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Top Chef Las Vegas Recap

By Jason Lee

September 4, 2009

It must be nice to be blessed with such a lack of self-awareness.

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Episode three of Top Chef Las Vegas opens with the women on the defensive. It's something that we've known all along (and I've openly stated it in my recaps), but the women are weak this season. Except for Jennifer. And they know it.

Ashley is pissed off that the women were picked as the bottom team. Laurine feels intimidated by the talent in the cast, Jesse wants to prove her skills in front of the judges and Jennifer is pissed that for the first time, she wasn't in the top four of a challenge.

Yeah, and you know who to blame, Jennifer.

We head to the Top Chef kitchen for the Quickfire Challenge and we see Mark Peel, a notable chef from Los Angeles. He began his career working as a vegetable boy in one of Wolfgang Puck's restaurants and now he's bestowing that role onto the cheftestants. Before them stands a veritable spread of potatoes, with multiple different colors and kinds. The cheftestants will have 45 minutes to make a spectacular dish out of them.

Jenn, as an executive chef in one of Eric Ripert's seafood restaurants, immediately goes for the mussels. She'll make a potato sauce for them. Ash, the gay guy, decides to do a sweet potato ice cream, which sounds delicious to me as I've had sweet potato ice cream in Tokyo and it was FANTASTIC. Pompous Mike I. is going to cut his potatoes the same size as rice grains and cook it like a risotto. Ashley is making potato gnocchi and Preeti is making potatoes with asparagus.

Which, of course, leads us to the first caustic confrontation in a Quickfire this season. Kevin offers to let Preeti use his pot of boiling water to blanch her asparagus. She mistakenly uses Ashley's pot, thus rendering it completely useless for gnocchi. Ashley blows up, stomping away, complaining loudly about the time that she's lost due to Preeti's mix up.




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Yes, the women are weak this season.

Meanwhile, Ash is lamenting the fact that the ice cream maker is not chilling his sweet potato ice cream quick enough. Across the room, Jesse, who has been trying to prove her skill to the judges for the past two episodes, having been in the bottom of three of the four challenges to date, has over-spiced her sweet potato soup with cayenne pepper and it's now too spicy.

Lord.

Mark Peel goes around the room tasting people's dishes. Ash has smartly renamed his dish "sweet potato custard with pecans" instead of ice cream and Mark seems to have a good reaction. Bryan has made a vichyssoise, Preeti has a big salad, Mike has a confit tuna and potato sandwich (underdone, according to Mark), Jennifer has her mussels with potato sauce, and Robin has a breakfast-looking pancetta frisee with purple potatoes, yams and a fried egg.

All around the room we go, with too many dishes to name. The last three, though, are worth mentioning. Eli has mader a yam puree with pistachios but Padma gets a mouthful of pistachio shells. Ooops. Jesse and her spicy sweet potato soup have made Mark Peel do a double take ("You like cayenne," he intuits.) Ashley's gnocchi seems to have gone off without a hitch.


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