HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Top Chef Las Vegas Ep. 5 - 09/16/09 (Spoilers)

OK, this was one TOUGH Quickfire - work with cactus, kangaroo, or snake, and the viewers chose cactus! Tim Love as guest judge, and the winner gets $15K in a high-stakes QF.

Low end? Ash, Michael (ouch!), and Ron. Even more surprising? Two out of the three in the high end! Laurene, Mike I. and Mattin!

I *really* thought Mattin had it won with what Chef Love had said about his dish...but Mike I. pulls it out. Michael seemed a bit put out by that (or was it Brian? I still can't figure out the two brothers!) Interesting reaction.

Elimination challenge is cooking lunch outdoors at a ranch for 20 cowboys.

LOL! I love Eli's comment "I don't camp. I think it's ridiculous! We have electricity for a reason!" :-D

Another LOL! "There are 12 chefs. In the desert." And then another voice "Anyone see the Blair Witch Project?"

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Do they have refrigeration out there?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Reignking

      I thought the same thing, but they have to have it and we're just not seeing it. Seafood, beef, etc. not refrigerated?

      1. re: LindaWhit

        I didn't see it, either, but they must have it.

        And did I hear only 1 hr 15 minutes to cook?

        Ah, just saw the coolers wheeled out.\\

        They are doing a lot of background info on chefs tonight.

        1. re: Reignking

          Looks like my concern about the refrigeration may have been well-founded...

          1. re: Reignking

            From Tom's blog:

            "Furthermore, everyone expressed such concern about the cooking elements, but we didn’t hear a peep about the refrigeration, which should have been considered. These chefs spent time around the pool at their digs. They knew it was hot out in the Vegas area. Maybe Robin’s shrimp turned overnight. One way or another, the dishes we were served this episode were the worst of the season to date."

    2. "Michael seemed a bit put out by that (or was it Brian? I still can't figure out the two brothers!) "
      it was Michael, and he's really beginning to irritate me. he sulks every time he doesn't win, the sibling rivalry is beyond tired already, and i wasn't really digging his comment in the beginning of the episode that he, Mike I, and his brother are the strongest cooks. what about Kevin and Jen?

      8 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Yeah, that ticked me off as well re: no mention about Kevin or Jen. We'll see how it goes. Michael is DEFINITELY uncomfortable out there - fish out of water.

        And Laurene is the only one doing something on the grill, and others have TONS of ceviche.....for cowboys? I don't think so.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          The way to tell the RoboTwins apart is their laughter. Just kidding. I think one of them almost cracked a smile. I like intense and serious... in an NFL coach, Marine commander or tax accountant. The seem great cooks but lighten up dudes... cooking for others should be a pleasure.

          At this point my faves are Kevin and Jen, simply due to a mix of skill and personality.

          1. re: tastyjon

            You don't like Brian because he's not a reality TV douchebag? I've been in his kitchen, he's calm but everything comes out cooked perfectly and he's got more talent than anyone - with 3 elmination wins.

            1. re: tastyjon

              Kevin has the soul that the robo twins are lacking, and agree, he and Jen have the potential to make it all the way. I thought Bryan's dish most captured the campfire theme and was a real winner. Mattin has been clueless all the way through to his demise.

            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Just wait....I think the 5 of them are the best (jen, Kev, Mike x 2, Brian) - we'll have to see which are the top 3. There's a certain amount of posturing. But he is right that some of the women should have gone home before Hector and Mattin.

              1. re: Ericandblueboy

                I disagree about Mattin. I think he really lacks a certain gravitas.

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                i'd say he has better insight to the quality of the chefs than you and i, and more to the point, he has to share your opinion on them>?

              3. I think we're going to have 20 cevich(e)s.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Reignking

                  Does anyone think this is the worst idea ever? Not to mention the heat, outdoors, in Vegas- they're cooking at a dude ranch for f-ing cowboys. Like someone said, who wants a hearty, filling...ceviche after working hard all day? Yelch.

                  1. re: mjhals

                    That's just it - the ceviche just doesn't fit! Yes, you can cook your style but unless you're a sushi chef, it just seemed the wrong place for ceviche. OK, maybe not a sushi chef, but you know what I mean (I hope <g>).

                    Kevin also seemed to rock it as well.

                    1. re: mjhals

                      I agree. It didn't seem any of them knew how exposed they'd be to the elements... hence all the seafood.

                      Secondly, the amount of cooking time was absurd for the theme. An hour and 15? Cooking for ranch hands? Where's the gourmet stew, the low and slow BBQ? We've seen (and will see again) their gourmet skills and have a quick fire every episode. Why not let them have some more time and see if they can build the layered dishes so many of us love?

                  2. i'm sorry Hector is gone - i'll bet he would have done well in this EC.

                    and based on Ashleigh's comment about knowing how to cook halibut, i'm gonna guess she screwed it up.

                    good lord... did the Greek guy just pronounce gyro the way i think he did?!

                    Edit about Ashleigh - she rocked it. i love that Padma said she may be the dark horse - i said that a couple of weeks ago!

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Missed Padma's comment re: Ashleigh, and yes, Mike I. did pronounce it "jahy-roh" vs. "jeer-roh". Ouch. But is Mike Isabella Greek? I thought he just cooked a lot of Greek/Mediterranean area food.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Everyone in DC calls it gyro - it's a DC thing. He also said he's Greek.

                        1. re: Ericandblueboy

                          He's Italian-American. He just cooks Greek food.

                          "Isabella is from a small Italian family and grew up in New Jersey ... He discovered Greek cooking under Pano Karatassos, spending two years at Kyma, the awardwinning Greek seafood restaurant in Atlanta that he left to come to Zaytinya."


                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            Thank you Miss N. I was pretty sure he was Italian-American. Just too tired to look it up last night.

                            And just because "it's a DC thing" doesn't mean it's right. But i've also heard it pronounced "jahy-roh" up here in the Boston area, more often than not.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Not saying it's right, probably just a habit he picked up while in DC.

                              1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                Or South Jersey. If he grew up in an Italian neighborhood, I can definitely see them saying "jahy-roh".

                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  I realized that after posting - I couldn't put the "hyee" into letters last night - brain wasn't working. I could hear it in my head; couldn't put it on screen. I ended up taking from Dictionary.com's pronunciation format.

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I remember that! I was actually thinking of you when Padma said that!

                        3. Sounds like Jen and Brian are rocking the EC dishes....and ouch for Mattin and Robin! And Ron's dish just sounds completely out of place.

                          ETA: I think Kevin, Jen and Brian are top 3; Mattin, Robin and Mike I. or Ron are bottom 3.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            The rancher that complemented Jen's dish sounded like Sam Elliot.

                            "Beef, it's what's for dinner."

                            1. re: Reignking

                              Ahhh, Sam Elliott. Love the voice. Ain't too shabby to look at either. ;-) Very appropriate sound-alike for a ranch episode!

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                reminded me of Sam Elliott's character in Roadhouse...bur perhaps that's because the film has been on my mind after Patrick Swayze's death :(

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  That's *exactly* what I was thinking as well, ghg! :-(

                            2. Laurene, Ashleigh, Brian and Michael are top four....Mike I. looked a bit stricken in the stew room as they were called and he wasn't.

                              And Brian wins another one!

                              And I was right - Robin, Ron and Mattin are bottom 3. I'm thinking Robin or Mattin are outta there.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Mattin's dish made Tim Love sick?!?! oy. i'd be happy to see either him or Robyn go home at this point, and Ron honestly should be next after those two.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  The minute I heard that, and the after JT when they were in the stew room - yeah, it's gotta be Mattin going. Robyn could *just* be squeaking by, as is Ron. Ron's being saved because of his ceviche, I think.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          Perhaps he should use it next week with Toby.

                                2. Those of you having a hard time telling the brothers apart must be loving Bryan in the matching backwards cap.

                                  15 Replies
                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      Michael's been sporting a cap regularly, but I didn't notice Bryan in it 'til JT tonight. I actually thought for a second that they had shown the wrong brother, then realized they both had the matching caps on. Then Mattin shows up in the cap -- some new toque fashion?

                                      1. re: momjamin

                                        I think I finally have the brothers figured out, after how many weeks? Michael has a tatoo on his right arm and wears a hat backwards like a catcher or frat boy.

                                        1. re: James Cristinian

                                          They're very easy to tell apart lookswise -- but I'll be damned if I can keep their names straight.

                                          Either one would be welcome in my kitchen any day! Same goes for anyone in the game this season, actually.

                                          1. re: dmd_kc

                                            Very easy to tell the difference, but the names are key, when you have that figured out, you have a firm grip on the show. Bryan has three wins now, while Michael won a chunk of change early on. My money is on Bryan, but is it with a y, or an i ?

                                            1. re: James Cristinian

                                              it's Bryan with a y.

                                              and while i'm at it, i need to correct my own spelling of some other names. i don't know *why* i thought it was Ashleigh and Robyn - i just checked the Bravo site and it's Ashley and Robin. my bad.

                                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                                If only all parents would do this, Bryan is older, Michael younger.
                                                So you go alphabetically, that keeps it easier to remember.

                                              1. re: ritabwh

                                                Then they'll put on the caps to throw you off ;-) Their voices are very different -- Bryan's is deeper and usually somewhat calmer.

                                                1. re: momjamin

                                                  They both are pretty darn 'calm' as far as I can see. I'd love to see them crack up laughing or swear their heads off just once.

                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                    Mike is more "surfer dude" looking while Bryan is more "corporate America" looking.

                                                    I really enjoy both of their styles and would eat their food. Still going with Mike V., Bryan, Jen and Kevin as my top 4.

                                                    Glad to see Mattin go. It was a tough call.

                                          2. re: momjamin

                                            Bryan has a *slightly* larger stick up his a** than Michael....that's how I've managed to tell them apart. :-P

                                              1. re: boingo2000

                                                Haven't seen Bryan be anything other than reserved and gracious - not sure why you think he's stuck-up. Michael, on the other hand, has made some critical comments about others.

                                                1. re: boingo2000

                                                  I would have said the reverse. Bryan seems so laid back that he could be cooking horizontally. He speaks in a monotone.

                                              2. got to be Mattin going home, right? Tom doesn't spit your food out and you get to stay, that's my thought. And he has no clue.

                                                38 Replies
                                                1. re: mjhals

                                                  1) Mattin thought he food was good -- death knell. Robin, at least, admitted it was bad.
                                                  2) Mattin was on a lot of this episode :)

                                                  1. re: Reignking

                                                    Yes, I noticed your #2. And isn't it often the case that someone in the Top 3 in QF ends up going home in the EC?

                                                    And oh goodie. Toby's back next week. Wonderful. Not. (please, please, please PLEASE bring Jay Rayner on this show?)

                                                    1. re: Reignking

                                                      Exactly--if cheftestants haven't figured it out, when you're in the bottom, agree that your dish wasn't the best but that you know what you did wrong and how to improve it. Don't say it was great.

                                                    2. re: mjhals

                                                      "maybe zee ceviche was not zee best for zee bowboys" Umm...oui.

                                                      1. re: mjhals

                                                        I think that's why Mattin went home- he just didn't get it. It wasn't that ceviche wasn't good for cowboys, but rather his ceviche was disgusting and made someone sick! That's the death knell... when someone thinks their dish was "great" or "just not the judges' style" and can't admit they put something out there that was bad. I still don't get why so many thought it was a good idea to make ceviche out in the desert anyway!

                                                        1. re: QSheba

                                                          They were stuck on "I don't know what kind of cooking equipment I'm going to have, so I'll just do something that doesn't require applied heat." And missed the part about the serious ambient heat.

                                                          1. re: QSheba

                                                            So if you ate undercured ceviche as well as shrimp that was like "sucking on a piece of chlorine" (but was probably more like ammonia) along with ten other dishes, you would be certain which dish made you sick?

                                                            1. re: PorkButt

                                                              I wouldn't be certain which of the dishes made me sick, but the editing was certainly clear enough when Tim Love said "you made me flippin' sick"..... and Tom actually spit out Mattin's dish...

                                                              My point wasn't that he should go home -because- it was his dish that made someone sick- but rather that he thought he did well! He claimed that "ceviche wasn't right for cowboys...Then he claimed that he should have done one great dish instead of 3 mediocre ones... And he kept bringing up that he was an expert in Basque cuisine so the challenges didn't showcase his talents. He totally didn't get that *his food was bad*. Period. If they were allowed to cook anything (and most of the "cheftestants" made dishes that weren't even remotely related to eating on a ranch), why didn't he prepare food he was good at? Instead he serves a bad dish. How do you define "bad dish"? I don't mean spoiled. Colicchio says on his blog (quoted below) how they judge a dish. From what we see, Mattin failed all of them. Robin's dish was almost as bad...but at the very least she *knew* she was serving a bad dish and sort of tried to incorporate the ranch by doing something on the grill! Mattin's was just terrible all-around. My whole point was that Mattin just didn't get it....

                                                              Colicchio said they use these criteria:

                                                              ~First and foremost, when tasting the food we look to see if, technically, it was prepared correctly or whether it was overcooked or undercooked.
                                                              ~After that, we check to see whether it was correctly seasoned, by which I’m talking about whether it was salted correctly, because salt has the ability to bring out the other three types of taste you experience on your tongue, i.e., sweetness, bitterness and sourness.
                                                              ~Then we look at how items are cut. Are they cut evenly? If so, they will cook evenly.
                                                              ~We look at food combinations to see if the proportions are harmonious.
                                                              ~And lastly, we look at presentation, but usually only when it is particularly ugly.
                                                              ~We also just take note of whether, as with all great chefs, a personal style is emerging in a consistent way, or whether they’re just all over the place.

                                                              1. re: QSheba

                                                                Mattin has been clueless every week, and then made lame excuses for himself after failing, he was a phony poseur with a red bandanna tied around his neck.

                                                                1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                                  Exactly. And if, indeed, he's an expert in Basque cuisine he should know how to cook for shepherds out in the wild if not cowboys. Ceviche? Mon Dieu!

                                                                  1. re: jbw

                                                                    Mattin was an accident waiting to happen. I think his personality was peculiarly unsuited to this kind of competition.

                                                                    1. re: jbw

                                                                      yeah, that puzzled me, why he didn't try to make any basque dishes.I could never compete on such a show, but mighthave tried something like carne guisada or beef stew with beer or a touch of tequila or something.
                                                                      I think Robin mentioned steak, which too would have been a good choice, or fajitas with a cactus, corn and black bean salad or something. I don't understand the ceviche deal.That's not something cowboys are going to eat out rounding up cows.
                                                                      The idea of gourmet beans someone suggested was a good idea too.

                                                                      1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                        Maybe it's just me, but I don't consider beef stew or fajitas in any fashion, "high end" food, which was their charge for this competition. A correctly done steak or as someone else commented, buffalo would have been more appropriate. I guess that the cheftestants just were not comfortable going outside their little boxes.

                                                                        1. re: araknd

                                                                          A deconstructed, macerated, fajita? Just make something tasty and call is whateever.

                                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                            "A deconstructed, macerated, fajita?"

                                                                            LOL. A fajita is already de-constructed; but you are right, whatever you make, make it taste good.

                                                                  2. re: QSheba

                                                                    I was addressing your statement of "his ceviche was disgusting and made someone sick!" which implies that you agreed with Tim Love's assessment. My point is there can be no certainty that the ceviche was the cause. To backtrack and say that you didn't mean that the dish was spoiled doesn't jibe.

                                                                    No need to give a lecture about judging criteria, an "undercooked" (terribly inaccurate, but less cumbersome than underdenatured) ceviche is certainly grounds for elimination.

                                                                    1. re: PorkButt

                                                                      Please actually read the original post. My whole point was that Mattin continued to think his dish was fantastic- and made excuses/blamed others for why he failed- and that was the kiss of death. The focus of my post was NOT that I thought he went home b/c Tim Love got sick. You're the one who turned it into a lecture about determining the cause of food poisoning. And you've turned your replies into personal attacks, not discussion about the show.

                                                                      "I think that's why Mattin went home- he just didn't get it. It wasn't that ceviche wasn't good for cowboys, but rather his ceviche was disgusting and made someone sick! ***That's the death knell... when someone thinks their dish was "great" or "just not the judges' style" and can't admit they put something out there that was bad.*** I still don't get why so many thought it was a good idea to make ceviche out in the desert anyway!"

                                                                      1. re: QSheba

                                                                        The difference between Robin and Mattin's bad food.
                                                                        Robin didn't taste her shrimp before it went out, soon after she did taste it and discovered it had gone bad. At the JT she admitted that and acknowledger her mistake.
                                                                        Mattin did taste his food, and when confronted with Tom's comments about poorly prepared ceviche, and the undercooked parts, he basically claimed it was supposed to be that way. He didn't acknowledge he'd sent out bad, inedible food.

                                                                    2. re: QSheba

                                                                      <and Tom actually spit out Mattin's dish>

                                                                      I thought Tom spit out the shrimp.

                                                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                                                        I thought he spit out the shrimp too!

                                                                        I was pretty surpised they didnt send Robin packing.....A salad?
                                                                        and a really BAD salad??
                                                                        I would have thought that the judges would have had a right go at her for sending the shrimp out.
                                                                        If she admitted the shrimp wre bad - why did she send it out?
                                                                        They would have discovered she didnt taste it first - and I would think that would be considered a sin.
                                                                        I am puzzeled by the judges decision really...
                                                                        Both dishes were bad -I understand that but Robins was a simple simple dish...that she didnt taste - and to me that is far worse than at least the more complicated ceviche

                                                                        1. re: NellyNel

                                                                          Robin admitted at the JT she'd not tasted the shrimp before it went out.
                                                                          After it had been served she discovered the problem.
                                                                          She stated that at the JT I believe.

                                                                          So which is the bigger sin?
                                                                          Not tasting your bad food, and sending it out, admitted it was a mistake - Robin
                                                                          Tasting your bad food, and sending it out, still claims it was good - Mattin

                                                                          1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                            How can you not taste your food before sending it out??
                                                                            I'm a mere home cook and I would never do that - I can't imagine doing that in a serious competition!

                                                                            1. re: NellyNel

                                                                              "How can you not taste your food before sending it out?"

                                                                              Make an error and not purchase enough shrimp or not have any extra due to your budget. All are errors but IMO Mattin deserved to go. He just didn't get that he screwed up.

                                                                              1. re: Fritter

                                                                                Well - I didn't tast the food so I don't know...
                                                                                Both Robin and Mattin have nbeen on the bottom quite a bit.

                                                                                What galls me though is the hypocrasy constantly exhibited by the judges.

                                                                                We have seen Tom say: "Stand by your dish"

                                                                                and in a recent episode Padma tells one chef who knowingly sent out a bad dish: "Well you shouldnt have sent it out"

                                                                                1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                  For Robyn, this was the first time that she was at JT at the bottom. Both her and Ron have been consistently mediocre.

                                                                                  It was Mattin's second consecutive appearance at JT for poor performance.

                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                    Also the second time in a row that Mattin denied any problems with his dish and said he thought it was excellent. As has been noted, that lack of awareness is the ultimate sin as far as Tom is concerned.

                                                                            2. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                              re: pacheeseguy's question, Mattin's sin was worse. while Robin did make a *huge* mistake by not tasting her dish, Mattin's insistence that his was good indicates that his technique and palate are both faulty. i'm not condoning Robin - i thought they both deserved to go home...but i do understand the judges' decision.

                                                                              re: Fritter's comment about not having enough shrimp - Robin had some left on her prep table after the tasting, so she can't use that excuse.

                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                "so she can't use that excuse"

                                                                                She's supposed to be a professional. She shouldn't be using any excuses.
                                                                                As my Drill instructor used to love to scream ;
                                                                                Excuses build monuments to the incompetent!

                                                                                1. re: Fritter

                                                                                  hey, you brought it up, not me ;)

                                                                                  as i said earlier, i thought they both deserved to go.

                                                                                  1. re: Fritter

                                                                                    I don't recall her making any excuse about the shrimp. She admitted she
                                                                                    just didn't taste it, a fault many have made in past seasons.
                                                                                    When it came down to who had the bigger error, they chose Mattin.
                                                                                    I would wager Robin's time will come shortly.

                                                                                    1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                                      " would wager Robin's time will come shortly"

                                                                                      Ya think you can get any one to take that bet? :)

                                                                    3. re: mjhals

                                                                      I was surprised at how snooty a lot of the chefs were over the entire challenge, as though not being in a city, or cooking barbeque for cowboys, was beneath them.
                                                                      I was also surpised not to hear more complaints from the judges about the volume of fish.
                                                                      Happy for Ashley and Laurine, it was nice to see some new faces on top.

                                                                      1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                        speaking of excessive fish, as much as i like Jen, i'm really beginning to wonder of she can cook anything else...

                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                          I somewhat agree; yet I have been suspicious of Jen because of her ties to Ripert who has been a big supporter and beneficiary of TC. While I'm sure she can cook, how would it look if a repeat TC guest judge hired somebody who wouldn't do well in the competition? At least she seems level-headed and doesn't cry or give her meaningless speeches about her kids, upbringing, or views on society. With Jen it has thus far been about food, cooking, and winning!

                                                                          1. re: vinhotinto75

                                                                            I'm not suspicious- her peers on the show clearly think highly of her skills...and do you really think Ripert would hire someone as his chef de cuisine if they did not have top-notch skills? Last week her Chausseur sauce with the rabbit was in the top- so clearly she can do more than just seafood. If you have a strength, why not play to it? Good strategy, IMO. She also does seafood different ways- French, Latin, Asian... so she's not a one-trick pony.

                                                                            1. re: QSheba

                                                                              Jen was Ripert's Sous Chef at Le Bernadin before he opened 10 Arts, so she earned her promotion to Chef de Cuisine at 10 Arts.

                                                                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                            I think she can cook anything well if she does fish well: fish is so much less forgiving than beef, lamb, pork, and timing is crucial. One has to really pay close attention, and I've found it often overcooked even in high-end and seafood restaurants. I know that when I serve it at home, I make my guests wait for the fish, and not vice versa.

                                                                    4. It was nice seeing some new faces on the winning side of the challenges - I was very happy for Laurene, and her food looked good. I thought she seemed confident, and I know that made her more successful this week. I am in agreement that the last couple of chefs will be Jen, Brian, Kevin and probably one or both of the Mikes - but it was getting a little boring to see so much of them so far.

                                                                      I agree with whomever said that the next to go is probably Robin, then Ron. Unless someone else really screws up.

                                                                      1. I don't know if this has been mentioned, but a few weeks ago Bravo ran some sort of preview that mentioned they would be cooking for Cancer Survivors and that Robin would "automatically win" the challenge.

                                                                        Nonetheless, I know this is TV, but do we really need to hear about somebody's upbringing or the cross advertising and crying about the birth of a niece/nephew. It is also sort of ironic to have a guest judge who bombed on TCM.

                                                                        Lastly, while the cast (yes cast - not chefs - this is TV) might be stronger than in previous seasons, yet some of the challenges and cross-promotional and pontification is getting out of hand. Also, at times I'm confused if I am watching Top Chef or Miami Ink....

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. All I can say is that I have a LOT of respect for pretty much every contestant this season. I am glad that Bravo is focusing on the food and the competition instead of the drama.

                                                                          I would have so happily sat down to many of those meals, and I'm truly floored at what many of them were able to pull offf.

                                                                          I didn't taste it of course, but Laurine's really appealed to me, as did Bryan's. Of course, there are few I wouldn't have wanted to sample.

                                                                          Cooking polenta over a fire pit deeply impresses me.

                                                                          Am I on drugs, or did we not even get to see what Eli prepared?

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                            well i can't say whether or not you're on drugs, but no, we didn't see Eli's dish as far as i know. i just checked the "Rate the Plate" feature on the Bravo site, and he made a "Tuna Sandwich with Sundried Tomato Mayonnaise and Radish Salad."

                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                              Oooh, wait -- I do remember now. One of the ranchers said the fish was good, but the bread was too dry.

                                                                              I do have to admit I was surprised at how many people did fish for a desert cowboy cookout. But hey, you gotta take chances!

                                                                              And for the record, I was prescribed some heavy-duty muscle relaxers a couple weeks ago, but I took them two days and decided I'm not cut out to be a druggie and would rather just ache.

                                                                              1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                i must have been typing a reply here when they commented on Eli's food - i missed it too.

                                                                                i decided a long time ago that drugs overrated. as Dalton (Patrick Swayze) said in the movie Roadhouse, "Pain don't hurt." ;)

                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  The judges had about the same comments on Eli's sandwich as on Mike I's gyro: uninteresting.

                                                                          2. Hold the phone! Colicchio drops a biggie on his blog:

                                                                            "And while the idea of cooking over an open flame was nice in the abstract, in actuality the 'fire pits' were propane, so they were no big deal to cook on."


                                                                            Seriously, that's just misleading editing. Not the first time Bravo's done this, but that's really a HUGE detail not to have disclosed in the broadcast!

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                              But did the contestants know that in advance? Not knowing scared people into not cooking!

                                                                              1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                ok, now i really have to wonder why more of the contestants didn't actually *cook* their food...

                                                                                1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                  Not surprising. Did you see the shot of someone getting (potable?) water out of a faucet in the cleared out dirt patch? Their location wasn't way out in the country, there has to be at least electrical service to power a pump for a deep well.

                                                                                  1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                    That is so un-rancher. I'm sure Sam Elliot is angry somewhere.

                                                                                  2. Most over-used dish/cooking method this season... Ceviche or as some would say, "See-vitch".

                                                                                    Another overused item... Bacon.

                                                                                    Previous seasons individual chefs had their trademark method, but this season most of the chefs seem to depend upon similar dishes.

                                                                                    TC 2 was Marcel and his foams.
                                                                                    TC 3 was Hung and sous-vide.... or Casey using a skillet.
                                                                                    TC 4 was Richard and his bag o'gadgets.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                                                      Definitely agree - they could NOT do another ceviche dish and I'd be happy.

                                                                                      Bacon, I'm OK with - used judiciously.

                                                                                      1. re: dave_c

                                                                                        heheh you omitted Jamie and her scallops!

                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                          Or Ilan and his Spanish cuisine.

                                                                                      2. Except for the very few, I thought the dishes were really off the mark. As I understood the challenge, it was to make upscale food in a ranch setting. To me, that is an open invitation to re-think the cowboy cuisine and make it upscale. The idea is take your skills and adapt to the cowboy theme. At least Robyn said she tried, in her convoluted and crazy way.

                                                                                        Maybe Hector getting cut for his bad beef scared them off of beef, but I really don't think fish is the answer, or at least raw fish in the desert. By the way "A Horse With No Name" just popped into my head.

                                                                                        Although I am not a camper, a la Eli, I have never heard so much whining! Its a flipping reality show, you knew that. Get over yourselves and roll with the punches. "I can't sleep in a tepee!" "Oh, there's no AC!"

                                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                          That elimination challenge was brutal! Glad to have some new faces in the favorites line up. And did I see brother Bryan actually smile, dare I say laugh, for a moment? wow.
                                                                                          So glad Mattin left. He was a cocky, sub par chef who thought he was much better than he proved to be.

                                                                                          1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                            Again, I think back to Jesse and Hector and I think Mattin fits into that group. The competition aspect just doesn't fit them as well as it seems to fit the others. They are most probably very fine cooks in their own restaurant(s). His restaurant has been open in the SF/Bay area since 2003 (I've not been; no idea of the reviews; haven't done a search on CH).

                                                                                            A recent interview with Mattin (and to call that model shot "cheesy" is an understatement!)


                                                                                            1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                              Mattin sucked with the veloute last week and the ceviche this week but overall, I don't think he's a sub par chef. He's somewhat one dimensional but he showed flashes of brilliance (his cactus dish was in the top 3) - IIRC, Robin's never been in the top 3 (of quickfire or elim) and she's still on the show. I think the producers/judges noticed that the first 4 bootees were all female (even Jen made a comment) and decided to balance things out a bit (pure conjecture but a likely scenario).

                                                                                              1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                                                                                Not a likely scenario. Chef Colicchio says they judge on the food. Period. Whether it's a woman or man cooking it matters not. It's all about the food - per the post upthread re: what they look for when they judge a plate in front of them.

                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                  Sure they say that but I just don't buy it. While I don't think Tom Colicchio is a liar or a hypocrite but the judges' decisions can easily be influenced by such subconscious factors as in who got previously booted and how they performed in the past. In this week's show, they could've easily booted Robin or Mattin but they went to Mattin. We're in season 6 and from past history, we (at least I do) know the judges give some contestants the benefit of the doubt based on past performance.

                                                                                                  1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                                                                                    Hmm didn't even think of the male/female thing but thinking back, I guess it is sort of surprising they didn't boot robin considering mattin was among the faves for the cactus challenge, which, by the way, yuck! I loved when the brother who did not make the top of the cactus challenge said something to the effect of, i'd rather make food that tastes good instead of making slimy cactus or something. He's sort of a sore loser.

                                                                                                    1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                                                                                      And maybe they went to Mattin because Tom spit out Mattin's dish.

                                                                                                      1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                        I agree. Tom seems to have the final say in the judging. And part of the thing that was wrong with Robin's dish was that the shrimp tasted like bleach/ammonia -- something which was probably beyond her control. All of the flaws with Mattin's dish were self-imposed.

                                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                      Some people seem to want to read conspiracies into every reality show. It's the nature of the beast.

                                                                                                      Who knows, Robin could be like Carla Hootie Hoo -- someone who just hung around long enough to finally start to wow the judges.

                                                                                                      1. re: Reignking

                                                                                                        I think you're right, Reignking. I refuse to believe that Colicchio would besmirch his own reputation in the industry just for a reality show. I think if he says the way they judge is the way they judge...well, that's the way they judge. :-)

                                                                                                        1. re: Reignking

                                                                                                          <Who knows, Robin could be like Carla Hootie Hoo -- someone who just hung around long enough to finally start to wow the judges.>

                                                                                                          I think this season that will be Ashley.

                                                                                                      2. re: Ericandblueboy

                                                                                                        Robin was clearly in skating mode. She wasn't in the bottom three until this episode either.

                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                          I was just kinda happy Jen didn't win again/ The Jen and Voltaggio Brothers Show!

                                                                                                  2. Here's a question - if you had been one of the cheftestants, given that you'd been told you'd be cooking outdoors at a ranch for 20+ "cowboys", what would you have chosen to make?

                                                                                                    Me, I might have gone for a spin on Zuni Lamb Stew, or, if WF had it, something made from buffalo meat. Not fish!...

                                                                                                    30 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: cmvan

                                                                                                      Steak or burgers.

                                                                                                      Right now my front runners are Mike V., Bryan, Jen and Kevin. IMO Mike I. is sticking VERY close and getting very chummy with the brothers in the hopes he will be considered a front-runner by association.

                                                                                                      Ron or Robin will be the next to go IMO.

                                                                                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                        something involving meat, for sure

                                                                                                        and yes, i am sure the last ones standing will be the brothers, Jen and I hope, Kevin. He's my fave so far.

                                                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                          I thought it was striking at the beginning when Mike I said that he and Brian and Mike V were the best of the contestants. He's apparently not a "bad" chef, but not of the same caliber as the V-brothers.

                                                                                                          On his own, he's probably a pretty strong middle-of-the-pack kind of guy. But he's also not of the same caliber as Jen or Kevin and he apparently just dismissed both of them as contenders while positioning himself as an arrogant hanger-on to two of the other strong chefs.

                                                                                                          He really does rub me the wrong way.

                                                                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                            Actually last week he acknowledged that Jen was right up at the front of the pack with the brothers (and himself of course) when voicing over the WF goofiness. Kevin seems to be relatively unnoticed for some reason. Maybe because he isn't as intense of a personality.

                                                                                                            1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                              True. But now that he's aligning himself with the V-bros, he's singing a new tune.

                                                                                                              1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                                Can someone remind me what Kevin has done that's so great this season? The consensus here seems to be he's at the top and/or underrated, but nothing about him has stood out to me. I've been surprised at all the love, to be honest.

                                                                                                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                  Kevin has put some serious thoughts into his food. He won the quickfire and got to eat with Robuchon and has other top finishes. Right now I think the top 2 are Kevin and B. Volt, followed closely by M. Volt and Jen.

                                                                                                                  1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                    Kevin's performance thus far:
                                                                                                                    Ep 1: EC winner
                                                                                                                    Ep 2: QF top 3
                                                                                                                    Ep 3: EC top 3
                                                                                                                    Ep 4: QF winner
                                                                                                                    he hasn't landed in the bottom 3 yet for any challenge, and as Ericandblueboy said, he puts out thoughtful (and according to the judges, tasty) food.

                                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                      Forgot the elimination challenge win on episode 1 and the effusive praise for bacon jam. Thanks. All I could remember was the quickfire from last week, and as we all know, one QF win does not a Top Chef make. I'll make a point to watch out for him next week because honestly, as of now, nothing about him has stood out.

                                                                                                                      1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                        "I'll make a point to watch out for him next week because honestly, as of now, nothing about him has stood out."
                                                                                                                        i assume you mean nothing about his *food* has stood out, because it's kinda hard to miss that Grizzly Adams-esque beard he's sporting! ;)

                                                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                          My husband and I call Kevin "Kris Kringle" ~ he looks like a young Santa Claus.

                                                                                                                          I think he is fabulous ~ along with Jen & The Brothers V.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Mushroom

                                                                                                                            He actually looks just like the Kris Kringle in the animated classic "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" to be exact!!!


                                                                                                                              1. re: Buckethead


                                                                                                                                Spot On!!!!

                                                                                                                                I knew in my head he looked EXACTLY like one of those characters!
                                                                                                                                You got the right one!!!!
                                                                                                                                So funny!

                                                                                                                    2. re: charmedgirl

                                                                                                                      Kevin won the elimination challenge in Episode 1 (express your biggest vice through food). He was in the top group for the elimination challenge in Episode 3 (Nellis AFB). He won the Quickfire in Episode 4 (the escargot quickfire) which included "Bacon Jam". Tom C. has commented on the deliciousness and originality of the Bacon Jam in his blog twice now; he even admitted planning on using it for his restaurant. Here is what he said:

                                                                                                                      "Kevin’s bacon jam was so good that while I have never before used any of the dishes that have come out of these challenges, I went home after shooting the season and immediately began working on a bacon jam – I worked it into a softshell crab dish that was on my Tom: Tuesday Dinner menu."

                                                                                                                  2. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                    No - it was one of the brothers - Not Mike I
                                                                                                                    One of the brothers said "My brother, myself and Mike I are the strongest chef's"

                                                                                                                    That shocked me too - Jen and Kevin are both stronger than Mike I IMO

                                                                                                                    1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                      this time around it was Mike V - the sullen brother with the tattoos who always wears the baseball cap. but IIRC, Mike I *did* say the previous week that he, Jen and the V brothers were the four strongest chefs.

                                                                                                                  3. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                    I feel Ron is pushing it and will be the next to go. This episode was the second time (by my count) that he failed to fulfill the "spirit/aspect" of the challenge. In the first episode when they had to cook the dish that inspired them the most to become a chef he told the story about escaping his native country and coming to America. In episode 5, I got the feeling he refused to work with cactus at all since it was "Voodo" and probably lied about it being in the sauce during the QF.

                                                                                                                    Oh well, maybe Toby coming back will hopefully deflate Mike I's head a little bit.

                                                                                                                    1. re: gmk1322

                                                                                                                      Toby coming back will deflate my enthusiasm for the judging portion of the show. I am absolutely dreading his (lack of) witticisms.

                                                                                                                      1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                        Actually its the overabundance of forced pseudo humor disguised as witticism that I dread.

                                                                                                                  4. re: cmvan

                                                                                                                    Definitely a meat of some sort - lamb, beef, pork, chicken - perhaps in that order. Which is why I think Bryan and Laurene did so well. They had an actual meal put together vs. a sandwich or citrus-cooked seafood.

                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                      just the words 'citrus-cooked seafood' in 110 degree weather make me shudder.

                                                                                                                      1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                                        LOL! I know what you mean. Why so many of them really didn't think about the actual challenge and who they were actually cooking for is rather strange.

                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                          Or is it that they are so involved in their perfect fine dining world that they can't see what is obvious?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                            Well, Tim Love *did* say to them "high end dining" was what he was looking for, so perhaps that stuck in their brains vs. the realization that it was to be "high-end dining while cooked at a ranch for cowboys".

                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                              Like I said, I think they just have limited and snotty imagination.

                                                                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                        I wonder if the vast majority of these chefs actually know how to season meat (i.e. use a rub)and serve it without a sauce for flavor. If I recall from the first episode, didn't jacque pepin lament that very fact? I guess not being able to use a squeeze bottle really hampered their ability to present a "fine-dining" dish.

                                                                                                                        1. re: gmk1322

                                                                                                                          Bryan's pork loin seems pretty plain - it was plated over polenta. Ahhh, here's the recipe - a simple marinade of oil, pepper, paprika, cumin, herbs, garlic and salt. No sauce. :-)


                                                                                                                      3. re: cmvan

                                                                                                                        I would likely have gone with some kind of lamb dish... Lamb grills beautifully, and lends itself well to rustic, "outdoorsy" flavors. Plus, it's somehow easier to label lamb "high-end," maybe because it's not as "everyday" in most American households as beef and chicken, or even pork.

                                                                                                                        1. re: cmvan

                                                                                                                          With a $150 budget probably a go for a steak egg and potato dish.

                                                                                                                          Grilled skirt steak, rested on a butter soy emulsion and use that as sauce as well. make some form of chimichurri for tang. Ratchet up the cowboy thing with a potato and pickled chili stew or even a more refined torta de patata. Round it out with the Francis Mallman burnt tomato idea and you have a pretty refined cowboy dish.

                                                                                                                          I live in a sweltering country and grilling in the hot sun would is still a pretty fun day. Somehow I think Hector would've won a challenge like this.

                                                                                                                          I keep hearing what Tom said on one episode of top chef masters where he noted the huge difference between regular top chef contestants being bogged down by the challenge's limitations and the master's just taking the challenge and really relishing what they could create within the parameters, (I think it was the episode with john besh and Suzanne Tracht.)

                                                                                                                          Ceviche was the easy way out and fish was a really odd choice. I felt that nobody was swinging for the fences in this episode. (come in Mike, Gyros?)

                                                                                                                        2. I was very shocked to see so much seafood being prepared this Challenge...what the gravy was some of the chefs thinking?

                                                                                                                          Where was the BEEF (more) PORK, VENSION, RIBS, something a bit more hearty for Cowboys (Ranch hands)

                                                                                                                          1. Gail's and Jamie's blogs are up at Bravo, and Gail made an interesting comment:

                                                                                                                            "Robin could not get her head together and was entirely overwhelmed. Although the initial idea for her Grilled Romaine Salad with Drunken Prawns & Spicy Chicken Sausage may have been a good one, she could not manage to translate it to our plates. The shrimp she served was of poor quality and had turned rancid in the extreme heat."

                                                                                                                            Wonder what Whole Foods thinks of her "poor quality" comment?

                                                                                                                            And in reference to Ron's drink: "Ron’s Coconut, Lime, Mango & Tuna Ceviche was passable. His Hawaiian Coconut Mojito was disastrous. Ron does not drink, so why think he could make a great cocktail? Note to future chefs: Do not present us with food that you would not consume."

                                                                                                                            That note to future cheftestants is a VERY good one. How can they *not* have tasted something they send out to be judged on?

                                                                                                                            Had to laugh at one of Jamie's comments: "Cactus is a tough ingredient to work with and I think that given the challenge the chefs did a great job. Mike Isabella's win unfortunately helped keep his ego in an inflated position where it's been pretty much all season."

                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                              Yeah, not sure how well WF will take that comment. I think other chefs have also made comments about their seafood. Stephanie Izard says she generally cooks a lot of seafood but cooked a lot of meat instead on her season. She was really polite about it, saying that chefs generally have access to great seafood purveyors that regular customers don't. Wow, she is the queen of diplomacy.

                                                                                                                              I don't possess the tact that Stephanie does. WF seafood sucks in general (perhaps with the exception of scallops as Jamie from Season 5 kept choosing them again and again). I've stopped purchasing seafood from WF a while back after several incidents. CH deleted my posts as to the reasons why I refuse to buy seafood from there. So all I say now is that they suck.

                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                WF seafood certainly isn't as fresh or of the same quality as what is available commercially. At the same time, it appears that the TC contestants get access to foods that would not be available to ordinary customers (at least they did on TCM -- not sure if it follow through here).

                                                                                                                                Still, good quality seafood can easily turn desert heat in 12 hours if not properly stored

                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                  <Wonder what Whole Foods thinks of her "poor quality" comment?>

                                                                                                                                  Wonder what day of the week they shopped for that fish/shrimp?

                                                                                                                                  My first thought when they said the shrimp was spoiled, was that it had been stored near the top of the cooler and not near the cold source, and that perhaps that cooler was not tightly closed for the whole time. Just conjecture, I know. I would NOT have done shrimp anything in the desert, tho.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                    "My first thought when they said the shrimp was spoiled, was that it had been stored near the top of the cooler and not near the cold source, and that perhaps that cooler was not tightly closed for the whole time"

                                                                                                                                    I don't know about other WF's but I rarely buy seafood at WF here. Here they use a cooling unit under the fish and little or no ice. There is no cover to keep the cold air in. Half the time when I walk in WF I can smell fish at the door.

                                                                                                                                2. interesting list from a commenter called Independent George at Skillet Doux's website re: some unofficial rules: http://www.skilletdoux.com/

                                                                                                                                  Unofficial Rules For Surviving Top Chef:

                                                                                                                                  1. Taste your food before serving it.
                                                                                                                                  2. "The key is bending the challenge to meet your strengths. Don't play somebody else's game - play your game" - Richard Blais
                                                                                                                                  3. Don't half-ass an extra dish you don't have to make just because you think the judges will be impressed by the extra half-assed effort. They won't.
                                                                                                                                  4. Pasta Salad = Death.
                                                                                                                                  5. Don't overcook your meat.
                                                                                                                                  6. Don't underseason your food.
                                                                                                                                  7. Don't disrespect the judges.
                                                                                                                                  8. "Deconstructed" doesn't mean throwing a pile of crap all over the plate. A deconstructed anything is a carefully planned composition in and of itself.
                                                                                                                                  9. It's not enough to simply admit a mistake at Judges Table; explain how to fix it.
                                                                                                                                  10. Don't let the guy with immunity lead the elimination challenge.
                                                                                                                                  11. Have 2 different dessert recipes memorized by heart, with substitutes for each ingredient.
                                                                                                                                  12. Know what foods work when served out of a chafing dish.

                                                                                                                                  a few additional rules suggested by others were:

                                                                                                                                  I would add "let your meat rest properly before cutting" somewhere in those rules, maybe in addition to #5?

                                                                                                                                  How about: "If you're at the bottom at JT, don't tell them you thought your dish rocked."

                                                                                                                                  13. Proceed with a Duet or Trio at your own risk. One great thing is better than one good thing surrounded by two mediocre things.

                                                                                                                                  Pretty funny and very spot on! Any more unofficial rules that we can think of? One I thought of:

                                                                                                                                  Don't always make the same thing (fish/scallops/pasta) episode after episode. Try and vary what you put on a plate; otherwise you'll be known as "the chef who always made scallops/pasta/always used molecular gastronomy".

                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                    From the Top Chef Cookbook, which only covers Seasons 1-3 (with a cameo from Richard S4 as a QF prize), note that many of these "rules" have been clear several seasons now! They should embroider them (and the above) in their knife rolls.

                                                                                                                                    * Overcooked steak, bad. Overcooked eggs, bad. Undercooked chicken, very very bad.
                                                                                                                                    * Taste your food (a remarkable number of chefs could have saved themselves by tasting and adding a little salt).
                                                                                                                                    * One stellar dish will always beat a duo/trio/two mediocre dishes.
                                                                                                                                    * Have at least one simple dessert ready to go. If you don't have one and you don't have to make dessert -- don't!
                                                                                                                                    * Consider the location -- pork belly might not braise well at altitude, vinaigrette "droplets" may ooze in Hawaiian humidity, broccolini may not hold up to an airplane oven. Ceviche is not a good idea without refrigeration or ice on a ranch in Nevada in May.
                                                                                                                                    * Don't bore Nina, er, the judges (sorry, wrong competition ;) -- "do you really think Tom Colicchio needs to taste one more filet mignon or tuna tartare?"
                                                                                                                                    * Luxury ingredients (foie gras, truffles, caviar) won't impress the judges -- if anything, they're likely to judge them more critically.

                                                                                                                                    And one more, that we may have seen the exception to this season:
                                                                                                                                    * Gnocchi have nearly always fared poorly -- avoid if possible.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                      LOL! I had forgotten various "rules" were noted in the TC Cookbook! (Wonder if they'll do another one after Season 6!)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                        the broccolini issue is how it can make you even more effervescent when flying, which makes one carbonated in itself.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                        I like the list, but I would add....If you are taking part in a team challenge and you do not like the direction the team is going, speak up. We have seen people sent home after seeing the team taking a wrong turn, and not doing anything to fix the problem.

                                                                                                                                        On another note, I can't believe nobody has mentioned Mattin's little dance during the QF, In our house, we have dubbed it the Target lady's dance from SNL, I think we hit the rewind button at least 3x to watch it. I will miss the jaunty neckerchief.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: lizzy

                                                                                                                                          Ha! All Mattin needed to do was shout, "Score!" hilarious!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: lizzy

                                                                                                                                            Oh I missed that - I'll have to watch for it next viewing!

                                                                                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                            While rule #10 probably refers to smaller groups, Jen proved it wrong 2 weeks ago.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                              I would watch every episode of every season so as not to repeat the dumb mistakes from previous contestants. My wife can attest to me screaming at the tv, "HAVEN'T YOU EVER WATCHED TOP CHEF BEFORE?"

                                                                                                                                            2. This was reminiscent of Season 3's Finale Challenge w/ Hung, Casey, Dale. and Brian. Weren't they at a ranch and had to make food for cowboys? I know they had no choice about their meat (elk), but I was really surprised that no one remembered that episode. I thought for sure at least one person would have done a "gourmet" pork and beans or something!

                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: QSheba

                                                                                                                                                I understand what you're saying but would you have wanted to eat pork and beans while sitting on the surface of the sun? I think that's part of the reason we saw so much fish.

                                                                                                                                                My first thought when it came to cooking for cowboys was some damn fine chili - maybe over a handmade sausage. But then I thought about not knowing the conditions and that they'd be eating in the heat, I'd probably have gone for fish, too.

                                                                                                                                                I remember the season 3 finale. I also remember everyone in long sleeves because the average high temperature in Snowmass just ain't all that high. And they had a real kitchen, so we're comparing apples to porcupines.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                  The dilemma: It's hot, everyone wants light and cool food vs They're ranchers, they want meat...

                                                                                                                                                  Can't believe no one did a tomato and watermelon salad and called it a day.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                    As a Sonoran desert dweller, when it's 110 or 115 out, it doesn't matter if the food is hot, as it probably won't be as hot as the environment. Likewise a cool dish isn't likely to cool one down unless it's very chilled. In most cases, the food temp ends up being pretty neutral.

                                                                                                                                                    What we do avoid in the hot months is the type of food that'll go rapidly downhill... seafood, mayo/egg dishes, etc.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tastyjon

                                                                                                                                                      I live in a pretty hot area as well (though not quite as hot as you) and agree completely. I've never gone to a barbecue and had someone had me a ceviche but you can smell meat being grilled all summer no matter how hot it is. I've spent may a 100+ degree afternoon in front of a hot grill.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                      Making just a salad is kind of a kiss of death.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                        Just referring to Ariane's salad from the Today Show challenge last season. Shoulda added a smiley, apparently ;-)

                                                                                                                                                  2. At about three minute or s I was getting a little sick of hearing the word 'cactus'. Although it would make a good drinking game every time the word is said take a shot. But doubt people would last very long.

                                                                                                                                                    BTW what the heck is the essence of cactus? And how is it captured?

                                                                                                                                                    Added: Oh good Toby is coming back...(woo friggin hoo) Can't say that I've missed him in fact had forgotten he was even on.

                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                      Well, it's a prickly subject......

                                                                                                                                                      When We Recognize a Cactus as a Cactus, We:
                                                                                                                                                      Grasp the form of cactus conferring properties that make it a cactus.
                                                                                                                                                      Grasp the essence of the cactus.
                                                                                                                                                      Grasp its end or purpose.


                                                                                                                                                    2. What a bad episode. Bad challenges, bad food.

                                                                                                                                                      1. I keep hearing Fabio shout;

                                                                                                                                                        IT"S TOP CHEF NOT TOP CEVICHE!

                                                                                                                                                        Seriously enough already. Like many others I was perplexed by the choices but clearly the Chef's had no idea what they would be dealing with as far as lack of equipment and refrigeration. I was thinking WHERE"S the Beef?
                                                                                                                                                        I'm starting to think Jen was over rated to begin with and perhaps Laurine might be the surprise in the ladies group.

                                                                                                                                                        1. This season great cast; great guests, some excellent cooking...and now Toby Young is back. His return brings to mind the expression 'a terd in the punch bowl'.

                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                                                                                                              I thought that in this episode we saw some cracks in the armor of Jen and V the Younger. They both did well but were thrown off their game in a way that suggested that further along in the competition the stress might play a bigger role for them. V the Elder and Kevin seem to roll with everything that comes their way, I like that in a cheftestant.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                                                                I don't know if you can really judge by this one challenge. I realize I could never work in a kitchen because like the Pisces I am. I too go bad in the heat and sun. I think this was a very grueling challenge physically, as well as the lack of prep space.

                                                                                                                                                                Sure they should be "ready for anything" but I got grumpy just thinking about the whole setup. Some scenarios can really throw you.

                                                                                                                                                                I have one question though: Did the ranchers opinions count for anything? Just thinking back on other seasons, like the surfers challenge, the participants filled out cards. They don't seem to have solicited votes from the guests this season. There is a passing comment or two but that's about it.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                                                  No, they didn't have a say, or didn't show it if they did. Odd that they didn't get a chance when the various other groups did.

                                                                                                                                                                  And I was surprised that a few of the dishes that seemed popular were left out of the top 4, can't remember the specifics now tho.

                                                                                                                                                          1. I'm so sorry, and I am ashamed of myself, but I find this season so...BORING. I have saved all the other seasons and so far, I don't want to save this one. There is nothing for Anthony Bourdain to make fun of this season, should he drop by.

                                                                                                                                                            Eric Ripert's #1 gal wins a $15k chip...I'm so surprised (yawn).

                                                                                                                                                            One sibling gave the other sibling the stink eye...yawn.

                                                                                                                                                            To me, these are already top chefs, they aren't telling us anything new. The Voltaggio's and Jen are already established with restaurants and fast track careers.

                                                                                                                                                            There is no Mike cooking his best meal on Vicodin.

                                                                                                                                                            There is no Elia getting depressed and covering her face in chocolate.

                                                                                                                                                            Nobody is going to shave anyone's head this year.

                                                                                                                                                            So far, there's no unheard of sous chef who's going to smoke everyone.

                                                                                                                                                            I know Tom always pushed the other seasons to do better, and that was part of the fun and the pressure on them, to push it, to shine, but he seems to have gotten his wish this year with higher caliber chefs.

                                                                                                                                                            I dunno, I hate to admit that I liked the drama and surprises of the other seasons, and that makes me a reality tv junkie, but if the shoe fits I guess I have to wear it. I loved them throwing a bunch of misfits together and seeing what happens. I don't see this crowd going into a neighborhood and stealing their food and making a block party.

                                                                                                                                                            I guess they wanted a high end season and they got it and...it's boring to me.

                                                                                                                                                            Yes, I will watch next week. I think a pressure cooker explodes and a Voltaggio gets a little dirty...wow, exciting...yawn.

                                                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tobycat

                                                                                                                                                              I watch TC for the cooking and the cool guest judges. If I want drama and bickering I'll watch Big brother or Hell's kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Evilbanana11

                                                                                                                                                                Exactly. There are so many other reality shows where the drama outweighs what the show's supposed to be about - are are ALL about the drama and bickering (i.e., Big Brother). I'm perfectly happy with TC being about cooking and creativity in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                  That's one reason I liked Top Chef Masters more. It was more about the cooking than the conniving.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't mind a little drama, it just make the show even more interesting!

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: tobycat

                                                                                                                                                                  I know it's way cooler to say that I am only interested in the cooking, but since I can't taste or even smell the entries and since sometimes I don't even see all of them, I have to agree -- at least a little. If all we had were very kind, intelligent, well-raised, centered contestants and all they were doing was cooking, the show would be boring beyond belief.

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not looking for the nonsense of Big Brother or Hell's Kitchen, but it is fun to see things get mixed up a bit. And to judge by the postings here, most people share that point of view.

                                                                                                                                                                  Even Top Chef Masters got much more interesting when personalities and idiosyncrasies got revealed.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm going to have to disagree- I watch the show for the cooking only. I really dislike the drama! I think the challenges themselves are dramatic enough- I don't want to see Leah and Hosea, I wasn't more interested in TCM when Chiarello got into it with Dale- I just thought he was a jerk and was more interested in what was on the plates. Because we're on a tight budget (husband is earning PhD), its like a trip to the amazing restaurants we wish we could afford- if we can't eat it, at least we can see it! It's almost like watching Olympians compete for me- I'm SOOO not in that league and it's just incredible what these chefs create- especially with the crazy constraints put on them!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: QSheba

                                                                                                                                                                      They tried the drama in season two, which the consensus seems to be that it was the worst all around (it was). Since then they cut way back to the 'drama' which is good.

                                                                                                                                                                      I want to watch good chefs create and discuss interesting dishes. As opposed to seeing mediocre chefs cooking 'borrowed' recipes and sitting around gossiping.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                      >Even Top Chef Masters got much more interesting when personalities and idiosyncrasies got revealed.<

                                                                                                                                                                      There's a difference between "personalities and idiosyncrasies" and "drama." I, too, like the personalities, especially when they're reflected in their food -- Carla and Fabio were fun to watch. Hosea-and-Leah, not so much.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                        That's a good distinction. I like seeing Hubert Keller and Rick Bayless' personalities come out. I thought it was great when Richard Blais shared his reward with Stephanie. But that whole thing with Hosea and Leah was uncomfortable. Drama for the sake of drama is a turn off for me.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                          I agree - I posted some place else (maybe in this thread) the whole Leah and Hosea thing gagged me. I turned those couple of episodes off, because their whole 'fling' was embarrassing (for them) to watch.

                                                                                                                                                                          But 'getting to know' Hubert Keller and Rick Bayliss, and finding out what classy men they are, as well as such amazing cooks, is a real treat. I'll keep watching for more of those moments.