

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I was SO worried for Kevin when he said he was going to do sous vide and he had never done it before.

Oh man, me too. I was like KEVIN, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ! DON'T DO IT.

And next week is Napa and Padma in some nasty looking bangs!

No lie. That is a bad hairdo. I didn't think Padma could look bad, but those things are just wrong on her.


--Roberta--

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

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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I was really white-knuckling it for Kevin, but glad he truimphed. I was pretty sure, the second I saw Eli's butchering, that he was going to go home, anyway, but Michael came pretty freaking close, for a Voltaggio. I think it will come down to Kevin and Bryan for the final, and while I truly like Kevin and expect him to win, I really respect Bryan, too, chef-wise - and he is such a class act. How could two brothers be so different? I used to respect Michael, but his sniping is really getting very immature and his skills are beginning to fray a little at the edges.

I think it might be Michael, not Jen, going home next week.

Way to GO, Kev - 30 large, a slew of Bocuse/Keller level cookbooks, AND a shot at the Bocuse D'Or! I'd say Mr. Gillispie is already a big winner.

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I went to Volt when it first opened, when I still lived down there, and was thrilled. I hope it turns into another Inn at Little Washington, a fantastic destination spot DC-ers are willing to drive to. I've admired Bryan since that first meal, and my admiration has grown in leaps and bounds after his comment about helping other chefs out, last night. His skills and talent are amazing.

And I admire Kevin's dedication and passion.

I think they are both fabulous. I wish they both could win.


“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”

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"People! This is drama not cooking. I think Mike I. was thoroughly disliked by the judges. Robin could have gone home for the past three or four weeks, but Mike was such an unmitigated jerk that they kicked him out the door and reminded him on the way out that Robin was staying.

There have been jerks in past seasons who lasted longer than Mike did. He got sent home because he cooked the worst dish in that challenge. The judges may have felt that it was poetic justice, but the competition was decided on the plate. Bear in mind, though, that many of the scenes that make Mike look so bad are things the judges never see until long afterwards.

This Jen thing has been a complete setup. If you watched the teaser for next week carefully you will notice that all of a sudden the wan, desheveled, babbling Jen is gone. She's had her hair done and highlighted, she is speaking coherently and I will predict that seafood will somehow reappear along with a miraculous turnaround.

Actually, I thought she did her usual babbling in this episode, and the turnaround (in the quickfire) was short-lived. Of course, she was going to go back to seafood; she would have had to be a complete idiot to keep cooking red meat.

I have not been suprised by Jen's emotional breakdown but rather her total inability to expand her culinary range.

That is fairly typical of the show. If you or I were on the show, we would probably do the same: stick with what we know.

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I was really happy with Jen's recovery this show. Not only did she cook, and not shake, but she was smiling, and laughing and joking about turducken. And then she was gracious enough to use that extra 30 minutes she needed to help out where she could. I don't buy the whole "all she does is fish thing"--- it's not like she's scallop girl, fish vary widely, it's like saying Kevin only cooks chunks of red meat.

Mike is clearly being edited to be a villain, and some of the things he said was pretty villainous, but he can cook. I suspect he might be stronger than Bryan.

The only "downer" from Kevin's win is how inevitable it's looking like he will be top chef, which takes some suspense out of it. Then again, who predicted Richard Blais to choke...


"Gourmandise is not unbecoming to women: it suits the delicacy of their organs and recompenses them for some pleasures they cannot enjoy, and for some evils to which they are doomed." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

MetaFooder: linking you to food | @foodtwit

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I was really happy with Jen's recovery this show. Not only did she cook, and not shake, but she was smiling, and laughing and joking about turducken. And then she was gracious enough to use that extra 30 minutes she needed to help out where she could. I don't buy the whole "all she does is fish thing"--- it's not like she's scallop girl, fish vary widely, it's like saying Kevin only cooks chunks of red meat.

Mike is clearly being edited to be a villain, and some of the things he said was pretty villainous, but he can cook. I suspect he might be stronger than Bryan.

The only "downer" from Kevin's win is how inevitable it's looking like he will be top chef, which takes some suspense out of it. Then again, who predicted Richard Blais to choke...

It may be a bit unfair to say that Jen can only cook fish. However I think it is entirely accurate to say that she can only win this competition cooking fish. Would you rather eat scallops prepared by Kevin or short ribs prepared by Jen? That kind of brings it home. I was quite impressed with the general comraderie between everyone save Mike. Jen was a real solid citizen to help Bryan out of the weeds and Bryan was beyond gracious to run through the Sous Vide technique for Kevin. I have nothing against Jen, she is simply the weakest link left. That being said, these guys all know they are one screw up from leaving. And everyone of them has proven that they are capable of that screw up on a given night. I haven't watched every year but this has to be as strong a final grouping as they have had. These guys can all seriously cook. I really enjoy watching them come up with their dishes, the thought process is what has really separated them from the rest.

Bob


Even Samantha Brown would have hard time summoning a "wow" for this. Anthony Bourdain

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Great episode, it was nice to see them go almost all out. And I agree, even though Eli really really shone in the last few weeks, it was his time to go. Nice to see Jennifer wake up and come back to the game. And I love how humble Kevin seems and how delicious his food looks.

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I confess that the fussy preps of the mini-B'dO competition did not impress me. They didn't look tasty/appetizing at all. a good test though.

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I have nothing against Jen, she is simply the weakest link left.

Maybe, but not because of her cooking. Her main weakness on this show has been self-doubt. She let a couple of bad results spiral her downward instead of using them as a springboard to bounce back up. If she gets her head straight very quickly, the cooking ability is still there. I've been a Jennifer fan since the start of the season, I'm not giving up on her 'til Padma tells her to pack her knives.


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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I have nothing against Jen, she is simply the weakest link left.

Maybe, but not because of her cooking. Her main weakness on this show has been self-doubt. She let a couple of bad results spiral her downward instead of using them as a springboard to bounce back up. If she gets her head straight very quickly, the cooking ability is still there. I've been a Jennifer fan since the start of the season, I'm not giving up on her 'til Padma tells her to pack her knives.

Jen is the weakest link because she has the narrowest range of skills and the bad results and the self-doubt she has experienced are a direct results of that inability to cook outside her box. Kevin is a perfect example of someone who while not particularly comfortable outside his comfort zone knows how to cook well enough and confidently enough to pull it off. He does seem to be "playing it safe" and trying not to screw up and that might come back to bite him. His venture into the realm of sous vide to get a uniform and perfectly cooked protein took some guts. The V brothers on the other hand are supremely confident and rightfully so and the only thing that will do them in is their own arrogance. I will agree with you if the finals are what they have been in the past, "here's a gazillion dollars, no restrictions, impress us", that will definately benefit Jen. However if the semifinal is the more likely curveball and here's some stress on top of it, she's done. Who knows maybe the highlights will triumph. I'm just glad I'm not the one under the gun.

Bob


Even Samantha Brown would have hard time summoning a "wow" for this. Anthony Bourdain

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I have nothing against Jen, she is simply the weakest link left.

Maybe, but not because of her cooking. Her main weakness on this show has been self-doubt. She let a couple of bad results spiral her downward instead of using them as a springboard to bounce back up. If she gets her head straight very quickly, the cooking ability is still there. I've been a Jennifer fan since the start of the season, I'm not giving up on her 'til Padma tells her to pack her knives.

Jen is the weakest link because she has the narrowest range of skills and the bad results and the self-doubt she has experienced are a direct results of that inability to cook outside her box.

The OP had it right. A lack of confidence, not a lack of skills, has been her major problem. All of these chefs have limitations. What Kevin does, as Jennifer has not, is to use the skills he has to work each challenge to his own advantage.

I will agree with you if the finals are what they have been in the past, "here's a gazillion dollars, no restrictions, impress us", that will definately benefit Jen. However if the semifinal is the more likely curveball and here's some stress on top of it, she's done.

I still predict that the producers do not want an all-male finale, and if it's at all close Jennifer will make it into the final 3. I also think it's to her benefit that the last two episodes were taped months after all of the others. She, more than any other chef, needed some time off to recharge.

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I have nothing against Jen, she is simply the weakest link left.

Maybe, but not because of her cooking. Her main weakness on this show has been self-doubt. She let a couple of bad results spiral her downward instead of using them as a springboard to bounce back up. If she gets her head straight very quickly, the cooking ability is still there. I've been a Jennifer fan since the start of the season, I'm not giving up on her 'til Padma tells her to pack her knives.

Jen is the weakest link because she has the narrowest range of skills and the bad results and the self-doubt she has experienced are a direct results of that inability to cook outside her box.

The OP had it right. A lack of confidence, not a lack of skills, has been her major problem. All of these chefs have limitations. What Kevin does, as Jennifer has not, is to use the skills he has to work each challenge to his own advantage.

I will agree with you if the finals are what they have been in the past, "here's a gazillion dollars, no restrictions, impress us", that will definately benefit Jen. However if the semifinal is the more likely curveball and here's some stress on top of it, she's done.

I still predict that the producers do not want an all-male finale, and if it's at all close Jennifer will make it into the final 3. I also think it's to her benefit that the last two episodes were taped months after all of the others. She, more than any other chef, needed some time off to recharge.

I think your last point is very valid, an all male final is probably not in the cards. However if you think of it in the Bravo producer mode, the V Bros in a fist fight? Now that's a great cooking show eh? Seriously, Kevin is in if he shows up. Jennifer needs to not totally screw up. I know I'll take some heat for this, don't discount the Ripert connection. She has already been given a couple of passes, albeit with some others performing marginally worse than she did. That leaves the V boys to kill each other for the final spot in the semifinal. I think they have probably figured this out. Should be interesting to watch.

I didn't realize the time lag in taping the final. That definitely benefits Jen.

Bob


Even Samantha Brown would have hard time summoning a "wow" for this. Anthony Bourdain

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Some of the people commenting on this forum are far too into the reality aspect of the show (exactly what bravo is looking for)...

First off, Jen should not be dismissed (i didnt like her at first, but now shes growing on me. she had an attitude at first) she was taught by eric ripert who is the best chef in the country when it comes to fish cookery(imho)

Kevin, while I liked him at first, and I dont doubt that his food is good, IS PLAYING IT TOO SAFE! I mean maybe he will win if everyone else screws up, but if jen or one of the V bros nails it in the finale, he will go down.

as for Michael V, come on you didnt notice the heavy editing on that?! they played the same line over and over, he didnt repeat it! it wasnt nice but damn! they sure played it up (and yes that is the kind of food most chefs cook on their day off, doesnt mean its bad, it just is so)

I think bryan may take it all the way, he has the level head(most of the time) and the skills to do it(i mean come on the guy worked for Charlie Palmer for 10 years!) but who knows, maybe kevin will take it, we will just see...

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Kevin, while I liked him at first, and I dont doubt that his food is good, IS PLAYING IT TOO SAFE! I mean maybe he will win if everyone else screws up, but if jen or one of the V bros nails it in the finale, he will go down.

Bear in mind that Tom Colicchio made his reputation by cooking simple things well. Kevin, in a sense, is a chef after his own heart. And I wouldn't exactly say that Kevin is playing it safe: he cooked sous vide for one of the challenges, despite having minimal experience with the technique. On this show, that is usually a recipe for disaster.

At this point, it would surprise me if Jen wins. If it is at all close, they will consider the arc of the season, and conclude that she has barely squeaked through in too many challenges. I could easily see Kevin or either Voltaggio winning. If they're looking for someone homespun and telegenic, Kevin takes the palm. Of course, he has to deliver on the plate, but he has done that more consistently than anyone else.

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Based off of Bravo's 3-second TV edits of Mike V, I would agree he is a total jerk. This is the only logical conclusion I can make.

As for Eli, I'm glad he is gone. He was sloppy and reminded me of Ron Jeremy.

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