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August 27, 2015

Review: Top Chef - Strip Around The World

by Kona Gallagher, posted Nov 12th 2009 9:29AM
top chef(S06E11) This episode isn't about drama, stunts, or (gasp!) vegetarians. It is simply a case of "we have six chefs and we need to get down to five," so it kind of felt like a filler episode. The guest judge was Nigella Lawson, and while Nigella Lawson would be a welcome edition to any TV show, there just isn't a whole lot going on here.

Although, I will say that the quickfire challenge probably provided foodie fantasy fodder worldwide, as it opened up with Padma in bed, wearing a robe with tousled hair -- and if that wasn't enough, we find that Nigella is also in a robe and in bed as well. Granted, they're different beds, but still: same room. The ostensible reason for this was to to a breakfast in bed Quickfire challenge, but come on-- they didn't have Tom Colicchio in that bed.

The Quickfire challenge is pretty straightforward: make a meal for Padma and Nigella using anything in the Venetian hotel kitchen. Jen should have the opportunity to shine here, since she works in a hotel and does breakfast in bed for a living. However, she prepares the classic diner dish, chipped beef gravy (otherwise known as S.O.S.). Nigella does look truly horrified as she sees it, but ultimately Jen ends up in the middle of the pack, instead of the bottom.

This challenge, and really, the whole episode, serves as a sad example of how far Jen has fallen. A room service challenge wouldn't have necessarily guaranteed a win, but the old Jen would have made it into the top two. Instead, she's become a slow-motion train wreck.

The top two ends up with Kevin's straightforward steak and eggs dish, and Eli's "I guess it tastes better than it sounds" play on a Reuben. Eli's win here is probably one of the main factors that keeps him in the competition, other than the fact that he isn't Robin. And really, that's what everyone had going for them going into the Elimination challenge -- well, except for Robin, that is.

The writing was on the wall from the very beginning of the episode: unless Robin produced something amazing for her Elimination challenge, which was to gather inspiration from an assigned hotel on the Strip, then she was as good as gone.

Of course, since she's Robin, she decided to make two things she had never before attempted, and neither one really turned out particularly well. While she didn't have the worst dish of the night -- that dubious honor went to Eli and his horrifying peanut soup, popcorn, candy apple, raspberry foam concoction that nearly killed Nigella -- she didn't have the quickfire win behind her, so she was mercifully eliminated.

Michael Voltaggio ended up winning, which seemed to surprise him, as Bryan usually beats him in such things. However, it was nice to see him get a win. I always thought we would see Jen in the final three, but the top three that we had tonight: The V brothers and Kevin, seems like it could definitely be the final three. As Tom pointed out, Jen has really come off the rails during the last three challenges, and it doesn't look like she's going to get back into the swing of things any time soon.

[Watch clips of Top Chef at SlashControl.]

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As this season began I was really rooting for Michael V to win, but these past few weeks he's shone himself to be a condescending ass. I don't even think these brothers like each other. It's one thing to be competitive, it's quite another to actively root for one brother to fail and sometimes I get the impression Michael is rooting for his brother to fail -- would even facilitate that failure if it meant he would win.

That being said, Michael is obviously a talented chef, probably more so than Bryan. I'm gravitating toward a Kevin/Michael finale, which would make for a better final two in my opinion. Kevin is quite capable of taking Michael on when he gets his act together

November 12 2009 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wish the show wasn't all in the can already and we could hold a Jenn pep rally - I really like her and Kevin - Brian is a bit tightly wound but I wouldn't mind if he won, he seems like a good guy - clearly Michael is going to show his bad sad a few more time

November 12 2009 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I almost think Robin does things she's never tried before so she has an excuse for her failures.

I liked the episode and was glad to be without too much BS other than the cooking and judging.

November 12 2009 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Robin finally realized she was out of her league with the remaining cheftestants AND I'm glad the judges finally let her go.


I knew that Michael, Kevin, Bryan and Jennifer would make it to the end, so I suspect that Eli will go home next week unless Bryan or Jennifer throw themselves off a cliff.

November 12 2009 at 11:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kristi's comment

Unless Jennifer gets her act together I don't see her sticking around. She hasn't really put a lot of effort into any of her food for several weeks. Not to mention I'm kind of tired of her pouty whining.

November 12 2009 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This episode had a great premise for the challenge. Those "Hotels" really could have inspired some great things, and I think Eli's saving grace is that his really was inspired by the place he visited, a run down circus that doesn't hold much wonder for anyone with refined tastes.

As for Robin, she got one of the most expensive resorts on the strip, and she produced something that was cheap and very lacking.

Still, this was the perfect way to use the location. This season has actually done a good job of using Vegas to create some of the challenges, although I will say having the vegetarian challenge in a steak house was pretty bad.

November 12 2009 at 9:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brian's comment

Did anyone else laugh out loud when Kevin said that Eli's description of Circus Circus was like a bad velvet painting in an art gallery? Too funny.

Finally Robin is gone!

November 12 2009 at 10:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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