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Top Chef Countdown, Day 7: Words of wisdom from Gene

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Top Chef alum Gene Villiatora is still in Vegas and still flying under the radar.

Top Chef: Las Vegas is just around the corner and bringing with it 17 hopeful chefs, appearances by knife-wielding celebs like Daniel Boulud and Hubert Keller and plenty of dishes gone wrong and oh-so-right.

In previous seasons, Top Chef has hit San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and New York, and this time around it’s setting up shop right here in Las Vegas for a season’s worth of fully entertaining, drool-and-cringe-inducing television set against the background of the Strip and surrounding neighborhoods. In honor of the show’s premiere on Bravo on August 19 at 9 p.m., we’ll spend the next seven days counting down with daily musings on bacon, Marcel and whether sous vide cooking will be this season's molecular gastronomy.

When in doubt, always bet on bacon.

When in doubt, always bet on bacon.

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From the Archives
Top Chef is coming to town (7/8/09)
Gene is back in the kitchen (6/24/09)
Who's washing dishes now? (12/18/08)

To get things started, we interrupted local chef Gene Villiatora at Martinis in Summerlin a handful of hours before he launched his new late night tapas and sushi menu to ask him to reflect on his performance and state of mind during last season’s competition.

Other than bringing a paring knife to the competition in case of a dreaded apple peeling race sans peeler, the Top Chef vet had this advice for the new crop of chefs preparing for their primetime debut: “Probably have a few beers while you watch it, because you don’t know how they’re going to make you look. You don’t know what to expect, basically.”

That’s right, chefs, drown your nerves in beer. (May we recommend the Prohibition Ale from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers for emotion numbing with maximum flavor?) The good news is the hard part is done. The bad news is the whole world is about to watch what happened during the hard part. Hey, they don’t call Top Chef a pressure cooker for nothing.

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Sarah Feldberg is the editor of Las Vegas Weekly magazine. A veteran journalist, Feldberg previously worked as the Weekly's web ...

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