Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Top Chef: Vegas tasting notes: Vegetarian prejudice?

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.


H. C. said...

Nice, quick roundup! Bummers that the vegetarian chef got the knife so quick.

As for the tattoos, I think it's either 1) a solidarity thing from just spending day-in and day-out going through the same ordeal with the same set of folks like Greeks in college, or fellow soldiers in a squad, 2) a convenient way to hide unsightly scars from kitchen mishaps or 3) something done on a whim or dare after some closing time drinkin'

A bit too premature to pick out a fave yet for me ~ I have a tendency to root for nice underdogs though -- unfortunately this show is not one for those who play nice (heck, I think most of those gets screened out by producers during audition!)

Derek Thomas said...

Tatted-up chefs give me the heebie jeebies.

h said...

She'd have won "worst tats" if she wasn't eliminated.

Andrew said...

I don't know what's up with the tattoo phenomenon among cheftestants, but maybe the Top Chef selection committee sees it as giving people an 'edge.' But maybe this is more interesting: None of the previous winners seem to be tatted-up, and I don't know of too many heavy hitters in the restaurant world that have the full sleeve or neck tat.

Anne said...

A) I didn't think the judges showed their inability to embrace seitan, I think they showed their inability to embrace a poorly made dish. I have no doubt that they would have loved to eat a vegetable protein had it not been awkwardly stuffed into a giant chile, underseasoned and clumsily fried. And I totally agree with you on the ears.

B) The tattoos.........why do people get neck tattoos? Let's check in with those that have them in about 30 years to see how far south those neck tats have travelled

C) I think Frenchie, Skinny Eric Ripert Protege and Bubbly Bearded Challenge Winner are my favorites so far; Sexist Italian Dude is my least although the guy can cook and The Brothers take themselves too seriously.

carter said...

Tokyoastrogirl's comment is the only one needed, paraphrased to suit:
B) The tattoos: Let's check in with those that have them in about 30 years to see how far those tats have travelled, expanded, or contracted.

Anonymous said...

I like the guy who won the elimination challenge. I think it's going to be between him and Jen in the end. She's intense. Yey Rick Bayles!

mo figuls said...

that dish she served reminded me of a horrific 'stew' i was served at a vegetarian fraternity in berkeley in the '80's (in place of meat: graham crackers!)... and the attitude she had about her choice of protein, and her 'hot temper' was just too painful a reminder of how self righteous some folks with 'alternative' lifestyles can be (and this is coming from a tattooed, pierced ex punk, 20 year vegetarian, so no hate, ok?)... hopefully her son wont have such a nasty streak to him as he grows up.

she just messed up, and they called her on it. and haven't the contestants learned yet not to argue with the judges?

Anonymous said...

unless saitan is made exectued properly and seasoned right, it turns out nasty - that is why she went home...what was she

Kate Coe said...

I'm married to a chef, and tats say to me "hepatitis risk". I'm sick of edgy.