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Top Chef: Season 6 – Las Vegas


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This has been a fantastic season. Tom said that no other season could've executed that meal at that point, and I think he is right. It seems as through Bravo listened to the complaints, and really went out there and found some of the next best chefs.

Of course, the lesser chefs are falling by the wayside, but there is a clear division between the contenders, almost-contenders, and nice-to-know-yous. Can you imagine Spike doing well in that challenge? Hector was the first one that I felt badly for, because I think a challenge such as that truly favors the professionally-trained chef. Still, a tenderloin needs to be cooked correctly, and it was really a no-brainer.

And I love that they are focusing on things such as snails, or the classics, or modern techniques -- things that really intrigue me as a home cook that I want to learn more about.

I think some of the middle of the roaders this season may have been on top in past seasons - especially last year!

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I think this may have been my favorite Top Chef episode of all 6 seasons combined up to this point. I can't imagine having to present my food to that group. It would be exciting and terrifying all at once. Still, that doesn't excuse the screw-ups because they were all serving to the same group and, obviously, some did just fine or even great. I almost got the feeling that Kevin didn't feel like his reward was all that much a reward. He seemed a bit disappointed at not being able to cook for them. I'm wondering if, given the choice, he would have opted to participate in the challenge. My personal top three were in the top four but, at this point, I think my top three is probably pretty similar to most people's top three and it's just a matter of picking the winner.

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 really liked this episode, but, I was wondering if two of the groups didn't pair up correctly? Shouldn't the sauce Munier have been with trout, and the Bernaise been with the frog's legs?

I mean, I understand that nowadays we mess around with the classics all the time, but wasn't the point here to start with classical pairings?

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I thought grenouilles meuniere was a classic? If not, it should be. They're tasty! But it's most definitely a classic paired with trout. I think they were ok either way.

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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By far my favorite Top Chef episode of any season-largely due to the fact that I was in Las Vegas on the days that they were filming the "French" episode and so I've been anticipating seeing this one since last May.

I was in town attending "Vegas Uncork'd," and had the pleasure of meeting Robuchon at a private event at L'Atelier. (You can read my report here ).

I was surprised that Robuchon voiced the words "I don't speak English very well" at the Top Chef table. Trust me when I tell you that he doesn't speak any discernible English as far as I could tell when I met him. (Maybe he's really just fooling us all).

The filming of the "French" episode began in the morning and carried into the late afternoon. That evening, the last day of "Uncork'd," I joined some friends for dinner at a very off-off-off Strip Asian restaurant. One of the French Chefs who was on the judging panel joined us and he told me that all of the judges, including Robuchon, were very impressed with the talents of the young Chefs who presented the top dishes. And yes, all were incredibly nervous--which of course is understandable under the pressure of any Top Chef challenge--add to that pressure the presence of Robuchon at the table and the stress quotient increased by a considerable amount. Would you want to craft a bernaise and serve it to Robuchon?

My favorite dish of the episode wasn't really the star on the plate-it was that tiny, little puffball Pommes Souffle that Bryan gently tilted next to the trout. Une petite pomme de terre délicieuse.

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I'm surprised there was no comment about those pommes souffle from any one at the table. Maybe it just didn't make the final edit? I haven't yet had a chance to read the blogs. I was actually wondering how they got all of those chefs there at the same time. Now I know. Thanks for sharing some "scoop" with us, David.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I'm surprised there was no comment about those pommes souffle from any one at the table. Maybe it just didn't make the final edit? I haven't yet had a chance to read the blogs. I was actually wondering how they got all of those chefs there at the same time. Now I know. Thanks for sharing some "scoop" with us, David.

It was a pretty big week for Las Vegas when you consider that Top Chef was being filmed and "Vegas Uncork'd" was going on. I can imagine the PR and coordination that had to have taken place behind the scenes to bring all the schedules together at one place and time. Colicchio was doing Top Chef during the day and then did a book signing at an event at "Uncork'd" in the evening. Guy Savoy, Robuchon and Alain Ducasse we're all in town for "Uncork'd"--and Robuchon also judged Top Chef.

For a few days in May, some of the greatest Chefs we know were in Las Vegas.

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I'm surprised there was no comment about those pommes souffle from any one at the table. Maybe it just didn't make the final edit? I haven't yet had a chance to read the blogs. I was actually wondering how they got all of those chefs there at the same time. Now I know. Thanks for sharing some "scoop" with us, David.

In Chef Tom's blog he talks about things that didn't make air, as far as food went - including the quickfire.

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No comments on last night's episode yet? Ok, I'll start...

Mike I actually put out a winning dish (in the QF) without seeming to ride anyone else's coat-tails. Of course, it helped that he was the only one with any first-hand knowledge of the ingredient. sorry, he just comes off as an a**hat and does not make me want to cheer for him.

Bryan V is quickly looking like the man to beat, even with all the strong competition. It was also nice not to see him and his brother not cook their proteins sous vide and still be among the strongest competitors.

Ceviche should be banned from all further challenges. In the desert...really?

Nice to see Ashley really show her thought-process ( spreading the cast iron skillets out to get a more even cooking surface) and to have it work for her. Her dish looked good.

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If last season was Top Scallop this season is Top Ceviche.

I like ceviche and all, but I really want Tom to tell them that if anyone makes ceviche it's an automatic disqualifier. Out you go. It's getting ridiculous, and it's pretty easy and doesn't take much work. BORING.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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That was Sam Talbot, who looked certain to win until he did a ceviche in the Hawaiian elimination challenge. It wasn't like everybody had ceviche'd the competition to death at that point, but Tom Collicchio kicked him off the island in that final three, which allowed for the legendary Ilan-Marcel denouement, because "he didn't actually COOK anything." Never mind that at no time was it stated that actual flame must be used in the preparation of the challenge dishes; and never mind that Hawaiian "ceviche" - poke - is a cornerstone of Hawai'ian cuisine; Tom kicked Sam to the curb . . . unfairly, I thought.

However, I agree there has been WAY too much ceviche in recent seasons (especially this one), and that it's a bad, bad idea, both for a ranch challenge, as well as for the fact that I don't think raw seafood is a good idea in 100+ degree heat. Did nobody learn from Anita Lo's disasterous raw bar on the shadeless rooftop during the pool party challenge in Top Chef Masters? Ai, yai, yai, muchachos! Worse, ceviche has been a cop-out for the chefs, when they don't know what else to produce. A cool dish in a hot environment? No. Not if your sea food starts turning in the heat. I love ceviche, but I'm sick of seeing that, tartares and capaccio of anything. Be one with the fire pit, I say.

Having vented about all that, I was sure Robin was going home for her truly repulsive shrimp - but I guess Mattin's half completely-raw, half completely-cooked ceviche really was worse. Saw Tom go toss (not actually spit) his ou in the bushes, so I guess salmonella trumps merely revolting every time . . . (!)

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I think they made the right choice last night. Given that Robin and Mattin's dishes were equally bad, at least Robin realized that hers was bad and acknowledged that fact. Mattin seemed like "Of course it was good! I made it!" Tim Love seemed pissed--I wonder if he really was ill from his fish. Plus Mattin got bit in the ass by Kharma after lying at judges table regarding the asparagus and Ashley.

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"he didn't actually COOK anything."

to which he added, "and this is a show about cooking!"

Mattin sealed his fate when he suggested that there wasn't anything wrong with his dish. Robin was smart enough to say that she knew her dish was bad. The judges have always erred on the side of he who doesn't know the difference betwwen awful and good is worse than he who just cooks awful food. Although I don't know how not actually tasting your dish before you serve it can be excused, but I think she may have kept that a secret from the judges.

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I pretty much agree with the need to hold back on doing any more ceviches. However, one thing I did want to point out is that Season 6 of Top Chef was filmed over 20 days during the month of May. Top Chef Masters didn't start airing until June (and obviously was filmed much earlier). So, unfortunately, no one from Season 6 would've been privy to Anita Lo's raw bar disaster. Hopefully the Season 7 cheftestants will have learned this lesson though.

However, one gripe that I think is completely fair is when will the cheftestants learn to TASTE the food before serving it? Tom et al having been griping about that since Season 1. Certainly that might have saved Robyn this time around from being in the bottom three.

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You'd think with having seen so many ceviche's already that the chef's would choose something else so as to not be going up against other ceviche's. Either that or they're thinking their ceviche only has to be better than one of the others.

Notice too that Jen once again went with fish when left on her own. I look forward to seeing something different out of her.

While the V boys have been up at the top, I still consider Kevin to be at least on a par with them if not my favorite to take it all. Remember, possibly the only reason he didn't win last week's is because he won the quickfire so wasn't competing.

I was glad to see Mattin go. Thought his throwing Ashley under the bus last week was tacky and while he's tried to be smiling and outgoing to me he came across as being arrogant in a French sort of obnoxious way with far too much a laisez faire attitude about his dishes being good.

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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The one comment from the entire show for me was whichever one of the brothers said after the Quickfire something like, "I'd much rather work with interesting flavors than take the slime off a cactus." There you go, dismiss the ingredient because you didn't do so well. Great chef, but that comment was pretty sad.

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And I'm not sure that it meets the criteria for throwing someone under the bus anyway. Now, Ashley could have thrown Mattin under the bus by accurately relating the circumstances of the asparagus-less veloute when Tom suggested it, as it was Mattin who promptly axed the idea when she raised it and therefore brought about the outcome. But she didn't throw him under the bus, as Tom indeed sensed she could have. What Mattin did was take evasive measures when he saw the potential throwing under the bus he was getting lined up for. But trying to escape being thrown under the bus shouldn't be the equivalent of throwing somebody under the bus. Now, if he had tried to blame the failure of the sauce on Ashley in some way, that would have been throwing her under the bus.

But it is time to move on. Perhaps to throwing people over the bus, like Joey suggested in the Miami season.

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