Top Chef Las Vegas Recap
By Jason Lee
October 29, 2009
It's hard to believe that three weeks from now, we will know which four chefs will advance to the final round of Top Chef. In a perfect world, the four chefs advancing to the finals would be Kevin, Bryan, Michael and Jennifer. Over the course of this season, those four have proven themselves to be the cream amongst a remarkably well-skilled crop. Of course, as we've seen far too many times on Top Chef, the final four is rarely composed of the best chefs.
Most of the chefs are still reeling from last week's stunning episode. Jennifer on the brink of elimination, Kevin undercooking lamb so badly that the guest judge could barely swallow it, Robin turning in her best dish of the season...it all seemed like some crazy episode of The Twilight Zone.
And Jennifer is still hungover. Not physically, but spiritually. She admits that she has been beating herself up over her recent performances, noting that she's going to have to pull herself together so that she can start turning in some better dishes. She says it, but we don't believe her. We still see the haunted look in her eyes. She looks defeated even before the Quickfire has started, and I am starting to get nervous.
The cheftestants head into the kitchen and we see what looks like an Ikea living room furniture set. I'm a little confused. Padma explains: today's Quickfire is sponsored by TV Guide and the cheftestants will have to create gourmet versions of TV dinners, each inspired by a class TV show. How will they know which TV show they get? They'll draw knives, of course.
*One quick aside. I'm not a huge fan of how the Quickfire Challenges have turned into platforms for Bravo to integrate sponsors into the show. Sure, the Elimination Challenges have all the creativity and complexity that we've come to expect, but the Cookster.com challenge and the TV Guide challenge are such blatant integrations of corporate sponsors that it sucks all the fun out. It's a far cry from such classic Quickfires as the Vending Machine challenge in Season 1 or even the tag team cook-off from last week.
Okay, I'll step off my soapbox now.
In any case, the cheftestants draw knives and get shows like Seinfeld, Cheers, Giligan's Island, and M*A*S*H. They get to work and it becomes readily apparent that most dishes don't have anything to do with their shows. You'd expect Pompous Mike's Seinfeld dish to be minimalistic (reflecting the show's editing style and plot development) but it doesn't reflect anything from Jerry's bunch. No mangos, no soup nazi...nothing. Likewise with Kevin's dish from The Sopranos. No Italian flavoring or ingredients - just "family" style food.
In retrospect, I think the chefs were given too much to handle, having to reinvent foods you'd typically find in a TV dinner while trying to incorporate elements from a TV show. In the end, the show lost and the food got the focus.