Top Chef Las Vegas Recap

By Jason Lee

September 13, 2009

We went with the more talented of the two chefs here.

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The girls are on the defensive. As any reader of my recaps knows, the girls are weak this season. And you know what? The girls are feeling the heat. Robin would like to see the women step it up and Jennifer seems, frankly, embarrassed for her sex. I don't blame her.

We head to the Top Chef kitchen for the Quickfire and the chefs are blown away to find the legendary Daniel Boulud standing with Tom. Today, they will be working with a French ingredient that has yet to catch on in America: snails - or as the French call them, escargot. They have 45 minutes to create something that Daniel has never tasted before. As this is a High Stakes Quickfire, the winner will get immunity and a nice bonus. The loser goes home.

WOW. Was not expecting that. This will only mark the second time that Top Chef has gone this route with their Quickfire Challenges - the last being the season premiere of Top Chef New York.

As the chefs get working, I'm wondering how many chefs have worked with escargot before. Ashley has not and Jennifer only has a passing familiarity with the ingredient. I'm thinking that the women might be in for another bad episode. In fact, the only person who seems confident is our resident Frenchie, Mattin.

The chefs serve their dishes to Tom and Daniel in groups of three. I must say, I'm impressed with the creativity and variety of dishes at work here. We have somewhat of a fried escargot BLT from Jesse, who's been a perpetual contestant in the bottom three. We have a play on soup and salad from Ashley and a play on bagel with cream cheese from Robin. We even have two dishes with brussel sprouts, courtesy of Jenn (who uses grilled ramps and yuzu) and Kevin (who does a fricassee with mushrooms).


All in all, Daniel and Tom find a lot to like. On top, we have Jennifer, Kevin and Pompous Mike, who'd gone back to his Greek roots with a potato garlic puree. Kevin ends up winning and as you can imagine, he's thrilled to have won his first High Stakes Quickfire.

On the bottom, and up for elimination are Robin, Ashley and Jesse (big surprise there). Yep, three women, three bottom spots. The writing is on the wall.

The loser won't be decided by their Quickfire dish. Instead, the cheftestants will have 20 minutes to rummage through the kitchen, which has drastically been re-organized, and create an amuse-bouche - a single mouthful of food. The women are frantic. They know that in 20 minutes, one of them will be going home for a stupid amuse-bouche.

Robin ends up making an avocado soup with a green apple, which incites me to yell at my television, "THAT IS NOT AN AMUSE-BOUCHE." Jesse makes a tuna tartare with a quail egg, a dish that she makes in her restaurant. Ashley has foie gras with taragon and rams. I'm thinking that Robin is vulnerable due to her inability to make a real amuse-bouche and that Jesse would be safe because she's made that dish before, but it's the opposite. Robin sounds like she had the best bite and Jesse is going home. I'm not particularly sad because Jesse has been on the bottom of almost EVERY challenge, but she's clearly very sad. She just wants people to know that she doesn't usually suck so bad. I hope she doesn't.

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