Tag top chef las vegas recap

Top Chef in Napa Valley

We’re down to the last two episodes of Top Chef Las Vegas! The final four head to Napa for their quick-fire and elimination challenges. This week’s guest judge is Top Chef Master, Chef Michael Chiarello– a pioneer of fine dining in Napa Valley. For the quick-fire challenge the chefs must cook with Napa Valley’s signature crop: the grape. The chefs have a full pantry and 30 minutes to cook for Padma and Chef Chiarello. And for a classic Top Chef twist, they must cook and serve their dishes on the Napa Valley Wine Train. On the menu:

Kevin: honey and fromage blanc mousse, glazed grapes, olive oil and sea salt
Michael: grape leaf stuffed with couscous, vinegar glazed grape and scallop
Bryan: roasted hen, bacon, brussel sprouts, concord grapes, ruby quinoa and qrugula
Jennifer: sautéed chicken livers, clams, cabernet grapes, wild mushroom and tendrils

Michael wins the last high stakes quick fire and his prize: a new Toyota Prius. Padma announces the elimination challenge, which will determine who will be competing in the finale for the title of Top Chef. The elimination challenge: catering the Rutherford Hills Winery Crush Party. The cheftestants must each create two dishes, one vegetarian and one protein, using only local ingredients (other than salt and pepper). If the ingredient isn’t raised or grown in Napa, they will not be able to use it.

The final four head to a local market to select their ingredients. Back in the kitchen, head judge Tom Colicchio comes by to check in on the chefs. On the menu:

1)    grass-fed brisket with pumpkin polenta and marinated root vegetables
2)    roasted beets and carrots with carrot top puree and san andreas cheese

1)    turnip soup with foie gras terrine, poached pear and glazed turnip
2)    vegetable pistou, heirloom tomato coulis, 63 degree egg and fennel

1)    fig-glzed short ribs, celeriac puree, wax beans and wild arugula
2)    goat cheese ravioli, delicate squash puree and bronze fennel

1)    grilled duck breast, braised dug legs, squash puree and foie gras vinaigrette
2)    chevre mousse with honey mushrooms, braised radishes and basil

Guests arrive and it’s difficult to tell who will be eliminated. At this point in the competition, any tiny mistake can send someone packing. The judges convene at judge’s table and Tom appropriately praises the chefs for their great efforts all season long. Bryan wins the elimination challenge. However, one had to go and Jennifer is sent home. It really could have been anyone at this point. We are sad to see her leave, as she was one of our favorites. Next week is the season finale! Let us know who you are rooting for!

Top Chef Goes Vegetarian

It’s down to the final seven of Top Chef Las Vegas!

This week’s quick-fire judge is James Beard award winning chef, Paul Bartolotta. Padma introduces the TV Guide quick-fire challenge: reinvent a classic TV dinner inspired by a classic television show. The chefs draw knives to reveal the iconic television shows:  

Jennifer- The Flinstones
Mike I.- Seinfeld
Kevin- The Sopranos
Eli- Gilligan’s Island
Michael- Cheers
Robin- Sesame Street
Bryan- Mash

After 60 minutes, the cheftesetants serve Padma and Chef Bartolotta their reinvented TV dinners. On top are Kevin and Bryan. Kevin’s meatballs with polenta, roasted cauliflower and roasted pair earn him the win for this week’s quick fire. Although immunity will no longer be rewarded, a version of Kevin’s winning dish will be featured in the new line of Top Chef frozen foods. Jennifer’s chicken roulade and Robin’s burger with egg land them on the bottom of the challenge. 

Padma announces the elimination challenge: cook at Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak at the MGM Grand for one night. The eager and excited chefs head to Craftsteak after a rather drama-free night of menu planning. As soon as they arrive the chefs disperse and attack kitchen. You can see the twinkle in their eyes and excitement in their voices. The chefs are enamored with all of the meat, “It’s the motherload” one of the chefs exclaim. It was only the perfect set up for another Top Chef twist. Tom introduces the elimination challenge guest judge, actress Natalie Portman. Ready for the twist? Natalie is a vegetarian, which means Craftsteak is going vegetarian for one night. As soon as the chefs realize they will not be using any of the meat they had just previously admired, anguish sets in on their faces. Most of the chefs are thrown by the news, but some are happy to embrace the change. Robin is giddy over the produce walk in, scrambling to grab fresh garbanzo beans and squash blossoms. Mike I. struggles with his dish and Bryan doesn’t even complete his plating. It was actually surprising to see how much the chefs were thrown with the vegetarian challenge.  

Time is quickly up and the chefs present their dishes to the judges:
Robin- stuffed squash blossom, beet carpaccio, fresh garbanzo beans and chermoula    
Eli- confit of eggplant, lentils, garlic puree and radish salad
Michael- asparagus salad, Japanese tomato sashimi and banana polenta
Jennifer- charred baby eggplant, braised fennel, tomatoes and verjus nage
Mike I.- whole roasted leeks with onion jus, baby carrot puree and fingerling potatoes
Bryan- artichoke barigoule, confit of shallot, wild asparagus and fennel puree
Kevin- duo of mushrooms, smoked kale, candied ginger and turnip puree

Back at judge’s table Kevin, Eli and Michael are on top. Kevin’s mushroom duo is praised as inventive and cohesive by guest judge Natalie Portman. However, Michael is visibly upset by Kevin’s win. Sure, it wasn’t as whimsical as your polenta and banana, but it did win for a reason Michael. On the bottom are Mike I., Robin and Jennifer. At judge’s table Robin gives one of the most long winded answers about her dish, “I did consider protein. When I make a vegetarian dish I definitely want to give my vegetarians protein. I eat vegetarian a lot and I saw those garbanzo beans and I love garbanzo beans and got excited by the fresh garbanzo beans which I’ve never worked with before. I had never stuffed a squash blossom before and I was going to play off a chick pea fritter idea or a falafel. There was a lot of flavor going on there and I think the chalua had a lot of flavor going on and I’m not sure if it all worked so well together.” So Robin, were you excited about the garbanzo beans? But in the end Mike I. had to pack his knives. The judges could not get past the poorly cooked, raw leeks in his dish. Farewell Mike I!