I’m not really sure what happened on the third episode of “Top Chef Las Vegas” last night, but whatever it was, I didn’t like it. Funny, since the editors cut it in a way to make it crystal clear that all the chefs were soooo honored to be cooking for 300 airmen at Nells Air Force base. It was about as subtle as a 21-gun salute. In an enclosed space.
The episode wasn’t bad per se. The quickfire challenge with guest judge Mark Peel of Campanile fame offered up some pretty good times as the chefs spazzed out about cooking something with potatoes. I’m not really sure I understand why it was necessary to qualify the challenge with, “create something that’s out of this world” (hello, isn’t that the whole point of a competition?), but then again, not every chef in this kitchen is blessed with those fiiiine Voltaggio genes. I’m not going to name names (yet), but some of them think pasta salad with vegetables is a winning dish.
But back to the stove. I like potatoes and I like friction, so it was pleasing to me when Preeti accidentally used Ashley’s gnocchi water to cook her asparagus. It would have been even more pleasing had it been Jennifer Carroll’s water because Ashley didn’t come even close to an “I’m not your bitch, bitch!” type reaction. Oh, how I miss the days of Tiffani and Dave. Hopefully Jenn C. will break out some bleep-worthy quotable quotes later in the season. I have a feeling she’s going to be around for a long long while, bless her little angry heart.
Mark smartly gives Jenn’s steamed mussels with Yukon gold and blue potatoes the win and everyone’s least favorite misogynist Mike Isabella gets all whiny about it. He’s really weighing on my nerves, and I’m not that excited when he partners off with my boy Michael V. for the elimination challenge. Fortunately, Eli and Kevin, who “bond on a fat kid level,” find each other’s eyes across the crowded room, and I’m momentarily distracted by all the pork love and Southern chumminess. I think I’d like to be the meat in the middle of that fat kid sandwich. Not in a dirty way – I’m not one to lust after bearded men, but because they cook yummy things that I want on my fork, and don’t do stupid things. For some reason the ladies (and lady-hater Mike) have the stupid things on lockdown this season.
So the chefs are super pumped about cooking for the soldiers, which is really sweet the first five times they mention it, but by sound byte number 45, I kind of wish they were cooking for prisoners instead. Okay, not really. I’m not a fan of rapists or baby shakers or OJ Simpson. It’s all good though. Lots of love all around even though the chefs have to cook in what Ash describes as “the worst fears kitchen” with no stoves and only one skillet. It should be amusing to me when they all fight over the burner, but it’s not. Jenn C. is doing far too good a job keeping them all in line. Maybe she should join the Air Force too?
With so many smiles and lovey doveyness in the kitchen, the episode starts to fall flat faster than my hair in a nonexistant SoCal rainstorm. I can’t handle the lack of drama mama and momentarily check out to play around on Twitter until the painfully predictable Judge’s table. Surprise, surprise, Kevin & Eli and Michael & Mike have the top dishes because everybody loves fatty pork, and Michael wins for his pork belly tacos that Gail describes as “a whole lot of scrumptiousness.” Pause here so I can grin like an idiot for five minutes.
The “big” shocker of the episode comes when the judges ask to see Mike I. back with Preeti and Laurine, whose pasta salad was about as inspired as Lindsay Lohan’s performance in Herbie Unloaded. Mike’s rando faux Greek shrimp salad that he made “just for the heck of it” was bad, but ultimately not bad enough to wipe the smug look off his mug. Preeti is sent home because she didn’t have the same awareness as Laurine that pasta salad does not belong in a cooking competition. Or anywhere outside of a summer BBQ with booze and corn and hot diggity dogs. But it’s all good because Preeti likes to please the customer – not the viewer at home or the bacon-lovin’ Gail. I’m a-okay with leaving that job to the Voltaggio boys and Jennifer’s fast kitchen hands. God bless those chefs. And, because I am a bit sappy from time to time too (I was thisclose to breaking my no-crying at movies streak during Time Traveler’s Wife), God bless the brave airmen they cooked for.