Odds Are, Top Chef: Vegas Is Going to Be a Good One

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Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

We had heard that this season of Top Chef was going to be more about the food, and yup, that would seem to be the case. The intro roll had a smidge of human interest care of Ash Fulk (being gay in the kitchen is tough ), but it mostly pimped out the James Beard nominees (Kevin, Bryan), and with a few exceptions, everyone seemed to be cooking at a much higher caliber than last year. Weve already pointed out that Eric Riperts chef de cuisine, Jen C., is the front-runner here, so our first two questions were: Whats up with Padmas sexy-raspy voice (it was never explained apparently what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas) and whos going to be the biggest douche bag? So far, Jersey Mike Isabella seems to be this years Howie. Dude uses words like stoked, and during the Quickfires relay race, he didnt take kindly to being neck-and-thick-neck with Jennifer (No offense, but a girl shouldnt be at the same level I am) and he also said Robin (diagnosed with two types of lymphoma) was one less old lady I have to worry about, since she got immunity. And then of course his the other Michael's dish: a tribute to boob jobs via a rack (har har) of lamb. After a relay race that was kind of a mess because there were so many people competing, the chefs were told to cook dishes inspired by their vices, and Mikes was his temper and foul mouth.

So who are the other hotheads? Well, we can definitely rule out Mattin the Frenchman, who will heretofore be called the Little Prince because of his ridiculous Running of the Bulls outfit. Jen C. admitted she could be a freakin bitch in the kitchen, but nobody who uses the word freaking can be that bad, and she also seems like a sweetheart she totally caught Tom off guard by giving him a peck on the cheek after winning $15,000 in the Quickfire with her citron vinegar clam seviche (or seveech, as she pronounced it). Elis vices were arrogance, drinking, bitterness, and jadedness (case in point: I think I should win because Im the best fucking cook here), and as we know from watching Hosea last season, the guy who wears the "Bacon" shirt is usually the dick. But theres also Michael and Bryan, the dysfunctional-seeming brothers (you can just feel the love when one of them tells the other shut up, go fuck yourself). The one to watch seems to be Michael, whom well call Slim Shady owing to his backward-fitted cap.

And then, of course, there are all the chefs who outed themselves as boozers with their alcohol-laced dishes Laurine, Bryan, Eli, Ashley, Preeti, Jennifer, and Jackie. Okay okay, we get the idea, youre chefsyoure down with the brown. Luckily the hilarious Wolfgang Puck was there to cut through the ridiculousness with lines like looks like chicken testicles (about Michaels rack of lamb with coconut sauce and gnocchi), people think we need some steak and then you need some baby food on it (about the parsnip pure under Bryans NY strip), and I would throw him with the steak in the fryer too (on cooks who fry steak). He loved Jennifers poached halibut (shocker: Riperts chef is good with fish!) but advised her to cook with white wine instead of going crazy with scotch, bourbon, and cognac. (By the way, Ash and Mike also did poached halibut, which would lead us to wonder whether halibut is the new scallops, except that Eve and Eli did scallop dishes). Of course, the dish that stuck out like a sore thumb was Jen Z.s chile relleno with seitan, which was so blah it even drew a one-liner out of Padma: Its like a vegan-bar midnight special.

Lets face it, though cooking with seitan was basically a plea to be eliminated (which she was), we wanted Jen Z. to stay because she was a self-confessed hothead and she seemed even more feisty and tatted up than Eugene from last season. but, as with last season, the mom immediately got sent home to be with her kids. Another fun fact, care of Bryan: Three out of the last five chefs whove won the Quickfire in previous seasons have gone on to win the whole shebang, which means very good things for Jen C. As for whos in trouble: Well, theres Eve, the Midwesterner who looks like shes in a little over her head and whose shrimp and scallops in curry cream sauce looked like ass on a plate, and theres Hector, who, though he cooks with heart and balls (not literally) also admits that, as a Puerto Rican, he fries everything (uh-oh). Were a little worried that Ash didnt get much face time in the first episode certainly nowhere near as much as Kevin, who looks like Conan OBrian with a biker beard and who can cook, to boot. Chances are, itll come down to Ashley (who also got a lot of camera time and seems to have her act together), Kevin, and Jennifer. Either way, it looks like this season might just redeem the last one?