Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Live Blogging Top Chef Season 6: Episode 11

After a week hiatus, Top Chef: Las Vegas is back, and the final six are facing off tonight, as the competition gets down to the wire. The chefs head to the Venetian, as opposed to the usual M Hotel, for the Quickfire, and Padma surprises them by ordering room service for herself and celebrity chef Nigella Lawson. They have thirty minutes to whip up a meal and serve it to the ladies, who are relaxing in bed in their suite. Everyone is a little on edge, and preparation seems a little more hectic than usual, which is saying something. Nigella slams Bryan's bizarre vanilla/crab combo and Robin's blintz, but she praises Eli's reuben eggs benedict and Kevin's take on steak and eggs, ulimately rewarding the former, who earns a spot in the new Top Chef Quickfire cookbook. The elimination challenge involves each chef cooking a dish inspired by one of the city's most famous casinos for a crowd of 175. Good luck conjuring up a recipe inspired by the Bellagio, Robin...

The contestants have a day to explore their respective casinos, taking in the over-the-top and unusual features of each one. Michael opts to take his New York, New York assignment as a tribute to the city's firefighters, but Jen has no idea what to do with her dish inspired by the Excalibur. Bryan draws inspiration from the Mandalay Bay's shark tank, and self-proclaimed artist Robin decides to base her meal around a huge ceiling sculpture in the hotel's lobby. Ok, you do that, and let's see how it turns out for you. Kevin's only assessment of the Mirage is that it's "tropical", which I guess he could take in a number of directions. Only Eli is really disappointed, learning that Circus, Circus isn't exactly the big top that he expects, and he proceeds to vent to the rest of the chefs. Like he's going to earn much sympathy at this stage.

After such a tense Quickfire, dinner preparations are relatively tame, and all of the chefs seem to have developed ideas that are at least somewhat relevant to their assignments. Whether they actually succeed, though, remains to be seen. Once they arrive at the venue where they'll be serving their guests, though, Michael gets nervous about finishing his chicken, and Robin's sugar pieces break apart completely. The judges' evaluations get off to a weird start, with Jennifer's beef that they hardly say anything about at all. They love Kevin's salmon, though, and his line to the finale seems very much intact. Michael's breaded chicken and blue cheese disc also earns top marks. Robin's overdue elimination may finally come tonight courtesy of the tepid response to her panna cotta. The brother's go two for two tonight, as Bryan's halibut definitely pleases. Eli serves up one of the strangest dishes of the season, though, with a soup combining raspberries, popcorn, and God knows what else, completing a pretty obvious top/bottom divide for the night.

The suspected top three, Kevin, Michael, and Bryan, take their assumed places in front of the judges and have very little explaining to do before Nigella announces Michael as the winner once again. He takes home a bottle of Terlato wine and a three day trip to Napa, not bad for a night's work. Jennifer admits her faults, as usual, and the judges come down on her tough beef and bland sauce, while they accuse both Robin and Eli of falling short of their lofty ambitions. Padma is especially harsh on Eli, calling his meal something that she "would never want to eat again." So will Jen's downward slide cost her tonight or will Eli's first major stumble, and it's a big one, send him home, or will Robin FINALLY pack her knives?

With tears already streaming down her face, Robin gets her long-overdue boot. As the weeks went on, her abrasive personality became more and more grating, and she outlasted many more deserving chefs. We're left with a totally deserving top five, and next week looks like a major test, with uber-chef Thomas Keller and a mysteriously challenging task.

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