Top Chef Las Vegas: If You Can’t Take The Heat, Get Out Of The Desert

by | September 17, 2009 at 7:01 AM | The Ziedgeist, Top Chef, TV News

Top Chef "Camping" (Bravo)

Top Chef "Camping" (Bravo)

When saddled with cooking a meal in 100 + degree heat with a lack of proper kitchen tools, the cheftestant’s on last night’s Top Chef resorted to sheer ingenuity, providing by far the most impressive challenge yet of the season. Thoughts, rants, and recapping of the episode, below.

The Quickfire: It’s viewers choice! And what do they choose for an ingredient? Cactus. I’ll admit I didn’t vote, but if I had, I certainly would have picked rattlesnake or kangaroo (is that even legal?) instead, if only to see the look on guest judge Tim Love’s face when Kevin invariably presented him with “candied rattlesnake jam.” Cactus, however, is surprisingly difficult to cook with. Ron says cactus is “poisonous in Haiti.” Apparently not in America! Somehow Michael Isabella knows that the best way to prepare the slimy plant is to drown it in salt. For once, he makes something that’s not Greek-inspired, and takes home the $15K prize from The M Resort, bringing the total tally of M Resort Quickfire donations this season to $45,000. And they say the house never loses!

The Challenge (AKA Ranch Dressing):
Chefs must cook a high-end meal for two dozen ranchers out on the prairie. Giddyup!

Home On The Range: When everyone discovers they’ll be spending the night in teepees, reactions are hilariously varied. Robin and Ashley feel right at home –an outhouse! – while Eli, on the other hand “doesn’t do camping.” His reason why, however, is saved in a special place below: Quote of the Night. This scenario also provides for the greatest moment of the season thus far, when the camera cuts to a self-satisfied, smiling Ron who has surrounded his teepee with tree branches to keep out the voodoo curse of desert snakes. I said it once and I’ll say it again: hootie hoo, Ron!

Blazing Saddles:
When you are forced to cook with “four fire pits, some cast iron pans, and crappy plates,” you must improvise. Some do this better than others. And the ones who don’t – Robin, Ron, and Mattin – garner this response from Tom Colicchio: “It’s really…(PAUSE)…gross.” On the “you’re as good as gone” front, Colicchio excuses himself to literally spit out Mattin’s ceviche. C’est dommage.

Sunshine Day: Laurine, Ashley, and the brothers Voltaggio make it into the top four. Ashley is relieved to be there after last week’s snafu. For the third time, the win goes to Bryan. The judges are impressed with his presentation and foresight. Michael is impressed with the judge’s sheer idiocy in not picking him.

Au Revior, Neckerchief: As predicted, Mattin, Robin and Ron are in the bottom. Robin realizes her prawns were disgusting, Ron refuses to implicate himself for creating a terrible coconut drink, and Mattin, well Mattin thinks his ceviche is tres bon. Too bad the judges don’t agree. Mattin is asked to pack his knives. In his final confessional he admits “maybe ceviche wasn’t the best for cowboys.” (Don’t forget to talk to Mattin today when he joins us for a live chat).

Quote of the Night: “I don’t believe in camping. I think its asinine. We got electricity for a reason. This is my idea of a living hell.” – Eli expressing his hatred for a night in the desert.

Quote of the Night #2: Couldn’t have just one with such a quote-rich episode. The second award goes to Ash: “I think I could be a rancher. I like walking around and looking at cows, and lassooing things.”

Other Notes:

Was that Kevin putting on cover-up in the show open? Just…curious.

Don’t you just love when people open a sentence with “I don’t like to brag or boast, but….” and launch into a story of their glorified accomplishments? That’s a Michelin Star for you, Michael Voltaggio.

Why the judges chose to blend in with their environment by donning classic “rancher garb,” I will never know.

Kevin grew up with a regulation horseshoe pit in his backyard? WHAT?

It’s official: I adore Ron. From the voodoo hexes and Bob Marley cooking influences, to the poisoned cactus, and the odd belief that someone packed a “sword” in their knife kit, Ron has quickly become my favorite quirkster. The added bonus – he doesn’t even drink!

Has anyone been keeping count of the number of ceviche’s that have been made this season?

Watch a clip that didn’t make it on the air last night, in which Michael Isabelle explains his hatred for camping, below: