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'Top Chef: Las Vegas': 'Restaurant Wars' makes you sweat

October 22, 2009 |  8:09 am

Because for a second there, it looked as though one of the contestants in the Final Four might be going home. Didn't Jennifer's eyes look weepy during her interviews? No one was happy with Kevin's undercooked lamb, either. Can you imagine the horror of watching Robin, Laurine, Eli and Mike I. outlast one of those two?

Thankfully, it was just a close call. Dead Eyes went home for being, well, a pretty lifeless presence over the whole season. Before the season Tom Colicchio said that the "Las Vegas" competitors were the best the show has seen. I'd say we must have been weighing The Final Four's output heavily when he said that. I don't think they've been blown away by anyone outside of that group really.

But enough about my fears. I've discussed the Quickfire in detail already, so let's get to the night's highlight: Voltaggio vs. Voltaggio! 

I think Bryan might be a Cylon. How else would anyone else not have smacked their mouthy little brother during that challenge? (Wait, a Cylon probably would have just blown annoying kin away...or boxed him. Ah, "Battlestar Galactica" humor.) I do think Mike V. tries, and he started out being very patient with Robin (OK, patient and patronizing.) As much as I enjoy being surprised by what crazy-genius dishes Mike V. dreams up, someone does need to take him down a few notches. Bryan should be doing that, but he's too even-keeled. Ah, the drama is entertaining though, no?

In spite of the sibling rivalry, Team Revolt still pulled it off, didn't they. As Tom said, it was the best menu and execution the Restaurant Wars challenge had seen, complete with a tasty dessert. (Who else remember's Season 2 when Same served blue cheese over watermelon "gnocchi." Shudder.) Mike V.'s chicken and calamari dish? It sounds wrong, but apparently it was the night's highlight. And I must say I was very hungry watching.

Team Mission was in the weeds early, and they knew it. They opted out of making a dessert which I thought was smart. At last! A team that doesn't take on more than they can do. Alas, I was wrong about that. The division of labor was their downfall -- Jennifer on two tedious fish dishes and Kevin on the pork and lamb. I don't know why Mike I. got away with doing those two so-so looking appetizers and nothing else. Asparagus with an egg? He so could have been helping out elsewhere. (For the record, my initial backing of Mike I. is over. He has failed to do anything remotely interesting since Episode 1, and I might even say I like Eli more because he seems to try harder.)

Also not so good: Working the front of the house still leads straight to the chopping block. It is pretty thankless, and actually, I take it back what I wrote yesterday about it being fair. It's not. Granted "Restaurant Wars" is a challenge that comes up every season, and being prepared is part of every contestant's deal. But the lone chef who has to work that shift is always coming from behind. Kitchen's late with food? Blame the host. Not sure what you're eating (even though you just read it on the menu, picky Padma)? Blame the host. Not asking me how I'm enjoying the night often enough? Blame the host. The host also gets to tend to a room full of other customers and a cranky kitchen AND gets only one shot at a dish. Thankless. I say to Bravo: Cut that job and make "Restaurant Wars" only about the conception of a menu and the team's that produce it. Period. 

What did everyone else think? Right person go home? (Of course, she did.) Who's next? Still betting on the same Final Four I am? Of the Final Four, who are you betting on to win?

-- Denise Martin

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