Top Chef: Pairing Shots

Top Chef: Pairing Shots


Top Chef: Las Vegas
Bachelor/Ette Party

Here is a quick run down on the two challenges:

  • Quickfire Challenge: “Roll With It” – Roll the dice and create a dish with the same number of ingredients
  • Elimination Challenge: Bachelor & Bachelorette Party – Battle of the Sexes – Women vs. Men

During the elimination challenge, Ashley was stewing about doing a wedding challenge when she was a lesbian that was not allowed to get legally married. She knew that there were at least three chefs that were in the same boat as her, but none of them were as angry about it as her. She said she knew there would be a wedding challenge since it was Vegas (and they have done one almost every season), but she was still angry about it. I can understand her frustration, but why not look at it as you are making food for someone and concentrate on that, not the reason behind why you are making the food?

Quickfire Challenge


Waiting for the chefs in the Top Chef kitchen was guest judge, Todd English, and a craps table. Padma said they would be making dishes from the pantry, but how many ingredients they were able to use depended on what number they rolled on the dice. Salt, oil and vinegar were freebies.  It was also another High Stakes Quickfire where the winner would also receive $15,000 from M Resort.

What each chef rolled:

  • Kevin – 10
  • Mattin – 4
  • Michael V – 8
  • Hector – 5
  • Ron – 8
  • Jesse – 9
  • Eve – 8
  • Bryan – 10
  • Jen – 9
  • Laurine – 3

They had 30 minutes to prepare their dishes.  Out of the ones that were shown, not all of them got  any comments out of Todd or Padma on camera.

Laurine – 3
Asparagus & Leek Soup with Lemon

Jennifer – 9
Salmon with Lemon, Garlic, Shallot, Parsley & Jalapeno Emulsion

Mattin – 4
Carrot Soup with Ginger

Eve – 8
Grilled Asparagus Salad with Raisins, Pine Nuts & Blue Cheese

Michael V – 8
Nitro Gazpacho, Compressed Cucumbers & Toast

While in the kitchen, Bryan looked over at his brother preparing his dish with the crazy nitro tank. He thought sometimes his brother went a bit overboard with his ideas. When tasting it though, Todd said Michael had a great twist on the tradition.

Kevin – 10
Asparagus & Celery Salad with Fennel Cream & Boiled Egg

Todd liked the acid in it. He said it was a really nice touch.

Ashley – 8
Grilled Lamb with Apricot Mostarda

Padma commented that the lamb looked really rare.

Bryan – 10
Poached Black Cod with Carrot, Ginger Puree & Daikon Radish Sprout

Todd said that the cod was poached really rare.

Jesse – 9
Scallops with Chimichurri & Smashed Garbanzo Beans with Toasted Garlic

While preparing it, Jesse realized she should have used a stainless steel pan to get some color on her scallops. She thought about throwing some butter in her pan to get some, but that would have been an extra ingredient. Todd said chimichurri seems to be the sauce of the year. Jesse said it goes really well with fish.


  • Jesse – He said the scallops needed a sear on them. They were blonde. He said when you have “mushy on mushy,” it isn’t nice.
  • Eve – He thought the blue cheese overpowered the entire dish. He also thought the presentation could have been cleaner and more interesting.
  • Bryan – He thought the flavors were good, but probably too much ouzo in there. It overpowered the dish.


  • Michael V. – He loved that it came from a classic dish. It has a lot of interesting flavors.
  • Jennifer – He liked how the flavors hit him right in the face, but it was also delicate and light.
  • Kevin – He did a great job marrying all the flavors together and the egg was cooked perfectly.

Quickfire Challenge Winner: Michael V.

He won $15,000 and had immunity from elimination.

Elimination Challenge


For their elimination challenge, they would be experiencing another Vegas tradition–the Bachelor and Bachelorette Party. It was also a battle of the sexes. The women would be cooking against the men. The women would be catering for the bachelor and the men would be catering for the bachelorette. The winning team would get immunity and the chefs from the losing team were eligible for elimination.

The bachelor and bachelorette joined the chefs carrying a tray of shots. They had three shots on them and they were looking for food to be paired with the shots. One shot was a Moscow Mule that was a ginger-grapefruit type shot. One was tequila. The last shot was called Golden Delicious, which was very sweet. The chefs had 10 minutes to meet with the couple to plan their meal.  Each team had to make two dishes to match each cocktail.

While meeting with the bachelorette, she said that she was not a fan of meat, but did like seafood. She said her friends do like meat though, but she did have one friend that was vegan. She loved spicy food and said she puts Sriracha over everything. While meeting with the bachelor, he said he loved shellfish, he had a huge sweet tooth, and he liked Japanese food and lean meats like tuna and lamb.

While in the kitchen, Ashley decided to make a second dish herself since she had some time. Jennifer thought that everyone should keep it simple and focus on executing their one dish perfectly. Ashley really wanted to do something sweet for the bachelor since he said he had a sweet tooth. I was thinking, was no one else doing anything sweet before her second dish?

The next day, the chefs set up for the parties poolside at the M resort. When the judges arrived, they visited the women’s team first.


Bachelor Party

Golden Delicious Shots

Duck Mole with Cocoa Nibs & Apricot

Gail said the mole was nice. Todd said it was hard to pair alcohol with food.

Moroccan Lamb Chop with Pomegranate Pine Nut Relish

Todd thought it went with the shot really well, especially playing the spices off each other in both the drink and food. Tom said it was nicely cooked. Guests were saying it was pretty tender.

Tequila Shots

Shrimp & Avocado Ceviche with Smokey Tomato Salsa & Popcorn

One of the guests said he liked the texture that the popcorn added.  None of the judges liked it. Todd thought it was pretty nasty. He said she didn’t cook it right and Tom said it was really fishy tasting.

Octopus Ceviche with Citrus Vinaigrette

Tom thought it was nice. He said it could have used a touch more salt to bring out the acid in it though.  Gail thought it was great. Tom said it also paired well with the tequila. The guests loved it. They kept going back for more.

Watermelon Carpaccio with Ricotta Salata & Aged Balsamic

Gail thought the flavors worked really well together and she did a nice job.

Moscow Mule Shots

Bay Leaf Panna Cotta with Cranberry Powder & Honey

This was the second dish she decided to do. Gail said it wasn’t set. Padma said there was a bitterness to it. Tom said it was too bad she gave two dishes, since she made one nice dish and now they had to think about both of them.

Coriander & Sesame Crusted Tuna with Spicy Eggplant & Wonton Crisp

Tom said Preeti made “about as pedestrian a dish as you can make.” I love Tom’s quotes. Gail said that she had a very sad leaf that she had set her tuna on. It had obviously been sitting out for a while. Todd said it was over cured. Tom said it wasn’t professionally done.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups with Shiitake Mushrooms, Shiso, Ginger Beer

The guests kept coming back for more of Jesse’s dish. Todd said there was way too much going on in one bite. Gail said she did list about 15 things when she told them about the plate. Todd said it didn’t make any sense with the shot, even though she said she put ginger beer in the food.

Bachelorette Party

Golden Delicious Shots

Chilled Almond Soup with King Crab, Cucumber & White Grape

Kevin said he made it with a bit more cucumber than usual to pair with the apple that was in the shot.  The bachelorette said it was delicious. Padma said it was lovely. Todd thought it was delicious. Tom agreed, but he wished it was a little colder. He said it was well balanced and matched well with the shot.

Michael V.
Apple Sorbet & Goat Cheese Cookie

Michael said he made the same product as the drink, but with all fresh product. Padma said it was delicious. Tom said Kevin’s dish was good, but Michael’s was excellent. Todd said it was so good, it was ridiculous. The bachelorette said it was fabulous.

Tequila Shots

Mike I.
Artic Char with Smokey Caper Sauce & Cara Cara Orange

Todd said it was flabby and flat. Tom said it was one of the few dishes that didn’t work at all with the tequila.

Sweet & Sour Macaroon Filled with Guacamole, Corn Nuts & Corn Puree

Bryan said it was his play on chips and guacamole. Gail really liked the play on chips and guacamole. Tom thought it was great. Todd said it was really difficult to make macaroons so he was impressed. Gail said it could very well be a brothers head-to-head cook off.

Lobster Cocktail with Habanero Tomato Sauce

Gail said there was no salt and no flavor. Todd was expecting something big when he said habanero, but there was nothing. The bachelorette said it had the perfect amount of spice.

Tofu, Lemon-Lime, Tequila Ceviche & Guajillo-Achiote Tortilla

Todd thought the tofu ceviche was an interesting idea. He said the flavors were nice, especially since tofu is pretty bland. Gail thought he did a beautiful job. The women really liked it.

Moscow Mule Shots

Thai Tuna Tartare with Puffed Wild Rice

Todd said it made sense. He said there was a enough ginger in the dish to match the shot. Gail thought it was seasoned really well.

Bouillabaisse with Aioli Crouton & Petit Basque Croquette

Padma said it was not a good croquette. Gail said it didn’t match well with the shot.

Asian Chicken Wing with Pickled Pearl Onions

Todd said it worked perfectly with the shot. He said you could drink the shot all day and eat the wings all day.

Judges’ Table

Padma called in Bryan, Hector, Eli and Michael first. Boys must have won! She told them that the men had the winning team and those four guys were their favorite dishes on their team. Gail told Eli that she had eaten so many tuna tartare in her lifetime and none of them excited her. She said his had great acid and seasoning. Todd told him that the ginger in the dish matched well with the ginger in the shot. Todd told Michael that he “knocked it out of the park” with his sorbet. Tom said the entire dish from concept to execution was great. Todd said he loves tofu, but it is one of the hardest things to sell on a menu. He said his dish would change someone’s mind about tofu. Gail told Bryan she liked the texture of the macaroon. She loved that it melted in her mouth. Todd told him it was really whimsical and fun.  Todd picked the overall winner. He said it was between the two brothers and the winner was Bryan.

The guys were asked to send in Eve, Jesse, Preeti and Ashley. Padma let them know that they had the least favorite dishes on the losing team. Padma told Jesse that her dish was really water. She said she added some of the ginger beer from the cocktail. Tom asked if she put any actual ginger in the dish. She said she didn’t since it was so strong already in the drink. Tom said it didn’t sound like she knew what she wanted since she said she didn’t put any ginger in it due to there being too much ginger in the cocktail, but then she put ginger beer in the dish. Jesse’s response was to start crying. WAT! Tom wasn’t even being mean. Gail told her that the flavors were really muddled. They couldn’t get a clean flavor. Jesse said she agreed that it wasn’t a winning dish and she didn’t put her best foot forward. Eve was not happy with her shrimp. Gail said the dish didn’t taste balanced. Eve said she thought the shrimp would have more flavor. Tom asked why she didn’t do anything about it. She said she did try, but it was like if you cook pasta for too long without enough sauce, then it is hard to get the flavor into it. Does that make sense? Tom shook his head in disbelief or confusion or both and just moved on. Todd said that one thing that is important as a chef is to adjust if something isn’t right.

Preeti thought her dish was a crowd pleaser, especially since people were coming back for seconds and thirds. Tom asked if she marinated it. She said she did it overnight in olive oil, salt and the spices. He said it was over cured. Padma said it was hard to pick up with the leaf underneath. Preeti said the leaves were wilting faster than she could change them out. Tom asked why she didn’t change them out when she saw the judges were coming. She said she did and they wilted that fast. Tom was amazed. Todd was confused about where she was going with the eggplant. It did not seem to go cohesively with the dish or shot. Ashley said she did two dishes because they had the time and money. Padma asked why she didn’t just do one amazing dish. She had no answer. Todd said her watermelon dish was great. Ashley agreed and said she understood why she was there. Todd said making a panna cotta, there is a fine line between it being rubbery and silky and delicious. Padma said there was a bitterness to her dish. Ashley said she smoked the bay and probably took it too far. She also said she was not a dessert technician and it was not a successful dish.

The chefs were sent out so the judges could discuss. They all agreed they did like the watermelon dish, but not her panna cotta one. Todd said her watermelon dish was one of the best dishes of the day. Tom said Jesse’s lettuce cup was sloppy and watery with muddy flavors. Padma said she knew what she did wrong. Gail asked how long could she make that mistake since it was the second time she said she knew what she did. She had a good idea, but she couldn’t follow through. Gail said that Eve’s dish had a lot flavor, but it was off balance. Todd said it was all over the place and didn’t go with the shot at all. He said it was a bad combination of Latin flavors. He said if someone was going to put that together, they have to know what they are doing. Tom said he didn’t think she understands what she is trying to accomplish. He felt like she just puts things together and hopes it works. Gail said Preeti’s dish fell flat. There was no bite to the dish. Tom said there was so much amazing food at the party and that food was not going to cut it with the group. He said when it is over cured, it becomes translucent and gets mealy. She should know that. Tom was very concerned that until they started questioning her, she thought that dish was really good.

The chefs were called back in. Tom told Ashley said that she split her focus. If she had focused on just one dish, she probably wouldn’t be there. He told Preeti said that it was over cured and the eggplant really didn’t work well with the shot. She didn’t have the skill to make it work. He told Eve it was hard to decipher any flavors at all. He said by adding so many different things, she made the dish even worse. He told Jesse that the flavors were muddled and the dish was prepared very sloppily. Padma informed Eve to pack her knives and go.


  1. Tom brought up Jesse’s past excuses, but they are supposed to concentrate just on the elimination challenge when making a decision. Do you think that’s the reason that Eve was picked over Jesse?
  2. Do you think that Ashley was making too big of a deal about the elimination challenge having to do with someone else getting married?
  3. Do you have some early favorites in the chefs? Any picks for top four finalists?

Photo credits: Bravo

5 Replies to “Top Chef: Pairing Shots”

  1. Regarding #2, I think it’s a HUGE deal that not everyone’s marriage can be legal. Although I agree that good chefs can make good food in any circumstance, I thought it was smart of Ashley to take the opportunity to use her appearance on the show as a public platform and talk about the injustice.

    I don’t live very far from some of these chef’s restaurants, since I live out on the east coast. I’m particularly interested in visiting Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant, Volt, in Frederick, MD, but it’s about 2 hours away. I think I’d like to do a weekend trip to that city one weekend when my boyfriend visits. That would be fun. It’s supposed to be a cute town, generally.

    Other than that, it’s too early for me to get excited about anyone. Kevin seems to be doing well.

  2. I’d love to live close enough to one of the chef’s restaurants to check it out! So far, in past seasons, the closest anyone has been to Portland has been up in Seattle.

    I can see your point about her using the forum to make a statement and it wasn’t like she had a fit in front of the guests or judges. She just did it to the camera and venting back at the house.

  3. I suppose that I’m sympathetic to Ashley’s choice to do that because I agree with her position. It may have annoyed me more if I disagreed with her, which just goes to show you that I’m biased in my interpretation of such things!

    When I was watching Top Chef Masters, I got all excited because I had already been to one of those chef’s restaurants!! Douglas Roderiquez’s restaurant, Alma de Cuba, is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Philadelphia.

    Although it’s nice to be near-ish some of these restaurants, it’s not like I can really afford to eat at them regularly. *sigh*

  4. Yeah, I wish I could afford to eat in the many nice restaurants we have here in Portland. It does add up quickly though. 🙂

    I do agree with Ashley’s position, but I was just caught off guard at her anger.

  5. First I will tell my own Moscow Mule story – some friends came over to watch BattleStar Galactica and we made Moscow Mules! it was super fun! we all had a job, I did the vodka shots and the ginger ale top, Pook did ice and mint leaves, Mr Pook did lime juice and ginger beer – it was so crazy but all the drinks were good! we paired with KFC – extra biscuit for me – so there!

    okay now onto this business:
    I like the quick fire challenge, that was fun! I would eat the soups and the salads, the rest were on the hatez list!
    The elimination challenge seemed fun, I am kinda getting into pairings now. I am sad the panna cotta didn’t do well, because I love panna cotta! the only other dish I would try from the bachelor food would be maybe the watermelon.
    From the bachelorette party food I would eat: the almond soup, sorbet, maybe the lobster, maybe the tofu and probably nothing else. Just to be clear, I would drink all the drinks.

    1. I think that is probably the reason but Jesse needs to get things figured out! No matter how hard the judges might try to just stick with the current dish, they can’t help but have some memory of past yucky!

    2. I am not sure about this one since I didn’t see it, I somewhat agree with her using the show to express a view but it really has nothing to do with the show and I am not sure that being upset over someone else’s happy occasion is really the best way to support a cause.

    3. Still too many for me to know who is who! I hope the top four are chefs that do not like fish!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

VH Corner