Yes, the only reality show that I watch and actually enjoy. The season started with sixteen. After the desultory talent level of last season (where Hosea Rosenberg bascially won by putting out three decent weeks of work), the roster was beefed up considerably, featuring James Beard winners and just a different level of chef. That said, there were a number of disasters (including the season’s desi … my people need help) – and like any such elimination show, they got down to the six:
Brian Voltaggio (Frederick, MD) – runs a well regarded restaurant – has won 3 of the elimination challenges, a serious threat
Michael Voltaggio (Los Angeles, CA) – Brian’s brother – as good as his brother, and more inclined to play mindgames. So far, he’s seemed like an asshole, albeit a very talented one. Not the douche Michael Isabella (head chef at Zatinya in DC) was, but douchy – probably the sort who pumps his fist when trying to motivate his kitchen staff … “Good shift bro!”
Kevin Gillespie (Atlanta, GA) – Looks like a lumberjack or a Tolkien creature, but has won 4 challenges. Clearly the best of the bunch, albeit not the most innately, well, talented is the wrong word. But he is less about changing the discipline, and more about making stuff people like. We like him.
Eli Kirshstein (Atlanta, GA) – Looks like an emo. Cocky (who isn’t in this profession), but seems kind of cool – cooler than Michael V. He seems talented enough to win, but has not really delivered enough to expect him to last much longer.
Jennifer Carroll (Philadelphia, PA) – She worked for Eric Ripert. She got off to a really flying start, but has started to get flustered and lose her handle the last few weeks. She is good enough to win, but not sure if she can.
Robin Leventhal (Seattle, WA) – She is the lucky one. Frankly, I am not sure why she is still there. Well, yes I am. Of course, this is a reality elimination competition, so the object is merely to not be last. She has done that successfully enough to be here, but she has missed being last by some very slim margins. The other chefs are as amazed at her survivial as I am.
Quickfire: The chefs are called into the Venetian in Las Vegas, and instructed to cook breakfast in bed for Padma and guest judge Nigella Lawson. Amazingly, all these episodes, you’d expect someone to cook Padma a Western Bacon cheeseburger, but somehow, nobody has had that foresight.
Among a littany of lovely items, the final 3 were Eli’s Rueben Benedict (rye toast with a swiss cheese, poached egg, thousand island hollandaise), Kevin’s steak and eggs and Michael V’s … oh I don’t remember. Bottom line, Eli won, and for the first time, something positive.
The Challenge: Cook for a party, a dish inspired by an assigned casino. The sad thing was that Jennifer continued her breakdown, being assigned the silliest casino on the strip (The Excalibur) with the most clear image (medieval fair). Really this should have been easy, but she created a dull pointless dish. On the bright side, the Voltaggio’s and Kevin continued their dominance, though I will tactfully sidestep who actually won.
The Elimination: Theoretically the chefs are only supposed to rule on this week. Frankly all three losing dishes seemed to suck out loud. However, the judges unkindest comments were for Eli, who made a peanut soup which was loathed. He got Nigella upset – how do you get Nigella upset??!! But the judges are human, so you’d think that if it were close “more deserving would kick in”. And it seemed to here. The elimination was not a surprise.
Next Week: Michael says Kevin cooks food he cooks on his day off – apparently he runs a house I’d want to eat at.
BONUS: Saw the first half of Lopez Tonight on TBS. Actually was pretty funny – and Lopez is lucky enough to be able to swear in Spanish.