Top Chef: Sin City Is All In When The Chips Are Down

This season of Top Chef will take place in Las Vegas, and already, after one episode, I am so tired of all of the Las Vegas stuff. Just make your food! Yum yum put it in your mouth. You don’t have to cut cucumbers to look like poker chips. You don’t have to draw poker chips instead of knives. You don’t have to constantly talk about the city’s primary industry of over-indulgence and extravagant despair as if that has something to do with the food, because it doesn’t really. Everyone is going to cook the same halibuts and steaks they were going to cook wherever. Unless every challenge is to make the most delicious all-you-can-eat buffet complimentary for guests of the hotel, then enough. “You have 30 minutes to make a Hangover omelet.” No.

Padma just flew in and boy are her arms shiny!



“Gwyneth, could you pass the leg grease, please?”
“OK, but it is really only for legs.”

As with any first episode of an elimination-based competitive reality TV show, there are too many people. Check back in with me in about eight weeks when I can finally remember the names of whoever is left on this show. What, I’m supposed to keep a Top Chef Diary where I write down all of the names and faces so that I can take up important* space in my brain with facts about people who are about to go home forever? No. The Quickfire Challenge is a relay race of prep work, and one of the teams of people wins. That is about as far as I can get with these guys. The Indian lady (OK, Preeti, fine, are you happy that I know this?) is in charge of shucking clams, but she has never shucked a clam before. Her team loses big time. Then some other people do know how to shuck clams, and they do OK. Good for them. Who are they? Nevermind.

One guy, Michael, is already going for Worst Villain in Top Chef history. This guy is really something special. He looks over at a girl and sees that they are neck-and-neck, and he figures he must be doing something wrong because, “no offense, but she shouldn’t be at the same level as me.” OH NO OFFENSE TAKEN, I’M SURE. Really? You just said that? On national television? In 2009? Pretty classy. Your dad just went outside and put a World’s Proudest Dad bumper sticker on the back of his windowless van.

Oh, and the one girl slices her hand open, and it is gross, but not as gross as the hideous 1,000,000-gauge plugs in her ears.

She says that she cut herself because she hadn’t shucked clams in awhile because she’d taken two years off to be a mom. Well I guess that is noble, although I also think that is a cop-out. You cut yourself because you did a bad job, that’s all. And SPOILER ALERT: you are going to have plenty more time off soon!

The winning team now uses the prepped ingredients for a second-round Quickfire Challenge, the winner of which will win $15,000. One of the contestants drew a gold poker chip (naturally) which grants her immunity for the whole episode, but she can trade it in if she wants to compete for $15,000. She decides to keep her immunity, and Mike, King Hair Gel of Douchebag Mountain says that this represents her lack of confidence in her abilities, and that to him it is just “one less old lady” he has to “worry about.” Oof. I don’t know. It makes sense to for sure go on to the next round. She can compete for the $15,000 next time. Relax, Professor of How Everyone Feels About Everything. And also Mike is such a shithead and the show has only been on the air for 20 minutes!

The girl who should not be at the same level as Mike wins. Ugh, women! Right, Mike?

The Elimination Challenge is that they have to prepare a dish that represents their vice (because Las Vegas). Fair enough, I guess that is mildly clever. Except that everyone’s vice seems to be Maker’s Mark. Don’t get me wrong, Maker’s Mark is delicious. But, you know, snooze. Besides, everyone uses alcohol to cook all the time, it just seems lazy. “My vice is a nap, so I ordered you some food and went to bed.” That is basically what everyone’s vice is for how much thought they put into it. One guy says that his vice is procrastination, which is at least not Maker’s Mark, but then another guy says that his vice is procrastination, so even that turns out to not be that original. But again, at least both of those guys were not drinking Maker’s Mark and talking about Maker’s Mark all day like a couple of Maker’s Mark heads. To be completely honest, the most original dish is Mike’s, as much as it pains me to say. Because his vice is his big mouth (I’ll say!) and so he makes olive oil poached halibut to represent the soap his mother always had to use to wash his stupid mouth out. Smart. Luckily for the judges, no one’s vice is heroin, or “sexual violence.”

Oh, and there is also the guy from Haiti, whose vice is that he came over on a boat from Haiti? Um? I mean, great, obviously, but really not even remotely anything close to a vice, sir. They give him a free pass what with the whole sympathy-deserving story about coming over on a boat from Haiti, but, you know, I do hope this is not a trend. “Your challenge is to create a dish that represents the glitz and spectacle of Las Vegas.” “My glitz and spectacle was not dying on the boat when I came over on the boat from Haiti.”

In the end, the guy from the Verizon Fios commercials** wins.

Nasty Ear Plugs Head loses with her seitan chile rellenos, and she keeps saying that she was at least trying to do something bold and different, as if that is the point of the show rather than being good at cooking. And as if the judges on Top Chef have never heard of seitan before. Then again, in her defense, she also tried to do something bold and different with her head. It’s strange how none of this is working out for her.


Oh, also, there is a water slide at the house? That’s fun. And at one point, the guy from the Verizon Fios commercials*** decides to go down the waterslide, and OK, he is a little heavyset, for sure, but one of the other guys says “you really don’t want to see Kevin with his shirt off in a swimming pool.” What? Everyone gets to go in the pool and have fun, those are the rules. And the guy who said that? The guy who is apparently the Federal Judge on who should get to go in the pool because he’s such an Adonis? This fucking guy:

Nice bacon shirt, hot stuff.

**Just kidding. That guy’s name is Matt McCarthy, and he is not a chef as far as I know.
***Again, not the guy from the Verizon Fios commercials. Different guy.