I thought last night's Top Chef Las Vegas might have been the best hour of food television I have ever seen. Michael and Jen have a sexual energy in that kitchen that had me screaming at the TV set for them to lose their serious looks and have at it right on the prep table while their lapin roasted. And they are superb cooks as well. I was almost floored by Brian’s subtle eye roll at Judges Table, after Mike asserted that their Trout Bearnaise was a team effort. Kevin had a look on his face all night that screamed “I wish I would have lost the quickfire so that I could have cooked for Robuchon”—and that is why he is a serious contender for the title despite Jen and the Brothers V being in the same kitchen.
Starting a show with a quickfire and forcing a loser to go home was brilliant and fun to watch, and even more dramatic when they got a second chance wild card. Amazing. Here’s a question though team beef and team poussin wound up on chopping block and Victor paid the price, but I thought team frog leg would have been low team on the immersion wand, didn’t you? Anyway, the skill level this season makes this the most compelling and fascinating season ever, and anyone who loves food needs to DVR this show ASAP.
Robuchon was superb. His one or two sentence analysis about the food he ate was so revealing and so consistent with his ethos of reinvention towards perfection. I ate at Restaurant Joel Robuchon years ago, at the Atelier in Paris a few years ago, and twice at his Vegas restaurant, and those four meals are all in my top 10 of all time. If you haven’t eaten at a Robuchon restaurant, you should do so before he really hangs up the toque. Also, how true was Ash’s comment about the judges always being so dead-on in their judges table critique. I think he was going a tad far, but I agreed with his sentiment. Can’t wait to see what my pal Tim Love says next week on the show, he can be brutally funny.
Manny’s was packed last night and my scallops Benedict appetizer was so heavenly, so perfectly cooked, and so brilliantly a constructed that I have now decided to make everything à la Benedict in my own home. But after that opening salvo the steaks arrived. All were perfectly cooked, but they were very good, not great, and the reason is beef quality. My NY strip was awesome, but the depth of flavor and mouth-feel that I get from dry-aged prime beef wasn’t there because it wasn’t dry-aged prime. I would love to take the chef and a few farmers to NY and let them eat the Four Story Hill Farm porterhouse at Craft. I think it would change their lives. Still, the steak was an 8 out of 10. Sides need work, the mushrooms lost their sear on the way to the table and were swimming in water and hash browns had to be sent back to be properly crisped, but the garlic cream spinach was very good and creamed corn even better. Shockingly, the key lime pie tasted like a jello mix from a box. At the end of a 90 minute meal for three that totaled around $300 with tip, you would think the dessert would be edible. Overall, I love Manny’s—always have always will—but they need to tighten up a tad.