I caught most of the first night of "Top Chef: Vegas" in my hotel room in charming, but noisy, Capitola, Calif. Here's a few opening observations.
1) Eliminating Jennifer Zavala for her strange chile relleno made of breaded seitan clearly showed the judges' inability to embrace alternative food lifestyles. Or their inability to choke down some sort of unholy vegetarian haggis. Apparently you can experiment with flavors of many different countries, but not with the food of Vegetarian Land. That's ok, I really didn't want to look at her stretched ears anymore anyway.
2) What is it with chefs and the tattoos? We saw contestant Michael Voltaggio's ink up close at the Langham the other night, but Zavala and several of the other chefs provide plenty of competition. I guess it's an outlaw thing, and I know you can't really wear makeup or much makeup in the kitchen, so it does provide permanent decoration. Any other explanations?
3) Who's your favorite so far? I think I like the annoying, cocky, chubby Eli, especially since his favorite "simple summer recipe" is sous-vide octopus. Sure, I think I'll go whip up some of that right now.
4) I love how most all the women chose alcohol as their vice, but Michael Voltaggio went with a rack of lamb...good use of wordplay.