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Top Chef Vegas Ep. #3 09/02/09 (spoilers)

Interesting start! Mark Peel as Guest Judge for the Quickfire, which is to create an "out of this world" dish with potatoes.

Ash can't make sweet potato ice cream, but somehow, his puree ends up being Top 3!

Jessie is in the bottom 3 again - I'm thinking she's a goner very soon. Preeti almost screws Ashley by using the wrong water to poach her asparagus - but Ashley's gnocchi pulls a Top 3 status.

Jennifer C. wins with her mussels - and WHAT a surprise - Michael I. is an a$$hat commenting about her win. He *really* has a major problem with her, doesn't he?

The Elimination Challenge is cooking for 300 Air Force servicemen and women...

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  1. Don't forget to add that Mike Isabella makes another totally inappropriate sexist comment! I'm not likely to patronize Zaytinya in DC based on him alone.

    50 Replies
    1. re: reiflame

      What was it again?

      And I loved the Kevin comment about him and Eli working together - they're both from Atlanta, and they both bonded from the "fat kid" syndrome. :-)

      1. re: LindaWhit

        He claimed that Jen's win in the Quick Fire was "favoritism".

        This guy comes off more and more like a jerk every week - it's his 2nd offensive comment in 3 episodes. I'm glad I live in DC so I can effectively boycott his restaurant.

        1. re: reiflame

          oh, right. i didn't understand that. favoritism HOW? what a putz.

          1. re: reiflame

            Wow. I totally missed that! What a complete jerk! Favoritism? How about she's outcooked you TWICE?

            1. re: LindaWhit

              She did outcook him twice, and I prefer her to him, however she also made ceviche twice, and did another cold preparation using smoked salmon once. I was happy to see her cook during the elimination challenge, as her resume is quite immpressive.

              As far as the 'favoritism' comment, do you think it was made due to the fact that Eric Ripert is often a guest chef on Top Chef? While I respect her ability, did a spritz of lime juice and some fresh herb garner a victory worth 15K on a reality show where we are led to believe the focus is on cooking?

              1. re: LarryLg

                1) Eric Ripert was not the guest judge on this episode.
                2) Sexist Mike has never made a comment when a man has won a challenge
                3) If the "spritz of lime juice and fresh herb" tasted better than all of the other dishes, then of course she deserves to win. Since you can't taste the food, you'll just have to trust the judges.

                I figured someone would eventually come in and defend his quite frankly inexcusable comments.

                1. re: reiflame

                  we do not know what mike has or has not said when men won. we only know what we have been shown

                  1. re: thew

                    While I'm sure the editors are being selective, the fact that he's given them this much ammunition to work with (in only 3 episodes!) is pretty reflective of his sexism.

                    I'm honestly sorry if you don't see it - this is the type of nonsense that women have to put up with every day in male-dominated industries.

                    1. re: reiflame

                      um, i didn't say i didn't see it. I didn't defend him at all. i said we have no idea what he did or did not say when men won. that is all i said, anything you add to that is all you and not me.

                    2. re: thew

                      "we do not know what mike has or has not said "

                      Of course we do. The editiors are not changing his words or creating false statments. We just don't know if it's in context or not. It might be reasonable to assume creative editing if it's a one time event but when it occurs on every episide the benifit of doubt begins to diminish IMO.
                      While I think Mike was a bit off base with his favoritism comment I also think that since Ripert has often been a judge that every one is probably wondering if Jenn doesn't have a slight edge with the judges.
                      To be fair she really hasn't cooked much at this juncture and that is a complaint we have heard from the judges in the past.

                      1. re: Fritter

                        let me rephrase for clarity -

                        reiflame said "2) Sexist Mike has never made a comment when a man has won a challenge"

                        i said we have no idea if he did or didn't make a comment when a man has won. I did not mean to imply he didn't say what he said, only that our not seeing him say something is not the same as his not saying. he may well have bitched and moaned after every loss, and the editors only shows the ones after women won to build that drama.

                        1. re: thew

                          You see! I totally took your post out of context.
                          My bad.
                          Indeed I see your point.

                      2. re: thew

                        Yeah, we don't know if he's truly sexist or just a true jerk to everyone. Neither is appealing.

                      3. re: reiflame

                        Right, I'm defending him - bull. Read my post again. You obviously missed the part where i wrote i preferred HER.

                        1. re: LarryLg

                          You're right; I fixated on the comments at the end questioning her win. Apologies.

                        2. re: reiflame

                          I was more annoyed that he's lecturing the audience (e.g. ME) on what risotto is..

                          1. re: grant.cook

                            I'm not sure if it had been published in any other books, but 'Potato Rissotto' is a recipe/technique in Michel Richard's Happy In The Kitchen.

                            1. re: LarryLg

                              It's hardly novel. Heck, a Top Chef contestant has whipped one out before:

                              http://www.buddytv.com/articles/top-c...

                              To similar dismissal, I might add.

                            2. re: grant.cook

                              ugh, i had momentarily forgotten about that comment. grrr.

                              1. re: grant.cook

                                Well, I'll admit it: I didn't know risotto was a cooking style in general, and not a cooking style applied to *rice.* I appreciated the explanation.

                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                  no, no...technically it *is* a cooking style applied to rice. so you did know :)

                                  Mike's comment had to do with the fact that he apparently thinks all home cooks have the inaccurate impression that risotto is a *variety* of rice (like arborio or basmati) as opposed to a particular preparation of it. ironically, his explanation wasn't completely accurate because he didn't specify that true risotto is only made with rice. his potato dish may have been cooked "in the style of risotto," but it sure as hell wasn't risotto!

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Until he made that comment I was thinking that perhaps he's not as much of an A** as the editing would have one believe. Next thing you know he's talking down to the viewers. So that made me a convert, there's only so much editing can do perhaps he really is an A**!

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Ha! Thanks, GHG! Man, I'm glad you explained that, otherwise I would have let Mike's comment "correct" me into an embarrassing mistake. I like your way of phrasing that he cooked potatoes "in the style" of risotto.

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        In general, Mike's a pretty arrogant dude. Seems he looks down his nose at a lot of people. Looks like Bravo has founds its villian for this season. Like may of you, I am looking forward to the tumble off his self-designed pedestal.

                                2. re: LarryLg

                                  She is obviously a very talented chef and I don't think they are playing favorites. The only thing I would say is that she really needs to start cooking something other than fish and shellfish - you can't win Top Chef on only seafood.

                                  1. re: wincountrygirl

                                    I agree... Look at Hosea from last season, he was a seafood chef and he won by NOT winning any seafood challenges.... lol. :-)

                                    1. re: dave_c

                                      LOL! Touché! (And so very true!)

                                      1. re: dave_c

                                        Yep - and he also didn't win as much as the others lost, cause he won without winning much of anything!

                                3. re: reiflame

                                  Third. Don't forget the "old lady" comment.

                                  1. re: reiflame

                                    Very evident that Jen won due to her talent, not favoritism and Mike winds up at the judges table near the bottom, again, because his dishes sucked by comparison.

                                    1. re: reiflame

                                      Regardless of Mike I.'s motivation for saying Jen's win was favoritism, it was an inane comment. This was Mark Peel's first exposure to the contestants, and the guest judge determines the winner.

                                  2. re: reiflame

                                    Did you catch MikeI's face in the QF judging? Chef Peel interrupted his description of the dish to say it was salty, thus deflating Mike. Padma then gave him a brilliant smile and said something like "nice idea, though," and Mike lit up like a Christmas tree.

                                    1. re: momjamin

                                      Padma comments will do that to guys.

                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                        No doubt, but it was so exaggerated, it underscores the adolescence of his other comments about "girls."

                                      2. re: momjamin

                                        Speaking of the judging,this week the judges seemed really angry. There must have been a lot more going on than we saw. Even Padma seemed angry!

                                        1. re: wincountrygirl

                                          Based upon the Bravo TV blogs, it was Tom or Gail that mentioned the "angry" critcism... The judges wanted the chefs to do a great job and not disappoint the airmen and their families so they (the judges) were, inadvertently, very critical of the dishes that fell short.

                                          1. re: dave_c

                                            The pasta salad was ridiculous, but the food came out rather well I thought.

                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                              Any decent home cook could have made that pasta salad. It might win a high school home economics contest but Top Chef?

                                          2. re: wincountrygirl

                                            I actually LIKED the judging this time - they showed them really having expressing their feelings...when something sucked, they said it. Perhaps it's just that the show was longer and we saw *more* of the judging. I almost wish this show could always be 75 minutes. I just think you get more out of what we want to really see - the cooking *and* the judging and the reasons behind why the judges make the decisions they do.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              I totally agree - I like to see more cooking and more of the actualy judging.

                                        2. re: reiflame

                                          And "risotto" a technique that has nothing to do with rice? Obviously, the technique used to make risotto can be applied to other foods, but if I ordered risotto (derived from the Italian "riso") in a restaurant I'd expect to get a rice dish unless specifically told otherwise. FWIW, here's Wikipedia:

                                          "There are many different risotto recipes with different ingredients, but they are all based on rice of an appropriate variety cooked in a standard procedure.

                                          1. re: jbw

                                            i can't believe i'm gonna defend Mike here, but he didn't say it has "nothing to do with rice." what i got from it was that he assumed all of us poor, misinformed, clueless home cooks (cough, cough) think risotto is a *variety* of rice, and he felt it was his duty to inform us that it's a technique.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              It's not a technique either though, it's a dish, made with rice. Made with anything else, potatoes, quinoa, farro, or whatever, it's "risotto", not risotto.

                                              1. re: Buckethead

                                                Right, kind of like zucchini "carpaccio". If I see one more dish called carpaccio that doesn't involve meat......

                                                1. re: dmjordan

                                                  language evolves, and things that aid communication will survive. so if saying "potato risotto" gets the idea across more simply or clearly than "potatoes cut small to simulate rice, and then cooked in the same manner as a risotto, so as to achieve a similar result" we will continue to hear it - and i'm ok with that.

                                                  as i've said a million times before - unless you still use "terrific" to mean "terror inducing" and refuse to call it a "sunset" because the earth moves, you are w/out a leg to stand on, consistency-wise on this issue.

                                                  1. re: thew

                                                    if the special was "poato risotto," I would expect a risotto (rice dish) with chunks of potato in it. And, thusly, probably not order it.

                                                  2. re: dmjordan

                                                    A-FREAKIN'-MEN! :) Just being sliced thin and served with lemon juice doesn't make zucchini, acorn squash or car tires "carpaccio."

                                                  3. re: Buckethead

                                                    oh i didn't say he was right :)

                                                    if we're going to get particular about semantics, perhaps i should have said "preparation." the fact is that risotto is a rice dish cooked a specific way (which is why i said technique), and what i got from his comment was that he believes people are under the erroneous impression that risotto is a variety of rice (like basmati, or long-grain, or arborio...).

                                                    anyway, i think it's funny that he went out of his way to school us all with his little aside, when he could have used a little schooling himself - his potatoes were "cooked in the style of risotto," which would have been the proper way for him to describe his dish.

                                                  4. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    I was scratching my head at what he said when he said it wasn't the rice (dish?) that home cooks think it is. I was wondering if I'd been wrong on what it is and that anything cooked in that technique was "risotto." I've cooked oatmeal, baby pastini, orzo like that but would have never called any of it "risotto." Thanks for explaining. Scary you're reading his mind, though!

                                                    How much liquid do potatoes absorb? I wonder how it compares to rice.

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      "Scary you're reading his mind, though!"
                                                      ~~~~~
                                                      nah, i just know the type - i grew up in Jersey, so i've encountered many Mike Isabellas in my time, which makes it easier for me to decipher his neanderthal ravings ;)

                                              2. i like Mark Peel, it's nice to see him back...and i'm sure he's happy to be on the other side this time :)

                                                i'm so sick of Mike I. he's such an ass. i don't care if he "means" to be or not, it's just obnoxious and juvenile. and considering that his last 2 dishes (this QF & last week's EC) have fallen flat, he needs to just shut up & cook.

                                                somehow i'm not surprised that Ashley did well despite the water fiasco...i think she's the dark horse here. and Ash was clever to re-name his dish so that he could pass it off as a success instead of admitting it didn't turn out. very smart, especially considering the flavors were obviously on point.

                                                Preeti just doesn't impress me. sure, the colors in her QF dish were beautiful, but how did it TASTE?

                                                and i'm really starting to hope Jessie goes home tonight. she just can't get it together. every challenge she falls short on execution.

                                                16 Replies
                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Can I just say that Jennifer C. just kicked ASS on her kitchen management skills? Making her EC for this challenge was a good idea - she's firm but fair. Surprisingly, it was Mike I. who voiced the suggestion!

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    i'm not surprised Mike suggested Jen. it means she takes some of the heat if this doesn't go well! she has immunity, and a major fiasco might otherwise mean that the EC would go home. he was covering his own ass :)

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Her "executive" skills were really impressive. She was organized, drove the teams as needed and pulled no punches. This woman is a force to be noticed. No wonder Eric Ripert has chosen her to be one of his right arms.

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        I have mixed feelings about Jen. I think she is extemely talented, but something seems off to me. Can pinpoint it yet though. The preview where she made the comment to the chefs about keeping it about the food and discussing "this" later, made it seem like she was having a disagreement with someone. I thought, hmm good for her not putting up with crap and keeping the focus of the task at hand. Yet it ended up being about a conversation they were having while working. After I saw that, I thought, hmmm that's just being petty. I'm sure the elves edited a bunch of stuff out, but I didn't see the big deal about talking while working. Although I know some chefs like to keep the kitchen all about the current work, or even quiet at times,it didn't make sense to me since things looked like they were running smoothly.

                                                        1. re: jcattles

                                                          she has a very sour, nasty seeming disposition but then I heard one of the other chefs describe her as shy so who knows. she rubs me the wrong way, personality wise, but chef wise she seems to be on a level above the others....

                                                          1. re: jcattles

                                                            I have mixed feelings also; I know she's talented but I can't warm up to her. I feel the same way about Bryan (hope I named the right brother). I got to thinking that maybe it's because these two rarely smile or show strong emotion -- makes them seem humorless.

                                                            1. re: Jana

                                                              But this is Top Chef...not Top Personality. If their food is good, their food is good and they are worthy of moving on the competition, right? I think Jen has made an awesome showing thus far because of her food and her ability to manage others in this episode.

                                                              1. re: attran99

                                                                Right...I have no wish to see any of the chefs judged on "personality" but I wasn't criticizing their talents, just pointing out how their on camera actions/appearances alter our feelings towards them as people.

                                                                I would be curious to know how they appear without the editing. For instance, Bryan didn't even smile when his brother won. Or did he -- and it was just edited out?

                                                                1. re: Jana

                                                                  Interesting point...I'm sure Bryan was happy for his brother...but at the same time, kicking himself for not being able to be in the top 4. I'm sure they'll cover his reaction in the next episode. They always seem to have the brothers' reactions to the other's successes.

                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                            She is a very capable and talented chef. She ranks as one of the top contestants so far.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              Yes, but sexist Mike did not suggest that she be the Executive Chef. He suggested she be the "tournant" - to quote Richard Blais "It’s an interesting approach and reveals a lot about Mike’s character. We now are getting to know the cast a little better, and this play is vintage Isabella. Let’s ask the “girl cook” to take on an archaic title that can best be described as a substitute teacher. Classically, it refers to a cook who works all the stations in other cooks’ absence. A position of skill, sure, but not really of certified rank. A position that may be the proverbial glass ceiling for a woman in Mr. Isabella’s mind." And she replied to his challenge - sure I'll be the Executive Chef.

                                                              1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                                She responded brilliantly and then performed brilliantly. Which is more than we can say for Mr. Isabella on either count.

                                                                1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                                  Read below - I already said this. :-)

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    Sorry I missed it, Linda. Great minds.

                                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                                      Ooh chicgail - I had responded to wincountrygirl just above - the way the threading works they end up stacking underneath each other once it gets far enough into the replies - so it almost looks like I replied to you. :-)

                                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                                        Good grief - I replied exactly THAT way to another post. There has to be a better way to thread these posts.

                                                              2. Ok so last week Ashley makes a big deal about cooking for an event that she cannot participate and someone on the board made a comment asking how the gay chefs would feel if they had to cook for the military because of the "don't ask don't tell" policy....well lo and behold! Doesn't Ashley go ahead and say what an honor it is for her to cook for the Air Force etc...
                                                                Now I am glad that she's excited to cook for them, but isn't it kind of ironic? Discuss...

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: HungryRubia

                                                                  Yes, I thought it was quite interesting, too. And I think some of them were married!

                                                                  1. re: Reignking

                                                                    And some there are probably a few in the closet too.

                                                                  2. re: HungryRubia

                                                                    The difference is that there are gays in the military, but same sex partners cannot marry.

                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                      But the gays that are in the military are not allowed to be open about it. It really is a stupid and discriminatory policy. But I'm glad there was no stink raised this time.

                                                                    2. re: HungryRubia

                                                                      The men and women serving the country have no say in the policy and they are putting their lives on the line for our country. She's probably appreciative of that.

                                                                    3. this seaons line up seems to have some real talent, may be one of the better seasons yet... the last couple of seasons were let downs to me...

                                                                      1. ok, i WANT those bacon tacos, the bread pudding, and the braised pork & potato salad!

                                                                        and someone had better go home for that vegetable pasta salad. pedestrian, uninspired, and just plain LAME. dishes like that are what gave vegetarian cuisine a bad name in the first place.

                                                                        19 Replies
                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                          The bacon tacos win! (Michael Voltaggio) But the braised pork & potato salad combo looked best to me!

                                                                          And Preeti, Laurene, AND Michael Isabella are in the bottom 3! This is a first! Holy CRAP Michael I. looks pissed! Ooh! Peel and Padma and Gail are all giving him the bizness!

                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                            OK, just read Richard Blais' blog at Bravo - he noted something interesting about Michael Isabella recommending that Jennifer C. take the role of "tournant" (I couldn't remember the word he used further upthread). Blais says:

                                                                            "So, I found it strange, that in tonight’s episode, Mike Isabella suggests that Jennifer Carroll take on the role of “tournant.”

                                                                            It’s an interesting approach and reveals a lot about Mike’s character. We now are getting to know the cast a little better, and this play is vintage Isabella. Let’s ask the “girl cook” to take on an archaic title that can best be described as a substitute teacher. Classically, it refers to a cook who works all the stations in other cooks’ absence. A position of skill, sure, but not really of certified rank. A position that may be the proverbial glass ceiling for a woman in Mr. Isabella’s mind.

                                                                            I said cook, earlier, intentionally. Because I get the feeling, that Mike would have a hard time answering, “Yes, Chef!” to any woman.

                                                                            Jennifer’s response? Sure, I’ll be the Executive Chef. Touché! "

                                                                            So Blais is seeing exactly what we've all been saying - that Mike I. has a problem with women leading in the kitchen. It will remain an interesting POV to see how it gets handled in future episodes.

                                                                            I wonder if there's an episode where the two of them have to work directly together?

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              I knew there was a reason I liked him (Richard Blais, that is)

                                                                              1. re: reiflame

                                                                                Blais has always struck me as a "stand up guy", a skilled chef, buuut... enough with the liquid nitrogen every time he cooks.

                                                                                1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                                                  That's like asking for Jimi Hendrix with out the guitar.
                                                                                  That's his gigg. It's not for every one but IMO Richard Blais is making his mark as a very good Chef.

                                                                                  1. re: Fritter

                                                                                    I think Hendrix without the wa-wa pedal is more apropos. The guitar being the main implement and the pedal being the overused accoutrement.

                                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                        The great thing about an album or a menu is that you can skip over the items you don't like and still dig the artist. Blais does not use nitrogen "every time he cooks" any more than Hendrix used a wah wah peddle on every track.
                                                                                        Irrespective of whether or not some may dislike those elements they helped propel the artist to popularity because the elements they incorporated into their art are unique.

                                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  They've got Blais's old picture up now.

                                                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                                                    You know, I didn't notice that last night, but I also remember I wasn't startled by the picture either! Glad they changed it.

                                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    I'm going to play devils advocate on this one.

                                                                                    I'm not a fan of Mike, but I do think there was some valid reasoning behind 'his' (assuming it was) idea. They had no idea what the challenge was going to be; Why not work in teams? There was and odd number of people. Jenn did have immunity. I did think it made sense to have her in a position where she would not be competing against others who are trying to remain in the competition. And Jenn could have refused the position and made something on her own.

                                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                      Oh, I don't disagree at ALL on having Jennifer be the EC for the Elimination Challenge - it makes complete sense, especially when they decided on their own to form teams.

                                                                                      My posting the comments from Blais's blog was in reference to Mike Isabella's previous and current rather demeaning comments about Jennifer C. and women in general. Blais's comments were along the same lines as what several people on CH threads have said - saying "that's one less old lady I have to deal with", calling Jennifer a tournant (lower level than EC), etc. He seems to have a HUGE chip on his shoulder about women running a kitchen, and Blais called him out about it in his blog.

                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                        I certainly agree that Mike seems to have an issue with women. I think he is probably simply arrogant/insecure over all. And I believe he would have taken the same attitude and degraded the position regardless of who, male or female, was filling it in order to attempt to deal with his own insecurities. It is just more noticeable when it is a woman given his history.

                                                                                      2. re: Withnail42

                                                                                        I think the point is he tried to degrade the posistion she was asked to do.

                                                                                        1. re: LaLa

                                                                                          Mike: "Jen, why don't you be the kitchen b*tch"
                                                                                          Jen: "No thanks, but I'll be the Executive Chef"

                                                                                      3. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                        Well Ijust said the same thing - I hadn't gotten this far yet!! Great minds?

                                                                                        1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                                                          LOL! Oops! We're both guilty of posting before reading below! I just responded to you above. And yes - of COURSE it's GMTA - what else could it be? ;-)

                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                            I just did it again - posted to you above before I saw this one.....

                                                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                      and mike gets called back for elimation.... awesome!