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Top Chef: Season 6 – Las Vegas


Chris Hennes
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I do think kevin has played it very safe, and unless you can come up with something other than sous vide, you cannot change my mind.

sous vide, with the right equipment(a chamber vac and an immersion circulator, and the correct temp to run it at) is VERY easy to do. He has the V bros on the show do it, and im sure he has seen others not on the show do it. Basically, you put it in the water with a specialized thermometer and pull it out when it reaches the desired temp. and the water being at such a low temp, it will hold at the correct temp for quite a long time (10-20min for something small). its actually very hard to screw up, one of the great benefits of it, not to mention the different textures and such you can get out of it.

so no, I do not think that it was a risk for kevin to do sous vide.

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I do think kevin has played it very safe, and unless you can come up with something other than sous vide, you cannot change my mind.

sous vide, with the right equipment(a chamber vac and an immersion circulator, and the correct temp to run it at) is VERY easy to do. He has the V bros on the show do it, and im sure he has seen others not on the show do it. Basically, you put it in the water with a specialized thermometer and pull it out when it reaches the desired temp. and the water being at such a low temp, it will hold at the correct temp for quite a long time (10-20min for something small). its actually very hard to screw up, one of the great benefits of it, not to mention the different textures and such you can get out of it.

so no, I do not think that it was a risk for kevin to do sous vide.

Everyone did Sous Vide for that round and everyone, except for Kevin, had temperature issues with their dish.

PS: I am a guy.

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I do think kevin has played it very safe, and unless you can come up with something other than sous vide, you cannot change my mind.

sous vide, with the right equipment(a chamber vac and an immersion circulator, and the correct temp to run it at) is VERY easy to do. He has the V bros on the show do it, and im sure he has seen others not on the show do it. Basically, you put it in the water with a specialized thermometer and pull it out when it reaches the desired temp. and the water being at such a low temp, it will hold at the correct temp for quite a long time (10-20min for something small). its actually very hard to screw up, one of the great benefits of it, not to mention the different textures and such you can get out of it.

so no, I do not think that it was a risk for kevin to do sous vide.

.

As someone who uses sous vide, very frequently, this statement is simply not true. Is the sous vide process a process that produces consistent and reproducible results? Most assuredly. Is it something that requires a fairly steep learning curve to achieve these results? Most assuredly. Would I like to bet my career on a technique that I had never used, that I was relying on an archrival to tutor me through? Not at all. A process that utilizes new and unfamiliar technology and a counterintuitive cooking process? Please, do you want examples? The easiest sous vide technique in the world, 30mm tender beef steak 1 hour 9 minutes in a 55 degree water finished a minute per side in a searingly hot pan. Easy right?ask Carla (from last year) about that. How did a Top Chef finalist screw this up? She apparently made the wrong choice of beef steak and allowed a more experienced sous chef talk her into something she didn't understand.

If you are using sous vide in a one...two... three nonthinking mode you will screw up. One needs to have some basic understanding of what you are doing and some REAL understanding of the different proteins and their characteristics (which many chefs simply don't). The value of sous vide as a "simple" technique is in the ability of a smart insightful chef to work out the process and then give the recipe to a sous or line cook to repeat over and over again with identical results.

The use of sous vide by someone who has never used it before was an enormous risk. The hero of this scenario was the V brother who sat down and explained the process to him, truthfully and professionally.

Bob

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

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Well, I have never thought of Kevin as stupid. as long as you have a knowledge of how to do it, it can be done. so I would say it is a risk if kevin is stupid, otherwise not really so much. sous vide is not a kind of cooking that you rely on your senses too much to tell if it is done... if you have the right instructions, it is a no brainer as long as you have some idea of how it works, and any chef of his level should know something about it. We are talking about Kevin here, not what some other top chef contestant has done. she obviously didnt have very good instruction on how to do it.

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I would think sous vide would be a risk if you've never done it before, regardless of how easy it may (or may not) be, or whether you had Bryan V generously talking you through it. Didn't Carla ("Hootie-HOOOOO!") from last season for sous vide-ing in the semi-final (at casey's suggestion), and get booted for it? Kevin is obviously bright, gifted, skilled and all these good things, but he WAS in competition, under pressure and using a technique foreign to him, so I think, yeah, props to Kev - and it was kinda risky.

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Well, I have never thought of Kevin as stupid. as long as you have a knowledge of how to do it, it can be done. so I would say it is a risk if kevin is stupid, otherwise not really so much. sous vide is not a kind of cooking that you rely on your senses too much to tell if it is done... if you have the right instructions, it is a no brainer as long as you have some idea of how it works, and any chef of his level should know something about it. We are talking about Kevin here, not what some other top chef contestant has done. she obviously didnt have very good instruction on how to do it.

Several folks have already debunked this so thoroughly that it hardly requires further elaboration.

But one can generalize beyond Kevin this year and Carla last year. Over and over again on Top Chef, when chefs attempt a technique they haven't tried before, it usually turns out badly. This has happened countless times. It's not because they're stupid. It's because anyone improvising with an unfamiliar technique at a time of stress is likely to make mistakes. Kevin's success is one of the rare examples in the six-year history of the show when this has not backfired.

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Bummer. Our home girl chef from Philly is out of the running. I was sad to see Jennifer go. I guess that spoiler wasn't quite right. I think she still ought to throw a party. She made it pretty far in the competition and Philly is proud of her. You go Jennifer! Hold your head high. I think any one of the other chefs could have gotten the boot tonight. I think a slightly salty goat cheese salad is a far lesser transgression than serving slimy egg whites, but maybe that's just me. Sending out anything less than a perfectly cooked egg at this stage of the competition should be axe worthy...

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Bummer. Our home girl chef from Philly is out of the running. I was sad to see Jennifer go. I guess that spoiler wasn't quite right. I think she still ought to throw a party. She made it pretty far in the competition and Philly is proud of her. You go Jennifer! Hold your head high. I think any one of the other chefs could have gotten the boot tonight. I think a slightly salty goat cheese salad is a far lesser transgression than serving slimy egg whites, but maybe that's just me. Sending out anything less than a perfectly cooked egg at this stage of the competition should be axe worthy...

ya know, i have to agree with your point--a little too much salt on the goat cheese--especially when chiarello said "i wrestle with this too, with flaked salt. once it dissolves, it's saltier than when you first add it". i didnt hear him mention that he also sometimes serves raw-ish eggs to pregnant women...

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

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Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Regarding the decision to send Jennifer home, Colicchio has a couple of important points on his blog.

He says that this is the strongest quartet of chefs ever to make it to the final. And he also says that, for the first time, the four best chefs of the season actually made it that far. In past years, there was someone who squeaked through because a more talented chef had unaccountably screwed up in an earlier challenge. Last year, Carla was the one who clearly did not belong there.

With that in mind, Colicchio notes that no one in this challenge actually cooked a bad dish. The rules required a winner and a loser, and someone had to go home for a relatively minor transgression. Jennifer went home because there were clear issues, albeit subtle, with both of her dishes. That wasn't the case with the other three.

I also think it was the fairest result. Jennifer fell apart in the second half of the season. Based on her performance to date, she was clearly the weakest of the four remaining chefs. Colicchio always claims that the judging is one challenge at a time, but if it was close, she was the one who deserved to go.

The finale should be interesting. Bryan is the only chef who was never in the bottom three, all season long; he has given the steadiest performance. Kevin has won the most challenges (4 quickfire, 5 elimination). Michael has been in the top three the most often, though he has won fewer of them than either Bryan or Kevin.

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I love it when the "spoilers" are wrong. Now, if people would stop saying that the show is fixed because the two brothers are in the finale...seriously, do people think that there is going to be a huge ratings jump if two siblings are in the final? Or a drop if one was cut?

I think Tom C's blog should be required reading, since he actually tasted the food.

Did anyone see seafood at the market? I thought Jen would've naturally gone for that, if it were available. Tom's blog said that the food had to come from a 100 mile radius, which would encompass the Pacific Ocean...or Point Reyes and oysters.

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Now, if people would stop saying that the show is fixed because the two brothers are in the finale...seriously, do people think that there is going to be a huge ratings jump if two siblings are in the final?

I agree. You don't even need to taste the food, to see that the V brothers and Kevin are operating at a much higher level than the other chefs this season.

Did anyone see seafood at the market? I thought Jen would've naturally gone for that, if it were available. Tom's blog said that the food had to come from a 100 mile radius, which would encompass the Pacific Ocean...or Point Reyes and oysters.

I am not sure, but if seafood was available and she didn't grab it, it was a crucial error, but not the first time she's done that.

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I understand the desire to create some tension for the viewer in the episode, but it's too bad when you have to read a blog to find out what was really going on. In the epsiode they indicated problems with everyone's dishes.

Even if seafood was available, I wonder if Jen chose something else to avoid being dinged for playing it too safe.

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I understand the desire to create some tension for the viewer in the episode, but it's too bad when you have to read a blog to find out what was really going on. In the epsiode they indicated problems with everyone's dishes.

Even without reading the blog, it was apparent to me from the comments at Judges' Table that Jen was pretty likely to be going home. In an episode that lacked a massive screw-up or an obviously awful dish, the rules require that someone nevertheless must be selected as the losing chef.

Even if seafood was available, I wonder if Jen chose something else to avoid being dinged for playing it too safe.

If that was her reason, then she's a fool. Does anyone say that Eric Ripert is playing it safe for serving an all-seafood menu at Le Bernardin? Even if you confine yourself to that, the opportunities for creativity are limitless.

Totally apropos of nothing...but Gail's décolletage set a new standard. Even my girlfriend (without prompting from me) commented on it.

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I'd suggest for this past episode that people also read Gail Simmons blog on Bravo. She makes the point that while no one made major errors, that it was (my take) immediately clear which won was leaving and more over who would win in terms of the difficulty of the judges decision.

The results dismiss the subplot that the producers might try to influence the outcome. I think this years results (who has left when) have been pretty much spot on. I think Ashley could have gone farther than she did and Robin went farther than she should have. With the strength of chefs, the only ones I can imagine possibly having slipped into the finals (via having the ability vs a fluke) are Eli, Mike I, and Ashley.

The finals are (sad to say since I totally dislike Mike V) as they should be. The only drawback is I wish we could have a 2-3 hour final episode.

As for this episode I thought Mike V was very sharp in the quickfire. He commented about having watched Chiarello on TCM. I think he remembered the wafting of smoking grape vines and thus used the branches as a skewer as well as the leaf based on who he was serving. For all that I dislike about him, I think that was an extremely smart way to go.

The only dish in the final elimination portion that drew no negative comment was Kevin's vegetable dish. I loved the fact the judges emphasized the simplicity aspect in conjunction with the bold flavors.

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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Look, I realize this show is about good television, with cooking skills and creativity taking second place. Still, the television failings tick me off the most. In particular, the editing.

Sometimes the decisions of the judges seem to come out of left field. If you are listening to what they say during the tastings, discussions with the chefs, and among themselves, it doesn't seem to jibe with who they send off and/or deem the round's winner. I suspect that's entirely due to the editing process, i.e., the desire to get the interesting sound bites and facial expressions rather than disclose the judges' logic to the viewers -- and the goal to "surprise" the viewer after the commercial break.

Has anyone else noticed this, or am I hallucinating?

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

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I'm curious just how tough Kevin's beef was. Were it not for his vegetable dish and Jen's salt issues he could have gone home. Conversely, if his beef had been even passable I think he would have won the challenge.

It's hard to tell from the teasers, but it sounds like somebody pooched it on one of their dishes, but who? Sounded like a seasoning issue. Kevin is the only one (I think but could be wrong) that hasn't been criticized at some point over seasoning to date. I could well be wrong on that.

If all 3 were to nail it in the finale who would win? The extremes are Kevin with less is more but great flavors and Mike V with going over the top the other way in terms of trying to be too creative. Bryan seems to be a grown up version of Mike in terms of being creative but not too over the top, yet with more a sense of nailing the flavors more on the lines of Kevin so perhaps, if all 3 nail it he may have the best shot. I wonder if the V boys watched TCM together since he chose the short ribs which were what Chiarello cooked in the TCM finale.

I'm guilty of falling into what the tv producers like most, someone with strong likes and dislikes about the cheftestants. I hope Kevin wins. I do think he stands to be the chef least likely to screw it up as well as long as he doesn't pull a Blais in the finale. I wouldn't feel burned if Bryan wins, he certainly is worthy. While he may be worthy, I'll really be ticked if Mike V wins, his head is already big enough.

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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Look, I realize this show is about good television, with cooking skills and creativity taking second place. Still, the television failings tick me off the most. In particular, the editing.

Sometimes the decisions of the judges seem to come out of left field. . . . Has anyone else noticed this, or am I hallucinating?

Well...not quite hallucinating, but I think you are mistaken. In every episode this year, either it was very clear who would be sent home, or it was a close call between two chefs, and one of those two was sent home. During this season, I cannot think of a single elimination that "came out of left field."

The judges have said that their deliberations sometimes take hours. In a show edited down to one hour, obviously a lot gets left out. Clearly they are trying to maximize the drama; this is entertainment, after all. But most of the time, the reasons for their decision are pretty obvious.

I'm curious just how tough Kevin's beef was. Were it not for his vegetable dish and Jen's salt issues he could have gone home. Conversely, if his beef had been even passable I think he would have won the challenge.

That's probably right. Both judges with blogs (Colicchio and Simmons) said that this was the best final four the show has ever had, and that no dish was actually bad. Someone had to lose.

If all 3 were to nail it in the finale who would win? The extremes are Kevin with less is more but great flavors and Mike V with going over the top the other way in terms of trying to be too creative. Bryan seems to be a grown up version of Mike in terms of being creative but not too over the top, yet with more a sense of nailing the flavors more on the lines of Kevin so perhaps, if all 3 nail it he may have the best shot. I wonder if the V boys watched TCM together since he chose the short ribs which were what Chiarello cooked in the TCM finale.

I think we already know that all three don't nail it. There hasn't been an episode yet where at least one of them didn't make at least a minor mistake. Colicchio has said that, in the event of a tie, the chef's performance over the course of the whole season is taken into account. I think that benefits Kevin, because he has won the most challenges. Also, don't discount that Colicchio is the head judge, and Kevin is very much a chef after Colicchio's heart.

If Kevin is the one who screws up, and the Voltaggio brothers tie, then I think Bryan wins, because he was never in the bottom three, and his cooking is more mature.

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Marc, how would you define "mature"? More mature demeanor, it would seem, but I'm not sure what you mean in re cooking.

My sense is that Michael is still experimenting, and learning how far he can go without losing his audience. Obviously he is very good, but if you have to choose, I think Bryan is more consistent.

This, of course, is based solely on what I can infer from the edit, and without actually tasting the food. Which is another way of saying I could be way off base.

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