Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Nov 30, 2011 07:34 PM

Top Chef Texas - Ep. #5 - 11/30/11 (Spoilers)

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


Padma shows up at the end of last week's episode to tell them to sleep well - everyone is hitting the road and heading to Dallas. They get up and pack themselves into the Toyota Siennas and head out! Chuy takes Cute Chris in his car, so Ugly Chris has to go into another car. :-) Edward tells his car that he's been married for just one year, and Ty-Lor's in a relationship.

All of a sudden - they come up to the TX Highway Patrol closing off their "highway" (a.k.a. NOT-Highway) and they're required to stop. He asks them to all pull into the nearby field, and Padma's there with John Besh. (Chris Crary did NOT talk about Padma in her shorts; he liked Besh's teeth! LOL)

The Quickfire is about being resourceful and inventive. They pop the Sienna trunks and see survival kits - they have to make a tasty meal in 30 minutes for $5,000 and immunity.

Canned fruit,garbanzo beans, chocolate, peas, sardines, canned meat, chipotle, green chilies in a can, canned chicken, and other packaged dried foods with no cutting boards or can openers to use. The burners are not heating as well as the should because the wind is very strong. Edward pulls his back out, and Lindsay's father used to eat Vienna sausages out of the can, which grossed her out. Edward also noticed that everyone seems to be making "mess food', and he won't do that.

Ty-Lor's dish of Black Pepper Chicken Stew with garbanzo beans with plain rice on the side looked pretty good - and Padma said the rice was pretty good. Edward's Thai Peanut Soup with Salmon, Tofu and Hominy with Nori-also looked very good, as did Paul's Pork and Beans with Coffee & Basmati Rice.

The bottom group? Whitney, Dakota, and Chris Crary
The Top group? Edward, Lindsay, and Chuy

The Quickfire Winner is Lindsay! Wow - Edward's ticked off - said that Lindsay's dish looked as dry as the Texas farmland they were standing on. I think so too. :-)

The Elim Challenge is a Progressive Dinner in Highland Park neighborhood of Dallas. Ty-Lor said he knows the expectations of the guests, cooking for Bill Gates, rock and movie stars.

Appetizers, Entree, and Dessert are the three courses. The challenge is an individual challenge. Meaning they can't blame their crappy dish on someone else!

Apps = Chris Jones, Paul, Whitney, Lindsay, & Sarah
Entree = Beverly, Chuy, Heather, Nyesha, and Ty-Lor
Dessert = Dakota, Grayson, Chris Crary, and Edward (And Dakota's ticked off)

They head to the hotel to check out their suite and then head to the clients' home. They have 15 minutes to plan the menu. The App house wife is a lifestyle planner who has written books about it. She's also picky about food - no bell peppers, or cilantro. Nothing that would make the diners' breath smell, or get stuck in their teeth.

The Entree house wife doesn't like cilantro or raspberries. The guy likes spicy food, she doesn't - and while he loves beef, she doesn't eat meat at all.

The Dessert house wants something that is worth every calorie. The guy wants his inner fat kid to cry - but he had a giant Gummy Bear for a wedding cake? REALLY?

They go shopping, and the next day, head over to their respective houses to start cooking. Sarah's going Italian with her apps. Chris Jones is going to make something that looks like a cigar...Paul said it's ballsy to not try and impress the lady of the house.

In the Entree house begins to get set up. Beverly starts to take over the house, taking extra pots, extra colanders, moving someone else's blanching water.

Dessert house, Chris is going cupcakes, while Edward is going more elegant.

The judges arrive at the app house - John Besh, Gail Simmons, Padma and Tom Colicchio.

Chris Jones - Roasted Chicken Cigar with Sweet Corn, Collard Greens and Cumin Ash
Sarah - Grilled Roman-Style Artichoke with Date Purée
Lindsay - Roasted and Raw Beet Salad with Chickpeas and Greek Vinaigrette
Whitney - Seared Scallop over Sweet Corn Purée and a Succotash of Zucchini
Paul - Fried Brussels Sprouts with Grilled Prosciutto

The TX people talked about the # of people at their wedding - Gail jokes by saying "700?" and someone replies "actually, 800." The hostess said "We had 1200!" Gail looked beyond astonished.

The cigar dish didn't go over that well, nor did the scallop dish, but Sarah's artichoke dish was liked.

They head over to the Entree house. Ty-Lor's not hapy with his presentation. All dishes are served family style.

Heather - Garlic & Rosemary Griled Lamb Chops with Garbanzo Beans and Mint Chimichurri
Chuy - Sockeye Salmon Fillet stuffed with Goat Cheese and Avocado Relish
Beverly - Pan-Seared Diver Scallops with Creamy Polenta and XO Sauce
Ty-Lor - Spice-Rubbed Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Summer Slaw
Nyesha -Roasted Filet of Beef with Vegetable Mélange with Red Wine Sauce

Beverly's scallops were well received, but Heather's lamb chops and Ty-Lor's pork tenderloin weren't liked.

Over to the Dessert House - Gail hopes for ice cream! LOL She'll get it from Chris and at least one other.

Dakota - Warm Banana Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Bread Pudding,Roasted Banana Mousse and Banana Date Milkshake
Chis C - Strawberry Cupcake with Banana Custard and Chocolate Icing
Edward - Cardamom Panna Cotta, Cataloupe Consommé and Raspberries Stuffed with Basil Pudding
Grayson - Chocolate Sponge Cake with Caramelized Bananas and Semifreddo

Grayson's dish was "too rich" for some, but Tom said he didn't think it was possible to be too rich in Dallas,Texas. :-) Edward's dish was "jiggly" and looked like a little Elmo, but tasted fancier than it looked. One liked Chris C's cupcake, but Tom C. said his mother said if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. OUCH! Finally, Dakota's brad pudding was *very* well received.

In the in-between, Chuy's dad stories were relayed - he made all the furniture in their house, among other stories told by Chuy. Chuy's dad is superman - he can do anything!

Padma comes out asking to see Sarah, Grayson, Paul and Dakota - they're the top group! The winner is Paul with his Fried Brussels Sprouts & Grilled Prosciutto! He then goes back to the outside Stew Room to tell Chris Jones, Chris Crary, Ty-Lor and Chuy that the judges want to see them. They are the least favorite.

Chris Crary's cupcake - Tom skewers his dessert - the dish was just a mess. John Besh said take what they tell you and work with it - don't caved in to their every whim. Ty-Lor's pork tenderloin dish was not plated well, nor was there any finesse in the cooking, and Chuy's salmon dish with cheese was overcooked just so the cheese would melt. Chris Jones cigar app was called a gimmick by John Besh and was hard to eat.

They're back in front of the judges, and Tom tells them that thinking through their respective dishes could have corrected a lot of the mistakes they each made. Who's going to head to Last Chance Kitchen? OMG, it's Chuy! OMG, OMG OMG. I had hoped to see him go through so much further. Let's see how he does in LCK against Keith! The rest of the cheftestants are all shocked.


Off to LCK online! It's Chuy vs. Keith. They head to Bolner's Meat Market to choose their protein. The butcher cuts up a Prime forequarter for them into one ribrack for each of them and they head back. Tom tells them what they have to do: they have to butcher five bone-in Ribeyes and perfectly cook one Medium Rare steak. Chuy said having Tom tell them what he wants is like having the Puff Daddy of steak tell them. :-) They have 45 minutes to butcher, cook and rest and serve the meat and he gives them a visual as to how the ribeye should look after butchering. Interesting upside-down cast iron cooking method that Keith uses! And I thought the winner would be who it was.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. When they were first talking about their dishes, I thought that Chris Jones' dish looked the least... well, refined, and I could not picture those "Real Housewives of Dallas" type women eating something like that delicately. I thought it looked even odder when the "cumin ash" was described. I was sad to see Chuy kicked off, but when they were talking about his dish with him, the fact that the salmon had to be over cooked (pretty much) in order for the cheese to get melted sounded a death knoll in my ears. Chris Crary's cupcake did look like a huge mess, and my first thought was "mint chocolate chip ice cream.... with strawberries and a cupcake???" I have to say, I really like Paul and Lindsay, and was very happy to see Paul win this elimination challenge and Lindsay win the quick fire.

    1. Those people that hosted the elimination challenge were scary. John Besh and Tom C. were noticeably annoyed with the idiotic comments.

      I think the talent pool is pretty shallow this season.

      47 Replies
      1. re: Worldwide Diner

        "I think the talent pool is pretty shallow this season."

        Really? I think the talent pool is extremely deep this year. Nobody has yet separated themselves from the pack like the Voltaggios or Blais, but many of them seem very accomplished.

        1. re: LurkerDan

          Because no one stood out, I think they pretty much all suck. The winner of the quickfire was a saltine sandwich with viennese sausage? I think people made better dishes with crap from a vending machine. Anyway, time will tell.

          1. re: Worldwide Diner

            It's still too early for anyone to really stand out, IMO. To me it looks like a very talented cast, all of whom are hanging back at the moment because none of them wants to stand out like a sore thumb. If you stand out like a sore thumb at this point, you're more apt to have a target on your back down the line.

            1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

              I completely disagree that it's too early for at least one or two to stand out. As LurkerDan said, the Voltaggios, Richard Blais, Kevin Gillespie, and Jen Carroll all stood out right out of the gate in their respective seasons.

              This isn't TC5, by any means, as it relates to talent, but it's also nowhere near TC6.

        2. re: Worldwide Diner

          My all time favorite season is the Las Vegas season where Michael Voltaggio won. That season was full of undeniably high talent with Michael and Bryan Voltaggio, Jen Corral(?), Kevin Gillespie, and even Ashley and Mike. It was really exciting to watch them cook and to see what they would come up with. Honestly, I don't get that same excitement watching this season's chefs. Oh well.

          1. re: Worldwide Diner

            As a Galvestonian I was embarrassed for my state. In fact, the entire season has been mostly a cliched embarrassment. I can't imagine how anyone can spend more than a few minutes in Highland Park (or most of Dallas) without getting sick to their stomachs. I'm not sure how much more of this I can watch. Very disappointing so far.

            1. re: gulfcoastpirate

              Those people were pretty obnoxious but they had the other walk of life with the girl's 15th b-day party. I don't think you have to be embarrassed for all of Texas.

              With that said, I didn't like any of those women.

              Padma and Gail were sure popping out of their dresses. I think there was a gratuitous closeup shot of P in her shorts too. And there are some large women cooking this season.

              I think Chris's cigar should have gotten the boot, it was ugly and completely against the rules.

              Did someone remark on Dakota being straight edge already? Funny to see a chef with those X's, not a job that lends itself to no drinking and drugs.

              1. re: Joanie

                Chris' cigar was no surprise to me. The restaurant he works at, Moto, is known for it's "whimsical" molecular gastronomy. The kitchen often creates kind of odd, out-of-the-box dishes that are not necessarily great food, but because someone figured out how to do it. That being said, Michelin just gave it a star, so I guess it can't be all weird.

                1. re: chicgail

                  Actually, doesn't Moto have something similar on their menu?

                  ETA: OK, I went to refresh my memory and yes, they have what is called "PHILLY MONTE CRISTO & cuban cigars" on their menu: . Here's the image of the cigar from their 'Gallery':

                  1. re: huiray

                    They sure do. A Cuban sandwich in the form of a cigar. Now I'm a cigar guy so the though doesn't gross me out but his dish did. As soon as he started talking about it I was like, hey that's a take off something he does at Moto.

                2. re: Joanie

                  Why do you consider the cigar against the rules? Of all the food in this episode, including all the vile Quickfire dishes, the 'cigar' is the last thing I would have eaten, but I'm not aware of any rules broken by serving it.

                  1. re: John E.

                    I meant the "rules" of the lady asking for appetizers that were easy to eat, leaving nothing stuck in the teeth, etc. It seemed like the last combination of stuff that she'd want.

                    1. re: John E.

                      To add on to what Joanie explained, Gail Simmons talks about it not fitting the criteria they asked for: Hugh Acheson touches on the same meme - that it was the wrong thing (Moto stuff) for those folks: Tom Colicchio on his blog (and the show?), and John Besh on the show said that it was no more than a 'gimmick'.

                      1. re: huiray

                        While I have not read the blogs I understood 'rules' to mean the rules of the challenge such as the number of ingredients, time limit, etc. Not the suggested likes and dislikes of the hosts. I too thought Feed Corn Chris should have gotten the boot first, Ty Lor second and Chuy third but since overcooked fish is one of the biggest mistakes,, well, we all saw what happened.

                    2. re: Joanie

                      "I think Chris's cigar should have gotten the boot, it was ugly and completely against the rules."
                      Not sure why it would be against the rules.

                      Anyway, I think the right dish got the boot. Sure the cigar was visually unappealing and problematic to eat with ones hands. But it was ambitious and showed some technical skill. And it was not flawed in quite so fundamental a way as the salmon and goat cheese roulade, which was neither ambitious or indicative of a skilled chef. A dish concept that forces you to cook one or both components of a dish badly is a perfectly good reason to get sent home.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        Overcooked fish gets you sent home 9 times out of 10

                        But that cigar was repulsive ....

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          Ever eat grape leaves?

                          Aside from the questionable addition of 'ash,' the presentation can be pretty similar.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            Re: the grape leaves (from the Google search):
                            Hmm, the link doesn't work as posted. I think you meant this one? (removing all the other stuff in the url generated from the Google search):

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              If Ugly Chris had made a 'cigar' similar in size as Greek dolmades and actually used grape leaves his dish might have worked. I think the size, ash, and stringiness of his greens is what was the major problem. However, even if he had prepared them in that manner I still don't think the Dallas housewives would have liked them. Tom suggested thinkong about that idea and then doing something else.

                          2. re: cowboyardee

                            I was thinking it was a good thing Scott Conant wasn't there for the fish/cheese thing. Both salmon and goat cheese are such strong flavors that I can't imagine how that would be even if the fish were cooked well.

                            1. re: chowser

                              He said he was attempting a play on lox and cream cheese. Not that that explains or justifies anything, it just demonstrates what his thinking was.

                            2. re: cowboyardee

                              @cowboyardee: A "cigar" is a current menu item at Moto – see

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                I just would take off points because it is something they do at Moto. Different ingredients but the same concept.

                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                  I think most of these chefs do something they've done before. Why not if it works?

                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      I have a lot of respect for guys like Richard Blais who comes up with all of his competition dishes during the competition and doesn't rely on things he's made at his restaurants (at least that's what he's claimed).

                                      That said, I bet most of the dishes offered up in any given elimination challenge, especially a fairly open ended one like this, are things that people have made before in their restaurant (or restaurants they've worked in), or at least closely based on said restaurant dishes. It would be impossible for the judges to sort out what is a new concept and what's been tried out before.

                                      Since he is chef de cuisine at Moto, it's hard to guess whether the cigar dish was his own concept originally or not. I'd certainly agree that it's lame to go repeatedly making other people's dishes in competition a la Ilan from season 2.

                                  1. re: Joanie

                                    What does the X mean? I confess to being way behind the times.

                                    1. re: DGresh

                                      In some circles it's a symbol that one refrains from drinking, drugs, and tobacco. It can also sometimes be extended to exclude promiscuous sex, sex in general, meat, and/or animal products depending on the particular sect of 'straight edge' mindset.

                                      It also ostensibly means that one listens to punk music.

                                      It also sometimes means that all of these things just sounded really awesome to you when you were 18 and could finally get a tattoo.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        Doesn't one also get marked with an "X" when they're denied from entering into a club because they are underaged or for whatever reason?

                                        1. re: yummfood

                                          Yes, that's where the symbolism comes from.

                                          1. re: VintageMolly

                                            huh, good to know! I knew it meant straightedge, but i thought it was related more to X-ing out those things they did not partake in. Like X = no.

                                  2. re: gulfcoastpirate

                                    Pirate, something you should probably understand is that TV producers from LA and NYC do NOT go to Texas looking for nuance...and if they find it, they will kill it, in favor of everything being big and having a twang.

                                    Big Beef Steaks and Working Class music can be great things, but, for TV producers, it must be big, Big, BIG if you are in Texas.

                                    The only other state that probably compares is Alaska, where everything must be wild and rustic. (God forbid they ever run into a doctor in either state.)

                                    1. re: DougRisk

                                      There are plenty of people in Texas with as much money as in Highland Park and they wouldn't last 2 seconds with any of those bimbos. I may be prejudiced but in my travels I think I've seen enough to say that Texas females in all income distributions are as good as it gets anywhere. It was just a shame that producers chose that type of caricature to put on display. I did appreciate some of the smirking from Besh and Tom. Maybe future shows will be better.

                                      Maybe I'm just a little giddy over that 37 - 7 whupping that UH put on the Highland Parkers from SMU a couple of weeks ago.

                                      1. re: gulfcoastpirate

                                        "It was just a shame that producers chose that type of caricature to put on display."

                                        That was the point I was trying to make.

                                        1. re: DougRisk

                                          I sense the synergistic hand of Andy Cohen. (Hey, that didn't come out right!) Real Housewives of Dallas?

                                        2. re: gulfcoastpirate

                                          Yeah, Tom's expression when they were raving about the cupcake dish was priceless and his, "My mom said if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all so I'm not saying anything at all" was the best line after all the raving.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            Tom eyerolled one of them during the appetizers. With a great big smirk on his face.

                                            1. re: jeanmarieok

                                              I've met women - and men - like the ones on the show. Those woman may have had too much "work" done, make up, and money - and they were easily portrayed as caricatures.

                                              On another level, though all that smirking and eye-rolling by Besh and Collichio was pretty patronizing and self-righteous in its own right.

                                    2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                      "I think the talent pool is pretty shallow this season."

                                      The cheftestants this season have serious cred, more than half of them are working in high level positions in places that are nominated for james beard awards etc.

                                      My money is still on paul, that guy is a beast and is the exec at a restaurant that receives tons of nationwide press

                                      1. re: twyst

                                        I agree with Paul being in the top running. And, unlike other chefs we've seen, he's not a cocky, arrogant a@@! haha

                                        1. re: kubasd23

                                          I am now liking Paul even more after seeing the video on of him with his knives.

                                          Go paul!
                                          (this will make sense to anyone who braves the knife-centric postings over on the cookware board)

                                      2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                        Ehh - it's not so much that the talent pool is shallow, IMO. The talent is actually pretty deep, and almost everyone would seem to have a chance to win. Look at what people are going home for (salmon roulade with overcooked salmon, interesting but too sweet chili, using flour rather than masa tortillas) and compare that to early exits from previous seasons where the food was often inedible. I think that most of the chefs this season are talented and capable, whereas most other seasons have had some real duds.

                                        What this season doesn't have is a Voltaggio-style rock star who seems able to really stun the judges with his or her brilliance. The top guys this season don't seem that much better than the bottom guys (so far). All of the seasons have had someone or even a handful of people who really stood out with their obvious talent. This season - not so much.

                                        Taking the analysis a step further - every season since season 4 has had someone who embraced or at least integrated elements of modernist cooking and MG into their cooking and done very well -Richard Blais, Stefan, the Voltaggio bros, Angelo (and even season 3's Hung used sous vide quite a bit, which was a lot less familiar to the public at the time). This season's offerings in technical wizardry seem a little weak, as the Moto boys don't seem to have the talent of previous technical virtuosos in terms of making fantastical and elaborate dishes appealing to the judges and audience. It's really this lack of guys at the top pulling off truly impressive (and appealing) feats of culinary engineering that is making this season look a little weak and flat by comparison.

                                        But as you said, time will tell. We're only 3 challenges in.

                                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                            I think there is talent here. But, this season so far has been a real snooze fest. Who cares - the sweet sixteen, the plastic housewives with no taste in food. The talent is not being showcased and the challenges are boring.

                                            1. re: wincountrygirl

                                              I do agree with this, I think there's a lot of talent here but it hasn't been allowed to shine. And the challenges have been snoozers.

                                          2. i thought chicago chris was gone for sure, the cigar seemed like a train wreak and if paul won for *listening* to the clients it seemed to me like chris should have lost for ignoring their wishes. he also pulled the classic city slicker blunder, trying to pick dry field/feed corn, during the quickfire, thinking it would in any way resemble fresh sweet corn. hell, that's a very old joke that the country mice pull on the city mice, right up there with "do you want to pick dingleberries?" way to walk right into that one on your own, chris.

                                            limited palates on those guests today, huh? tom and john besh looked thoroughly bored by the food during the dinner party in this episode and kept exchanging smirks while the others were commenting.

                                            i think chuy caught a bad bounce, he may have had a much better tasting dish with better ingredients or a cooler oven-- but the thought process/conception of his dish was sound. a bit baffling-- maybe it was really really bad, but i'm shaking my head-- both chrises had fails on conception and execution, and ty's food was boring. bah-dunt-dah-- boring, get it? ;-P dh, who really wants to be annoyed by top chef but i think secretly likes it, commented that ty-lor should have to wear arm-nets to cook! LOL

                                            i thought the older, blonde lady guest who wasn't one of the trophy wives, the one with henna on her hands, was funny! the couple of comments on camera, like the one about someone's food reminding her of what her parents may have served in the 1950's-- LOL.

                                            yeah, i think chuy should have stayed and they should have sent one of the chrises packing. lame.

                                            42 Replies
                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                              I didn't get the running into the field for corn either. You could *tell* by the look of the brown stalks it wouldn't be usable for human consumption! And LOL on "picking dingleberries." :-D I also meant to comment re: Tom's smirk at one of the dinner party guests liking something that was obviously not good - can't recall the dish, however.

                                              I agree that Chuy shouldn't have gone - although the idea of salmon with cheese doesn't entice me. I really thought it would be either Chris.

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                Reading Tom and Gail's blog, it sounded like it wasn't much of a debate about sending Chuy home.

                                                I think Tom's smirk was at Chris's dessert, after the guy said it was the best cupcake he'd ever eaten and they asked Tom for his opinion of the dessert, and he said "if you can't say anything nice..."

                                                I couldn't believe the woman who commented on the panna cotta being jiggly and unappealing. it's a freaking panna cotta!!!

                                                1. re: LurkerDan

                                                  Oops, this is what I said above. Yeah, I had to laugh at the woman who complained about panna cotta being jiggly and unappealing. Could they at least pick people who have a clue? That 15 year old girl blew the housewives and househusbands away w/ her comments.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    BINGO on the 15yo girl knowing more about food than these idiots!

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Exactly!! Those women (AND their husbands) were so ignorant and childlike in their food critiques and restrictions! That 15 yo girl knew her stuff, and was able to provide real, accurate criticism.

                                                      1. re: kubasd23

                                                        I agree-- I was really impressed with the young lady's insightful comments about the food.

                                                    2. re: chowser

                                                      "Could they at least pick people who have a clue?"

                                                      No kidding. The three couples were a disaster. Little knowledge about food and too many "trendy" food restrictions.

                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                        "The three couples were a disaster. Little knowledge about food and too many "trendy" food restrictions."

                                                        I am pretty sure, this is precisely why they were picked for the show!

                                                    3. re: LurkerDan

                                                      I thought it was pretty funny that, with the exception of the cigar, there was a rave (from the Dallas homeowners) for almost all the dishes that the judges had some kind of problem with; the beet salad, the salmon, the cupcake, and even the steak.

                                                    4. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Re: running to the corn field: actually, I thought it was worth at least running to check, although granted I think he should have been able to tell when he saw the corn itself, and before cooking it, that it was feed corn, if that was the case, and also granted, though I live in a rural area I am a city girl at heart. Still, I live two miles from a corn field that sells corn that I've eaten, often bike by it, and I've seen it look similar to that one with still a few good ears. IMO, it was worth a shot., even if it was a long one, and don't think he deserves to be made fun of for trying it. Shows initiative, if nothing else, even if it does brand him as a city boy.

                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                        The corn that you ate from he field near your home was sweet corn. Feed corn, also known as dent corn and field corn is only consumed by people after it is processed in some manner.

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          I know this. I thought my reference to field corn, or perhaps that was in my othe post, made that obvious. My point is that while he probably should have been able to recognize the difference in the ears, I don't believe the difference in the appearance of the plants from 50 yards is all that different, and I give him credit for running over to check it out. Indeed, since feed corn is usable after being processed, other than the fact that it slowed him down, I don't think he was that far off to try and use it (and of course, he did use the husk for his presentation, which did look nice to me, although I hope it wasn't what gave Chuy the inspiration to do the salmon,,,,).

                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                            Sweet corn is harvested all at once in the summertiime. It would not be left in the field to dry up like we saw on this episode.

                                                            edit: I see by other posts below that you are living in a farming area...I don't mean to be preaching to the choir. When I was a kid, my dad planted sweet corn in the outer four rows of an 18 acre cornfield we owned. Our family froze a couple hundred pints of sweet corn each year (remember Seal-a-Meal?) and gave away most of the rest of the corn. When I was in high school I was out bow hunting on the edge of that cornfield and picked some of the dried sweet corn still on the stalk. I shelled it and attempted to pop it. What I got was similar to Corn Nuts. If the deer didn't always eat most of the corn before it gets dry enough to recreate Corn Nuts I would have made them more than a couple of times.

                                                    5. re: soupkitten

                                                      "i think chuy caught a bad bounce... but the thought process/conception of his dish was sound"
                                                      How do you figure? I could be wrong, but it looked to me like he put a goat cheese filling at the center of a thick cut of salmon and then attempted to cook it until the goat cheese melted, which entailed that the salmon surrounding it would be overcooked. I mean, you might do the same thing with chicken breast, but you normally cook chicken to 155+

                                                      I believe he could have pulled this dish off sous vide, though I'm not 100% certain of the temp at which goat cheese melts (something like 130 might have both cooked the salmon properly and melted the cheese, though there wouldn't be much browning or texture). He might have even been able to somehow melt the cheese before cooking the salmon and then serve it before the whole thing congealed. But that doesn't appear to be what he did, either. Even something so simple as using a thinner piece of salmon might have worked had he cooked it gently enough. But the way he tried to do it just seemed to have been flawed conceptually. And that doesn't address the equally troubling question of whether goat cheese and non-smoked salmon work together as flavors in the first place - it wouldn't take much goat cheese to completely overwhelm the fish.

                                                      I get the impression that it was more the failure of his thought process than the effect of the finished dish that really got him sent home. At least Moto Chris was trying for something ambitious, while Biggest Loser Chris was being very literal in following his host's commands (and actually did succeed in pleasing the host, btw)

                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                        Also, Chuy told them he had served this dish at his restaurant. Which means he has had plenty of time to get the proportions right so that you could have melty cheese and properly cooked fish. He served a dish he has worked on, thought about, and served to paying customers and it was still a fail.

                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                          @ Cowboyardee and @ Irhr --- sure, i would be happy to explain my reasoning. did you hear some of the judges, partic Gail, mention salmon/lox & cream cheese? my impression was that chuy used or was attempting to use a fresh (creamy, spreadable) goat cheese in his dish-- which does go very well with salmon and other fish. it has a much more forward, tangy presence than cream cheese, but has some of the appeal of cream cheese, and that nice gooeyness of melted cream cheese, if you can picture a nice, very, very soft neufchatel or similar, without the stabilizers and gumminess of a philidelphia-type cream cheese. it's a good flavor and texture combination. apparently other folks on the thread are thinking it was a hard aged goat cheese, which of course would be a different story and would take longer to melt. soft goat cheese "melts" almost instantly. soft, high quality fresh goat cheeses from the upper midwest would be available to chuy at his restaurant in chicago. however, these are quite perishable and not nationally distributed, as they have a shelf life of just 2-4 weeks. i have no idea what kind of goat cheese would be available at a whole foods store in texas, but chuy may have bought what he thought was a similar product and had an unpleasant surprise. the ingredient flub would have led to the execution fail, as with limited time, he would have overcooked the salmon he'd prepped in an effort to get the goat cheese of unknown provenance/quality/freshness to behave like a high quality product he was accustomed to. just like he said happened. made perfect sense... excruciating to watch, because the same prep with a good goat cheese would have been exquisite and not as thuddingly boring as the other mains put forth.

                                                          i would be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that chuy's dish at his restaurant, with an upper-midwest fresh goat cheese, is succulent and delicious and totally successful. have any of the chicago hounds tried it? at any rate i was wincingly aware of what he was going for but chuy was foiled by the quality of ingredients available to him. to me, his sins were not comparable to moto-chris' stringy collard leaves and "edible ash," or other chris' putting imperfect strawberries on a judged showpiece dessert plate, along with 20 other mismatched components. i didn't taste any of the food, either, but considering those dishes i would not have picked chuy to go home.

                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                            "soft goat cheese "melts" almost instantly. soft, high quality fresh goat cheeses from the upper midwest would be available to chuy at his restaurant in chicago."
                                                            Perhaps like one from Capriole (, who sells at farmer's markets in Indy and Chicago and supplies restaurants in both... or similar concerns... ;-) [I have no financial or personal connection with this business]

                                                            I've not eaten at Chilam Balam but the equivalent dish is not on their current menu:

                                                            1. re: huiray

                                                              yeah *exactly* like the fresh goat cheese under the "fresh" tab of that farm/company's website. people pity the coastal chef who goes inland, away from day-boat seafood... well, chuy journeyed outside of the dairy mecca and tried to pull off a dairy-dependent dish :(

                                                            2. re: soupkitten

                                                              Thanks for the elaboration. I've never had goat cheese with salmon before. In my mind, it would make more intuitive sense flavorwise to serve it with nova in an uncooked dish, but I'll hold off judgement on the flavor pairing until I try them together.

                                                              I assumed he was using chevre or some sort of soft goat cheese. Truth is I'm not sure exactly what temperature chevre melts. I assume he at least wanted it to be warm bordering on hot.Tom made some mention of it 'bubbling' which would imply that it's hotter than just melted.

                                                              But here's the thing - it's most common and trendy to cook salmon pretty rare in the center, much more so than most other fish - usually something like 120-125 in the center (I'm extrapolating from having cooked salmon sous vide at a few different temperatures). If you try to effectively warm chevre in between two thick hunks of salmon, I just don't see that happening without cooking the salmon well past that standard.

                                                              I could see it happening with really thin layer of chevre, or if you cook it sous vide or something. I didn't feel like going back and watching the episode again just to see that. But I noticed a good shot on this video. At the 1:45 mark.
                                                              It looks like he mixed the goat cheese with some vegetables and put a really thick layer in the middle. If he cooked it less, I'm still not sure that the result would have been appetizing. Too cold in the middle, too congealed, and it would beg the question of whether the salmon is OK to eat since exposed surfaces would still be undercooked.

                                                              At any rate, from the exit video, it seems Chuy is taking his loss in stride and learning from the experience, so good for him.

                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                huh. looks like a salmon sandwich with the chunky chevre layer in between? well, that isn't a roulade, and it wasn't what i was thinking, either! guess we were both off on chuy's construction, and i can see how that was a downfall of his dish. wondering if there were other components to the dish between the "sandwich" and the corn husk on the bottom, or if he attempted to cook the salmon separately and add that to the package. i still think chuy may have made adjustments to an inferior cheese product to try to salvage the dish, like adding those vegetables or cream, which wouldn't normally be necessary with a good chevre. but what the hell do i know? my comments were more about the flavor profile of fresh goat cheese w salmon, which is similar to, but imo better than, the classic combos of salmon/lox plus cream cheese, or salmon plus cream sauce or creme fraiche. other folks in the thread have pulled out the old "no cheese with fish" saw, but imo that isn't at all what he was going for, he was using a fresh rather than an aged dairy product. i just wanted to make that point. one thing is certain, his fish wound up way overcooked, doing it this way. even though it was a fail i still think the judging was very inconsistent. i wonder how much of the judging is compromise, or if one judge can really put her/his foot down wrt axing a dish/contestant.

                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                  Assuming the entire concept was not flawed (going for the cream cheese and lox thing) Chuy could have made the dish in a different manner. I don't know all of the components but he could have cooked the salmon separately, broiled the goat cheese and assembled the dish for service. That would be even easier if he were making the dish one at a time in his restaurant.

                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                    i agree. i don't know why chuy made his decisions, but it seems like he may have altered his original plan due to ingredients. whether or not that's the case, sorry i keep going on about it. the stringy cigar and the storebought dessert plate are still bigger offenders, from where i am sitting. there is no "official top chef judge" plaque above my armchair, or anything :) so that's just a fwiw observation.

                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                      I wonder if the judges knew how much of the dessert plate was store-bought. It wasn't apparent to me - only people who watched the edit a lot closer than I did noticed. Perhaps they gave him some credit for doing a lot of 'work'? Still, they usually ask that kind of thing at the judges table.

                                                                      I still say that though the concept and visual were basically unappealing, it's entirely possible the 'cigar' actually tasted better than the salmon, especially if the salmon was as overcooked as the edit made it seem (a bit overcooked is one thing, but well done salmon is cat food IMO). And I could totally see giving partial credit for ambition if nothing else while deciding whether the salmon or the cigar goes home.

                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                        I missed the 'storebought dessert plate'. What was that?

                                                                        I said before somewhere, I agree the cigar and bad pork dish from 'Ty Lor' appeared to be worse, but it seems overcooked fish trumps everything else.

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          I missed the 'storebought dessert plate'. What was that?
                                                                          Chris Crary's plate. store-bought gelato, candy bars & fruit pretty much just plopped onto the plate, and there's some debate about whether he also used a boxed cupcake mix.

                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                            I thought he said he had a cupcake recipe, and he'd see if it worked. My impression was that he had memorized it knowing he'd need a dessert at some point, but hadn't actually done it.

                                                                            1. re: momjamin

                                                                              i heard him say that, but a couple of people said they thought they saw boxed mix. i deleted my recording - i'll have to see if i can catch a repeat and look more closely. i wouldn't be shocked if it turned out that he did use a mix because he sounded pretty apprehensive about his untested recipe.

                                                                        2. re: soupkitten

                                                                          I guess I'm not sure why you've assuming tat Chuy necessarily had to buy inferior ingredients, just because he was in Texas and not on his home turf. No one but locals knows with surety what's available at Dallas-area WF, but there is plenty of artisanal fresh goat cheese made in Texas that would be fresh and local if he bought it, and not dreck. If he bought an inferior product, well that's on him, too, as smart ingredient shopping has always been part of the equation on Top Chef. How many times has Tom admonished contestants for not changing course when they found something they bought wasn't great or giving the results they wanted.

                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                            i said i wasn't sure what would be available in a texas whole foods, but just to be clear i'm not really talking about a cryo pac chevre, more of a farm-direct fresh hand packed item. the selection of ingredients at wfm has foiled more than one contestant on the show, including chefs i wouldn't really call incompetent-- like stephanie izard, who commented specifically on the quality of meat and seafood compared to what is available to chefs through restaurant distributors and direct sales. i do not think it's out of the question that chuy would have been sold the wrong item by a member of staff at the store-- as this thread illustrates, people can be confused about this product. i guess i am going on the assumption that he was trying to make a dish he had experience with, but that the ingredient did not work, so he wound up accidentally overcooking the dish-- as he said happened. in my words, "he caught a bad bounce." obviously he did not have the time or backup ingredients to fix the problem. other people want to go on the assumption that he is incompetent, has a bad palate, or that he is a liar, or all of the above. i guess that's fine, except i would wonder how he bungled his way to winning the prior challenges over stiff competition, were that the case.

                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                              I understood that you weren't talking about mass market, cryovac chevre, which is why I mentioned that there appear to be local producers of high-quality product. To clarify, when I said it was on him if he ended up using an inferior ingredient, what I meant is that the judges will count it against them regardless (the "you shouldn't have served it" Catch-22, as if they have a choice to serve nothing). I guess I'm not sure what caused his problems - the quality of the ingredients, the McMansion's oven, or a miscalculation in executing a dish he's successfully done before, as it seems like any (or a combination) could be true. I was sorry to see him go, and think he seems quite talented.

                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                i agree that it was probably, not to be overly technical ;-P -- a "clusterfuck of epic proportions." i'm just moderately annoyed that they would send a talented person home, given the other plates in the bottom four. otoh the dish was not good, and at the end of the day, that's all the judges have to go on.

                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                  At this level, any elimination is sending home a talented person. Overcooking pretty much always sends someone home, and honestly, his stated reason for it betrayed a serious lack of skill and judgment in this instance.

                                                                            2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                              Having just watched the episode a second time I have to say that those bottom four were all PYKAG worthy. Maybe pretty Chris got cut some slack because he was doing dessert. The cigar really had an unappealing, excuse me, turd, look to it. The pork was a mess BUT they were all at least attempts at something more complex than Chuy's "salmon with goat cheese" to quote Tom. In the end, I think that messing up a simple dish was worse than messing up a more complex dish. A review of the quickfire showed the dishes at the bottom were the "simple" ones. I guess, being top chef and all they don't want dishes that we could do at home and I could have done Chuy's dish at home.

                                                                        3. re: soupkitten

                                                                          I went to Bonefish Grill once because people raved about the bang bang shrimp (pass). The special of the night was salmon and goat cheese. Maybe that's the reason I wrote it off right away. Everything we had there was bad so I assumed that combination would be, too.

                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            I went there once with people who'd ordered that shrimp dish, it was all batter and sugar, really gross. But I had a really excellent meal of grilled arctic char and perfectly cooked veggies on the side.

                                                                            I can't imagine enjoying a cooked salmon and goat cheese dish, nuh uh, no way.

                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                              I can't remember what we ate anymore but no one likes their entrees. We went for the bang bang shrimp so I remember that.

                                                                    2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                      I think Chuy really did himself in when he all but stated that he HAD to over cook the salmon to melt the cheese. I haven't re-watched it yet but to me, it sounded like he deliberately over cooked the fish and the judges couldn't get past that deliberate act.

                                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                                        I live in the Twin Cities and there are several bars who make their 'signature' burgers something called a Juicy Lucy which essentially is two hamburger patties with cheese in between. I generally avoid ordering the Juicy (or Jucy) Lucys because in order to melt the cheese the beef patties end up being well-done. The melted cheese does ooze out of the burger but I prefer a cheeseburger with the beef not overcooked. This is basically the same thing that happened to Chuy. I think it was a failure in conception.

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          I've only had one Jucy Lucy (at the place in St. Paul 5 years ago) but the burger didn't seem overdone at all. Maybe cuz it's all so oozy and greasy, it'd have to be really overcooked for me to notice.

                                                                          1. re: Joanie

                                                                            It's not as noticeable because of all the cheese, but for the cheese to melt properly the internal temperature has to get hot enough to melt it which is also hot enough for long enough for well done beef. I prefer the cheese on the outside of the beef patty but enough people like the gimmick that they are big sellers. Then again, I know a lot of people that like their steak well-done.

                                                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                        How can it be sound when Tom asked how he thought that it was a good idea?

                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                          "Chris was being very literal in following his host's commands (and actually did succeed in pleasing the host, btw"

                                                                          I am surprised that more was not made of the fact that he was actually following the hosts lead, and that the host, was in fact, super pleased.

                                                                      3. A gripe about Bravo (and a warning to everyone): they don't seem to start Top Chef exactly on the hour, it might be 30-60 seconds late. And with Last Chance Kitchen, they discuss that at the end of the episode. I missed the first airing at 8pm and was going to catch it at 9pm. Turned it on at 9, and found out that Chuy was going to LCK, ruining the suspense of the entire episode.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                          Since each episode starts with a recap and then the regular intro, it is easy to turn it on a minute or two late and not miss any of the current episode while not getting the spoiler from the first (or subsequent) showings.

                                                                        2. The "real" people in the McMansions embarrassed the heck out of themselves. Particularly the women. I'm quite sure they have no idea how vacuous they came across. I suppose the point is that "top chefs" will have to cook to the desires of dumb blonde social x-rays. Boring. This episode, however, was one of Top Chef's worst. And I was so sorry to see the guy who had to go home in the Last Chance Kitchen (but I liked that challenge).

                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                          1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                                                                            if bravo's choices in programming indicate anything, their core audience enjoys watching the 'real'/vacuous lives of those 'social x-rays.' as bad as this episode was, at least there was some justice in seeing gruesome food getting served to some pretty grotesque rich-niks.

                                                                            several of the chefs seemed especially naive and inexperienced in this round, not to observe their surroundings with the host couples, then failing to make appearance/plating and execution their priorities.

                                                                            1. re: moto

                                                                              Perhaps, a preview of the Real Housewives of Dallas?

                                                                            2. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                                                                              I think I would love solid food designed to be things those people hate. I sort of want to make fun of the guy in the dessert house, but I'll hold off on that.

                                                                              1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                What, you don't think having a Gummy Bear wedding cake is like the COOLEST THING EVAH, FoodPopulist? ;-)

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  That was the most hilarious thing I heard all night. I wonder if it looked like this?

                                                                                  1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                    Oh my gosh--that's what did Craig in on Top Chef Just Desserts (well, that because of complete lack of technique). Tempting to have one mailed to him!

                                                                                    I loved Edward's response on how he was NOT going to do gummy bears. Come to think of it, I'm surprised Chris didn't throw some on top of his cupcake. See, he did do some editing.

                                                                                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                      Holy crap. That is just freaky!

                                                                                      And for how it might have looked? (although MUCH bigger, since I think the gummy bear guy had a wedding for 800 people!)

                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                        Molecular gastronomy meets gummy bear...

                                                                                        Warning, may be graphic for gummy bear lovers:


                                                                                        Even scarier is Craig's gummy bear. Page down for shot:


                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      Bwahahaha, there really is one!


                                                                                      They won't legalize gay marriage but they can legalize children getting married. Go figure.

                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                        He just had that really, really Southern personality, the mama's boy subtype that some people confuse for being gay. Or do people think he really is a Texas closet case?

                                                                                    3. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                                                                                      I got home late from TJMAXX,so I didn't see the start with the QuickFire Challenge.I did see some of it but turned it off, since I can't those so called "Real Housewives" whether in Dallas or elsewhere.