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Top Chef - Las Vegas - Ep. #12 - 11/18/09 (Spoilers)

The Culinary Olympics episode is here! Quickfire has Gavin Kaysen as a guest judge - they are to create their version of Kaysen's Bocuse d'Or dish - a Ballontine - a protein inside a protein inside a protein, with only 90 minutes.

Padma's "welcome back" to Jennifer was a nice compliment with her dish - and she wins! She gets an extra 30 minutes to cook for the Elimination challenge.

Michael's comment re: what Gavin told him - wow, his ego is really showing! I mean, it's great to be confident - but to say what he would have made if Gavin had said he wants a ballontine would have been as good or better than Gavin's Bocuse d'Or dish? Yowza. I'm really getting tired of his arrogance.

The Elimination Challenge is a TC version of the Bocuse d'Or...1 protein and 2 vegetables. Lamb or salmon are the proteins available, and Thomas Keller is one of the Guest Judges for the EC....no pressure!

ETA: Kevin's stepping WAY out of his comfort zone doing sous vide. Please please PLEASE don't tell me he's the "surprise" elimination that Tom's alluded to!

Holy smokes - Tom says the winner of this EC will get $30,000!

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  1. I'm worried about Kevin and his choice to try sous vide. For the first time? Can that be right? He had to ask the housemates for advice, and Bryan, very nicely helped him out. Just strikes me as strange, he's always seemed very comfortable and confident in his cooking style and I never got the vibe that he was insecure or felt like changes (in sharp contrast to Robin).

    7 Replies
    1. re: mjhals

      I'm worried about Kevin too - I hear my fave Carla echoing in the back of my head. And I find Michael rather insufferable. I would much rather eat Kevin's food than Michael's. Also I'm glad to see that Jennifer is back!

      1. re: mjhals

        Well, sounds like Kevin pulled it out, but maybe it's Michael who's in danger? "Total lack of harmony" from Boulud? And ouch on Bryan's undercooked lamb!

        Eli's presentation will be interesting.

        1. re: mjhals

          Well, that could've been worse, they didn't seem entirely impressed- but not a failure by any means.

          On a plus note, I'm liking this episode a lot more than the last several because it showed A LOT more cooking.

          1. re: mjhals

            agreed the show focused more on the cooking versus drama which is good thing. with Robin finally gone I think the show can move on to cooking. love kevin! he also reminds me of a young kris kringle from rankin and bass. who doesn't love a guy that looks like young santa?

             
            1. re: trolley

              He looks just like Kris Kringle - that's exactly what my husband said. He doesn't watch the show, but wandered thru while it was on, and said, hey, there's Kris Kringle from the Christmas special!!!! Children of the 70's we are.....

                1. re: jeanmarieok

                  that is SO SPOT ON. He does look like Kris Kringle! haaaaah!

          2. 1. Michael: I mean you didn't know to make a ballotine when everyone else is making a ballotine? and Padma specifically says that you should make a protein in a protein in a protein? What did he think when he looked around and everyone else was making a ballotine?

            2. Bryan: Kevin is making simple dishes? Maybe he should concentrate on making good food rather than culinary masturbation. The food he cooks on his day off? Please...

            8 Replies
            1. re: StheJ

              Isn't it Michael saying Kevin makes the food he makes on his day off, not Bryan? And I thought the same thing - a ballontine was described; why didn't Michael make it?

              1. re: LindaWhit

                I can't keep the brothers straight... You're right it's Michael.

              2. re: StheJ

                I thought Padma described what a ballotine was and what Gavin did for Bocuse d’Or. Then she told the chefs to make their version of Gavin’s dish. I didn’t think it was inappropriate or at all out of character for Michael to not take such a literal approach.

                1. re: soniabegonia

                  Things get lost during the editing process. Until I read Tom's blog, I thought Kevin had won a spot on team USA, not just the right to compete for that spot on team USA.

                  1. re: Ericandblueboy

                    Well, it was discussed in the previous episode's thread when we saw the previews.

                  2. re: soniabegonia

                    sometimes i wonder if padma knows what she's talking about in the first place...to hear her chiming in (infrequently based on what we saw on TV) at the table with the caliber of chefs they had there last night was almost had me cringing..

                    1. re: HabaneroJane

                      I've thought about that too actually, and I'm kind of torn on that. Sometimes I think she's clearly not in the same league as the other chef judges and doesn't belong there, but then I think it's also nice to have a non-chef palate judging the food as well. Good food is good food, and while a chef may be thinking more about what went in to making a dish, she'd judging based solely on the flavor and presentation.

                      Again, I'm of two minds on that. I see your point, but also see how she is valuable.

                      1. re: HabaneroJane

                        If you read Gail's blog, she talks about how nervous the judges were about that dinner - you can sort of tell during some of the shots of them talking about the food.

                  3. Kevin: You know the competition is about presenting perfection, but you're not going to even try to do that and just concentrate on your flavors? Someone's learning about how to play the top chef game...

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: StheJ

                      Yes, but it sounds like *no one* got it right this time. Usually you hear a good bit of praise for one or more chefs; this time, everyone had something wrong. The bone from Michael's salmon served to one judge; Bryan's and Eli's undercooked lamb, Jen's unevenly cut and sometimes undercooked salmon, and Kevin's simplicity.

                      This is a hard one to call, but I'm leaning towards Bryan winning. And perhaps Michael or Eli going home.

                      OMG, Kevin WINS! And oooh, doesn't THAT put Michael in his place?

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        I think Kevin left JT before the others just so he could sit down before his knees gave out ;-)

                        1. re: momjamin

                          LOL! Very true!

                          And as suspected, Eli's out. I think when they showed the Eli/Kevin friendship at the beginning, it was the Elves hinting that he might go.

                          1. re: momjamin

                            I was waiting for Kevin to show some emotion at JT. He was so restrained but there was a glimmer of tears in his eyes. I'm glad he won but was worried that he might be told to PYKAG, based on the editing.

                            This was a good episode.

                          2. re: LindaWhit

                            Listen, someone has to defend the great Mediterranean salmon! Oh, and the Mediterranean sturgeon too.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              I don't think it was that the dishes weren't good -- it was clear that they were. The judges were just being veeeeerrryyy nitpicky, as was appropriate for a challenge that was about perfection. As usual, the comments at judges table were edited to create some suspense about who was going home, which is why they were focusing on the negatives of the various dishes and not the positives. If the only bad thing that could say about Kevin's dish was that it was too simple (and in this case, simple was relative), then it must have been pretty darn good!

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                Agreed - that's the dish I would have most wanted to try.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  That's funny, Ruth. I tuned in late--just in time for Judge's Table, and they were being so harsh and critical with everything that for a moment I thought they'd send everyone home! I thought all of the chefs had lost their basic skills overnight. Then the judges threw in some back-handed compliments and I started to get what was happening. Very interesting episode: can you imagine being judged on those standards every day?

                            2. I love Kevin more every week. "simple" or not (although I thought it looked lovely!) his food looks great to me. And frankly it was the only one the judges all seemed to love the taste of. And in the end really that's why we're foodies. :)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: AMFM

                                I agree. I really like Kevin/his food. Simple or not, he's really learned how to play the game... Plus, he reminds me of a civil war general.

                                1. re: AMFM

                                  I love Kevin, but the Grizzly Adams look he's sporting in the next show is a little much. If he worked in my restaurant, I'd make him wear a full-head hairnet.
                                  Move over, Tom. There's a new bear in the house.

                                2. Oh and I really liked the collaborative spirit in this episode - Brian helping Kevin and Jen helping Brian. Good to see.