Top Chef Episode 6- Penn and Teller

top_chef_tvLast night’s episode of Top Chef: Las Vegas finally cut the field down to the top ten.  The Vegas tie-in this week was “magic” and Penn and Teller came by to deconstruct some magic tricks, while the chefs tried their own magic at deconstructing classic dishes.

QUICKFIRE– Create a dish interpreting your “angel” and “devil”

Guest Judge-Michelle Bernstein

Prize– No money prize this week, but the winner would gain immunity from the elimination challenge.

  • This Quickfire was a little too similar to week one’s “Vices” challenge to actually be interesting.  All the chefs were wearing red neckerchiefs in honor of Mattin, nice gesture on their part. If Ashley ever is eliminated, maybe they will all cook the Quickfire with wet hair.
  • Jenn Carroll came up with Scallops Two Way: Simple Scallop with Olive Oil and  Scallop with Butter.
  • Following the lead of his brother last week, Bryan was uncharacteristically in the bottom of this challenge with Frozen Coconut Lychee and Dark Chocolate Mousse.  Ash couldn’t get his “angel” Coffee Custard to set and flopped with his Spicy Asparagus Custard. Laurine’s Chicken Consomme and Chicken Saltimbanco was uninteresting and sloppily plated and landed her in the bottom group.
  • Mike V. was on point with Rilette of Salmon and Sopa paired with Confit Salmon and Ice Cream. Eli’s Scallop Duo (Scallop with Radish and Greens/Scallop with Risotto and Butter) was a hit, but he will be more remembered for his insensitive comments about Robin’s cancer story.  Eli’s douchebaggery aside, Robin managed the win immunity with a Raw Salad of Apple and Fennel and Cardamom Ginger Crisp.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE- Deconstruct a Classic Dish

  • Penn and Teller came by to break down  a magic trick called ‘Cups and Balls” Then informed the chefs of the their challenge to deconstruct dishes such as Fish and Chips, Pot Roast, and Meat Lasagna. The chefs drew knives and each were given a classic dish Some jumped on the opportunity from the start( Mike V., Ashley), others looked angry (Jenn) , and some were confused ( Ron, Mike I.).  It provided for an interesting dynamic in the kitchen as no one, including the chefs, really know what they were making until it was plated.
  • Eli blew up his pressure cooker making Sweet and Sour Pork while Ron looked like smoke was going to come out of his ears breaking down Paella.
  • Top 4 –Jenn’s worries were for nothing.  She turned Meat Lasagna on its ear by putting out Flat Iron Steak with Mascarpone Béchamel, Tomato Sauce and Pecorino Crisp.  Mike V. was confident from the beginning and it showed in his Caesar Salad with Chicken Wing, Parmesan Gel and Homemade Brioche. Ashley’s take on Pot Roast –Seared Strip Loin, Potato Puree, Crispy Shallot, and Carrot Foam -looked oddly like chocolate cake, but went over well with the judges.  Kevin drew Chicken with Mole Negro and offered up Baked Chicken and Chicken Croquetta with Mexican Coffee, Chile Flake and Pumpkin and Fig Jam.
  • Winner-Kevin
  • Bottom 3-Ash still can’t seem to get it together.  His take on Shepherd’s Pie (Lamb Chop, Braised Leeks, Glazed Carrots, Pea Puree, and Madiera Jus) was missing a potato component.  Laurine also suffered from a lack of spuds in her Fish and Chips with Malt Sabyon, Tartar Sauce, Tomato Confit, Ginger and Garlic.  Ron’s Paella wasn’t deconstructed; he overcooked his rice without crisping it, and overcooked his seafood.  A combination that landed him in the bottom for the second week in a row.
  • Disappearing– Ron

Random Observations

-Michelle Bernstein is a very smiley woman.

-While not exactly deconstructions, Jenn Carroll cooks up interpretations of “Pork and Beans”,  “TastyKake Ice Cream”, and soft pretzels at 10 Arts.  It may have been careful editing, but she had nothing to worry about this week.

-The Padma Eats a Shell/Bone Count: 2

Power Rankings: Finally a Top Ten.  Some movement in the top, but the usual suspects still dominate the competition:

    Kevin-Seems to make a jam or marmalade every week.
    Mike V.-Never at a loss for ideas or self-praise.  You can’t argue with results though.
    Bryan-Quiet showing this week doesn’t discount his dominance so far.
    Jenn The top four are pretty much interchangeable.  Should still end up in the finals.
    Eli- His high ambitions and extreme self confidence may wind up hurting him.
    Ashley– Went from being borderline depressing to watch to 2 strong weeks in a row.
    Mike I. I like him. May want to focus things a little more to make it easier on himself.
    Robin- Even with the Quickfire win, not a contender right now.
    Laurine– Up and down.
    Ash– He gets more airtime than Jenn or Bryan, but can’t  seem to get on track.
    Also on TV
    The Insider is reporting that Marc Vetri has taped a battle on Iron Chef America against Iron Chef Michael Symon.  No word yet on air date or secret ingredient.  Vetri vs. Symon in Battle Veal? Probably would be interesting, but not likely to fly by the Food Network.