A surprise elimination on Top Chef: Las Vegas

Natalie Portman and Tom Colicchio on Top Chef: Las Vegas.
Bravo TV

For the second consecutive week, the cheftestant most likely to get the axe from Bravo’s Top Chef: Las Vegas managed to hang on to her kitchen knives. Instead, the next-to-bottom chef was chopped, and Wynn culinary king Paul Bartolotta told me it was because Michael Isabella was simply “cocky.”

Paul added: “There is no shortcut for a lot of hard work and a ton of hours learning absolutely everything in a kitchen. New, young chefs are thinking they can become overnight media darlings and top chefs before they even have the foundations of their career built. It’s all about a solid framing and preparation for a career of longevity.

“None of that comes overnight. This is a tough job. It’s a hard job, and it comes with a never-ending set of real pressures. It’s a big deal to get to the top, and that never happens overnight instantly.”

Leach Blog Photo

Wynn chef Paul Bartolotta.

Paul hosted a screening party at his Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare in the Wynn last night for 35 friends to watch the Top Chef: Las Vegas episode. For the second consecutive week, Robin Leventhal not only managed to stay, but she also watched as frontrunner Jennifer Carroll slipped into further self-destruction mode.

The real shocker as we get down to the final four is that Robin could be in that prestigious group as others fall apart, even though the odds of her winning are 75/1. Perhaps last night’s unraveling by the chefs was because they had to prepare a vegetarian menu for actress Natalie Portman, who worked with Paul on the challenges and the judges’ elimination.

Paul continued: “We had a great two days of filming this episode at the restaurant. It was a lot of fun, and it was an honor for me to be on the show. Natalie was delightful, a real sweetheart. It was an incredible opportunity for me, the restaurant and for these young chefs. But you saw tonight what makes a winning chef and what makes a losing chef. Young chefs can’t become stars until they’ve learned it all and don’t collapse under pressure.”

Paul’s seafood team at the Wynn served incredible taste treats for the viewers at the screening party. He summed up: “Being a chef is no longer just about cooking a meal in the kitchen. You have to know marketing and understand the business of running a restaurant. You have to be a psychiatrist in dealing with customers and staff, and in the middle of the pressures, you have to remain clear, calm and levelheaded. You didn’t see that with some of the remaining contestants tonight.”

Leach Blog Photo

Michael (left) and Bryan Voltaggio both came out on top of "Top Chef's" second episode.

The Voltaggio brothers, Michael at 2/1 and Bryan at 9/2, will definitely be in the finals with their continuing rivalry, and Kevin Gillespie (9/5 favorite) will be with them. The question remains whether long-shot Robin makes it further next week or if Jennifer or Eli Kirshtein collapse.

Here are the latest odds from Johnny Avello, Wynn’s director of race and sports book operations, who must be slightly baffled this morning at the sudden staying power of the long shot. The odds are solely for entertainment purposes and not for gaming. Kevin, who opened at 8/1, is an 8/5 favorite, with Robin, who started out at 28/1, now 60/1. The others are Michael Voltaggio, who opened at 11/1, is now 5/2; Bryan (15/1) is now 9/2; Jennifer (20/1) is now 6/1; and Eli Kirshtein (22/1) is now 20/1.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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