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Omnivore - 'Top Chef' Las Vegas, Episode 11: Circus Circus

What happens in Vegas apparently lands on your plate — if you know what you're doing. If not, you'll be sent packing, knives and all, with one killer hangover.__


In last night's super-Vegas-themed elimination challenge, the six remaining cheftestants created dishes inspired by six flashy Vegas casinos, from the gaudy Mirage to the gaudier Excalibur. Instead of stopping by Whole Foods, the cheftestants shopped for ideas at their individual hotels, touring lobbies, drinking beer, and greeting dolphins (for a moment, I thought I was watching a bad Travel Channel special).

While the infamous knife block certainly implied the selection of the casinos was random, the chef-hotel pairings seemed a little too appropriate. Wacky Robin was dealt the quirky glass Chihuly sculptures of the Bellagio, Jen looked for her prince (or rather, her Bam, Bam) at Excalibur, Kevin ogled the dolphins at the Mirage, one Voltaggio (Bryan) ogled the sharks at Mandalay Bay, and the other (Michel) visited New York, New York — and immediately talked about how the city has the best food in the country, implying his interpretation of the challenge would be the best, too.

Perhaps the most appropriate pairing of all, however, was class clown Eli, who was coupled with the class clown of the strip, Circus Circus. The casino is literally over the top (the "big top," that is), much like the Atlanta-based chef whose one-liners often come across as equally garish. Unfortunately, Eli didn't grasp the comparison. He created a dish that was almost completely literal — and nearly inedible.__



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