An open letter to Tom Colicchio

Seven ideas for making Top Chef Las Vegas the best season yet

Illustration by Ryan Olbrysh

Dear Tom,

Welcome to Las Vegas (or rather, welcome back; who could forget Craftsteak?). On behalf of locals across the city, I’d like to thank you for bringing Top Chef to a town that revels in its gluttonous love for both the finest of dining and the simplest of grub. Here in the desert, we like to eat. What better place, then, to hold a cooking competition?

Ours is a city of new beginnings and reinventions. While I’ve been a devoted Top Chef watcher since it first sharpened its knives in San Francisco, it’s time to give the show a kick in its checkered ass. Somehow a season set in the culinary capital of the country fell flat, and when New York grows dull or that trash/piss smell starts to get to you, there’s only one thing to do: Turn west and look for the brightest lights.

So now that you’re in town, it’s only fitting that you turn to the people who eat and cook here daily for help steering the show down a reinvigorated, newly Botoxed path. Of course, you’ll make use (and fun) of the buffets, and likely invite a few Strip superstars to dine, but here are a few other suggestions for making Season 6 shine as bright as the light atop the Luxor. Don’t worry about sending a check; an acknowledgement in the credits will do just fine.

1. Get off the Strip. Yes, it’s bright, shiny and full of good eats. Yes, it’s home to folks with names like Joel, Mario, Wolfgang and Guy. But please—please!—branch out. Some of the best places to eat are nowhere near dinging slots and stumbling tourists. Find them, use them, appreciate them.

2. Feed the people who make Vegas Vegas. CityCenter and Cirque du Soleil—one’s made of steel and glass, the other comes covered in spandex, but both are made possible by people who need hearty, healthy, tasty food. Let’s see your chefs whip up box lunches that can withstand a few hours on the construction site and watch them cater a Cirque staff dinner that can fuel two performances a night.

3. Remake the classics. Steak and eggs. Prime rib and lobster tail. Shrimp cocktail. Chicken dinner. Vegas needs updated casino staples that won’t go over budget. The winner gets their dish on a billboard overlooking I-15.

4. Create a drive-through meal for a drive-through wedding. Convenience and class!

5. Take advantage of local flavors. Top Chef loves giving its contestants ingredients that border on inedible and asking them to do wonders. We’ve got just the stuff growing right in our backyard. Cactus soufflé, anyone?

6. Honor the line. While the guy with all the money gets his name over the door, Las Vegas’ true culinary heroes are the ones who live here and can whip up the trickiest thing on the menu in mere minutes. Bring in local line cooks to judge a challenge, and you’ll get honest assessments and real reactions.

7. Call on Anthony Bourdain. Not only does this man make for wildly entertaining television, but he also hates Las Vegas with a fiery passion matched only by his wit in tearing too-big-for-their-britches cheftestants new ones. Bring him to Vegas, then stand back and watch the sparks fly.

Sincerely (and hungrily),

Sarah Feldberg

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Sarah Feldberg

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