Top Chef
Sin City Vice

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My Vice Is Watching Reality Television
of scallops. I'm sure all of us flash back to Fabio saying that this isn't Top Scallop. Kevin wonders why Eli is spending so much money on buying a ton of scallops when he won't need that many for his dish. Bryan interviews that he really wants to win since he lost the Quickfire, and also in three of the last five seasons, the winner of the first Elimination has won the whole thing. Is there someone out there who keeps Top Chef statistics? Like the Bill James of the reality cooking show world? Are there blogs? Are there sabremetricians?

Ron explains that it took him twenty-seven days at sea to get to this country, and some people were thrown overboard. The only reason he was allowed to stay was because he cooked the fish that they caught. His vice is going to be a fish dish because he's having a hard time letting that experience go, and he feels that's his vice. Jen V.'s vice is that she has a hot temper (and her daddy didn't love her) so she's making a chile relleno stuffed with seitan. Have you ever had seitan? It's not that great. I mean, it doesn't have a ton of flavor. Like tofu, it kind of takes on the flavor of what you add to it, really. I lived with a bunch of dirty hippies in Ann Arbor, so I ate a lot of meat substitutes when they cooked. Believe me, it wasn't by choice. Give me a burger any day. The cheftestants check out and head back to the cars.

They head to Cut, Wolfgang Puck's restaurant, to cook. Ash is thrilled with how huge the kitchen is, and how clean. Each chef sets up a station and gets to prepping. Kevin explains that his dish is based on procrastination, and he's going to use a slow-cooking technique to make an Arctic char. Preeti is thrilled to be cooking and not shucking clams. She's making fennel-crust pork tenderloin with Maker's Mark Manhattan sweet potato puree.

Michael (who is friends with Mike I. the pig) was inspired by all the plastic surgery in Vegas, so he's going to make a RACK of some meat with COCONUT sauce. GET IT? God, I hate him already too. I hope they don't keep him around just for the brother angle, because I already like Bryan a lot better.

Laurine the Invisible says that her vices are donuts, bacon, chocolate, and beer. So in a totally literal interpretation of the challenge, she's making bacon donuts with a chocolate sauce and a Belgian beer sauce. Look, I hate Michael but at least he got a little creative with it. That's like saying, "My vice is fried clams, so I made fried clams." Come on. Jen V. is working on her seitan. Kevin interviews that it's a ballsy choice since no one likes seitan. True that, sir.

Jen from Philly says that her vice is drinking too much, so she's making lobster with a ton of liquor in the sauce. The brothers Voltaggio are both cooking their proteins sous vide. Bryan interviews that their mom wants them to hold onto their relationship, but they both realize they're in a competition.

Jesse, like many others, says that her vice is alcohol and excess, so she's making a dish called "The Whole Bird" or "Tipsy Chicken." She's worried that her chicken breast is getting dried out, but doesn't seem to know how to prevent that at this point.

Mike I. really wants to win. Thanks, dude. Hector is making a smoked and deep-fried steak. He explains that in Puerto Rico, they fry everything. Mike I. is quite dubious about how great that steak is going to turn out. With twenty minutes, Kevin realizes that he's slowed down too much. Eve's vice is that she wishes she were more simple and easygoing. But apparently, she's not so type A that she remembers to shop for all her ingredients, since she assumed there would be white wine available and there's not. And that's a major ingredient in her sauce. Oops. And while she was wandering around looking for wine, her seafood got overcooked. Jen V. is disappointed in how her plate looks, and she hopes that her food tastes good. She hopes? Should she be taking that chance? And is she really surprised if her seitan is kind of flavorless? Everyone plates their food. Robin realizes that she didn't have time to put her gastrique on the plate, and is glad she has immunity. Way to make a great first impression.

Padma introduces the judges: Gail, Tom, and Wolfgang Puck. In the full body shot, I see that Padma is wearing flip flops. Does anyone else feel like Padma is just phoning it in at this point? Recent interviews I've read show that she doesn't really give a shit anymore, if she ever did. I guess that's kind of her appeal, though. The Black Team (Mike I., Eli, Ashley, and Hector) brings their plates out for tasting. Mike I. is first, and he explains that his vice is his hot temper and his foul mouth, so he made olive-oil poached halibut with eggplant puree. He says the halibut represents a bar of soap that his mom used to clean his mouth. The dish kind of looks like a bar of soap on top of baby diarrhea. Not that appetizing. Plus, what is the eggplant puree for? Is it spicy? Either they edited out his explanation or he didn't put it in. Plus, I would argue that his vice is being a sexist asshole. But I'm not sure how you would represent that, food-wise. Whole suckling pig?

Eli says that his three vices are arrogance, drinking, and bitterness. I don't think these people understand what a vice is. Drinking, sure. Arrogance, definitely. Although it would be hard to distinguish this from the Seven Deadly Sins challenge they did previously. Anyway, Eli made "buttered" Scotch with scallops, cashew, and beer powder. Not sure where the arrogance comes in, but he says that the sauce is a little bitter. Eli jokes in an interview that if he gets eliminated first, he'll walk out in traffic.

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