Howdy. This is Joshua David Stein. I wore chaps last night to the premiere of Top Chef Las Vegas: Episode 5 in my living room. Were you there? OMG it was so crowded.

On a dusty alluvial plain somewhere on the grim scorching prairie of Nevada, the tumbleweed blew as a caravan of Bravo production trucks snaked across the horizon. They had come to lay out the craft table and to construct firepits for a motley crew of cheftestants. In the morning, straight from Whole Foods, like white-toqued mirages, they would be farted from S.U.V.s, directly onto the dusty sweep. There they would find teepees in which to spend the night and firepits with which they would cook their alternately try-hardy and brilliant bids at stardom for ranchers and cowboys. Salt of the earth types, their audience. Along the way, they might discover not only that the heat of an open fire is uneven but that the fire in their breasts was as untrue, flickering and fickle as a late day Mojave dustup.

As the chefs prepared to bed down for the night in tiny two person teepees, there was time in the long-shadowed evening to gaze into the horizon and the future and contemplate how little under the promontory we all are. Flickers in the desert, dots in a buzzard's eye. Introspection and recent aunt-hood spurred Ashley to reverie. She was poor and lived in the woods on food stamps. Papa Doc Ron busied himself ripping apart a tree to build a Voodoo barrier for snakes. Non-person Laurine,, concerned for the dryads therein contained, looked on with horror in her unseeing eyes. Robin Leventhal survived cancer. Tintin-like Mattin waved his scraggly arms in delight and spoke of an ancestral farm. "Zeere were sheeep and hens." (Not mentioned: the pride of unicorns, the bevy of centaurs, the parliament of sequined butterfies.) Gash-mouthed Isabella stuck his penis in his anus and peed and cried himself to sleep because contestants weren't allowed to read Goop and he wanted to know Gwenyth's "fashionating list of Fall (sad face) Winter (even sadder face) trends for 2009/2010."

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Aside from the joke contender crazy bad cannon fodder chefs, the minds of the real talent were heavy with the task tomorrow. The red-face Voltaggio, tattooed and cocky, asserted that he wasn't going to debase himself for his hick audience. "You don't change each dish for every customer as they come in," he said, or at least something to that effect, "they come to your restaurant." The right choice considering a) it's true b) though the ranchers might be eating they certainly weren't voting c) despite the ranchers being ranchers, they aren't idiots and can certainly appreciate good food. On the other hand, Cancer wanted to do something like barbecue so she made shrimp and sausage because, as you know, people who work outside have no idea how to eat anything subtle. Older Voltaggio looking like a shaven Wyatt Earp straddled the line, eschewing both Cancer's patronizing attitude or his brother's elitist dashi.

There were a bunch of saveeches made, an interesting choice for a hot day. Papa Doc stormed the kitchen demanding a sword so he could split a coconut in which to put his salmon saveech. Mattin made saveech three ways. Hosea made a saveech out of Leah kisses and Far Side comics. Hung made a saveech out of kosher beef and arrogance. Austin Scarlett made one out of crushed velvet and sidelong glances. Georgia O'Keefe made one out of vaginas and irises. You get the point.

So finally, the gay cowboys shuffle in. Some have beards, some have beards, many have vests, none were stupid, some had accents, all had interesting commentary. Tom was wearing a real cheesy shirt (she's real cheesy this season.) Padma was wearing a denim vest a la Little House on the Prairie. The other judges—Gail Simmons, an angel, and Tim Love, an straight-talking Texan—were fine. No comment. IN fact, no comment on Gail Simmons until next week when there will be ample time to bemoan her absence when shit-stained twat Toby Young comes and already makes a bunch of overwrought stupid puns in his twerpy voice makes his season debut. God damn you, Toby Young, I was finally getting a handle on my anger issues.

Obviously older Voltaggio wins because he's wonderful and professional and very serious. I bet he'd be a good dad. His bro is bummed but understands. Both Jennifer and Kevin were overlooked but whatever but since they're certainly in the top three, no big deal. I'm just happy Isabella finally was on his own so he could get notably excluded from the winning cull. On to the losers, the glorious losers. Robin Leventhal whose shrimp stank turned into a sad old lady in a blink of an eye as all the energy she expended in keeping her spirit upbeat, young and unbowed was immediately sapped. Papa Doc has no idea about anything so he was blithely untouched. Mattin, boynicorn he of the unedible saveech and uncooked cod, had no idea why he was there. "I sought eet was wahnderfool," he protested. Tom, Slomo Padma, Tim Love and Gail Simmons disagreed. Outclassed and underperforming, the Basque twink took his red bandana and white togue and headed back to Pamplona and somewhere, as the sun rose on the Mojave, the light filtered through a coyote peeing on a cactus and for a moment, the sand was splashed with rainbows.

Video by Michael Byhoff.