Sunday, August 30, 2009

Top Chef: Drawing to an Inside Straight

Saunter and I are both big fans of cooking shows. Only certain shows, be warned; I managed to come across my first Emeril Lagasse cooking show, and had to change channels almost instantly. Just painful. I'm a big fan of a lot of what Gordon Ramsay does, enjoying Kitchen Nightmares in particular (Hell's Kitchen can be a little hit or miss for me, though Saunter loves it).

One of our favourite shows has just started its new season: Top Chef! Even better... it's in Las Vegas this year. New season of Top Chef + Las Vegas = Win. Saunter and I were still getting ourselves together as the introduction to the first episode began, when I caught something I didn't expect.

"I think that's Bryan Voltaggio!" I called out, hoping for some confirmation. A few moments later, I received it. Contrary to any expectations, the Head Chef of VOLT, where Saunter and I enjoyed an outstanding 21 course meal, was now a Top Chef cheftestant (don't blame me, that's the word they use, OK?).

For the epic four post recap of that meal, go here, here, here, and here.

Bryan Voltaggio has been awesome during our meal there, putting up with our shenanigans, answering a lot of questions and such. We had an automatic favourite for this season of Top Chef. Complicating matters was that Bryan's younger brother, Michael, was also a cheftestant.

We are two episodes in so far, and Bryan has already annoyed the judges a little with his use of sauces and such. As shown in our 21 course extravaganza, Bryan loves his foams and airs and such, which the Top Chef judges do not seem to appreciate too much. Neither do I, to be honest; if you're going to make a foam or air, why not make a nice sauce instead?

Fortunately Bryan took home the second Elimination challenge. He cooked a variation on one of the dishes we had in March: a lime macaroon with guacamole and corn puree, to be paired with a shot of tequila. Of course the macaroon we had was filled with foie gras, and to be honest I'd really prefer to try the macaroon on the show!

It looks like Bryan is going to hang around for a large chunk of the season, and we'll be hoping he goes all the way. Right now it looks like his brother Michael might be right there along with him. Tasty.

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Speaking of Vegas, and food, Saunter and I are locked and loaded for December. Courtesy of April we are booked in the MGM, which is a first for us. We are also toying with going for the Prima program, where you commit to spending $500 on MGM-related meals etc. during your stay in return for myriad awesomeness. I've always wanted to eat at one of Tom Colicchio's restaurants (the Top Chef Head Judge), and this could be the push we need to eat at Craftsteak, particularly when we can get a 2 for 1 main dish!

Even if we don't sign up for Prima, Crafsteak might still be on the itinerary. I also still want to eat at B&B Ristorante, one of Mario Batali's restaurants. And last time I was in Vegas I had a great meal at Carnevino...

Yep, December can't get here fast enough.