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Top Chef Texas - Ep. #1 - 11/02/11 (Spoilers)

We're baaaaacccckk!!! I might be a bit rusty in recapping, and I'm working on a new laptop, so please bear with me.

It's going to be a confusing first couple of episodes, as there are 29 initial cheftestants who think they're going to be competing....but 13 will be eliminated early. How hard would that be to show up in Texas only to be sent home with 12 others before you really got to show your stuff? I know it's happened to *one* other cheftestant in seasons past, but this is going to be a bloodbath.

Tom Colicchio, Padma, Gail Simmons, Hugh Acheson, and Emeril Lagasse are the judges.

So - 29 cheftestants show up at The Alamo. They all realize there are too many cheftestants to actually compete - it's always said that everything's bigger in Texas and so is this first challenge! Padma tells them they'll be split into 3 groups - and they'll all complete in their group challenge to earn their spots in the Top 16.

A whole pig is the main ingredient that Group 1 sees walking into the TC Kitchen. Emeril Lagasse and Tom C. are there to meet them and explain the challenge. Tom asks them to introduce themselves and give a bit of a background on themselves....There's a chef who works with Joel Robuchon, a couple of chefs who work with each other at the same restaurant in Chicago. Good pedigrees from what I'm hearing.

Tom C. and Emeril will be walking around while they prepare and cook from sub-primal cuts from the pig (they have one hour to cook), and will keep an eye on how they butcher, prepare, and how they work in the kitchen. There's a chef who runs a vegan restaurant who said "This is my worst nightmare!" working with pork. He hands off the butchering to another on his team. Smart move. :-)

Right off the bat, the 22yo Tyler from California seems like he would be the irritating "Marcel-like" cheftestant - at least IMO. He claims he knows how to butcher, BUT he's totally butchering the piece of pork he's trying to cut up. Tom Colicchio is alongside when Tyler passes over the tenderloin to another cheftestant (her choice of meat), and both he and Emeril are appalled at how poorly the chops and tenderloin were being broken down - and Tyler is GONE! Tom C. tells him to get outta there - Tyler is told to pack his knives and go!

Tom Colicchio goes to the cheftestant who was going to use the pork tenderloin, and there's literally 3 oz of tenderloin to use. Tom tells her "never trust anyone else who you're competing against!" LOL

The chef from Spiagga in Chicago is preparing a dish that looks REALLY good. Lots of the cheftestants are realizing how difficult it is to prepare and plate within the hour they had to cook...and sure enough, one is sent home with very poor plating of his soup.

Majority rules on how the chefs get a TC coat. If all judges say no, they're out. If two judges say they're in, they get a coat. However, if the judges are undecided, the cheftestants also have a chance to "be on the bubble" and get a chance to cook in yet another challenge to win a coat.

I can't wait to see some of these dishes put up on the Bravo website (PLEASE Magical Elves, PLEASE put all of the recipes up on the Bravo website!) There were several dishes in Group 1 that I'd like to try making.

And those that have already received their TC coats from Group 1 get to go to the TC house and check things out - but they have to wait to see who else shows up.

For Group 2, Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio are the judges. Group 2 goes through their introductions, and then they get to see what they get to use - there's a table with lots of ingredients - rabbit, sea urchin, sweetbreads - but ALL in Group 2 have to choose the SAME ingredient. They choose rabbit as their ingredient. One of the cheftestants tells a story about his mother raising rabbits and his sister naming them, and every once in awhile, one would disappear....and "chicken" would appear on the dinner table. LOL And one chef compares himself to Richard Blais and Michael Voltaggio. This ought to be interesting to see if he survives!

One chef loses track of time and doesn't even get the rabbit on the plate - yup, she's gone. Keith in Group 2 is funny - when Tom asks what he's thinking, he said "I'm too big to pass out!" Sure enough, having watched Gail enjoy his dish, he's through to the Top 16. No passing out for him. :-)

And here comes the Blais/Voltaggio comparison cheftestant, Chris...his technique seems to be very good and Gail said his is the best cooked rabbit of the day. So he's in.

In the in-between, those on the bubble are trying to figure out why they didn't make it through - and they realize that many of those who have made it are heavily inked - and the 4 of them in the Bubble Room don't have a lot (or any) tats. So one of them uses a Sharpie and draws one on her arm. :-) And we come back to Judges Table, and the last from Group 2, Chuy Valencia, who I liked from his earlier comments, makes it through as #11.

Looks like Group 3 is next week - and they have no idea how many have made it through OR how many are on the bubble. What do we see in the previews? Someone's got blood all over their hand. That doesn't bode well.

So that's it for tonight's episode! I hope I got most of what went on - the NAMES of the cheftestants will have to come later, as they're not even up on the Bravo website.

Enjoy, everyone! We're in for a bumpy ride! LOL

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  1. Good stuff, so far. I'm following Emeril, Hugh, Tom and BravoTV on Twitter.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Manassas64

      I don't think I could handle the tweeting! But what are they saying?

      And oy - the Voltaggio brothers are doing Samsung home appliance commercials?

      1. re: LindaWhit

        They weren't saying much tonight in their Tweets, just basically re-affirming their decisions and comments about the food.

    2. OK, So I have to say this since we are back in the Top Chef Game... but DAMNNN! Chris Crary is HOT!!!!!!!! Its gonna be a great season! :D

      4 Replies
      1. re: porkbutt03

        LOL! *HE* was the one I thought might be going out, comparing himself to Blais and Voltaggio. :-) Guess we'll see how he does.

        1. re: LindaWhit

          I think ChrisC's the one who also started the episode wanting to stay in the episode as long as possible just to look at Padma...coming across as focused contender, huh?

          Keith is the big guy who didn't pass out -- a foodie friend of mine in Wilmington (NC) knows him, so I was glad to see him make it through!

          1. re: momjamin

            Yes, Chris C. *is* that particular cheftestant who said he wanted to just look at Padma. Way to stand out. :-)

            Glad your friend's friend made it through, momjamin!

        2. re: porkbutt03

          i'm with you. :) he can stay in.

        3. FYI, if you go to Bravo's "casting videos" -- you can scroll on the right to get names and faces, even if you don't feel like watching all the videos.

          1. Nice job, Linda - the layoff and new computer haven't hurt you a bit. Thank you and please keep up the good work. (BTW: I don't bother learning any names until the 3rd or 4th episode - no use wasting brain cells remembering people who leave early, since my brain is pretty full as is.)

            1. Linda, I still think they had 30 chefs, 3 groups of 10, but since Tyler got the axe before even cooking and getting his food judged they start out with 29 contestants. Since we don't know any of the contestants yet, any comments about them will be pretty superficial. Fortunately for me, I have a superficial comment. I'm glad the vegan chef is gone. I wouldn't wish to have to listen to the vegan point of view all season long. As to Tyler, the kid that butchered the pig butchering, it sure is easy to see that he is young. An older person with more experience might lament the fact that they have not mastered butchering or that maybe they should have brushed up on that before arriving in Texas, but no, he just continues to say how good he is and how much they will miss him. Come to think of it, age might have little to do with it because Marcel Vigneron isn't so young and he has the same attitude, no humility.

              (One of the female contestants has Grayson for a given name. When I was a kid we had a cat named Grayson).

              4 Replies
              1. re: John E.

                So, I was curious about this 29 vs 30 thing, and went to bravo's site -- the casting videos are listed, and there are 29 of them, including Tyler's. I think his is just so arrogant, they couldn't not put it up.

                Linda -- fabulous job, as always! What a whirlwind!

                1. re: momjamin

                  i'm rethinking this whole 30 vs 29 thing. I'm letting it go. My OCB nature (just a touch of OCB) really wishes it to be three groups of 10 each but it looks like I might be wrong. Is it possible that someone did not show up in Texas and they decided 'eh, close enough'?

                  1. re: John E.

                    John E., if it helps you to sort things out, I can tell you that there were definitely 9 chefs competing in the second round and 10 chefs in the first. So, I'm thinking the remaining 10 will compete in the third, making a total of 29 :)

                    1. re: yummfood

                      Yeah, I understand but I still find it a little bewildering. I also wonder how they decided how many from each group to select. I assume it was luck of the draw but contestants in the last group have worse odds of making it than members of the first two groups although not by much.