Top Chef Episode 4- Vivre Las Vegas

While Ryan Madson was doing his best Brad Lidge impression last night, Top Chef contestants were trying to be French for Daniel Boulud, Joel Robuchon, and an impressive list of culinary figures in the fourth episode of Top Chef: Las Vegas.

QUICKFIRE -  Create dish using snails

Guest Judge – Daniel Boulud

Prize – This week’s Quickfire Challenge was another High Stakes Quickfire. The loser would be going home. The winner would have off from the Elimination Challenge and win a seat at the celebrity judging table.

  • This week had another direct Quickfire Challenge, the contestants were asked to create a dish using snails as the main protein. Jen Carroll seemed to be skeptical of using them, but she wound up landing in the Top 3 with her Escargot with Grilled Ramps, Brussels Sprouts, Chanterelles, and Yuzu.
  • Another standout dish included Mike I.’s Sautéed Escargot over Potato Garlic Puree, Spring Onion, and Ouzo Broth. Kevin won the challenge with Escargot Fricasse with Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts and Candied Bacon Jam.
  • The weakest dishes belonged to Jesse (“E.L.T”), Ashley (Escargot Soup), and Robin (“Bagels and Lox” with Escargot Marmalade). The three then competed in another Amuse-Bouche Quickfire, or as Tom put it: “A bite to save your life!!”.
  • Jesse lost the final challenge with a Tuna Tartare and was sent to pack her knives and “leave” (does Padma have a patent on ‘Pack your knives and go?’). Jesse’s famous last words: “I don’t suck this bad”.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE – Create a dish based on a pairing of classical French proteins and sauces.

  • The chefs drew knives, with half of them pulling a classical French sauce and the others pulling a classical French protein. It was up to them to make the pairs. They would be serving a list of heavy hitting French chefs, Boulud, Hubert Keller, Laurent Tourondel, Jean Joho, and Joel Robuchon.
  • The chef’s worked rather well in their pairs. There was no moment of high intensity or drama while in prep or while cooking. The most interesting pair to watch may have been Ron and Robin. They looked like a disaster waiting to happen with their Frog Leg Meuniere, but eventually got through and missed the bottom 4.

Top 4 – Mike I. and Bryan’s Warm Cured Trout with Deconstructed Béarnaise. Mike I. made the sauce, but it was essentially Bryan’s recipe. Regardless, it came out well and Joel Robuchon seemed to enjoy it. Jenn and Mike V.’s Rabbit Chasseur with Mustard Noodle and Shiso also placed.

Winner – Bryan

Bottom 4Mattin and Ashley’s Sautéed Poussin and Ravioli with Sauce Veloute and Asparagus had too much bacon (blasphemy) and was otherwise under-seasoned. Hector managed to both undercook and overcook his Chateaubriand before hacking away at it like Les Stroud. Ash couldn’t get enough sauce on the plates and the unlikely pair rounded out the bottom four.

Au Revoir – Hector

Random Observations

  • Jenn’s first non-seafood dish of the season was a success. Watch out!
  • Best job in the house: Joel Robuchon’s translator.
  • This cast may have the most talented chefs to date on any Top Chef. Yet, it is almost painfully obvious who has a real shot at winning this thing.
  • Coolest titles of the week: Candied Bacon Jam and Mustard Noodle.
  • I had some high expectations for Ash going into this season and am a little disappointed in his showing so far. Ash and Hector had what could have been the easiest dish of the night.
  • Anyone else mix up the Voltaggio brothers?
  • Next week’s episode The chefs take it outside and cook cowboy style. It must be a picnic under the High Desert sun. Tim Love is guest judge.