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Top Chef Texas - Ep. #3 - 11/16/11 (Spoilers)

(NOTE: Please remember *not* to give any Last Chance Kitchen actual spoilers in this thread other than the little description set-up about this week's LCK that I wrote at the bottom...please just discuss the actual Top Chef episode.)

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"Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?"

Nope - it's not Indiana Jones.

It's Top Chef. And they're in Texas. And there are those slithery, rattley, bitey-bite type of snaky snakes in Texas. So of course what are they going to be asked to use as a menu item? Snake meat.

The cheftestants all leave the house....Beverly Kim has typed up a "Congratulations, Beverly Kim, you've won Top Chef Season 9" and put it on her mirror to look at every day. Is that going to portend her leaving in this episode, as the Elves like to hint? Or is it a head fake because we're expecting them to do that to us?

For their first Quickfire Challenge, they all head into the TC Kitchen. Padma is there with Johnny Hernandez, a San Antonio chef who is well known for cooking wild game meats. Hernandez gives them a bit of background on cooking the creatures - it's a delicate meat, and can take some spice.

Each chef has a box in front of the cheftestants - oh geez...do they have to kill live snakes and skin them? Immunity and $5,000 is up for grabs...Padma says she wants to see some mo-fo snake on some mo-fo plates! They all open their boxes, and luckily, the snakes are dead - skinned snake meat is in each box.

They have 1 hour to cook and plate their dishes. Snake fritters, BBQ snake with an Asian slaw, flash-fried snake, rattlesnake nigiri, snake nicoise, beer-battered tempura snake, griddle cake, braised in tequila, adobo seasoned, grilled with jerk seasoning....they all came up with lots of great ideas!

In the bottom group - Paul, Richie, and Nyesha
In the top group - Beverly, Dakota, and Sara

And the winner? No WAY are they going to tell us now - it's time for a commercial, silly viewers! And we're back - the winner is Dakota with her Beer-Battered Tempura Snake.

On to Elimination Challenge - they all draw knives with either Pink or Green on the blades. Teams will be winner and loser, and someone from the losing team will go.

Blanca Flores is the guest of honor - it is her quinceañera - her 15th birthday. They are to cater a big dinner for 150 people, as well as bake a big cake. Heather has pastry experience, so she'll probably take the lead for the Green Team on dessert. Blanca tells them and the other team some of the food she likes: goat, cotilla cheese (I know there was something else mentioned with the cotilla), and ceviche. She also likes steamed and stuffed cabbage leaves.

And each team splits to go shopping. In Whole Foods, I say What? Purchasing pre-cooked shrimp, Keith? Yeah, that doesn't portend well for you, does it? Why buy pre-cooked shrimp for a *cooking competition*? And whoa - Beverly gets all pushy-pushy at the Whole Foods butchery and pretty much puts herself in front of other customers. Back in the kitchen, Lindsay freaks at the pre-cooked frozen shrimp and says they can't use them....and now she doesn't have a dish to cook. And Chris Crary, you jerk - you TOLD Keith to go ahead and get the shrimp, and now you're saying you didn't see Keith getting the shrimp. Bleah on you!

On the Green Team, Chuy takes the lead, as he's Mexican, so his team is constantly going back to him to check flavors. Their dishes all seem very good choices.

Back at the house, Keith is looking for buy-in from his team, and they all seem to be just yes'ing him without really giving him feedback on his ideas. Is his team throwing him under the bus already?

Sara and Lindsay are pretty much playing overseers for the Pink team, and there's definite tension with them and Keith. On the Green team, the Tres Leche Cake is starting to lean, so Heather puts a dowel through the center to hopefully keep it upright.

The cheftestants get out front, and Blanca meets all of the judges - Johnny, Tom, Padma, and Hugh. They start tasting the appetizers - Blanca is eating with the judges, and she's giving pretty darn good feedback on each dish!

The judges try the Pink Team's main dishes first - ceviche, corn with cotilla, carne asada, cochinita pibil, tacos. The tortillas were store-bought, and that is not liked by the judges.

And they're off to the Green Team's buffet - tomatilo gazpacho, chicharron with dried plantains, green chile and poblano empanadas, goat birria, steamed cabbage leaves, short rib asada with piña kimchi, and a pulled chicken mole. The mole didn't go over well - too cinnamony.

Now it's time for cake, and Tom seemed happy to have cake with a handclap! The Pink Team gave her strawberry and pineapple fillings in their cake in the colors Blanca wanted. The Green Team's Tres Leche Cake is the Leaning Tower of Tres Leche Cake. The Pink Team cake has an awful lot of frosting, with even Blanca saying while it was good, perhaps too much frosting. The Tres Leche cake was enjoyed more by Blanca, as it was less sweet, but Hugh pointed out that the cake just really didn't look all that good.

Padma and the judges agree that one team did stand out. The team that wins is the Green Team! Chuy done good. :-) The Pink Team will need to show up at Judges Table. Keith is already expecting to be thrown under the bus...previews show Keith telling Sara that she loves throwing people under the bus and driving over people! What a surprise - a fractious JT! LOL

The Pink Team is shown in the Stew Room in the in-between bit between commercials - Sara realizes that taking a leadership role means she could be more on the block. She asks if anyone worked harder than others, and Nyesha said she didn't think so.

Ty-Lor, Sara, Lindsay and Keith are called in to the Judges Table. They had the least favorite dishes on the Pink Team. Sara said that their 30 minute menu planning wasn't utilized well. Lindsay said that a group leader should have been named then. Hugh called her out for none of them being able to take charge and lead their team.

Sara told the Judges about the pre-cooked shrimp. Keith admits buying the pre-cooked shrimp, and said he *did* have a team helping him do the purchasing, although he didn't name Chris. Padma asked Sara if, being a Texas chef, if they usually use corn tortillas, why didn't she mention it? Keith said that no one told him that corn tortillas are usually used for enchiladas in Texas - he was just going with flour, as it is what is usually used in his area of the country. The judges mention that Dakota would have been on the chopping block for the overly frosted cake if she didn't already have immunity. She was shocked to hear when the 4 on the block came back into the Stew Room and she was told that tidbit from the judges.

During deliberation, the judges were pretty amazed at how poorly these chefs did. Hugh is pretty blunt with why Keith was up there, having bought pre-cooked shrimp and not knowing what an enchilada is. Sara and Lindsay's cochinita dish wasn't well received; Lindsay having lived and cooked in Mexico for 4 years, should have been more authentic in her flavors, per Johnny Hernandez.

Back at JT, Keith is the one who is told to PYKAG. Not surprising, unfortunately. I'm still rather ticked at Chris for not owning up to the other chefs that he gave the go-ahead to Keith to buy the frozen pre-cooked shrimp. He was up first in the Stew Room to give Keith a hug goodbye. :-/

The preview for next week? Oh GEEZ - Chris is still all goobery over Padma. Get OVER it, Chris! That's going to get really old REALLY fast. For their main challenge, they'll be making chili - and there is no time clock! And what does that mean, boys and girls? Yup, they'll be up all night making a proper chili. Tiredy, Cranky, Sleepy, and Yawny - I do believe all four of these dwarfs will be featured on next week's episode! :-)

And that's all for this episode, folks!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Last Chance Kitchen, the challenge is: Mise en Place Race, and then make a dish incorporating the ingredients. An interesting challenge with them prepping 6 ingredients and 10 minutes to prep them, with them cooking a dish using all of the ingredients. Interesting result!

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  1. Do you get the impression that these chefs never watch the program before they are contestants? I don't watch every week, but I could tell them not to buy pre-cooked, not to serve raw (not enough effort involved), no undercooked chicken EVER...you know, things like that.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mnosyne

      I was thinking how prepared Richard Blais was...practicing cooking every sea creature he could ship in before going to the Caribbean for the All Stars Finals...and how there's no way I would have touched snake even if I'd thought of it before going to Texas ;-)

      1. re: mnosyne

        Any chef going on a cooking competition should learn 1 thing: how to use a pressure cooker!

        1. re: Wannabfoode

          Two things: how to use a pressure cooker, and how to make a couple of desserts.

      2. Some random comments before I sleep:

        What a setup Padma gave them with "Top Chefs need nerves of steel, and that's what we're going to test", then giving them dead and skinned meat. (Hugh's blog points out that no TV show has enough insurance to pit 16 nervous chefs against 16 live rattlers.)

        I wouldn't be surprised if ChrisC really had no clue he gave the go-ahead on the precooked to Keith -- he seemed like he wasn't paying him attention at all. Probably looking at pics of Padma on his phone there.

        I liked Keith from the prelims, but this was not a good showing for him. He said he was thinking about cost and time...OK, precooked might have been cheaper, but shrimp takes no time to cook compared to all the other meats -- tho' prep (peeling) can add up. And he runs a seafood restaurant :-(

        So was it Dakota that Hugh thought probably cries a lot? Looks like Beverly's gonna take that crown!

        4 Replies
        1. re: momjamin

          I think the two bossy-boots chicks should have taken a bigger hit for bad decisions on their team. Including all tortilla decisions since they had their say about so many things. And... didn't the teams at least buy fresh tortillas?

          I already miss Black Hagrid.

          1. re: MplsM ary

            LOL on the Black Hagrid! :-D

            1. re: LindaWhit

              lol x2.

          2. re: momjamin

            I'm not a fan of Chris Cary but I agree with what you said about him probably not being aware he even 'okayed' the shrimp. It seemed pretty hectic at the grocery store so he probably just agreed with what Keith said without even listening. With that said, it's sad to see Keith go...He seemed like a good guy

          3. I've gotta start out by saying I love that Bravo has an "instant replay" of the new episode, because I find that by watching it again I notice so much more! I thought it was ironic that Dakota won the quick fire, because she was the one freaking out being scared of the snakes! As soon as I saw Keith in the market w/ the shrimp, I knew, just KNEW, that he was gonna be the one going, which I was kinda sad about. I was pretty disappointed in Lindsay not stepping up and taking the lead, especially since she'd LIVED in Mexico. Then again, her dish wasn't well received, so maybe it's a good thing she didn't. That is all for now, I'm sure I'll think of more....

            13 Replies
            1. re: kubasd23

              It's not a surprise that the people with Keith didn't say anything when he bought cooked shrimp. Teammates or not, they looked at that as competitors and thought, "Ok, if he wants cooked shrimp let him get them. Let's see how this goes." So they let him make his mistake.

              1. re: chicgail

                While I agree they were probably letting him fail, it's a shortsighted strategy to increase the odds for your own team to be the losing team. Had they worked as a team, they might have won. Note to all future Top Chef competitors: have the team strategy "All for one, one for all" discussion as soon as the first bottle of Top Chef Quickfire Red is opened, night one.

                1. re: MplsM ary

                  Putting aside sportsmanship...

                  I'd much rather be on the losing team with a dish that I KNOW is worse than mine than give my team a *slightly* better chance at winning without a guaranteed safety net of a teammate who's bombing their dish. From a purely self-interested standpoint, it's not a bad strategy when you have good reason to think only one person is going home. Of course, TC has sent home more than one person for a single challenge before, but they usually announce that more than one person will be going home before the challenge.

                2. re: chicgail

                  Except that the cooked shrimp weren't for his dish -- when he bought them he ruined another chef's dish and left her scrambling to put together something else. He could at least have gotten her on the phone and asked if cooked was okay, since they'd already had a conversation about the relative price of shrimp at the two places they were shopping (which means he also didn't tell them during that conversation that the price he was quoting was for cooked shrimp). Between that and the flour tortilla enchiladas, he deserved to go. He seemed like a good guy, but maybe having a seafood shack doesn't really put him in the same league as some of the others.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    "but maybe having a seafood shack doesn't really put him in the same league as some of the others."

                    He made a big mistake, no doubt, but your obnoxious dismissal of him is unwarranted. He is a James Beard nominee (see his bio here: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/seaso...) and his restaurant is most certainly not a "seafood shack". See the dinner menu here: http://catchwilmington.com/menu/dinner/

                    Sure doesn't look like any seafood shack I have ever seen.

                    1. re: LurkerDan

                      Okay, so "shack" was a little harsh. He may be very good at what he does, but my point is that he doesn't seem to have the breadth of knowledge and experience the others do. And honestly I'm a little skeptical of how good a seafood chef he is if he thinks pre-cooked shrimp are okay and that buying them is a good "cost control" decision. Makes me wonder what kinds of "cost control" decisions he makes for his restaurant.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        It's worth watching the Last Chance Kitchen (w/out giving anything else away).

                      2. re: LurkerDan

                        The dinner menu uses the word "chipolte"... isn't it chipotle? grr I hate that mispronunciation... but even more so seeing it manifest in the spelling of the word!!

                        1. re: kubasd23

                          ...and it's a picture menu! ::rolleyes::

                          1. re: huiray

                            man, this is a tough crowd! lol

                            1. re: huiray

                              ha, I was waiting for someone to mention that one!

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          I'm so happy that TC is back on and that Linda is doing her deservedly famous, unanimously acclaimed, and brilliant recaps! This is going to be so much fun,, with LCK throwing in extra twists.

                          I loved that there was cabrito for the party. Goat's one of my favorite things but when I cook it I usually have to throw it in the oven at a low heat overnight. I mean, I don't know any commercial kitchen that can duplicate the flavor of a goat cooked "in the hole" in the back yard.

                          The frozen pre-cooked shrimp was a disastrous decision. The flour tortillas were also bad, except that I do seem to recall eating enchiladas Suiza made with flour tortillas, chicken, salsa verde, and Swiss cheese. Craig Clairborn and Pierre Franey had a recipe for them. Keith's ingredients looked sort of the same, but badly managed. Among other things, you do have to fry the flour tortillas just like you do corn tortillas to keep them from turning into a soggy, gloppy mess once filled. I'll probably be making some sort of enchiladas, with corn tortillas, using leftover turkey in about a week. :-)

                          I don't know if making a "Mexican" dish that was actually a Swiss adaptation is acceptable, but if so he should have been very careful, maybe making his own flour tortillas, and done it right.. Having said that, I really liked him!

                          1. re: KailuaGirl

                            In Mexico (particularly Mexico City) 'enchiladas suizas' are common menu items. My understanding is that the 'swiss-style' refers to the fact that they have cream in the sauce and lots of cheese; quite sure it is not a reference to an adaptation from Switzerland.

                    2. great write up, but just one possibly nit-picking clarification: the quinceanera is a party for the 15th birthday (hence the 'quince'), not 16th..

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: susancinsf

                        Ok I thought so!!!! Then i thought maybe I was wrong... I didn't even look at the actual name of the celebration, I just remembered that the 15th birthday was the one that was celebrated :)

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          Ok, I thought I was just misremembering things. I knew that the birthday generally celebrated was the 15th, but thought maybe it had been adapted to be compared to the sweet 16 or something...

                          1. re: susancinsf

                            Yay Linda! How do you DO this? You could be the Canadian guy with the stripe of beard on Iron Chef!

                            Yikes re the cooked shrimp and flour tortillas......

                            And maybe the cheese is cotija. It will be at MY next quinceanera! I heart cotija cheese! Better than salt! And I love tres leches. And pibil!

                            Yummo!

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              OK, that's what I thought and what I originally had written (that much high school Spanish I *do* remember!) - but I swear they said SIXTEENTH on the show so I changed it. Crappity-crap. Thanks, susan. And sorry everyone else. :-(

                              P.S. I'll see if the Mods might make that fix so it's not so glaringly horribly stoopid of me. That and the cake fix. :-/

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                MANY thanks to the Mods for fixing my two errors (changing 16th to 15th and changing Tres Leches cake to overly frosted cake potentially putting Dakota in the bottom group if she didn't already have immunity).

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  You are right. I think someone said it was LIKE an American sweet sixteen party.

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    They said it was the equivalent of a Sweet Sixteen party -- I don't think they ever said it was for a sixteenth birthday.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      OK, OK - I got it. I'm writing at the same time I'm trying to watch the show and trying not to rewind the DVR too much so I don't get backed up too far. I got it wrong, but the Mods very kindly fixed it for me. Thank you again, Mods!

                                2. couldn't believe he bought pre-cooked shrimp.

                                  I could understand the flour tortilla thing, because if you don't live somewhere with authentic mexican or new mexican food, you wouldn't know that; elsewhere in the country, enchilada are made with flour tortillas. But the shrimp???

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: LurkerDan

                                    I've nevvvver had enchiladas made with flour tortillas, and I live pretty far from authentic mexican food (SE CT). I couldn't believe he thought that was ok!!

                                    1. re: kubasd23

                                      yeah, where is he from that they make enchiladas with flour tortillas?? The Balkans? Please. I was rooting for him early on but not after the shrimp and the tortillas.

                                      I'm liking Chuy!

                                      and as to the quinceañera, to any who were asking, it is the same thing as a sweet 16 party, but just at 15 years of age. Think of it as a Latin debutante party.

                                      and shrinkrap, it definitely was cotija cheese. i loved the idea of that corn salad - so simple but probably really flavorful.

                                      does anyone think they would have had enough time to make their own tortillas? (I've never made them so I don't know how labor intensive they are.

                                      Linda, wonderful wrap-up! Thanks as always!

                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                        I make my own corn tortillas now and again. They're not hard, especially if you buy premade masa dough, but it takes time to press and cook them since they have to be pressed one at a time. If you're already time-strapped, I think it's a reasonable decision to buy them premade IF (a) they were made fresh that day, and (b) you griddle or grill them to heat and soften them immediately before serving.

                                        As I understood it, that was the real issue - that the losing team not only bought premade tortillas, but didn't adequately heat them before serving. I'd agree with Tom that that is a basic, basic error.

                                      2. re: kubasd23

                                        He's from NC. As a Virginia native who lived in NC for 5 years, I have never been served an enchilada with a flour tortilla and I know enough not to get frozen shrimp.

                                        He seemed like a nice guy but those two decisions were enough to send him home. At least have the good sense to call it a burrito.

                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                          Even if he had called it a burrito, it would have been bad and he would have been sent home. A rose by any other name... and the converse. I think that's one reason I'm convinced Keith should have been sent home. He is still convinced it was the wrong choice of tortilla that got him sent home, not that the dish was really bad.

                                    2. hey LindaWhit great recap! But it was actually the heavily frosted cake that Dakota would've been on the bottom for. The tres leches was the green team's cake :)

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: yummfood

                                        ::::Sigh::: Dammit. I was tired last night, I guess. Sorry for the cake screw-up. :-/

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          Seriously; How do you DO that? Is your food knowledge that amazing that you can just type as you watch, or do you have to look up things to clariy what was siad? I have to watch at LEAST twice to catch the details.

                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                            Now that I have the laptop, yes, I'm typing as I watch. Hence my cake and Sweet 16/quinceañera screw-up. The desktop used to be in the living room in the old apt., and I would take handwritten notes and then quickly type them up during commercials (pre-DVR days for me last season - I'm a Luddite like that :::grin:::).

                                            I'm an Administrative Manager; typing has been part of my career since late 1978. I once tested at 140 WPM with only 2 errors, which at the time, knocked it down to (IIRC) 132 WPM. That was on an IBM Selectric. I *know* I'm not as fast as that now, but the keyboards are WAY easier to use (lighter to the touch) than old typewriters were.

                                            And after the show is over, I *do* go back and tweak the initial post, cleaning it up for grammar, sentence structure, etc. So I'm usually watching a bit of the beginning of the repeat show (OR, now with the DVR, can back up to where I have questions in my own mind about what I wrote and get the comment re-clarified that way).

                                            Re-clarified - just like buttah! :-)

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              WOW. that is IMPRESSIVE. I've been typing for 20+ years and i'm probably at 70 wpm, at best!

                                              and jeez, no one needs you to be letter perfect on this thread, Linda! (Tho you dang near are....) We're lucky you do this for us!

                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                agreed! No need to apologize just because I couldn't resist nit-picking! and just fyi, the reason I know about quinceearas is that I lived in Mexico when I was fifteen and sixteen, and got to go to quite a few as all my school friends were having them...Have to admit, though, I remember the dresses and the dancing much more than the food: other than one that was on someone's ranch and featured a few whole roasted goats on spits....(along with a mini-rodeo. now *that* was a party! :-))

                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                  Oh, this was a one-time typing test for a potential job. And it just so happened that the words on the page just flowed off my fingers...I was in a groove and it just worked, as some typing tests do. Turns out everyone outside the little room I was in just stopped doing what they were doing to listen to the keys hitting the paper about halfway through the 5-minute typing test. When I was done, one of them actually said the sound was mesmerizing. LOL!

                                                  And *I'm* the perfectionist so I bring it upon myself, mc. If I'm going to write this, I want it to be as correct as I can be. Luckily the Mods indulge my infrequent request for a correction. :-)

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    Wow, impressive! To put myself through college, I was a "production typist" (back in the Selectric days, too), meaning I got paid by how quickly I could type--all numbers, too. Best I clocked was 135, and I thought I was hot stuff.

                                                    Great write-up. Thanks.

                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                              I lost track of the cakes as well and I wasn't typing.

                                          2. Great recap, Linda!
                                            I was somewhat surprised that they let Keith go because he is interesting and distinctive as a TV personality, and there were lots of egregious cooking problems on everyone's part. We were betting on the other guy who made the dull corn fritter on the spoon -- I can't recall his name (which means he's not a distictive TV personality for me!). But the buying of the cooked shrimp was a really bad move, as was making an enchilada with a flour tortilla. I tried watching Last Chance kitchen last night, but I couldn't get it to play. I'm curious to see how Keith did there.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: roxlet

                                              I could be way off base but I thought Keith was at least making his own flour tortillas?

                                              But it seemed as if there was no team work on the losing team. On the winning team, there was a cheftestant of Mexican descent testing the flavors of his teammates dishes.

                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                I caught the second showing of "Top Chef" because I was recording something else earlier. The tail end of the plug for "Last Chance kitchen" at the end of the show was on and it spoiled who was eliminated before watching the show. Everyone be careful about watching a back to back episode like that.

                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                  I think the guy who made the corn fritter was Ty-Lor Boring. How can you not recall a name like that!?!?

                                                2. I'm from NC and I'm not Latino and neither is my fiancee but we both know that enchiladas are made with corn tortillas. Any fast food Mexican restaurant around here serves them like that and the waitstaff will gladly educate you about the differences are between enchiladas and burritos. Sorry to see Keith go, but that was a face-palm moment for both of us when he claimed ignorance based on being from this region.

                                                  Off to a good season so far. Thanks for the recaps!

                                                  1. I have never had flour tortillas until I came to the US. I had lived in Central America and tortillas are corn, everyone knew that. I don't know the etymology of tortillas but I am pretty certain the flour tortilla is not a Mexican tradition.

                                                    I also don't know how long these folks had to prepare coming to Texas, but I would have boned up on the cuisine: Tex-Mex, chili, Texas barbecue, etc. Knowing about tortilla sis kind of a no-brainer.

                                                    You know, we have had a lot of people mooning over Padma, and Colicchio also had a bit of a gay following. I wonder if in the future, there would be a Lesbian fixation on either Padma or Gail. Just saying.

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                      i have to say i've always found Padma to be an ice queen - and therefore unattractive -- but i'm neither a man nor a lesbian. But she looked beautiful last night, better than I'd ever seen her. i mean - i know objectively she's beautiful. I just don't a sense of warmth from her. but maybe some people dig that.

                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                        What was the point of her dropping the F bomb? I didn't get that at all....

                                                        They did put the camera on Padma duing the father daughter dance. I think she was suppposed to be looking wistful or something.

                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                          I think she was mimicking the movie Snakes on A Plane, trying to act like Samuel L. Jackson.

                                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                            i think it was from that movie Snakes on a Plane. I've never seen it, I've just heard.

                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                              Ohhhh!. I've never watched it either. i tried once, but.....

                                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                It's a hugely popular internet meme from the movie "Snakes on A Plane." Someone else also dropped a reference to "Dazed and Confused" (commanding his food to "Fry like bacon, you freshman b*tches" - which should actually have been "you freshman piggies"). Bit of a movie reference theme.

                                                                1. re: monopod

                                                                  i'm so glad someone else caught Chris J's Dazed & Confused reference, even if it was a misquote. i thought it was so appropriate that it came from one of the Moto guys :)

                                                                  1. re: monopod

                                                                    Yeah, I cracked up when he said that!

                                                              2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                holy crap! flour tortillas are absolutely a (NORTHERN) mexican tradition! y know, where they grow the wheat... that said, never seen any enchiladas made w flour tortillas (other than suizas). i don't think keith was familiar w the cuisine of any mexican region regardless.

                                                              3. OK, I'll throw this out. I grew up in western NC, but don't know that I ever ate enchiladas there. (I moved in the 80s before my hometown got its current community of Mexicans.) (Now, Keith being from eastern NC, we might have words about BBQ, but that's another story.)

                                                                I have no Mexican street cred, but in my family, we make enchiladas with flour tortillas, just because we like them better. The important part is the chili-based sauce (en-chili-ada, if I may torture the Spanish). Burritos wouldn't have the sauce -- they'd just be a flour tortilla around whatever combo of meat/beans/cheese/rice.

                                                                Now, it sounds like Keith's dish wasn't all that great -- it looked really heavy compared to his light and more subtle rattlesnake QF dishes. So I'm guessing the shrimp and the tortillas weren't the real kicker -- if his dish was really good, Ty-Lor might have gone home for his mystery fritter.

                                                                10 Replies
                                                                1. re: momjamin

                                                                  I'm not Hispanic, but grew up in a predominantly Mexican farm town. I also have lived in the Southwest for over 35 years. There is no way any cook, let alone a chef can call anything wrapped in a flour tortilla an enchilada. There are regional differences in Mexican cuisine, but each cuisine has a form of enchilada and each one is wrapped in corn tortillas. Hugh Acheson hit it on the head when he said that what Keith made was a burrito, which can be served wet with a sauce and cheese or dry. Two very basic blunders in one show made Keith's exit a sure thing.

                                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                                    I think this is the point--it's not whether enchiladas "should be" made w/ corn or flour tortillas as much as his enchiladas were bad and soggy. If he had made amazing enchiladas w/ flour tortillas, he wouldn't have been in the bottom. Chefs constantly tweak foods. Keith's looked like a Chipotle burrito!

                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                      That'st the thing - you can't make good enchiladas with flour tortillas because they absorb the sauce and become doughy lumps. Saying "if he had made amazing enchiladas w/flour tortillas" is like saying "if she had made an amazing shrimp dish with frozen, pre-cooked, off-smelling shrimp" - it's just not possible.

                                                                      1. re: monopod

                                                                        He could have done a different version of "enchiladas", maybe more burrito like w/ an enchilada sauce poured over the top, or he could done it deconstructed or or fried the tortillas first so they're crunchy or any number of creative ways. They take liberties all the time w/ food and to make a food exactly as is expected shows nothing more than that they memorized a recipe and followed it. If there had been a challenge to make enchiladas w/ flour tortillas, a good contestant would do it and make it taste good.

                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                          Call it a burrito and put the sauce in a ramekin for dipping rather than spooning it over the top - he might have made it through this episode. Though I'm not sure how he made it exactly, if he baked it in the sauce, etc.

                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                            Exactly--there are so many ways he COULD have made it work. The judges said it had been premade and sat on a steam table. It doesn't matter what you think an enchilada is, a flour tortillla wrapped and sitting on a steam table is a bad idea. He could have made it to order w/ sauce over the top.

                                                                            OTOH, now that I think about it, I've made (years ago) and have had Mexican lasagna which used flour tortillas layered and that was fine. It was supposed to soak up the sauce but used in thin layers so it wasn't overwhelming and it acted like pasta (and Lidia Bastianich made which I tried a lasagna w/ old country bread that soaked up the sauce and it was very good--the same argument that flour tortillas couldn't work works to its advantage here). Regardless, Keith lost because his food was bad, not because he used the wrong type of tortillas for an enchilada--no one has been sent home for making excellent food that wasn't "authentic." that I can recall.

                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                              No one has ever been sent home for making excellent food, even when it didn't meet the criteria of the challenge.

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                Only in the end game when everyone's food was excellent (S6 and All Stars in particular), and the judges had to nitpick. We've still got lots of options in the non-excellent food category for a few more weeks ;-)

                                                                                1. re: momjamin

                                                                                  I think what she meant was that nobody has been sent packing because although their dish was excellent, it did not fully meet the criteria for which it was designed when there was another, lesser dish presented that did fully meet the criteria of the challenge.

                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                    Yes, that's what I meant! :-)

                                                                  2. FYI, Dom at Skillet Doux has split his TC power rankings from his food/restaurant blog, so you can just see his TC entries here: http://skilletdoux.typepad.com/topchef/

                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                                      I don't think anyone besides skilletdoux has mentioned the fact there was no winner's circle ("So what's up with no winner's circle?! That's a first, isn't it? Here's hoping the blogs will fill in.") I actually thought to myself who won the challenge before reading that. Isn't that odd to only show a quickfire winner? Did anyone actually win the Mexican challenge?

                                                                      I too felt bad to see Keith go, the cast got way more homogenized when he left. I wonder if the Chris who's all ga ga over Padma is watching thinking "god I look like a tool". And if the other Chris shows up with his glasses on and sunglasses on his head again, he's DEAD TO ME.

                                                                      1. re: Joanie

                                                                        Hmmm...the entire Green Team won. But I can't recall if they've *never* picked out an individual winner from the winning team.

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          Do you remember Carla being hammered on the boards for jumping excitedly like child when she re-entered the stew room because she was excited that she'd won the challenge? I can't remember if that was a team challenge. Oh, how about when Stephanie made the wedding cake and Richard Blais won the challenge but shared the prize with her--that was a team challenge.

                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                            They didn't announce a winner but on Bravo it's says Chuy won the elimination challenge.

                                                                            1. re: jcattles

                                                                              There would be something wrong if he didn't win. He's a Mexican chef who mentored under Rick Bayless.

                                                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                                                That's right--I forgot that part and I love Rick Bayless.

                                                                              2. re: jcattles

                                                                                I thought it was weird that we didn't see them announce the winner. I love Chuy, good to see that he won.

                                                                                1. re: jcattles

                                                                                  Glad to read that. Makes sense. Still strange that they didn't show the announcement of his win.

                                                                                  1. re: jcattles

                                                                                    Not sure about that. On Bravo's Cheftestant scorecard, there's a picture of Chuy, but the Elimination Challenge Winner is listed as "Green Team."

                                                                                    http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/seaso...

                                                                            2. I really can't understand how people are claiming that Keith shouldn't have gone home--the only justification was that 'other people agreed with him on pre-cooked shrimp' and 'someone should have told him about the corn tortillas'. No way, this is an individual contest. I liked Keith, but you can't screw up twice and then blame other people for nobody telling you!

                                                                              If any of us tried to use that claim at work, can you even imagine what a boss would say?

                                                                              1. Here in S. Texas, enchiladas are always made with corn tortillas, but served with flour tortillas on the side. I know Whole Foods doesn't have fresh tortillas, not sure about Culebra Market, but the local grocery store chain makes fresh flour fortillas in the store all day long and they are much better than any packaged ones. Fresh corn tortillas are much harder to find.
                                                                                The hallmark of a good Mexican restaurant around here is fresh, housemade tortillas.

                                                                                1. Most mexicans eat corn tortillas.I think it's more in Sonora and northern Mexico they also use the flour tortillas.Enchiladas are always made with corn tortillas. I don't think Beverely got pushy-pushy at the Whole Foods meat market.If I remember,one team went to Whole Foods and the other team to Culebra Meat Market. Which is funny, since culebra means snake in spanish.Never eaten at Alcado's and I've been here 40 years.
                                                                                  Flour tortillas here are eaten mainly in breakfast tacos, and with fajitas and often served with your meal, though they will ask you if you want either corn or flour,and bring them in a tortilla warmer that keeps them hot.
                                                                                  While the judges weren't happy they didn't make fresh homemade tortillas, Johhny Hernandez and the guests didn't seem too broken up about it. Many hispanics here don't make their own tortillas.I see families shopping at H.E.B.,the big South Texas-Mexico grocery chain buying the H.E.B. brand ready made tortillas, both the corn and the flour.There are also tortilla factories here too.
                                                                                  There are some molinas in San Antonio that make the fresh masa for tortillas and tamales,but the chefs probably had no idea where to buy it.

                                                                                  Bravo must have some contract with Whole Foods,because H.E.B. Central Market next to the University of the Incarnate Word has all sorts of shrimp, fish and other meats and vegetables.
                                                                                  It's located in Alamo Heights,which is our version of Beverely Hills you might say.Lot of old bungalows and mansions around dating back to the 1900s.They also have mexican food items and spices as well.
                                                                                  Yeah knew Keith was going to bite the dust. However they still might have used the cooked shrimp in the enchiladas or made some sort of mexican shrimp salad.
                                                                                  I thought Gloria said she liked cabbage stuffed with picadillo.
                                                                                  I can understand why Padma said there was no connection of the cabbage to the other foods because it appeared they didn't even bother to stuff them.As far as the mole was concerned,if they didn't have time to make the sauce,then buy Dona Maria's or other brand of mole.

                                                                                  Back to the quickfire, Goggle Sweetwater ,Texas.They have a ratttlesnake roundup every year and cook them up.
                                                                                  Can't wait to see where the rodeo is at. Could be at some county fair around here,but they better not put beans in it.
                                                                                  As far as Last Chance Kitchen goes, I thought in the ad for it, they showed Keith.

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                                    Beverly was pushy-pushy with not just the TC cheftestants, but I'm pretty sure there were other customers there - actual customers of WF doing their ordinary daily shopping. So she wasn't just stepping in front of her fellow cheftestants; she was stepping in front of regular customers with her "This is important; it's a contest, I have to go first!" baloney.

                                                                                    I believe each team split and half of each went to WF and half of each to Culebra. I could be wrong on that, however.

                                                                                    And yet again, regardless of what you see on the mini-LCK episode online or via an ad, it would be *really* helpful to all who read here if potential kicked-off cheftestants are NOT mentioned in this thread to allow people to view it themselves. I happened to watch it last night after the episode, but didn't mention anything in my original post.

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      Agree about Beverly - I think she shops in my neighborhood - the Brookline/Newton area......
                                                                                      I watched the mini-LCK on Comcast using the on demand feature. Nice not to have to use a dvr or vcr to see this season.

                                                                                      1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                        Wait - Beverly is from Mass? (Didn't realize you were too, Berheenia!)

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          She's chef at Aria in Chicago though relatively recently there. Wasshe in MA before that?

                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                            I was kidding! But there are many Beverly clones here so I thought I might have seen her cutting the line at Whole Foods!

                                                                                            1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                              OH! LOL! OK, on that we can agree on the "type" - and it's not just in Brookline & Newton either. :-)

                                                                                    2. A few random thoughts:

                                                                                      - Beverly is fun to watch, in that she's clearly a maniac. Also, I like Korean food, and I admire that she was the only one (that I noticed) who really bent this weeks challenge to her strengths rather than get into a pissing competition of Mexican authenticity. I hope she doesn't implode too soon.

                                                                                      - I'm always a little annoyed by this type of episode (it also happens when the chefs are asked to cook Italian), because the judging and discussion becomes a pedantic (boring and pointless pedantic, not interesting and enlightening pedantic like some of my posts) debate about what is 'authentic.' These are chefs with diverse backgrounds, and very few if any of them have taken a year off just to wander rural Mexico in order to find out exactly how things a 'supposed' to be made. So debates about authentic enchiladas are sorta beside the point - much more to the point is that there is a reason it isn't 'authentic' - corn tortillas can absorb sauce and still maintain some integrity and texture, whereas flour tortillas apparently cannot (or at least, Keith couldn't make the do so). Similarly, Tom mentioned that another contestant's cochinita pibil lacked 'authentic flavor.' I assume this should translate to something like - ' the spices weren't strong enough or distinct enough.' Why not just say so? Demanding that chefs cook a fully authentic meal in any given cuisine is a really arbitrary test.

                                                                                      Granted, the chefs seem to play right along with the premise.

                                                                                      --- A WARNING if you haven't watched LAST CHANCE KITCHEN and don't want SPOILERS ---
                                                                                      ________________________________________________________________________
                                                                                      When you watch Last Chance Kitchen, to the right you will see a list of other Top Chef videos you can watch - you know, youtube style. Those videos on the right feature other last chance episodes, along with listing their contestants. It is very easy to determine who wins your episode because the contestants of the next episode are given away. So if you don't want spoilers, watch each LCK the week it comes out.

                                                                                      21 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                        If the cocinita pibl wasn't authentic, then Beverly's dish that included kim chi certainly wasn't authentic, which makes me wonder about the consistency of the judging. Either authentic matters or it doesn't. Unless maybe if you declare it ahead of time. I suspect that Tom was implying that the cochinita wasn't all that tasty, but I don't know for sure.

                                                                                        What's the deal with Last Chance Kitchen? It is Top Chef's answer to Redemption Island? And is it just on-line and not broadcast?

                                                                                        1. re: chicgail

                                                                                          chicgail, "Yes" to both of your LCK questions. :-) I had likened it to Survivor's Redemption Island on the pre-season thread.

                                                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                                                            I think that Tom was referring to the taste of the cocinita wasn't good enough, coming from a chef that spent 3 years in Mexico.

                                                                                            Last Chance Kitchen IS only available online at the BravoTV.com site only.

                                                                                            1. re: chicgail

                                                                                              "If the cocinita pibl wasn't authentic, then Beverly's dish that included kim chi certainly wasn't authentic, which makes me wonder about the consistency of the judging."
                                                                                              ________
                                                                                              To be fair to the judges, they may be judging based on authenticity not so much because of the parameters of the challenge but because that's the game the chefs have chosen to play. In other words, almost everyone this week went and made straight forward Mexican food, and once they've done that, it seems only logical to evaluate it AS Mexican food. If everyone had taken more obvious liberties (ones that seemed purposeful, rather than just subbing flour tortillas for corn ones to poor effect), then perhaps the judges wouldn't have uttered the dreaded 'A' word at all. We'll never know for sure, but that's the way these things seem to have played out in the past (season 7 did some kind of 'cook this cuisine' challenge, and the winner barely approximated the cuisine he cooked).

                                                                                              Still, this type of challenge seems to go this way more often than not. I don't know if the chefs take it as implied that they should cook authentic versions of the cuisine at hand or if they just make it a point of (often foolish) pride that they can cook perfectly authentic _____ cuisine as though they had specialized in it.

                                                                                            2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                              Tom's critiques are really starting to annoy me. He's always saying generic things like "well cooked" and "nicely seasoned" -- what does "nicely seasoned" mean? Enough salt? Complex spicing? The right amount of heat/acid/tartness? Any or all of the above?

                                                                                              I also think the "authentic flavor" comment is a crock. Even with traditional dishes there are regional and personal variations. So her mole had too much cinnamon and she should have known better having lived in Mexico -- well maybe that's the way they made it in the part of Mexico she was in, or in the kitchen where she learned to cook it!

                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                I think that he is trying to be generous to the chefs' egos. Once the dish is made, it is not as if they can go back and fix a problem, so his strategy is probably to lessen the blow. I understand what you mean, though.

                                                                                                I just watched Last Chance Kitchen, and I have a couple of questions that I may have missed the answer to somewhere. I'm wondering if this is like a parallel competition, and at what point are these chefs allowed back in the competition. Does it remain a surprise for each eliminated chef, which would mean that the chef in the Last Chance Kitchen must be living elsewhere?

                                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                  Tom Colicchio hasn't said when the last one standing will be allowed back into the competition, rox. And yes, it *seems* to be a surprise to each eliminated chef. The way the eliminated chef was told last night about LCK was different than the way the previous two were told, as they were "held" in the Stew Room and Tom C. came in to tell them what LCK was about.

                                                                                                  I am assuming the LCK chef is living elsewhere. Probably just sitting around waiting for his/her next competition.

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    Thanks, Linda! This was the first Last Chance Kitchen I watched, so I wasn't sure. It's sort of like a parallel competition.

                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                      Aren't all the chefs who leave sequestered? I remember watching some footage in the past that was pretty fun/funny from the sequestered house. That was also why (I can't remember which chef) talked about being able to spend a lot of time w/ Jen Carroll and we all knew at that point that she'd be cut early. So, I'm guessing they're all still together and the LCK is not alone.

                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                        Yes, they are all sequestered. I wish they'd have the Kicked-Off House videos again up on the Bravo site, but maybe they'll wait until a few people are in that house before they put them up.

                                                                                                        I don't recall them doing sequester house videos for last season's All-Stars, however.

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                          There wasn't footage but the person who left first talked about getting to know Jen better and she was asked to PYKAG the next week. I would have loved to watch the footage.

                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                            Wasn't it Elia and Jen that got to know each other quite well since they were the first two eliminated during TC All-Stars?

                                                                                                            The only time I remember seeing the sequestered contestants is TC 7 when they showed John ('how can I cook in a professional kitchen with three foot dreadlocks?') Somerville greeting Jacqueline (bland banana pudding with two pounds of sugar) Lombard in their hotel suite.

                                                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                        I discovered something about LCK last night. We have Comcast and the LCK videos are available from Comcast OnDemand. I'm not a big fan of watching television on a computer and was pleased to discover I could watch these internet only videos on the big screen HDTV.

                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                          Thanks for the tip! Are they listed with the other Top Chef episodes, or separately?

                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                            They are list with all of the current Top Chef stuff. Listed first are TC Healthy Choice on-line videos, then the LCK videos and then the current regular episodes of TC 9. All of these can be accessed either through the 'TV Series' listing or the 'TV Networks' listings.

                                                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                                                            same on Cablevision On Demand.

                                                                                                      3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                        The one who made the mole was not the one who lived in Mexico.

                                                                                                        1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                          The person who made the mole was Grayson, the last chef accepted into the competition. She's the one who let Tyler butcher her tenderloin and was put on the bubble. I think she's out of her league and will be leaving soon. I can't remember the name of the chef who'd lived in Mexico but she was the blond in the bottom four, the one who was supposed to do shrimp but wouldn't use the precooked one (good call because she would have been the first to go) and had worked w/ Michelle Bernstein in Mexico. What was her name? I can't keep most of them straight yet. I only remember ones who've made impressions.

                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                            That's Lindsay Autry.

                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                              Her name is Lindsay and she initially impressed me as one to be reckoned with. She flew through the first challenge. Tom said it was good cooking and loved her dish but she doesn't seem to have the personality to win Top Chef.

                                                                                                        2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                          If it was good it wouldn't have mattered that it wasn't authentic. It's a dead give away that it tasted bad when the judges use that word.

                                                                                                          jb

                                                                                                        3. I agree that buying precooked shrimp was enough to send Keith packing. I'm a European/Scandinavian Minnesota guy who isn't a chef and I know that enchiladas are made with corn tortillas.

                                                                                                          If I were going on a reality TV show/competition I would do research in preparation so that I knew how to make Tex Mex/Mexican/ Texas BBQ, etc. I would also know how to operate a pressure cooker (a contestant in the 2nd episode struggled with the pressure cooker). One of the big reasons Ed Cotten lost to Kevin Sbraga was that Kevin researched the cuisine of Singapore.

                                                                                                          27 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                            Sometimes people have a little problem using equipment they use everyday when it is in a different environment example, Geoffrey Zakarian on NIC

                                                                                                            1. re: dondcook

                                                                                                              I thought she mentioned having no experience with a pressure cooker?

                                                                                                            2. re: John E.

                                                                                                              "I agree that buying precooked shrimp was enough to send Keith packing"

                                                                                                              He absolutely shouldn't have bought pre-cooked shrimp, but let's make it clear that wasn't the reason he was sent home. The shrimp were not served so therefore were a moot point at JT.

                                                                                                              This whole debate on corn vs flour tortillas is going to get old by the end of the week. Ok , so in most parts corn tortillas are used for enchiladas. That doesn't make him completely wrong. What if all you had at home were flour tortillas and couldn't make it to the store, would you use flour & serve them enchilada style? Let's give Kevin a pass already, so they weren't traditional, what about Beverly's Korean/Mexican fusion? She can make a fusion dish, but Kevin gets raked over the coals for using the wrong tortilla?

                                                                                                              1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                I did not say buying precooked shrimp was what sent him packing, I said it was 'enough' to send him home. I think it was the combination of the shrimp and the enchilada/burrito that sent him home instead of Ty-Lor and his hush puppie. (his name is enough for me to send him packing ; ).

                                                                                                                Making enchiladas at home an in a cooking competition are quite different. If I were at home and only had flour tortillas, I'd make burritos. I think Beverly got a pass because she said it was fusion and it tasted good. I bet if the flour enchiladas tasted really good he would not have been sent home first.

                                                                                                                Who is Kevin?

                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                  Kevin/Keith - I once knew brothers who were Kevin and Keith, can't keep them straight to this day. My bad :)

                                                                                                                2. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                  I think the point was not only that it was the wrong tortilla, but that it was the wrong tortilla for a reason: the sauce made it dissolve into a soggy mess. As a reminder: we don't hear all the comments at judges' table -- we hear a tiny selection of comments that are chosen to make the decision seem closer than it is (by choosing the most critical comments about a better dish and leaving out some critical comments about the worst dish). There may have been a lot more wrong with Keith's dish than the "wrong tortilla"!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                    Extended Judges Table discussion:

                                                                                                                    http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/seaso...

                                                                                                                    Definitely seems that flavor was an issue with the enchiladas, as well as the use of flour tortillas and how mushy they get.

                                                                                                                  2. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                    I've lived and eaten all over the country and have never been in a Mexican restaurant that didn't offer some form of enchilada that didn't come in a flour tortilla -- usually some variation of the ubiquitous "Enchiladas Suizas" -- that abomination of Chicken, Swiss Cheese, White Sauce and Flour Tortilla my wife loves so much. I'm not saying it's right or even good, but it exists and it's not uncommon and for the judges to make such a big deal of it, like they'd never heard of this before, is just nonsense.

                                                                                                                    Further evidence: the Ultimate deliciousness of authentic Mexican food, the Taco Bell Enchirito, is made with a flour tortilla. 'Nuff said.

                                                                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                      I've eaten Enchiladas Suizas -- it can be very good when made authentically (i.e. without white sauce (should be crema) and flour tortillas!). That's not Mexican food (or Mexican restaurants), that's "Mexican" food.

                                                                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                        Excuse me, but Taco Bell is NOT Mexican food by any stretch of the imagination.

                                                                                                                        No one has mentioned the fact that both Tom and Hugh both said at JT that they should not have used store bought tortillas in the first place. Tom said that they just didn't taste good. So one of the biggest errors the team made was buying instead of making the tortillas.

                                                                                                                        1. re: araknd

                                                                                                                          I'm pretty sure acgold was joking about the Taco Bell part.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                            but i have to say .... i did LOVE enchirritos.

                                                                                                                            But, to our point - even Taco Bell calls an enchilada made with a flour tortilla a burrito!

                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                              Thanks for getting the joke, Ruth.

                                                                                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                I thought it was funny, too. :-)

                                                                                                                        2. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                          I think Beverly gets an easy pass because 1) she must have made a dish that didn't suck and 2) it was clearly a fusion dish. She didn't attempt to make something authentic. Instead, she took the cuisine she knew best and put a spin on what the challenge was. Quite smart, in my opinion.

                                                                                                                          Keith and Lindsey (even more so) seemed to have set out to make authentic dishes. When they apparently didn't do a good job at it, they got called out.

                                                                                                                          1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                            Just read through Hugh's blog http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/seaso.... Beverly was on the Green team that won, so that's how her version of fusion got through without comment (on screen at least).

                                                                                                                            1. re: araknd

                                                                                                                              Yeah, I kind of thought she was on the other team.

                                                                                                                              1. re: araknd

                                                                                                                                araknd... do you like spiders?

                                                                                                                                1. re: kubasd23

                                                                                                                                  LOL. I don't mind the eight legged critters, but that's not a subject for this forum as I'm into cars with two seats and drop tops.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: araknd

                                                                                                                                    gotcha.. I used to have one.... I do like my spyders... especially when they're green.... and deep-fried and crispy :)

                                                                                                                            2. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                              The shrimp were not served because the person he bought them for was smart enough not to serve them. He made a serious error that cost another contestant dearly. It was certainly a major part of the decision to send Keith home - did you see Hugh Acheson's reaction to hearing that someone had bought pre-cooked shrimp at a Top Chef contest? Do you really think that, that reaction had no impact on judging because the shrimp was never served?

                                                                                                                              I think that the comments here about Keith's Flour/Corn tortilla mistake versus Beverly's "getting away" with her fusion dish reflect an understanding, or rather, a misunderstanding of what authentic means, often seen on this site. I've argued pervasively here, that the term authentic is a meaningful descriptor in terms of helping to understand what makes specialty cuisines special. It is wrong to think that any chef with a certain amount of experience can cook authentic dishes from a culture and cuisine he/she did not grow up with, simply by reading a book or being exposed to some examples. It takes time and energy, and a real desire to learn - working with real experts, to really get into the soul of a cuisine, before you can understand it well enough to make authentic food. Keith had clearly not done so with Mexican cuisine, but immediately offered to make enchiladas - as if he knew what they were all about. Both his sauce and his use of flour tortillas showed that he could not make authentic Mexican food.

                                                                                                                              Beverly did not try to show her knowledge of authentic Mexican cuisine by preparing a traditional dish. Instead, she demonstrated a deep understanding of Korean cuisine - deep enough to use as a base to improvise a Mexican fusion dish. Nothing at all authentic or traditional about her dish - so while it may be criticized for other reasons (taste, texture, plating, etc...) it cannot be criticized for being inauthentic.

                                                                                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                "He made a serious error that cost another contestant dearly. It was certainly a major part of the decision to send Keith home..."

                                                                                                                                They did not judge Keith on the shrimp, the shrimp were not even part of the equation of sending him home. Yes, it was brought up at JT but the judges didn't include that in their decision.

                                                                                                                                From Tom's blog on Bravo: "Lindsay was absolutely right not to cook her shrimp dish when she discovered that the shrimp was precooked, though the dish she did help cook landed her in the bottom four anyway, since the judges don't know what happens behind the scenes and judge purely on the dishes placed before us."

                                                                                                                                I understand everyone's point regarding the tortillas, if they had tasted good he would have gotten a pass, but they didn't & they were soggy & he got sent home. I get that. What I don't get is the "it has to be corn tortillas or it's not an enchilada" debate. Cooking is subjective around the world, just because you do it a certain way doesn't mean I'm wrong if I do it differently.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                  You're not "wrong". You're inauthentic. And that only matters if you're trying, or representing yourself to be authentic.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                    Unless you were there you cannot say definitively that the shrimp were not a factor in sending Keith home. Contestants have been sent home in team challenges for reasons other than just the quality of their dishes: poor leadership, poor front of the house management, poor decision making, etc. If Heather (or whoever) can be criticized for not telling Keith to use corn tortillas, then certainly Keith can be criticized for blowing part of the team's budget on unusable product and ruining his teammate's dish.

                                                                                                                                    No one ever gets sent home for these reasons if they make a good dish, but when their dish is in the bottom, these factors can come into play. At the very least, it would have influenced the judges against him subconsciously.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                      If you watch the Bravo extended judges table, they talked about the shrimp, in detail. I don't know if it was a factor but it seems like it was, in part.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                        Yeah, even if the thought process wasn't, 'we are sending him home because he bought cooked shrimp' it had to have played into their overall opinion of him and his dish. I can't imagine it didn't influence their position, even if it was just sub-consciously. Maybe Tom could separate the two since he's been doing this for several seasons, but based on Hugh's reaction and subsequent blog post I have to believe it definitely added to the perception of Keith's failure.

                                                                                                                                2. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                  I don't think they sent him home because flour tortillas aren't authentic -- it's because the flour got gummy in the sauce (which is why people usually use corn tortillas). If the flour tortillas had worked, I don't think the inauthenticity would have been a problem.

                                                                                                                              2. Am I the only one who thinks the judges are getting a bit crotchety with this " they should have made the corn tortillas" position? I mean, from what I understand it takes years to learn how to do it right, and they were tight for time as it was. And for 150 people? Next they're going to demand they grind their own flour to make biscuits. It would have been enough, surely, to source some fresh, good, local ones?

                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: kleine mocha

                                                                                                                                  From what I saw, just grilling the locally made ones made a difference for one team.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kleine mocha

                                                                                                                                    Not sure I agree. With respect to how it affects the food, it probably depends on the quality of the tortillas they bought. I have no training, but I can certainly make corn tortillas better than the crappy ones you'll find at most grocery stores. On the other hand, if the chefs had access to good corn tortillas, their dishes surely weren't harmed by them.

                                                                                                                                    Truth is though, serving anything that's premade in a cooking competition is just begging for criticism, whether it suits the dish or not. You're trying not just to serve a delicious meal, but also to prove what a great chef you are. If you hand the judges such an easy criticism, they're gonna make it. Keep in mind that a lot of the time, they're making decisions between dishes that are all more or less pretty decent.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: kleine mocha

                                                                                                                                      I think they were limited to the two stores each team went to. I'm pretty sure Bravo sets up their ability to storm a particular Whole Foods or local store vs. them running willy-nilly all over whatever city they're filming in.

                                                                                                                                      Like herding cats, they have to keep the cheftestants together for filming purposes. :-)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                        More importantly, they have to feature their sponsors -- the people who pay for exposure.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: kleine mocha

                                                                                                                                        Yes, what IS authentic? Hey-they didn't make their own chicharonnes either, did they? There are also lots of different kinds--and I would NEVER have used that puffy thing I spotted. And how can you expect a mole with like 23 ingredients half of which can only be found in Mexico? The tortillas found at Whole Foods are excellent quality and are made locally. They should have taken the shrimp, seasoned it well and made a pico de gallo out of it. Waste not, want not :-)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: soozer

                                                                                                                                          The 'chicharron' was actually a tapioca chip, made in the vaguely molecular style. I don't believe that it was premade/bought.
                                                                                                                                          http://www.bravotv.com/foodies/recipe...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                            You are right. It is a "chicharonn"--with definite quotes around it. NOT a real chicharron as there is no pork in it--on it yes. In it, no. It was soggy anyway.

                                                                                                                                            Looked like the puffy ones they sell hereabouts in Texas. I like the ones that crack your molars. And I could see how a puffy chicharonne with something on top could be soggy. My mistake.

                                                                                                                                      3. Keith actually got on my nerves by the end with his rant about being thrown under the bus. It's not unfair if you actually messed up! So stop blaming others for the fact that you're getting the boot.

                                                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: piccola

                                                                                                                                          I agree! What were they supposed to do? Lie and tell them that the fritters were the dish they planned all along? And blaming the other guy for not telling him not to buy the shrimp? Oh I made the decision, but it was his fault because he didn't tell me I was wrong -- way to take responsibility! Aren't they always telling us that "chef" means "chief" and to be a chef you have to be responsible?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: piccola

                                                                                                                                            He should have owned up to it but there were three other chefs right there when he talked about buying them and when he bought them. There's no way they didn't notice all those bags of shrimp being passed on. Why didn't anyone speak up? And, it wasn't until JT that the flour/corn thing was brought up. I'm on the fence about it since the other chefs don't know what you have in mind but someone could have told him it's not typically done w/ flour tortillas. I compare the lack of team work from them to the team work on the other side where the Mexican chef (sorry, I can't remember his name either) stepped in to take charge, taste everyone's dish to make sure the taste was right for Mexicans, etc. This other team just charged ahead, as an individual challenge which doesn't work in preparing a dinner.

                                                                                                                                            I do think Keith should have been let go--as Hugh said, precooked shrimp and bad enchiladas??? But, had the team pulled together, the outcome could have been different.

                                                                                                                                            Don't they usually pick a winner in the winning group? Why didn't they this time? I think the Mexican chef (sorry, I hate referring to him as that but don't know what else to call him and that's how he referred to himself) should have won.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                              Chuy is his name. And I just mentioned the winner issue above as you were typing. They talked about it in the skilletdoux blog, no winner's circle for some strange reason.

                                                                                                                                              P.S. When is the clock going to be reset on chowhound?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Joanie

                                                                                                                                                Thanks. I've been wondering how the CH boards work when I'm on a thread and commenting down the line and others are posting at the same time. I must be missing those posts.

                                                                                                                                                I didn't notice the time difference until you mentioned it. It has been long enough to make the change.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                I was wrong about the team work, at least in part. I just watched the Extended Judges Table and a couple of (unidentified) chefs stepped in and put green sauce on Keith's enchiladas, which I now want to call enchurritos, like Taco Bell does. And, apparently that sauce was the only good thing about his dish.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                  I agree there was a total lack of collaboration in that team. But at the same time, it's not throwing under the bus when you don't stop someone from making mistakes and then don't cover for them. It's not nice, but it's not unfair.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: piccola

                                                                                                                                                    Exactly. I wanted to like Keith, but his whining about being thrown under the bus and them not helping him was unseemly and unprofessional.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: piccola

                                                                                                                                                      I completely agree--a top chef contestant should know not to buy precooked shrimp or use flour tortillas in enchiladas that will sit around for hours on a steam. I don't think his teammates threw him under the bus, as much as they didn't stop him from from leaping full force into the bus.

                                                                                                                                                2. Still very pleased with the caliber of talent on the show this season. Was sorry to see Keith go found him to be an interesting chef.

                                                                                                                                                  On a side note thought Padma looked particularly fetching during the quick fire challenge.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Someone tell that Korean chick there's no crying in cooking.

                                                                                                                                                    And Hugh needs to take a sharp razor and slide it quickly from the top of his nose to his brow. That uni-brow look is so ... Vulcan.

                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                      I wonder if she will cry as much as Dave Martin did in Top Chef - Season 1?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                        I share your concern, Dave was a running fountain.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                          Ahem. Please make it cooking related, Phaedrus.

                                                                                                                                                          Dave was a chocolate fountain. :-)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                            Pardon me. A running chocolate fountain.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                        Better tears than sweat.

                                                                                                                                                        I don't like Hugh. He is too expressive with his forehead and eye brows and it annoys me. He's like the Joe Buck of Top Chef.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                          Thank-you for putting this into words- I was going with Rocky Raccoon. Maybe he will grow on me. I love the song....

                                                                                                                                                        2. I just read an interview with Keith Rhodes from Catch in Wilmington, NC.

                                                                                                                                                          http://www.ology.com/tv/top-chef-texa...

                                                                                                                                                          He STILL does not understand that he was in a competition. Sure it was a team competition in the episode where he was sent packiing, but ultimately it is up to him to stand behind his dish kor admit failure. He is still blaming two of the female contestants for not telling him to use corn instead of flour tortillas for his enchiladas.

                                                                                                                                                          14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                            I don't have a huge amount of experience making corn tortillas but I've made them several times and have found it to be a pretty simple process. It's not all that time consuming either. The one thing that might have been a deterrent to me is if they didn't have a tortilla press in the kitchen. They can be made without one but it's a more efficient operation with one and the tortillas come out much better. if I'm not mistaken the basic directions are on the boxes of masa so they could have given it a try without much loss of time and had some store bought as a back up if they didn't come right.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                              Keith might not have been the first to leave even if he had not made his own corn tortillas. Apparently there were plenty store-bought corn tortillas for him to have used. I realize others were criticized for not making their own tortillas, but I think the biggest problem with the enchiladas was that they were mushy. Then again, if the shrimp debacle is considered, store-bought corn tortillas might not have saved him.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                              Warning: Don't read that interview if you don't want the LCK spoiled.

                                                                                                                                                              I agree that he doesn't seem to recognize the competition aspect of it. Still, in a team challenge, I think it behooves all team members to try to win. I believe they should have said something for their own good, but they were not obligated to.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                I read the interview. He just didn't get it. He thinks his enchiladas tasted great and they didn't. The judges noted the green sauce tasted great and that he didn't make that.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                  I know it's a competition and it's possible that nobody said anything because they want him to fail, but Keith is a professional chef and I think there's a chance that the other chefs trusted that he knew what he was getting into when he chose flour tortillas for the enchiladas. I think it would be mean if a chef saw that someone was making an outright mistake and didn't tell them... 'hey man, you forgot to turn the oven on' type stuff. But to expect your professional peers (nevermind competitors) to second-guess your dish is ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Manybears

                                                                                                                                                                    Good point. It doesn't appear that he asked them if he was using the right tortillas, or even discussed his dish with them. Anyway, he acted like a big baby. As Tom is always telling them, he should take responsibility for what he put on the plate. Period.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Manybears

                                                                                                                                                                      That's a good point. They might not have said anything because they thought he was going to do his version of it. No one told Beverly not to put kimchee on her food. And, his teammates did put on the sauce which was the only thing that was good on his plate.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                        Agreed. On top of that, not everyone is comfortable telling one of their peers that they're doing something all wrong, even when the advice is well meant and they're on the same team. That type of thing can backfire. See people's reaction to Marcel last season.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                          It would have been different if he'd said something like: I'll make the enchiladas, but I've never made authentic Mexican ones before, so I could use some advice. We've seen things like that before in the team challenges, where the team decides (or is required, like the cake) to make a dish that no one feels comfortable making. In the end, it's doesn't matter: if your name is on the dish, and it's the worst dish, you go home.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                            Exactly--if he asked for input, it would have been another issue (although he did w/ the precooked shrimp). It seemed like the team was pretty disjoint and they said they didn't have a game plan so they probably had no idea what he was doing. No one is there to baby sit; they're worried about themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                              I am living proof that people can change their mind based on internet discussions. :-) Because based on this one, I have changed my opinion, at least insofar as what is shown on TV is representative of what really happened. I originally thought that they were bad teammates because they didn't say anything, but I'm now convinced that unless he asked for help, they were not only not obligated to offer it, but I can totally understand why a well-meaning teammate would not offer it.

                                                                                                                                                                              Further, though some here disagree with this point, I don't believe his use of flour tortillas was what did him in. It was making poor enchiladas with flour tortillas that did him in. He could have called it a burrito and he would still be going home. The name didn't really matter.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                                                                                I'm not so convinced the name didn't matter. It's weird but how you present and frame a food can have such a huge impact upon how it's received. One's expectations play a huge part in how food actually tastes to you. For example, there's the famous experiment where wine drinkers were given a white wine with red dye - they all experienced it as a red wine. That's not because they had poor palates, but because the appearance and name of a dish sets you up with certain expectations, and you're then looking for those expectations to be upheld, even at the expense of not fully experiencing what is actually in front of you.

                                                                                                                                                                                That said, the sogginess might have still been a problem (though as I said upthread, he could have just put the sauce in a ramekin and called it a dipping sauce).

                                                                                                                                                                                I'm just saying that you shouldn't underestimate the effect of calling a dish one thing while presenting something else. Ehh... it's a tough concept to explain and I've had a few glasses of port, so I'll leave it at that and see if this post still makes sense in the morning.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                But he did ask for input -- maybe not on that specific point, but IIRC, he was trying to get a dialog going back at the house (between shopping/prep, and the party). Seemed to me like he wanted to sound off his plan and see if they were all on board, and probably talk through everyone's plan, but no one was into it.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Manybears

                                                                                                                                                                            I agree with you `100%. I think I made a similar point somewhere up-thread. Even in a team competition, when chefs are making individual dishes contestants are not obligated to 'help' with others' dishes. It would be different if they refused to offer suggestions if asked however.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. I don't think anyone's given Max's latest yet:

                                                                                                                                                                          http://eater.com/archives/2011/11/17/...

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Joanie

                                                                                                                                                                            There's a sleeper oh here? Anybody remember when Ed Lee bears Jose Garcis? Watch and learn.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. That was beat Jose Garcis. Typing is not my forte.

                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: eclectick6n2

                                                                                                                                                                              Just so you know, there's an edit button that CH lets us use for about 45 minutes or so after your initial post gets put up, so "bears" could have been changed to "beat" with none of us the wiser. ;-)