Ashley explains that her vices are red wine and bourbon. Just like every other chef, no? Anyway, her dish is chicken liver ravioli with a red wine demi-glace. Get it? Because alcohol affects your liver? At least it's something other than a sauce infused with liquor, which it seems like everyone else did. She also put chicken thighs in the ravioli, because her vices make her thighs get bigger. See, I like that she put a slight twist on it. I mean, at least she tried.
Hector's vice is smoking cigars, so he made smoked rib eye with carrot puree and ceviche of celery. The plate is kind of a mess. It looks like he dumped some baby food on there, tossed some celery on top, and then threw some gross-looking beef on it all. Hector interviews that he thinks his dish has great presentation and is more complex. Okay, then.
The judges taste the dishes. Wolfgang thinks Eli's scallops are cooked well, but he put too many elements into the dish. Tom can't believe that Hector deep fried steak, and Wolfgang points out that he should have just cooked the steak on a wood-fire grill to make it smoky. Tom asks what Wolfgang would do if one of his chefs put steak in the fryer, and Wolfgang says he would throw the chef in the fryer too! They all liked Mike I.'s dish, and Wolfgang liked the pairing of eggplant and fish. No word on Ashley's food.
The Blue Team comes out next. Bryan is up first, and says that his vice is drinking bourbon and smoking a cigar after eating a great steak. So he made a New York strip with parsnip puree and a bourbon reduction caramel. He also has some sort of shavings on top that are rolled to resemble a cigar. It's a common vice, but I like the play on cigars.
Mattin's vice is a Taurus and his vice is being stubborn, so instead of bull for Taurus, he cooked a buffalo rib eye with Madeira sauce, zucchini, and mashed potatoes. He kind of made little hollowed-out zucchini tubes and stuffed them with mashed potatoes, which is an interesting presentation.
Jen from Philly's vice, like so many others, is booze. She explains that she does stupid things after drinking a lot of it. So she made poached halibut with whiskey, bourbon, scotch, and black peppercorn sauce. At least she went whole hog and just threw a ton of liquor in the sauce.
Jesse's vice is whiskey and excess, so she did the whole bird: braised leg and breast of chicken with a whiskey reduction, Yukon gold potatoes cooked in chicken fat, and a fried egg on top. That looks freaking awesome. I would eat that in a heartbeat.
Robin, who I forgot existed, says that her vice is being a bad Jew and eating pork, so she tried to make pork five ways. Unfortunately, the gastrique didn't make the plate, so I guess it's pork four ways? I don't know why she told them that. Anyway, she made a pork tenderloin stuffed with chorizo and a green chile bread pudding. So I guess it's pork two ways? Unless there is a pork product in the bread pudding. She reiterates that the red eye bacon gastrique didn't make the plate, like way to give the judges a reason to hate you. I know she has immunity and all, but you don't want to be on the edge next week and have the judges go, "Remember how she had immunity last week and didn't even try?" I know they aren't supposed to bring in the past, but how could you not?
The judges begin tasting the dishes. Gail thinks there are a few really good dishes. Tom and Gail like Bryan's steak, but Tom doesn't love all the puree. Wolfgang points out that puree is overused, and he thinks it tastes like baby food. I totally agree! Wolfgang is my homie. If something will complement the dish, give me a good dollop of it so I can taste it. But a schmear of carrot puree does nothing for me and looks like my nephew's high chair tray after he's had dinner. Gail thinks Jen's sauce has great depth of flavor, and Wolfgang doesn't think you will get a better halibut in Vegas. He vows to fire his chefs if they don't cook that way. That's a huge compliment for Jen. Gail liked the idea of Jesse's chicken, but both Gail and Tom think the chicken was too dry. Wolfgang doesn't understand why Mattin paired zucchini with buffalo, and Padma thinks that while the meat was well cooked, the dish was kind of blah overall.
Out comes the Green Team and Ash is first. Anyone else wish that the part of Ash was played by Bruce Campbell? His vice is procrastination and his dish is poached halibut with ratatouille and parsley coulis. Was there a special on halibut at Whole Foods or what? This is Top Chef, not Top Halibut! I miss Fabio. Anyway, he only sauced half the plate to indicate that he waited too long to put the sauce on. That seems like a pretty lame link to your vice, especially when Kevin did it better.
Jen V.'s vice is bad tattoos and stupid piercings because she didn't get enough affection as a child. Oh, she claims her vice is her hot temper, so she made a chile relleno stuffed with seitan and a grilled tomatillo salsa. The breading is falling off the pepper, which is bigger than my head.
Okay, Ron took a lot of guff for not having a vice, but I think he just didn't explain it well. His vice is dwelling on the bad things that have happened to him. So a lot of shit went down in his passage from Haiti to America, and he can't let it go. So he made this dish, similar to what he had to make on the ship to save his own life, in the hopes of being able to finally let it go. That's not at all how he explained it, but I think that's what he meant. So he did have a vice; he just didn't do a good job explaining how his dish tied into it. Anyway, his dish is jerk bass with collard greens and Haitain hash. It's an awesome presentation too; a nice little tower of colorful food.
Invisible Laurine says that she put all of her vices on the plate in the most literal translation possible. She made bacon donuts with chocolate and Belgian beer sauces. Not a lot of creativity and I don't know how much it shows off her cooking skills unless she makes a great donut.
The judges taste and give some quizzical looks to Jen V's dish in particular. They think Ron's dish was nicely cooked, but Tom doesn't understand his story and how it relates to vice. They all giggle at how bad Jen's dish is. Tom points out the big chunks of seitan and the falling-off breading, and Gail says the dish was overall clunky. Wolfgang announces that if you cooked this for guests in your home, they would never return. Ouch! Kind of love Wolfgang as a judge. Hope he comes back. Mostly because I like seeing Tom giggle. They like the idea of Laurine's dish, but the donuts weren't great. In fact, Wolfgang picks one up and chucks it across the room, because he says they were like footballs. Tom just dies laughing at Wolfie. They agree that the sauces were good, though. No word on Ash's food.
Finally, the Red Team comes out. They really could have done more to visually distinguish the teams. Like put up a chyron that tells me which team is presenting, so I don't have to look back to figure it out. Because it's all about me. But seriously, it must be confusing to the viewers too, since it's the first episode and it's hard to keep the cheftestants straight. Anyway, Brother Mike presents first, and he explains his whole plastic surgery vice. I'm not sure how that's HIS vice, except maybe that he likes to look at boobs? So he made a rack of lamb with coconut sauce and cauliflower gnocchi. Wah wah waaaaaaaah.
Preeti's vice is a Maker's Mark Manhattan. Did they pay for this product placement or what? Anyway, her dish is pork tenderloin with bourbon sweet potato puree and sautéed dandelion greens in vermouth. At least she followed through on the idea with both the bourbon and vermouth incorporated.
Eve's vice is making things too complicated, which some people argued isn't a vice, but I think it is. She just doesn't explain it very well. I mean, at least she didn't say booze like everyone else. I'm surprised more people didn't say smoking too. Anyway, her dish is shrimp and scallops in a curry cream sauce with English peas. I have a problem where I never think curry sauces look appetizing. They're so...yellow. I went to an Indian food buffet once and everything was just yellow and drippy and gross. So I'm biased against curry.