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Top Chef redux: Joel Robuchon is not a unicorn

September 10, 2009 |  3:53 pm

Jj Kevin Gillespie proved that not only could he be a contender for the World Beard and Mustache Competition, but his Southern-inspired fare can hold its own against the more fancy-shmancy Season 6-ers.

His triumphant bacon and escargot dish won him immunity. And a seat at the table with some of the world's best French chefs, including the legendary Joel Robuchon, a guest judge.

Girl power was lacking in the "high stakes quickfire," however. Ashley, Jesse and Robin made what were deemed the worst escargot dishes, resulting in a second cook-off in which each had to create an amuse bouche -- the best bite of their lives -- to save them from losing. Jesse's tuna tartare resulted in her sudden death in the competition.

The chefs then drew knives labeled with classic French sauces and proteins, and then paired up in teams. Ron, the jolly Haitian, talked some smack on the hyperactive Robin, who seemed like she might have gotten hopped up on the Strip before prep time. The rest of the teams seemed to fare well in Robuchon's kitchen, save for ill-timed plating and saucing from Hector and Ash.

Robuchon, whom Kevin discovered is in fact not a unicorn, broke bread with Hubert Keller, Daniel Boulud, Laurent Tourondel and the rest of the judges. (When I dropped into his restaurant at the MGM last weekend I couldn't help but notice the mantle literally stacked with trophies, plaques and awards. But, despite his accolades, he was incredibly humble during judging, recognizing each dish's strengths.)

In the end it was Hector's faulty fillet that got the ax. Gail was not impressed by the hack job he did butchering the meat. And Tom was not at all pleased, stating, "A great sauce could not hide the fact that the beef was incorrectly cooked."

Tom might want to have a chat with whoever is manning his Vegas outpost, too: While at Craftsteak last weekend, my date's fillet, ordered "rare," was cooked almost a half-inch through on one side, and raw on the other. Suddenly, I had the urge to burst into the kitchen and and tell the responsible party, "Please pack your knives and go."

-- Krista Simmons

Photo: Joel Robuchon. Credit: Micheal Euler / Associated Press