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Top Chef: Viva Las Frances

If there is one thing that you associate with Las Vegas, it is refinement and buffet fine dining. Nothing says class and elegance like a city built in the desert dedicated to amorality and excess. Remember that scene in The Hangover when Bradley Cooper remarked on the perfect sugar-crystallization atop his creme brulee after their meal of foie gras and homard? And then Zach Galifianakis turned to him and said “everything really was delicious, you know.” That scene? Man, this show can’t win. If it’s being too Las Vegas-y, I give it a hard time. If it’s not being Las Vegas-y enough, I give it a hard time. It is almost as if I give everything a hard time, regardless! Let’s not talk about how sausage is made, though. This is not a show about making sausage. This is a show about making snails.

Daniel Boulod is the guest judge. So obviously Ashley wore her finest t-shirt.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have, that’s what they always say, and the job Ashley wants is saxophonist in a high school jazz band.

For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs must prepare a dish using escargot, all of which have been flown in from a Lifetime movie about menopause. Seriously, what is up with these glamorous snails!

“Assistant cameraman, do we have a stronger hazy-glow filter to make the light more sensuous? I don’t feel like I want to put the snails inside my vagina yet.”
–Director of Photography

Jennifer, Kevin, and Michael are the top 3, but it is Kevin’s preparation of snails that wins. BUT THIS IS LAS VEGAS, BABY! That means this is a HIGH STAKES QUICKFIRE! I can’t wait until next season when they have to raise the stakes again but it doesn’t make thematic sense anymore. Like, “since we are in Detroit, this is a heartbreaking results of post-industrialization Quickfire.” Anyway, Kevin wins immunity, but whoever loses the Quickfire Challenge will have to go home. The bottom three dishes are Jesse’s (duh, bottom ALL dishes are Jesse’s), Ashley’s, and Robin’s. They have 20 minutes to make an amuse-bouche (because of France) using anything in the kitchen. “One bite to save your life,” Tom says. That is so dramatic. It’s really more of a Padma line. She’s the one who gives everyone dirty looks as if this show actually meant anything. Where is she anyway? She probably texted Daniel Boulod right before taping and was like “Becacoup de sorry, cannot make le taping, have grande hangover from trop wine.”

The best part of this HIGH STAKES ALL IN ANTE UP DOUBLE DOWN CHICKEN QUICKFIRE is that you don’t really have to win, you just have to not lose. Unfortunately for Jesse, she is terrible at not losing.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs draw knives. Each knife has either a classic French protein (that is what elle said), or a classic French sauce. Kevin has immunity so he does not draw a knife. Also, he will be dining with all of the luminous culinary guests, including Joel Robuchon. Everyone goes crazy that they will be cooking for Joel Robuchon, which makes sense. It’s like me blogging for Perez Hilton! (No, it’s not, and I just stabbed myself in the gut for the shame I have brought on my family with that joke.) Anyway, the people with the proteins pair off with the people with the appropriate sauces. Mattin is pissing in his pantaloons because he’s from France so that automatically makes him Le Petit Prince of this challenge.

Yuck, Mattin. Tres Yuck.

Michael, meanwhile, doesn’t know about this challenge because he doesn’t cook French food. He shrugs. And he makes this face.

I really cannot stand people who wear their ignorance as a badge of honor. Like, it’s totally fine that Michael doesn’t cook French food, a large majority of the people in this world don’t, but it’s not cool to not know what you’re doing, especially on a show about cooking, you clown. Anyway, enough about Mouth Goblin.

There are some mild struggles in the kitchen (Robin is distracted here, what’s-his-name can’t finish his sauce there), but in the end nothing too special. Everyone at least gets their food on the table. It turns out that Joel Robuchon is the Wallace Shawn of France. He looks like he’s presiding over a space senate about a new hoverbill to impose larger time travel tariffs.

Anyway, he likes some things, he doesn’t like other things, you know how it goes. At the end of the meal, Tom says that he doesn’t think they could have had such a high-level of cooking this early in the season during any of the other seasons. Sure, Tom. I mean, since we have all tasted all of the food throughout all of the seasons, those words are really meaningful and couldn’t have just been thrown in to convince us that what appears to be a semi-lackluster group (minus Jennifer and Kevin, and probably the brothers) is not at all a semi-lackluster group but in fact the best group. In any case, it’s good that Kevin won the Quickfire and got to attend the meal wearing a nice suit:

Because Eli in his Bacon T-Shirt would have cut a slightly less respectful figure:

I don’t know if what Tom was saying about this being the highest caliber season of cooking in Top Chef history, but it’s certainly the highest caliber season of terrible t-shirts in Top Chef history.

Anyway, the two brothers are both on the winning teams, as well as Michael “The Mouth,” and Jennifer. They seriously should have just called all the other chefs into the room, thanked them, and sent them on their way (knives neatly packed). These guys plus Kevin are obviously the top 5 chefs, and even when the show throws us a Hosea-style Thumbhead curveball later in the season and eliminates one of the top contenders while keeping, you know, Robin, or whatever, it’s not like we don’t already know what is what. The sauce is on the wall, or whatever. One of the brothers, only their mother can tell them apart, and also people who pay better attention than me, wins. They are asked to send in Matine, Ashley, Hector, and Ash. It’s nice to see that smirk wiped off of Matine’s face. I wish him well, and I think he’s going to keep going in this competition, but enough with the prancing and the gloating and the neck scarves. But ultimately it is Hector who goes home for his butchered, poorly cooked meat (is what Padma said).

Ashley goes back to the house and presses her tuxedo shirt. You never know who you might need to unimpress!