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Top Chef 'Strip Around the World': Hot or not?

November 13, 2009 | 12:00 pm

Bedpadma The "Top Chef" cheftestants were given a breakfast-in-bed room service quick-fire challenge. For the elimination, they were to take inspiration from various hotels along the Strip to create a single dish for 175 people. A look at what sizzled, and what fizzled.

What's hot: 
  • Michael V's spicy buffalo wings with cool blue cheese disc, which were inspired by New York, New York and the FDNY. I've got my fingers crossed that he puts that on the menu at the Langham Hotel & Spa in Pasadena; though the dining room is a bit too fru-fru to watch a football game in, those wings looked like the ultimate game-time grub.
  • Giving Las Vegas' struggling tourism business a boost with the casino elimination challenge, in which each remaining chef had to create a dish based on a hotel. Normally, the shameless ad placement is irksome and seems forced, but this challenge actually allowed for some creative work.
  • Eli's breakfast Reuben with thousand island Hollandaise sauce, which won him a recipe in the upcoming Quickfire Cookbook. Nigella said that the tang of the sauerkraut knocked the jet lag right out of her. Sounds much tastier than the usual cocktail of EmergenC and over-the-counter sleep aids.

What's not: 

  • Jen's tumbling confidence and sheer lack of interest in the competition. She seemed like a contender in the beginning, but Thursday night in the green room she put words to what she's been showing through her cooking: "I just want to go home."
  • Robin and Eli's texture fails, which are surprisingly not up on the Fail Blog yet. Regardless of how good the flavors are, dishes that taste like chalk, glue or any other elementary school supplies are never OK to present to a diner.
  • Eli's candied apple, peanut and popcorn soup. Sure, he was assigned to create a dish after the Circus Circus hotel, but that doesn't mean that it should look like a churned-up stomach on a carnival ride.
  • Robin's failure to execute the basics. Her ultra-gelatinous panna cotta was a downright shame. Making something so drab when her task was to use the inspiration of the Dale Chihuly at the Bellagio was a bad move.
  • Questionable judgment from the panel. The judges couldn't have possibly been more vocal about their disgust with Eli's Circus Circus dish, but sent Robin home. True, she would have gone home soon anyhow, but it just seemed a bit off kilter.

-- Krista Simmons

Photo: Nigella Lawson and Padma Lakshmi in bed at the M Resort. Credit: Bravo.