Top Chef: Pigs and Pinot
by Allison Waldman, posted Oct 15th 2009 1:10AM
(S06E08) Well, things have certainly heated up on Top Chef, haven't they? Oh, I'm not talking about in the kitchen; I'm talking about in the house. These chefs are getting testy, or some are. Eli mentioned in the open that there was a lot of "emotional stress." Well, he should know because he's behind some of it. Then there's motor mouth Robin. Could she really be as yappy as she appears to be on camera?
Anyway, the Quickfire was a commercial for Alexia Snacks. Okay, they said it was about pairings, but you couldn't miss the product plug. Eli made a potato-clam dish that complimented well with onion snacks. A lot of people used the onion snacks, but Eli was the first one tasted. Maybe that gave him an edge because he won.
The guest judge for the hour was Charlie Palmer, restaurateur and host of the annual charity Pig and Pinot event. The chefs got to taste and choose a pinot noir to pair with a random selection of pork to prepare. Kevin claimed that he was the ultimate pork man. He has a pig tattoo; although so many of these chefs have tattoos, there may be some other pig tattoos, as well. But Kevin has been proving week after week that he's a strong chef, and when he decided to do a pig leg pate, he admitted it was risky because there weren't a lot of ingredients.
The strongest chefs -- the Voltaggio brothers, Jennifer, Kevin, even Mike Isabella -- all did well, understanding that the pig and pairing with the wine was crucial. But Kevin stood out and was again the winner. I don't see how he doesn't make it into the final two; he's just really good.
Judge Toby Young was in rare form, especially when he described the difference between a European pinot and an American pino to hairy vs. shaved armpits. Very appetizing.
Laurine, Robin and Ash were the bottom three. They not only failed with the pork, but they flopped with the pairing. But Ash screwed himself badly by admitting that he had a better dish planned than the one he presented. His pork tenderloin was clammy and lacked flavor. I thought Laurine's rillette -- "cat food" -- was going to be the loser, or Robin's dish, which was pork but somehow managed not to taste like pork. But no flavor and no commitment was the killer and Ash was out.
The night before the Pig and Pinot, the housemates were shown cooking in the house. Robin and Eli got into it, and she apparently has annoyed a lot of the younger chefs. She's got about 20 years on most of them. Eli snapped and told her she wasn't his mother! Woo, talk about getting nasty. Robin described Eli and his friends as a clique. How high school can you get?
Well, the young turks will have to put up with Robin's mouth a little longer. She's survived another week.