Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top Chef: Revenge of the Vegetarian

This week on Top Chef the beautiful and talented actress Natalie Portman arrived in Las Vegas to serve as the guest judge for this week's challenge. At the start of the day the chefs were told they would be cooking in Tom's restaurant CraftSteak. They were rummaging through the kitchen grabbing steak, lobster, and other goodies when Natalie arrived to give further details on the elimination challenge.

They would be preparing a dinner for her and her guests. She described her eating habits as "open" and "adventurous," with one, tiny limitation. She's a vegetarian.

I was immediately giddy for two reasons - one, I know chefs hate vegetarians (if you need proof of this, please consult one of my favorite books, "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain) and two, I have been a vegetarian for the last 12 years, so I was curious to see what the chefs could come up with.

One of the biggest struggles for vegetarians is finding something to eat at a fine dining restaurant (further proving that chefs hate to cook vegetarian food). Natalie tasked the remaining chefs to each prepare a filling meal for the evening's upcoming dinner party.

Michael Voltaggio soared, and one of the diners even called him the "Picasso of food." That is no small compliment! Kevin's dish wow-ed and left the diners feeling very satisfied (which can be hard with no protein in a dish).

Robin faltered (shocking) as did my early favorite Jen, who seems to be falling apart at the seams more severely each week. Mike Isabella also left the guests wanting more.

In the end Kevin was victorious (he won the quick fire challenge too) and Mike got the boot! I had no problem seeing him go, as I always thought he was arrogant.

This episode was already fantastic with Natalie as guest judge, my solidarity with her vegetarianism, and the chefs scrambling, but it was elevated to another level by the dinner conversation amongst Natalie and the judges! Never before I have I heard sexual comments at a Top Chef dinner! We were a millisecond away from a "that's what she said." I couldn't believe it!

Now we are down to six chefs and the pressure is on! I can't wait to see what's thrown at them next!

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