Top Chef Episode 8- Pigs and Pinot

top_chef_tvThis week’s Top Chef: Las Vegas was all about the “P’s”. Pairing, Pigs, Pinot, and Product Placement reigned supreme in Week 8. Another P, Charlie Palmer, stopped by to be guest judge and to show off his wine tower traversing angels from Aureole. More after the jump.

QUICKFIRE – Pair a dish with Alexia Crunchy Snacks

Guest Judge -Charlie Palmer

Prize – None. This challenge was for the love of the game.

  • The chefs had to create a dish and pair it with an Alexia Crunchy Snack. Exactly what “pairing” meant was interpreted different by each chef, some incorporated the snack into the dish and others served their dish alongside a bowl of waffle fries.
  • Jenn Carroll was nervous about cooking for Charlie Palmer. She hasn’t been happy during a Quickfire since Week 1. She must not be a morning person.
  • Jenn chose to make a Sautéed Pork Chop with Tomato Sauce and Feta.
  • For the second week in a row, Jenn found herself in the least successful group. She cooked her chop early and had to wait some time for Palmer to come around and taste her dish. She knew what was coming though, so at least she isn’t delusional; like some other people in this competition. Also in the bottom was Ash with his strangely paired Chilled Cucumber Soup with Crème Fraiche, Crab and Barbecue Waffle Fries, and Robin’s texturally upsetting Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with Avocado Mousseline.
  • The top group included Kevin and his Warm Bean Confit Tomato Salad, Fresh Herbs and Creamed Corn. It was a nice play on a classic green bean casserole that he paired with Alexia Onion Crisps. Also reaching for the onions and succeeding was Bryan. He cooked up a Rib Eye with Pickled Onion, Sautéed Mushrooms and Chile Peppers.
  • Getting his first win of the season was Eli and his Potato Clam Salad with Fennel, Celery, and White Truffle Sauce.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE – Cook a pork dish and pair it with a Pinot Noir.

  • The chefs drew knives and were given a part of a pig. Some money cuts included pork butt, pork belly, and pork leg. Then they chose a Pinot Noir as a pairing for their dishes.
  • They would be cooking for Charlie Palmer’s Pig and Pinot charity event.
  • There was little drama in the kitchen leading up to the event. But at home, there was a bit of a blowup between Robin and Eli about a dirty cutting board.
  • Top 4 – Talk about a microcosm of the season to date. Bryan was spot on with his pairing of a 2007 Rochiali Pinot Noir. Jenn found redemption yet again with her surprisingly light Braised Pork Belly and 2005 Chanson Clos de Beze Pinot Noir. Mike V. went for vanilla, cherry, and oak notes in his Root Beer Braised Pork Cheek and 2006 Gunvalson Pinot Noir.
  • Winner – Kevin racks up his third Elimination win with Pork Leg Pate alongside a 2006 Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir.
  • Bottom 3 – Another literal example of things have been playing out, Laurine’s Pork Butt Rillettes were more reminiscent of cat food than rillettes. Robin’s Brined Center Cut Pork Chop lacked any real pork flavor.
  • Packing Knives – Ash’s Chilled Pork Tenderloin was his second choice, but that didn’t matter as it didn’t pair well with the wine.


Mike Voltaggio Egotistical Quote of the Day – “Babe Ruth struck out once or twice in his career and left a legacy behind. I feel like I’m doing the same thing.” ( The Babe actually struck out 1,330 times in his career, tremendous by today’s standards)

– Don’t forget to make a reservation for the Jenn Carroll dinner at Blackfish. Be sure of your schedule though, because ANY reservation cancelation is $25 each seat.

– Next Week: It’s time for Restaurant Wars.

Last, but not least: GO PHILLIES! ! ! !