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Top Chef redux: 'Pigs and Pinot'

Piggie ad hoc Matrix-style flying sommeliers, pounds of pork and cellars full of earthy Pinot made for a drool-inducing night of Top Cheffing. (I could have done without the lame chip commercial that was disguised as a quickfire, though.)

In my humble opinion, it's pretty safe to say that last night's episode was a decent indicator of the way things will shake out at the end of the season:

On top we had Kevin, Michael, Bryan and Jen. And on the bottom were the apparent weakest links: Laureen, Ash and Robin. (Someone please put the woman out of her misery and send her home.)

Everyone, including the contestants, keep talking up the Voltaggio brothers. But Kevin and his home-style Southern cooking keep raking in victories, proving that he's a real contender.

And what better way to showcase that than the "Pigs and Pinot" challenge, where the chefs were assigned a specific part of the oinker to work with. When I saw the episode's title on my TiVo, I nearly had a coronary. Two of my favorite things rolled into one!

But apparently rolling things up isn't always such a good idea. Laureen's pork shoulder rillette had Dana Cowin, editor in chief of Food & Wine magazine, thinking it was "cat food." I'm shocked she didn't get sent home. Who makes a rillette with broth instead of fat?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Kevin dominated yet another elimination challenge, proving he is the master of all things porcine (and deserves to sport his pig tattoo). He shines because his dishes are personal, genuine and entirely true to himself -- unlike the wishy-washy Ash, who was eliminated last night. Kevin seems to tell familiar stories that strike a chord with the judges. Last night he picked the Sokol Blosser Pinot to pair with his pork leg pate, telling a story of visiting the hazelnut groves on the property.

His quickfire rendition of a green bean casserole (with those ridiculous potato chips they had to use) was exactly what came to my mind when the contestants were presented with the challenge. I would have liked to see someone make more retro dishes, like a Frito pie.

Finally, the Voltaggio brothers' rivalry boiling over was a bit of a letdown -- unless you consider them fighting over Glad Wrap a throwdown. I honestly think it was just an excuse for them to show Michael wrapping his food in 35 layers of the stuff. It makes me wonder if they'll ever draw the line.

-- Krista Simmons

Graphic courtesy of Ad Hoc restaurant

 
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All of us in Healdsburg were very disappointed that the actual Pinot Noir that really WON the Pigs & Pinot Blind Tasting in March at Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen here in Healdsburg, Papapietro Perry's 2005 Peters Vineyard, was not even mentioned on the program... In fact none of the Pinot's on the Top Chef program were even in the competition!

I guess they "bought" the rights to be there, but not with what was in the bottle apparently..

here is the link from Charlie Palmers website if anyone is interested:

http://www.charliepalmer.com/News/?ArticleId=107

Love that Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir - it was a smart choice by Kevin.


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