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Thursday, September 10, 2009

'Top Chef' Postmort: Mattin Gets Drunk and Cocky, Then Cocks up His Velouté

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Maybe he should've stuck with modeling. Or not. - MODELMAYHEM
  • ModelMayhem
  • Maybe he should've stuck with modeling. Or not.
S.F.'s own Mattin Noblia, chef-proprietor of Iluna Basque, did not cover himself with glory (or even the tricoleur) in last night's French-themed episode of Top Chef.

The escargot Quickfire challenge pleased him: "I feel good," he said. "I'm from France, you know. Escargot is my whole youth!" Yet his dish, fava bean crostini with escargot sautéed in anise and the piment d'Espelette he told us reminds him of his mom, failed to elicit a single comment from judges Tom Colicchio and Daniel Boulud.

Maybe the birthday party hijinks took the edge off his focus. Noblia turned 29 during the French elimination challenge, and celebrated by getting drunk and having his head pushed into what looked like a sheet cake from Safeway. Quickfire winner Kevin (escargot fricassée with mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and judge-wowing candied bacon jam) sagely observed, "He's turning 29 years old, and he's a little freaked out about it, because he knows that next year he's turning 30." When Ron draped a fatherly arm around Mattin's shoulders and advised him to go to bed, Frenchy's response was to jump into the hot tub without removing his shirt.

After tasting the dish he created with Ashley -- sautéed poussin and ravioli with a bacony sauce velouté, garnished with asparagus -- Hubert Keller of S.F.'s Fleur de Lys said it was not real velouté. ("More like gravy," Boulud observed.) "Everybody likes to say everything is better with bacon," Colicchio said. "This is the case when it's not so!" Snap!

The dish landed them in the bottom two. Facing elimination, Mattin appeared to throw Ashley under the bus when questioned about her idea of using asparagus in the velouté. "You shot that down?," Tom asked. "No, I didn't," he replied, when anybody with a DVR could go back and read the subtitles: "No," he'd said to her, "green asparagus is not good with a velouté sauce. You don't want to put any green in a velouté."

Mattin, dude: Since Hector's unevenly cooked and- hacked filet saved you from the chopping block, it's time to man up! It takes more than a red scarf and a French accent to charm a Top Chef audience, not to mention the judges. The honor of San Francisco -- as well as that of la belle France -- is at stake.

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Meredith Brody

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