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Top Chef - Las Vegas - Ep. #8 - 10/14/09 (Spoilers)

So Charlie Palmer is the Guest Judge this go-round, and the Quickfire is the "Art of Pairing" - they have to incorporate an Alexia Snackfood into their dish.

Quite frankly, not surprised Kevin was in the top group in the Quickfire - his dish sounded absolutely wonderful! Eli and Brian were also in the top....in the bottom group was Robin, Ash, and Jennifer. She looked REALLY worried that her dish was going to be overcooked; sure enough, it was.

The Elimination Challenge? End each drawing different knives for various pork cuts for Palmer's Pig & Pinot charity event. Jennifer got a wild card, so she got to choose her own cut - and chose belly (the same that Eli drew - that ought to be interesting!)

Then they got to pair with various pinots at Palmer's restaurant...Eli seems a bit cocky. Will be interesting.

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  1. so cranky that Eli landed in the top 3 for the QF. and his attitude is making me want to slap him.

    ok, i have another food/technique/ingredient to add to the list of things they should ban along with ceviche & scallops...AIR. or foam. or froth. or anything else that resembles saliva from a rabid dog. enough already!

    BTW, how is it that Charlie Palmer is judging when he's got solid history with TWO of the chefs?

    17 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Re: Eli - in the phone survey, I'd pick Eli's immaturity as more annoying than Robin's passive-aggressiveness. (He's 25 and lives at home and doesn't pay rent? Yikes.)

      And can I just say I'm LOVING this challenge with pairing a single main item with wine? Love it!

      And it's Michael, Brian, Kevin and Jennifer as the top dishes! The top 4 who should be the last ones standing!

      And WTF is Toby comparing Jennifer's dish to a hairy armpit vs. a shaved armpit? This guy is beyond the pale!

      And the winner is...Kevin again! And he gets to be a guest chef in the 2010 Pigs and Pinot! VERY cool win! He eats with the French chefs, and cooks at Palmer's charity event? He's cleaning up!

      Bottom group is Ash, Laurene and Robin. Kinda figured. Oh, give me a break - Mike I. or someone (Eli?) says "I hope Grandma goes." Please, they are even more childish than anyone could have imagined!

      1. re: LindaWhit

        agreed. did you hear his father ask him if he wanted to come home?

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I hope that was his mom...very soft feminine voice.

          1. re: melly

            i thought his mom answered & then his dad got on the phone after. oops :)

        2. re: LindaWhit

          Toby wasn't comparing Jennifer's dish to hairy vs. shaved armpit: he was saying that French pinots are like the hairy armpits to America's shaved-armpit Pinots. Meaning the French ones have funkier flavors.

          1. re: bella_sarda

            Yes, I got that - I misheard when the show was on, but got it after reading many other comments here to the same fact.

        3. re: goodhealthgourmet

          agreed. i love how he gave the disclaimer that even though he's worked with both brothers he will be fair and impartial. a little too close for comfort. maybe next week they can have Eric Ripert judge Jennifer.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Froth...saliva. TOO FUNNY.

            I was bothered by Palmer's judging too, considering his past involvement with the brothers V. For overcompensation's sake, I'm sure everyone realized neither of them could actually win.

            1. re: dmd_kc

              i think bryan actually commented on realizing that his dish would have to be beyond spectacular to win just for that reason.

            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I agree with you on Eli's attitude, and in the beginning I kind of liked him. I don't particularly care for Robin. Since everyone is being so mean to her, I find myself rooting for her and against them. I understand some of this is just social dynamics, there has to be someone to ostracize and blame. However some of them, I'm looking at you Eli and Mike I, are taking it to a new level.

              I do have to disagree with you on Charlie Palmer. Tom has said in interviews that he has had a hand in the casting by calling up chefs he knows and asking for recommendations. I don't think any of those cheftestants received any preferential treatment. Also, since Bryan worked for him for ten years I would think Palmer would judge him harder because he might have a high level of expectation.

              1. re: lizzy

                I found it interesting that he gave Bryan some grief about taking the easy way out with the beef that he prepared in the QF. he alsomade some comment about using the onion flavored chips, but he didn't do that with any of the others who used the onion flavored chips.

                1. re: Phaedrus

                  I noticed that as well about the onion chips. I also noticed that the very thing Mike V said CP didn't like about his food was the very thing Palmer complimented him on at JT.

                2. re: lizzy

                  Eric Ripert declined to participate this season because he believed it wouldn't be ethical since Jen works for him...

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    He is the classiest man in the food business. *sigh!*

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      i wonder if they told Charlie Palmer about Ripert declining because of conflict of interest...

                      1. re: HabaneroJane

                        No one works for CP now. CP has nothing to gain by being biased.

                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        I did not know that, thanks for the info. I do think the two situations are a little bit different, Jen currently works for Ripert while the brothers are both former Palmer employees. I can see your point. I just think that to keep the quality of the cheftestants high it would be difficult to eliminate anyone who might have worked with a great chef that might be a guest judge. The opposite would also be true, forgoing a guest judge who has employed a cheftestant at some point.

                  2. I just knew it would be the same 4. And I thought the quick fire was not very interesting.

                    Kevin was just so cute about his prize!

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: susancinsf

                        so i *didn't* imagine that! he's such a teddy bear.

                      2. re: jeanmarieok

                        I just love that mensch. I actually shouted out when he won. I also love how he seems to be staying out of the hatefest aimed at Robin.

                      3. Michael V., Kevin, Bryan, and Jennifer- Top 4 Again! And the winner is... Kevin! The prize is 2010 Pigs and Pinot Guest Chef!

                        1. WTF is up with Toby bringing up hairy armpits at JT?!?! he's just ridiculous.

                          18 Replies
                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            Yeah, I added to my post above about that - that SERIOUSLY didn't need to be said! Interesting look between Padma and Charlie almost as if they were thinking "did he *really* just compare someone's food to an earthy, hairy armpit?" Ugh. Please, please, please - Magical Elves - get RID of Toby and bring on Jay Rayner!

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              In Toby's defense, he wasn't comparing Jennifer's food to armpits. He was likening European pinot to hairy armpits and American pinot to smooth armpits.

                              1. re: gyc

                                Sorry Toby, the armpit analogy just doesn't live up to the standard set by Jay Raynor's jiggly breast analogy.

                                1. re: gyc

                                  he still had no business bringing up armpits unless he was describing the flavor or bouquet of the wine...and he wasn't.

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    He was referring to the wine. Have you had a premier cru Bourgogne that had the funk of a barnyard and sweat? I haven't had a California or Oregon Pinot Noir that comes close.

                                    1. re: PorkButt

                                      i actually thought the armpit line was hilarious.

                                      1. re: PorkButt

                                        that's the issue - i don't think he *was* talking about the wine. from the way it was edited, it appeared to me that he was talking about the dish (Robin's, i believe?) i got the feeling that he was trying to "show off" by talking about the food in terms that one would normally reserve for wine, but it just didn't work. had he been describing the pinot i would have been OK with it. sweaty gym socks, cat pee, armpits, whatever...all fine when discussing wine. but i'm 99% sure his comment was food-related. i'll have to watch it again to be sure. and if it turns out i'm wrong, then i'll be happy to retract my comment!

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          Nope. When they showed the clip in the "upcomings" it wasn't clear what he was referring to, but when they showed it on context it was clearly about the wine (making the distinction between a French Pinot and an American one), and it wasn't even uncomplimentary, since French Pinots are *supposed* to have those funky notes. I believe, IIRC, that it was in reference to Jen's top-4 dish, so clearly *not* a diss. It wasn't Robin's -- Robin had a rather fruity (New World, I assume) Pinot. Laurine was the other chef that they clearly noted had a French Pinot.

                                          All that said, I loved the way Tom buried his head in his arms and the look on Padma's face!

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            Yes, Tom laughing at Toby during the armpit comment and then his face during the second JT comment, which is escaping me at the moment, was my favorite part of the episode. I couldn't help but think, since Tom is an executive producer couldn't he put an end to this Toby mess? Bring in Jay Raynor or even better, bring back Ted Allen.

                                            1. re: lizzy

                                              With the caveat that we get the Ted Allen from Queer Eyes and not the Ted Allen from the pseudo food knowledge show or Chopped.

                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                I could agree to that, as long as the Queer Eye Ted Allen is the same one that has been on TC in previous seasons.

                                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            OK, clearly i *must* stop trying to multi-task while watching TC! i just re-watched the scene, and you guys are correct. he was talking about the barnyard notes in Jennifer's wine. mea culpa :)

                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    I didn't mind the comment in context. He wasn't even saying the wine tasted like hairy armpits. He was saying the wine had a funkiness that made it obviously French. He analogized to hairy armpits as something that tells you are in Europe.

                                    I thought it was pretty funny, and got his point.

                                    1. re: Jwsel

                                      I thought it was pretty funny too and got a kick out of Tom's reaction. I don't mind Toby at all, not sure why he's so hated.

                                      I'm also not sure why Robin is getting treated so badly. Yeah her chatter is annoying but to get treated so rudely by everyone is just wrong. Did one of the brothers rag on her too or was he defending her? I didn't catch his comment when the others were ganging up on her in the living room. I was really hoping her dish would be good but alas. I was surprised the poll was so in favor of Eli who I didn't mind until this episode. So rude, livingn at home, mooching off his parents, and why did his mother ask if he wanted to come home? It came out of nowhere as far as I could tell. And what does she do that's so passive agressive? They're gonna make me a fan of hers just cuz she's so outnumbered by snippy little twits (and robotic chefs).

                                      And lastly, I agree with goodhealthgourmet about having a chef as a guest judge who's worked so closely with two contestants. He probably picked Kevin just to show his impartiality. Like there aren't a million other people they could have as a guest judge?

                                      1. re: Joanie

                                        I loved how in the little "episode extras" clip which Bravo sticks into one of the commercial breaks the V brothers were teasing Eli that he was actually flirting with Robin. One asked if he got to second base. It really ticked Eli off, and made me laugh.

                                        As to why their ganging up on Robin; the setup of the show, isolation for the outside world, forced to live on top of one and other 24 hours a day, is designed to induce stress. It's a little Lord of the Flies and unfortunately they've chosen Robin to be their Piggy.

                                        1. re: kmcarr

                                          Those "extra clips" are very nice. It's a lot better than the "how to cook with dr. pepper" fillers from last season.

                                          The isolation shows what type of person they really are... I bet Mike I and Eli are the best smoozers and will treat you like their bestest friend, but these are the type that will talk smack about you behind your back. It's very man-child. Physically they are men, but mentally still children. For example, Eli is still a momma's boy.

                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      I got what he was saying...I thought it was great!

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        I loved the look on Tom's face while Toby was off on that tangent..

                                      2. Holy cow- comments in the stew room about wanting to send Robin home! And not just from Mike I. and Eli! Of course my memory may fail me, but I don't recall such a big divide (cooking and camaraderie-wise) in the previous seasons.

                                        75 Replies
                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Marcel had some detractors, but I don't think people spoke about him as viciously as Mike I. and Eli do about Robin.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              No. They just tried to shave his head.

                                              1. re: mojoeater

                                                Not everyone attempted to do that, however...and while it was incredibly stupid, it was a drunken joke. The things being said about Robin are all the time, and nasty and downright cruel.

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  It went beyond stupid when he was tackled to the floor and nobody tried to help him.

                                                  1. re: mojoeater

                                                    I'm not disagreeing with you mojo, nor am I defending what happened to Marcel. It was wrong. But the two situations are, IMO, different. Robin is under verbal attack non-stop by at least two others she is working with; and Mike I. said he would essentially throw away anything that Robin suggested in last week's challenge, despite he himself not knowing anything about the food item they were using.

                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                    the nastiness towards robin is appalling. it's so third grade. but i guess the producers need more drama than that between the brotherzzzzzz.

                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                  These guys seem to mostly talk behind Robin's back, but Betty and Frank and even Sam were in Marcel's face trying to get him to shut up.

                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                    You think Mike I. calling Robin "Rotten" is behind her back? I'm sorry - I don't think Mike I. or Eli are in any way subtle about their dislike and disdain for Robin. The entire Mattin scarf thing was over the top rude, IMO, especially since she had to actually ask for a scarf.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      That's why I said "mostly" not "entirely". Mike I and Eli are being jerks, no doubt, but on the whole, I'm remembering more confrontation w/Marcel (middle-of-the-night incident aside) and more rude/disdain/behind-the-back sniping combo with Robin.

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        I watched the Mattin-tribute episode again, and I spotted something I hadn't seen previously. After Mike I hands Robin the scarf, Robin gives him a look of pure unadulterated hate for a fleeting second. I don't think Mike was still looking in Robin's direction by that time -- if indeed he ever looked her in the eyes when handing her the scarf. Based on at least that brief nugget of evidence, I think Robin is well-aware of the other cheftestants' feelings about her. Perhaps, her constant talking is Robin's coping mechanism for dealing with the unpleasant atmosphere in which she finds herself.

                                                        1. re: Indy 67

                                                          She's most definitely fully aware of it - she's mentioned it several times re: the "tension in the house".

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            We're in agreement that Robin knows, but the phrase "tension in the house" is so generic that I don't agree Robin has acknowledged her outsider status publicly. Tension in the house could easily apply to the fact that ...
                                                            o everyone is separated from friends and family
                                                            o ordinary distractions like phone calls & the internet are off limit
                                                            o the physical demands of the shooting schedule are stressful
                                                            o reputations are being made and broken on television
                                                            o people are sharing living space with strangers -- strangers who are competitors for a major prize
                                                            o etc.

                                                            1. re: Indy 67

                                                              We're seeing what the editors allow us to see. I think she's fully aware of the fact that she's the outsider in that house. The age difference is one thing; she acknowledged that last night. (And we do know they are allowed phone calls; Eli made one last night - they're just closely monitored).

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                We're in agreement that Robin knows she's an outsider. I'm only disagreeing whether she has publicly admitted it.

                                                                As for the phone calls, I believe there is a limit as to how many phone calls each contestant can make during the competition. And, as you've pointed out, the phone calls are closely monitored. I'd hardly call phone calls under those conditions an "ordinary distraction."

                                                          2. re: Indy 67

                                                            On a side note Robin was the only one who did not ware the scarf like the others. She wrapped hers around her arm. Not really a big deal. But it is one of those thins that others in the group will take notice. Especially when the group is wants to do something nice.

                                                            Perhaps she didn't want to do what Mike wanted. Or perhaps she is simply one of those people who will be different for the sake of being different.

                                                            1. re: Withnail42

                                                              They were protesting Mattin going home over Robin - the whole act of wearing the scarf was anti-Robin at its root. They may spin it to be a show of support for a friend, but c'mon! This is a competition where here will be only one chef standing in the end. The whole scarf thing was childish and passive-aggressive.

                                                              This entire season has me bored to tears, and I find each week I dislike the remaining cheftestants except Kevin. Mike I and Eli are obnoxious little boys. They both need to go now.

                                                              1. re: Divamac

                                                                Faux-hawk Richard has written about the fact that while only 1 chef can win the prize, TC is the goose that lays golden eggs. If you are a good competitor AND a nice person TC can launch you in a VERY lucrative career.

                                                                Would you ever go out of your way to see either Mike I or Eli at an event? Eat their food? They clearly aren’t the best cooks and they clearly aren’t nice men. They won’t be doing guest spots or cooking at the Superbowl any time soon.

                                                                1. re: StewieBoy

                                                                  Here Here! In fact, I'd go out of my way to AVOID them and their food. I'd be too busy thinking they were just childish enough to spit in a dish if they decided they didn't like someone.

                                                                  1. re: jenn

                                                                    I wholeheartedly agree. It doesn't take a genius to see TC as a gateway to a better career even without being declared winner, just look at Fabio. But I don't think Mike I or Eli possess the maturity (or savvy) to see the big picture.

                                                                    1. re: Divamac

                                                                      Fabio is the perfect example of making the most of Top Chef.

                                                                      1. re: Divamac

                                                                        Mike I and Eli are going to have to live with the fact that they've made them selves look like a-holes on national TV. Robin might be annoying but it looks like she'll have far less to be embarrassed about than they will when this is over.

                                                                        1. re: Nettie

                                                                          At the end of the day, I still rather eat Eli and Mike I's food than Robin's. Do I care about their personalities? Not really. Most chefs aren't geniuses nor are they especially good people. But I sure wouldn't go on TV and act like a jackass because I know most TV vierwers are stupid and irrational.

                                                                          1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                                                            A chef is supposed to demonstrate lots of skills besides cooking, including maturity and leadership. Thats why it isn't Top Cook, it's Top Chef.

                                                                            Wasn't it great to watch TCMasters? Not a jerk in the house - well until Dale stopped in...

                                                                            1. re: StewieBoy

                                                                              I thought Michael Chiarello came off as a jerk, even before the Dale incident...

                                                                              1. re: QSheba

                                                                                i've heard MC is a big diva from a friend who worked at PBS up in SF so your observations are probably spot on...

                                                                    2. re: StewieBoy

                                                                      Spike was one of the most disliked chefs of all the seasons and he is arguably the one of the most successful. I think this disproves your theory.

                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                        I'm not sure I'd term Spike as "one of the most successful" quite yet. He's in the press a lot but just because he's gotten initial buzz doesn't mean he's "most successful."

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          Spike seems to be getting more successful by the minute. He won the NY Wine and Food Festival Burger Bash this past weekend (up against some VERY heavy hitters), and is set to open a second restaurant in DC soon.

                                                                          It makes me want to puke. I can't stand that guy. I couldn't stand him during his season, and then his behavior on Top Chef Masters just solidified it. Ugh.

                                                                          1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                            Yes, but it's still early. Is it flash-in-the-pan? Don't know. He seems like the type to look for notoriety (hey, we KNOW he likes the camera time and being confrontational), always wanting to be in the press. Can he sustain? Don't know. Still to be seen. Just because the President ate one of your burgers doesn't mean everyone likes it.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              Well, he successfully opened one restaurant and is opening a second which is more then any just any other cheftestant I can think of. I don't know if his first place is making money but a opening a second restaurant is a pretty good indication of success. There are other measures of course but opening restaurants something not many of the others has been able to achieve.

                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                Honestly? I think I'd eat at Spike's above Mike I's place. I would probably try Eli's with a bit of trepidation. the only thing making him relevant in my books is the fact that he was Richard Blais' sous chef. That has to account for something. I'm surprised that Blais allowed someone with that type of "me" attitude to work with him but then again, maybe that's why he ISN'T working with him anymore.

                                                                                Just a thought.

                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                  A lot of Top Chef contestants already had restaurants, so opening a burger joint isn't really that impressive, comparatively. Now, of the ones who were working for others before Top Chef, I think I'd have to admit that Spike is doing very well. Although I think our perception of his relative success may be distorted by the fact that the restaurants he's opened are the kind that can be put together relatively quickly, and he's in a favorable market for having a high profile (one with a lot of media but where the restaurant scene isn't as competitive as, say, NY).

                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                    I'm not going to spend a lot of time advocating for Spike but regardless of the relative ease of opening a burger joint as opposed to say what Harold did with Perilla the fact is Spike is seemly making money by making food. Maybe he has fewer aspirations then some of the others or maybe he's using his burger joint to fund other operations but he is still succeeding where many of the other haven't. Anyway, what's wrong with burgers, if the burgers are really great then why not? Isn't that what chowhound is all about? Finding delciousness?

                                                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                      I haven't watched any TC seasons except this, so have no idea really who Spike is. But FWIW Good Stuff Eatery is one of the best burgers I've ever had (certainly for the price point).

                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                        I'm just saying that some of the others who are attempting more ambitious projects may be taking longer to get them off the ground, so I'm not going to write them off as being "less successful" simply because their success is less immediate.