TOP CHEF LAS VEGAS RECAP: A Final Four That Nobody Ever Saw Coming Ever Ever

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Thomas Keller Top ChefBefore we move on to the recap of the final episode in Vegas, because there are so few things in life I’m actually not-terrible at, let me take a quick moment to pat my own back til it’s bloody.

Here were my Power Rankings during the second week of this Top Chef season:

1) Kevin

2) Michael V.

3) Jen

4) Bryan V.

5) Eli

Yyyyyyep…If you need me, I’ll be leaning back in my chair the rest of the day simultaneously dusting off my hands and cracking my knuckles. Let’s just say I frickin’ EARN those Tasti D-Lite coupons that VH1 pays me in lieu of a salary.

My thoughts on last night’s Chefpisode:

The Quickfire: Cook a thing inside a thing inside a thing, in honor of Vegas’ legal prostitution.

TC Kevin Simple– “Welcome back” says Padma to Jen after tasting her weird seafood Russian nesting doll. Nice to see Jen back on the wagon (the cooking one) after a couple super-shaky weeks; her chances to win are probably shot, but she’ll at least go out on a high note. Unless she gets nervous next week and slips on a banana peel and flings a pot of soup up in the air and it lands on the Queen of England’s head and she’s like “Well I never!” Otherwise she’s fine.

– I get the impression some PA at Bravo was told to go through Michael’s 500 minutes of testimonial footage and pull out two lines that almost came close to being sliiiiiightly inflammatory towards Kevin. He doesn’t appear to dislike Kevin, but Bravo’s grasping reaaally hard to portray him as the Stefan “talented but too arrogant” villain who’s gonna lose the Final, when in reality he is a robot. Not sure how many more times we have to go over this fact.

– Kevin spent the entire episode being super-defensive about his simple style of cooking, even declaring that his decision to keep things really simple was, in itself, a very ballsy move. Kevin — don’t get intimidated by Michael’s two pseudo-insults about your simplicity. He’s just saying the words that the microchip the Bravo producers installed into his robo-brain forces him to say to create conflict down the home stretch. Your cooking is fine.

…Or WAS IT fine? Elimination Challenge and Final Four after the jump:

Top Chef Thermometer– Whew! Bravo left in the Whole Foods shopping montage this week after cutting it a week ago. It’s always so exciting to see the chefs ask for ingredients and then pay for them. I mostly watch tv in general for the exchange of goods and services.

The Elimination Challenge: Take this thing that the best chefs in the word take 9 months to prepare for and do it in a few hours. No Vegas themes, no “make something sparkly you saw at a casino,” no “you’re cooking for the military so tell us why this challenge is extra special to you,” it was just, “here’s a really really frickin’ hard challenge that won’t let you hide, Mother[BLEEP]ers.” (There’ve been so many bleeps this season, it’s only a matter of time before Padma actually just swears at them in the Challenge descriptions.)

– It was clear from Eli’s “The bees are on the what now?” reaction that he was gone from the moment the Challenge was described.

– Jen shrewdly used her extra 30 minutes from the Quickfire to actually stop and talk to Tom! She didn’t run by him nine times saying “Busy busy busy busy!!!!” and singing “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” replacing the word “Jiggy” with “Busy.”

– Kevin overcame not one but TWO classic Top Chef mega-traps to win the Elimination Challenge:

1) “I don’t know how to do this technique at all, but golly, I’m gonna try it!”

2) “I know they want us to do this for the challenge, but I’m not going to!”

Amazing that he not only didn’t get eliminated after those moves, he won frickin’ $30,000 and a shot to represent the U.S. in a prestigious international cooking competition that I’m too lazy to look up how to spell.

Golden Cheffie– I have no basis for this analysis, but I got the impression that Kevin won the money and thanked Padma really excitedly, then a Bravo producer was like “Cut! Kevin, you have to mention the M Resort when you thank the judges,” and Kevin agreed, then when they re-shot it Kevin exaggeratedly went “I love the M Resort!!! It’s my favorite!” and Tom noticeably cracked up in the background. Screw it, I’m just gonna declare that that’s definitely what happened.

– Eli was clearly overmatched, especially in this fivesome, but he’s still frickin’ 25, he’ll land on his feet. His tears were a little unexpected though– who does he think he is, Kevin after winning?

Next week on Top Chef: “Look what you’re playing for…” CUT TO: A train. The chefs compete to see which one wins a train. Or are they cooking food for the train? It’s got to be one or the other. Special guest: This fella.

And remember: What happens in Napa Valley…… never mind. I can’t believe they made it the whole season without saying it.

Episode thoughts? Favorite / least favorite parts? Finale predictions? Leave ‘em all in the comments.

Top Chef Fantastic Four