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October 13, 2015

Top Chef: Pigs and Pinot

by Allison Waldman, posted Oct 15th 2009 1:10AM
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.

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Brian may be stiff, but I like him. (At least from the footages), we get the impression that he is focused/perfectionist/a little type A, which as long as he makes yummy food and works hard (which apparently he does) is very well deserved, and I could care less if he doesn't go wild and crazy. That said, Jennifer CRACKS me up with her dry wise cracks, and I truly respect her because it looks like she works her ass off. Kevin is such a Southern soulful cook, and gentle, and steady and warm. So they are showing a bit more personality. Conclusion: I like all three just fine. And I think they are all already winners because they are not going to make it out of this competition without some respect from the culinary and outside world, more notoriety.

October 16 2009 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I knew Ash would be going home when he said "I had this idea, but someone else had a really cool idea so I decided to go with that instead." It was Carla all over again.

October 15 2009 at 3:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was actually surprised that the judges didn't make all three pack there knives on this one. They're just killing time keeping the other two around considering the strength of the five mentioned. Seeing Jennifer mess up was quite a surprise and I think that leaves only Kevin as one who hasn't blown it yet - am I right? I've got to say- Kevin's command of cooking is really blowing me away - sure, some of the others are great at putting out great, spectacular dishes, but he seems to be a step above that. Tonight's choice to do a pate (how do you do that "e"...) which essentially looks unappealing at best, and then win with it was crazy! I don't know how they're going to eliminate Kevin and I hope they never do - sorry Jennifer.

October 15 2009 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to WhatI's comment

I've already packed my pencils - "their" not "there".....

October 15 2009 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ash seems like a nice guy and may be a good cook but he's a terrible chef. He's has no spine, no confidence and doesn't even have the sense to fake it in front of the judges. Robin and cat food aren't going to win either but any of the 3 could have been sent packing. I just want the really weak ones out so that Mike I can get the boot. I also really, really dislike Eli, he's such a bitch, all the time he's talking smack. He lives at home with his mom... that disqualifies anyone from talking trash instantly.

My fiancé is starting to get very jealous of my affection for Jen - she kicks ass and I respect the hell out of Kevin he's very genuine and can really cook.

October 15 2009 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm actually surprised that Laurine wasn't sent home again.

At the end of the show, my wife and I both couldn't remember her name. We had to rewind to where they showed it on screen.

I guess that's how she does it. With just not being memorably bad or memorably good.

Mediocrity in a contest like this should get you sent home, although, I guess Ash's admission that he had a "better" dish planned is always a kiss of death. Still surprising though.

October 15 2009 at 11:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brian's comment

I agree completely. Talk about flying under the radar. My friend and I just go "Who's it gonna be Robin or Ash? Oh yeah or that other lady that they never show."

October 16 2009 at 10:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really liked Michael and Bryan when the show first started but now they are just getting on my nerves. Bryan is about as stiff as a piece of wood. Would it kill him to show a little personality? And Michael, along with Mike Isabella, just seems like a bratty bully. I will be ecstatic if Kevin or Jennifer win. They are definitely the two most deserving of it. Robin really does need to go home. I cannot figure out how she keeps skating on by. Every week, she is on the bottom - except the week she had immunity but the judges hated her dish then too. I wish somehow, last week, Ashley could have stayed and the judges just decided to randomly throw Robin out.

October 15 2009 at 7:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Man going off on the woman with cancer was crazy but she do talk to much . I want one of the brothers to go soon just to see how one does on there own but with restaurant wars starting and both on the same team i dont know .

October 15 2009 at 2:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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