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Top Chef Texas - Ep. #4 - 11/23/11 (Spoilers)

(Just a reminder - no reveals or spoilers about Last Chance Kitchen that will be online after tonight's episode. Thanks!)

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"There's no crying in cooking!" Are we going to need Tom Hanks as the coach of one of these teams?

Back at the house, Nyesha is seeing people be cutthroat when the losing team talks about how everyone acted at Judges Table.

Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger are the Two Hot Tamales - and they are the guest judges for the Quickfire! The cheftestants are to use chili peppers on the table - mild to incendiary on the Scoville scale. Create a dish highlighting one chili pepper. Each chili pepper has a money value assigned to it that they can win - Susan reminds the cheftestants that they have to try 15 of these dishes - so they need to be careful in how spicy they go!

Paul chooses the ghost pepper - 1,000,000 Scoville units! And Beverly chooses the Anaheim - the lowest on the Scoville scale. I know I'm a wimp when it comes to heat in food - I couldn't even *try* some of these dishes - but damn, they look good! Padma, Mary Sue and Susan tried them all - some were wimpy, and some took it on and made a strong statement.

Bottom group - Beverly, Richie, and Chuy. Susan didn't like the canned tomato overpowering any use of chili in Chuy's dish.

Top group - Heather (thai chili for $10,000), Grayson (habanero chili for $12,500), and Paul (ghost chilI for $20,000)

And the winner? It's Paul, who chose the hottest pepper. He gets that $20K plus immunity.

Now on to the Elimination Challenge - a Chili Cookoff. Heather seems confident about making chili, as she does it all the time. They pull pots from under their stations - each pot has a red, white, blue green, or black apron to form teams.

Red - Dakota, Whitney and Chris Jones
White - Grayson, Lindsay and Ty-Lor
Blue - Heather, Edward, and Paul
Green - Chris Crary, Sarah, and Chuy
Black - Nyesha, Beverly and Richie (and Nyesha hopes she doesn't have to carry her team!)

For this challenge, there is no time clock - they are cooking at the Top Chef house, and have to be ready to go by 7pm tomorrow at the Tejas Rodeo. Sarah's father was a bullrider, and she knows to make sure there's a lot of meat in the chili. Over 200 cowboys and rodeo regulars will be eating their chili, and THEY will be deciding who the winner is. It's a madhouse at the meat counter at Whole Foods, and Dakota gets dissed at the meat counter by the butchers despite being the first to ask for what she wanted. She has to switch from brisket to short ribs. Chris Crary is NOT happy with how Sarah is acting towards his team already.

Back at the house, Nyesha's team had a set plan as to who was going to get what...and they grab all the beer in the house! Chris Jones goes for the grill fireplace, and Grayson is trying to negotiate some space in the fireplace by offering up a sheet pan in exchange for space in the grilling fireplace. Everyone's got their space snagged throughout the outside and inside the house.

And Tom shows up at the house taking everyone by surprise - but it's his usual walk through the TC kitchen to see what everyone is doing.

The Green Team is making a chili con carne using beef chuck with a roasted corn salsa

The Red Team is doing a braised brisket short rib chili

The Black Team is doing a mole chili with cornbread - very different!

The Blue Team is doing a smoked brisket and short ribs chili with pickled peaches (and of course Sarah is second guessing herself when Tom asks about the peaches)

The White Team is doing a smoked brisket and short ribs chili (and they won't reveal their secret ingredient to Tom)

It's the middle of the night, and they're all beginning to get punchy - Edward opens a wine bottle by smacking the base of the bottle several times against a post outside, Nyesha jumps into the pool, Chris Jones has a headlamp and is looking for a cave in the inside kitchen, and Chuy is drinking lots of beer. Chris Crary said that Chuy tells about 20 stoires a day - and he's dubbed him The Most Interesting Man In The World. :-)

The Black Team ends around 3:00 a.m., but the White Team says they'll stay up all night. Some are napping outside, some are napping in the hallway. But regardless if they got any sleep, they're ALL yawning and sleepy.

They get to the Rodeo, get into their team's area, and they have 1 hour to prep for service and reheat the chili. Everyone is trying to be careful to not scorch their reheated chili. Edward happens to say out loud how he's reheating a small batch and the transfer it to a larger pot, and then Ty-Lor yells out "thanks for your hint, Edward!" They're all tasting their chili and adding whatever "secret ingredients" they have in their bag of tricks.

The cowboys and cowgirls all walk up and start tasting. Sarah is charming the guys being from Texas, Chris is charming the girls, and Chuy is telling everyone that their "chili was made with a lot of love, and a lot of beer in us and in the chili!"

The judges show up and all get Shiner Bock beer, and Padma ends up having to open Gail Simpson's, as Tom can't do it! They head over to the Green Team to try the first chili, and the judges seem to like it - it grows on Tom, Mary Sue likes the depth of flavor, but Gail says it was too thin - something was needed to soak it up - Mary Sue suggested tortilla or chips.

They head over to the Red Team - kids don't seem to like the "spicy stuff" but the judges like the flavor and heat and smokiness, but Mary Sue says the texture is stringy.

Then comes the Blue Team - others seem to love the pork rinds, the spiciness, and the flavor of the meat, and Gail LOVES the pickled peaches, but Tom's not wild about the chili.

Black Team is next - Susan likes the cornbread - unfortunately for them, it's not a cornbread challenge. Mary Sue said there isn't a focus on what they were going after in the chili, but Padma said it supposed to be a chili that reminded everyone of mole, and that it did.

The White Team is last - and they make a Three-Bean and Beef Chili with Poblano cornbread. Rut-roh - they used beans! One of the cowboys said "Number 5 is the worst!" Gail doesn't like the pickled vegetables in the chili, but Susan liked it. Mary Sue noted that each chili tasted different. Tom thinks the Black Team was one of the weaker ones. He also didn't like the shredded meat in the Red Team's chili. But Susan' liked the Red Team's flavor, whereas the White Team's flavor was flat.

However, it's still up to the diners to choose the winner. But everyone heads over to the rodeo first - including the cheftestants. They get a round of applause for their chili, and get to watch barrel racing, calf roping, and bucking steers. Beverly is crying wishing her husband was there to watch with her. Nyesha said she's used to hardcore chefs, and there's no crying in cooking, and you shouldn't let your emotions show because the other chefs then consider you weak.

Padma comes out on a horse to introduce the 2011 Tejas Rodeo Chili Cookoff. Chris Crary says it was like looking at Fabio on the cover of one of his romance novels....GAH. Chris. Back off!

And the winning team is? THE GREEN TEAM!

And the Black Team had the least favorite chili, and one of them will be going home. BUT...they have one last chance to prove they belong here, according to Padma. They have to transform their losing chili into a different winning dish - in 30 minutes. Beverly, Nyesha and Richie all race back to the kitchen to fix it - each on their OWN. Everyone is doing their own fix to their losing chili.

Beverly made a seared tuna with habanero creamed corn (although she called it a habanero-pineapple salsa)

Nyesha made a Frito-crusted black tiger shrimp with a salsa of roasted corn and reduction of mole sauce

Richie made Frito-crusted pork tenderloin with a potato hash and a ricotta chili puree

Susan was disappointed in Richie's dish, but Padma said he did a lot in 30 minutes. Gail said she wanted more sauce on Nyesha's dish. Beverly used the mole chili in a sauce in the most imaginative way, per Susan and Mary Sue.

The in-between shows some Judges Table sillies.

Back at Judges Table, the three members of the Black Team are standing there. Beverly's was the winning dish, so she is safe. So it's Richie and Nyesha on the chopping block. And Padma tells Richie to PYKAG. Chris Jones will be sad, and he is. Meanwhile, Richie has NO idea that LCK is coming up!

Next week - they head to Dallas - and it shows Chris Crary saying "Wow - John Besh is handsome man!" when they are stopped in a field in the middle of Texas. Sheesh, Chris - really? Please tone it down!
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OK - off to watch LCK...Richie heads back to the cast house, and he goes up to pack - and finds his letter from Tom. He heads to the TC kitchen and sees he's up against Keith. The challenge is to make something new and exciting from Thanksgiving leftovers, using at least three of the ingredients provided. Keith doesn't cook with leftovers at home; Richie oversalts his dish and tries to compensate. WAY different dishes!

And Final Edit - Thank GOD I finally joined the real world in the 21st century and got a DVR so I can back up the show and catch details I missed first time around. :-) Granted, that also means the final post isn't until after 11pm, but at least it has more detail.

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  1. I was happy to see Paul take the risk and win the quick fire. For some reason I have trouble putting my finger on, I like him. He's not cocky, he's quiet, but he's confident, and out to show people that he CAN cook his ass off. :) I would have rather seen Beverly go home.... her crying is annoying, and her dish at the quick fire was.... severely underwhelming. Richie seemed kinda like a brotherly character, and you could tell he really loves what he does, and personally invests himself in his food.

    1. Oh, and I thought it was hilarious when Mary Sue winked at Chris C. when he mentioned that his quick fire dish was vegetarian!!

      1. great detail catching LW!

        i love the Two Hot Tamales. Cool that Paul took the risk with those ghosts! i have a small jarful right now in my fridge - bought them months ago, used a little of one once, then put the rest in vinegar to save. now i'm thinking i want to make something with them....

        Padma on a horse... what's next, wet t-shirt contest?

        Chris seems to be attracted to anything that walks. He thinks Sarah's annoying but he bugs me way more.

        So... they had the 3 chefs on the black team cook off against each other because they wouldn't have been able to tell which on the losing team should go home, right? then why have these team contests every time?

        and yeah... crying girl needs to stop with the waterworks!

        buh-bye Vato....

        5 Replies
        1. re: mariacarmen

          I was really annoyed with Chris when he complained about Sarah being bitchy as the checkstand. She clearly said the items she had were for cornbread *if they had enough* to pay for them, and then when he was nasty about it, she reiterated and pushed the items even farther to one side. But somehow she was the one who was bitchy? And apparently they could have used the cornbread, since the only criticism the judges had was that it needed something to soak it up.

          Despite all the drooling over Padma, he's gay, right? Because honestly what straight man even knows what the cover of a romance with Fabio on it looks like, or if he did, would admit it and then compare a beautiful woman to Fabio?

          Whitney actually got a few minutes of screen time -- not much, but enough to remember that she's actually on this show. I wonder what her quickfire dish was? She was standing with the habanero group, so at least she's tougher than she looks.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Regarding Chris C – the thought crossed my mind. Or bisexual. Or polysexual. Or just aware of sexuality in all sorts of iconic stuff. It *was* interesting that he used the Fabio comparison.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Didn't he also remark about how handsome John Besh was in the preview for the next episode?

              1. re: JAB

                Yet at the same time...

                I think there are women who admire this or that attribute of men, physical or not; do the same with other women, including physical beauty; yet look to have sex only with men.

                Similarly I think there are men who do the same, who can admire physical desirability of other men, but who might normally have sex only with women.

                Speaking in a general sense (and not necessarily of Chris C) I think such men are more confident in their persona and do not feel threatened by others - of whichever sex - who admire them in turn. They're the sort who wouldn't beat up some gay guy who tried to hit on them but who would instead take it as a compliment. :-)

                There are also many gay guys who are quite capable of admiring physical beauty in women, but who would have no wish to bed them.

                Eh, this is getting off-topic.

                1. re: huiray

                  but i totally agree with you. Chris C. might be gay, or bi, but being able to appreciate beauty in a man, and say it out loud, on national t.v. , no less, is not a clear sign that he is, to me.

          2. Random thoughts:
            I'm suddenly inspired to make chili.

            Certainly a lot of bromance between the Moto guys. Never seen a man crush like that before on TC, have we?

            Beverly, stop crying. Please.

            Loved the interlude when the judges acknowledged that they were assholes for making those guys cook after they'd been up for 24 hours.

            Kudos to the guy who cooked with the ghost pepper - and won!

            2 Replies
            1. re: chicgail

              Re: the Moto guys – Y'know, I think it would be nice if it turned out that there was something deeper. ;-)
              Re: Beverly – yes, please try to exercise a little more control.
              Re: A**holes – It was Simmons who said that. I enjoyed the Tamales lolling at it and rolled my eyes at Colicchio's shocked, I tell ya, *shocked* stare and his "G_d bless".

              I'll pass on the chili.
              Paul deserved the QF win.

              1. re: huiray

                Re: A**holes – It was Simmons who said that.
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                at the end of the clip, Tom also said "We ARE a**holes."

            2. I cringe every time I see the name "Ty-Lör". I'm guessing it wasn't his own doing, but if it was - double cringe.

              Is it me or does Grayson just seem like she's is totally unsure of herself and intimidated? I guess its better than feeling overconfident. Maybe. Kudos on the pepper, BTW.

              Chris Jones' repeated "glass on glass" crime is making it hard for me to take him seriously. No need for cheap sunglasses on your head - we know they aren't prescription lenses and you ARE indoors - at the same time you're wearing eye glasses. If this continues the fashion police will be a knockin'.

              Do you get the feeling that Chuy Valencia has a total advantage in damn near every one of these Texas themed challenges? For someone who knows the cuisine and is so sure of himself, he sure doesn't do very well.

              Paul is the silent storm. Took the ghost pepper and worked it. You just KNEW the higher Scoville takers were going to win this.

              I liked Richie. His mohawk? Not so much.

              Still digging the cast. Top to bottom, very talented.