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September 18, 2014

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The Jet Stream: Sex, TV dinners and Bartolotta

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Trae Patton / BravoTV

Would you want to face these four? Natalie Portman, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons at Judges' Table.

Ding dong, Mike I. is gone. You all know that I've chaired the Mike I. Hater Society. Last night's episode embodies why I‘ve always hated on Mike. He spent almost 10 weeks tummy sucked in, shoulders out, touting, I'm a big dog here and I know all types of cuisine, I can cook anything!

Was I the only one that noticed he had the same pattern every episode?

1: No matter what the challenge was, he was like, "Oh, I got this; this is gonna be no problem! I cook Greek; I cook Mexican; I cook Asian; I'm a pro-vegetarian chef!" Dude, in his mind, he was the master of the universe!

2: Then we see the paper dragon start to shed its scales as the challenges progress. There are a lot of questions: "What's Florentine?" "How do you make Hollandaise?" He chokes his way through cooking as he barnacles off the V bros. If he really knew half of what the V bros forgot, he'd be almost as talented as he thinks he is.

3: We watch him continue to unravel and get through each challenge by the skin of his teeth. Then, the money shot, the payoff, the punch line: He gets in front of the judges and recites all the BS that he has accumulated from the real cooks who helped him through his challenges. He blames any and all mistakes on equipment failure, ingredients or other contestants. Every chef in the world has had to work with these just-charming-enough, just-knowledgeable-enough and just-barely-cool-enough-to-tolerate guys that really should be sous chefs and not executives. I know I sound like a grouch this week, but I've got a bloated 200-pound load of BS off my chest now and can really focus on the drama that is unfolding.

Top Chef: TV dinner?

Robin serves Padma Lakshmi and guest judge Paul Bartolotta a TV dinner during the Quickfire challenge on "Top Chef: Las Vegas". Launch slideshow »

Guest judge this week was my friend and colleague Paul Bartolotta, a fixture of the Las Vegas culinary scene and master of Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. This is the kind of chef that "Top Chef" needs. Paul might seem charming and lighthearted, which he is, but there are a lot of layers to this man, kind of like a leek. (I had to go there — see ya, Mike!) When you peel away the layers, he's part chef, part poet, part showman and all business. Behind his Wynn presence he has an empire of restaurants in the Midwest. Why do I gush about Paul? Because this show is "Top Chef", and he has proven himself to be one. Paul is the total package many chefs aspire to be, and we all can learn from chefs like him.

TV Guide Quickfire TV dinner: Just another throw-away sponsor-driven Quickfire this week. I can picture it: The producers were like, "How the hell do we tie in TV Guide for their dollars? Of course, TV dinners!"

Another major theme this week was sex! Between Jennifer comparing herself to Pebbles and liking the thought of Bam Bam pulling her around by her hair and Padma's commentary about Mike V's dish being like "a small prick on the tongue" that "grows in your mouth", this was total food porn! Garnish this episode with a little Natalie Portman and it's a YouTube dream come true! This episode will make a hilarious cut and edited mini-video! Get to work, Final Cutters.

So the question is, can Kevin be beat? "TC" is like a marathon, and Kevin is really finding his stride at the right time while Jennifer looks to be fading fast. Kevin has figured out that the ticket to winning is just having fun and cooking good-tasting food. He has the package: He's a great cook, is very likable and doesn't over-think and second guess when he has a vision.

Jennifer is doing the opposite. While a great cook, she is now spending most of her time wondering how to impress the judges instead of concentrating on her talents. She's forgotten she's a damm good chef and has totally lost herself in doubt. Look at Eli — decent cook, not as talented as Jennifer in my opinion, but he's having fun cooking and he's avoiding elimination.

The V's are also getting way too caught up in hipster cooking. They're too concerned with the most avant-garde way of preparing a dish and what modern term or technique they can apply. Guys, remember who your judges are! They want smart, tasty and creative dishes that are applicable to the challenges. The V bros are way out of the pocket and worrying more about competing with each other than competing within "Top Chef". I think there is a reason why these boys don't cook in the same restaurant — they have too much love/hate going on, and this clouds the goal. If they don't bring themselves back to "Top Chef" and continue "Top Brother", they'll wake up and see Kevin winning this while stroking his beard and telling a charming story about his grandma still cooking breakfast everyday or some other heart-melting tale involving the words "wife" and "love". He's charming his way to the winner's circle!

If Robin is not voted off the island by next week, I'm going to frickin' lose it! One more unintelligible run-on sentence full of gibberish, one more lecture about how she's still around to make our lives miserable, one more excuse as to why her dish didn't work and I swear I'm gonna punch myself in the face to end my misery! Please food gods, you answered my prayer with Mike, now please take Robin!

Did you see it? Right near the end, right before the elimination, the QUICKFIRE WINE! I love it! Soon there's going to be "Top Chef" toilet paper, "Top Chef" ammunition, little Padma and Tom salt and pepper shakers. Viva capitalism!

Speaking of "Top Chef" Quickfire Wine, this chef (me) is going put his reputation where his mouth is. Next Saturday at noon, I'll be competing against four other Las Vegas "top chefs" at Whole Foods in Henderson in a QuickFire Wine challenge. This will be the QuickFire Wine launch and your chance to either support me or channel all your hate for my sorry attempt at writing and route for my chef competitors. See you there!

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