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Dec 14, 2011 07:33 PM

Top Chef Texas - Ep. #7 - 12/14/11 (Spoilers)

OK, step right up, folks, for the Chef's Knife Battle Royale! The two who don't get along will be teamed together - veddy interestink!

The cheftestants all head back to the TC house; Nyesha notes how harsh Heather was on Beverly and thinks it shows a lot about Heather's integrity. Ty-Lor realizes he just skated by and he needs to step it up.

The next morning, they show up at the TC kitchen and Tim Love is there. And what's on the table? A lot of Don Julio tequila. For the Quickfire Challenge, they are to choose one of the tequilas and create a dish that pairs well with the tequila. Tim Love said they're looking for an intense, long-lasting flavor from their dish.

Padma notes that there will be a tequila tasting so they can choose the particular tequila they want to use, there won't be any immunity, but the winner will win $5,000.

Kind of love the way they're tossing around all of the herb bundles. Paul notes that Ty-Lor is using clams and realizes it's a great pairing with tequila, but Ty-Lor notes that Chris Jones is overcooking his chicken breast, and could be in trouble.

The bottom group? Heather, Chris Jones, and Sarah (Tim Love said Heather's dish was like a new special at a chain restaurant - OUCH! LOL)

The top group consists of Chris Crary (he had Sea Salt Air on his raw oyster - that FOAM? Nooooooooooooo!!!), Lindsay, and Ty-Lor. And the winner is? Ty-Lor! Went from the bottom in the previous EC and goes to the top in the next QF.

Now on to the Elimination Challenge....Sarah notes before going to commercial that it's really going to get some tempers flaring.

Padma says "the game is ON." She said she hoped that the cheftestants like who they're standing next to - because that's their team partner. Sarah and Paul looked pleased....Heather and Beverly both look very discomfited and NOT pleased! Tim Love said he's hosting a game dinner @ his restaurant for a group of friends. Each team will cook a course of game that is the favorite of one of the friends.

Nyesha & Dakota - Venison for Bryan Caswell of Wreath, Houston
Sarah & Paul - Squab for Anita Lo from Annissa, NYC
Grayson & Chris J. - Elk for Tim Love of Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Fort Worth
Chris C. & Lindsay - Boar for Jon Shook of Animal, Los Angeles
Heather & Beverly - Duck for John Currence of City Grocery, Oxford, MS
Ed & Ty-Lor - Quail for Vinny Dotolo from Animal, Los Angeles

TWIST TIME! They'll also have to cook a few extra plates...for their fellow chefs! All of them will be judges as well! The cheftestants will choose three dishes that they like the *least*, and those teams will be put in front of the judges. The judges will have the final say .... on which TEAM will go home. It's a DOUBLE ELIMINATION! This could be irony if the Heather & Beverly team goes home! LOL And the winning team will split $10,000.

They head out to Whole Foods, and Beverly is shown trying to work with Heather. She notes that Heather is very bossy, but she's trying to be a team player. Grayson is concerned about Chris Jones, because "he makes crazy stuff, and I don't" - so she's hoping he doesn't go overboard.

Back in the TC Kitchen for prep. Everyone notices that Heather and Beverly are *not* meshing. Heather says Beverly cooks Pan-Asian, and she does American farm-to-table, and she tells Beverly that she wants to make sure the dish isn't too Asian, as that's not her style. And "I'm not going home, Bev!" Edward notes the friction between the two of them, and notes that Heather is being a complete bitch.

They're done with prep and head back to the TC house. Beverly notes that Heather was rather abrasive and controlling all day. She reveals in the confessional that there was a time in her life that she was in an abusive relationship - someone who physically and emotional abused her. One day when he was at work, she ran away. She's become stronger since she's been out of that relationship.

And we're back - Chris Crary and Lindsay are the first course up - Boar. The stress level is high, especially since they're judging each other's dishes. Everyone is crowded in a very tiny kitchen @ The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro - AND everyone is sweating bullets, as it's really hot in there.

Chris Jones screwed up his sweet potato dish, and he has to switch up his dish. Grayson is really concerned. Heather notes that Beverly asks a lot of questions like a sous chef does. She doesn't think like a chef. Beverly said she doesn't like the onions in their duck dish, but Heather said "This is part of my rustic style so we're going to have to compromise." To me, that sounds like Heather is saying "The onions are staying; I don't care what you think, Beverly."

Chris Crary and Lindsay realize that their boar racks were a bit underdone in the middle, but they were able to get enough chops off the ends that were properly done without serving any of the underdone ones to the judges.

1st COURSE - Chris C. & Lindsay - Roasted Wild Boar with Peach BBQ Sauce, Kohlrabi Slaw & Farro-Fried Rice - Tom said it was a nice dish, just not exciting. Back in the kitchen, Sarah said it was a fun way to do a BBQ; Paul noted the slaw was a bit watery.

2nd COURSE - Heather & Beverly - Five-Spice Duck Breast with Creamy Polenta & Pickled Cherries - Hugh notes the duck could have been rendered a bit more, that it was a bit rubbery. John Currence said he didn't like the way the pickled cherries worked, Vinny Dotolo thought it was too safe. Back in the kitchen, Paul notes that there was no crispy skin, but Sarah tells them that the duck is cooked perfectly.

3rd COURSE - Grayson & Chris J. - Juniper-Roasted Elk with Sweet Potato and Bouquet of Citrus Greens - when asked by Padma if that's the way they wanted the sweet potato to be cut, Chris Jones begins to explain he wanted to do an elaborate technique that unfortunately, did not work out for him. Grayson cut in and very deliberately said loudly "That IS how we wanted it to be; we just wanted to get height and we accomplished that." As they walk away, she chews out Chris J. saying "Don't effing tell them that way!" Tim Love said the piece of meat was seasoned and cooked well, Bryan Caswell said when the plate hit the table, he thought 1982, Banquet Menu. (ouch!) As they walk back into the kitchen, Grayson turns to Chris J. and said "we're probably going home so do NOT saying anything to them [other cheftestants in the kitchen] about how we feel about our dish." Heather told Grayson that the elk was cooked perfectly.

4th COURSE - Ed & Ty-Lor - Sorghum Quail with Pickled Cherries and Eggplant - (pickled cherries - AGAIN?) - Tim Love said the quail shines, and Anita Lo said they managed to bring out the early qualities of the ingredients. All we see in the kitchen is some high fives and someone saying "beautiful."

5th COURSE - Nyesha & Dakota - Roasted Rack of Venison with Kabocha Squash & Beet Gratin - venison is undercooked and it's noted by all judges. Tom likes the texture of the gratin; and back in the kitchen, Heather notes that "it's a little rare."

6th COURSE - Paul & Sarah - Squab Breast and Squab Sausage with Nectarine Pickles with Shallots & Jalapeno - the presentation was noted as being a little sloppy and rushed, but Tom liked it. Anita Lo would have liked more caramelization on the skin. Back in the kitchen, you can hear someone comment about acid can overpower. Sarah is freaked out about the sausage.

Padma comes into the kitchen and asked for Ed and Ty-Lor! Everyone immediately congrats the two of them - obviously the winner, and Tim Love declares them the winner. They'll split $10,000. Padma tells them that they, along with the other cheftestants, will have 15 minutes to decide which three teams to send out to face elimination. They head back into the kitchen, and they're all just sitting there until Heather asks Ed and Ty-Lor "What do you guys want to do?

Beverly said she wishes the judges had just made the decision. Heather said "maybe we'll just make them make it" and Grayson responds "No! We'll just vote!" Heather said "Well, you're not going to vote for yourself to go out there!" and Grayson responds "well, neither are you!" Ty-Lor said he doesn't want to see Heather go home because she's a really good friend, but everyone's going to have to make hard decisions.

Paul said he thought Heather & Beverly's dish was not one of his favorites, and Nyesha & Dakota's meat was a little tough. He also said Chris/Grayson's meat was dry when he ate it. Then Heather said Nyesha/Dakota's meat was too rare and Chris J/Grayson's dish - she didn't understand the bouquet. When Grayson asked who was Heather's third, Heather said she couldn't pick a third. Grayson said "But we all have to pick 3!" and Heather said "You don't have to tell me about the process!"

The choices to go into JT -

Elk (Grayson & Chris Jones)
Duck (Heather & Beverly) and
Venison (Nyesha & Dakota)

Tom asks Heather & Beverly why they think they're up there - Heather responds maybe because *she* was the winner of the previous challenge. Grayson is shown shaking her head and Nyesha stares up into the air.

Tom tells Dakota that the dish was definitely undercooked, Padma asked Nyesha if she ever thought to go over and see if she needed help. Nyesha said by the time she did, it was too late. Hugh said that the flavor profile was very good.

For Grayson & Chris J., Hugh said the meat was cooked pretty well, but said they might be living and dying by that sweet potato fence that didn't work out.

They then get to Heather & Beverly, and Tom asks if they know why they're there. Beverly begins to answer, but Heather interrupts and said they're trying to balance two chefs on one plate. Tom said it felt like a collection of ingredients, not a finished dish. Heather said throughout the entire competition, she and Beverly haven't seen eye-to-eye. Beverly begins to say she didn't think so, but yet AGAIN, Heather interrupts her and said "I do. I think our work ethics are completely different, especially in the last challenge. [Tom sits up and takes notice at this point!] In the last challenge, you had shrimp, that's what you focused on for two days..." and Beverly said "Wow, that just really hits me. I have a really strong work ethic, that's 400 shrimp to peel and deveining perfectly. She helped me to peel them at the very end, but I didn't ask you to help me." Heather says very cuttingly "No, your teammate did." SHOCKED look on Beverly's face. Dakota steps into the conversation and said she didn't like the way the conversation was going and thought that Beverly was an extremely hard-working cook and she kicks butt in the kitchen.

Tom asks how it manifested today - Heather said Beverly doesn't trust herself and have enough self-confidence. Beverly said she does have confidence but it comes out in a different way.

Back in the Stew Room, Heather said a lot of things came up and that she's sorry if Beverly feels she hurt her feelings, but she didn't get any say in the dish -(HUH? All we saw was Heather having HER say in the dish!) Heather said she didn't want to do Asian, but Beverly didn't listen to her. REALLY? If she's that strong of a person, she should have said something even more! Heather continued to bring up the shrimp issue from the LAST competition, and everyone is kind of stunned in the Stew Room!

Back at JT, Tom said that the teams sent through to the bottom group were the correct 3 teams to have been in front of them. They review all of the dishes, and make their decision. The team going home? Dakota and Nyesha! Dakota's devastated that she took down Nyesha down with her.

Previews show them heading for Austin - and Patti LaBelle will be a guest judge.

For LCK - both Nyesha and Dakota get their envelopes at the TC house. They show up and see Whitney. And the four previous guys all show up to watch. The challenge is to use only a wok as their cooking pot, and they have to use one special ingredient in honor of the hosting state - cactus. 30 minutes using cactus and any other ingredient in the TC pantry. Richie asks Keith quietly if you can eat cactus raw, and Keith replies yes. Keith asks how Dakota is doing; she's shaking. Keith asks Nyesha what direction she's going in - she said Asian. Keith tells them they have 10 minutes to go, and then Andrew asks Whitney what she was going to do - she's doing a chicken-fried rice with cactus.

Whitney does a Cactus and Chicken-Fried Rice with Sriracha.
Nyesha does Asian Style Scallops with Prickly Pear Garnish, Cilantro and Thai Basil
Dakota does a Shrimp Tostada with Watermelon and a Prickly Pear Shooter

Tom then calls over the 4 guys to try the dishes. Tom tells the 3 cheftestants that they all worked the cactus into their dishes very well. Interesting winner!

(Sorry this was so late being finalized - two cats who are going nuts climbing furniture etc. has distracted me way more than I had hoped!)

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  1. The first thing I thought when Chris Crary said "Sea Salt Air" was "Oh Noooooo!!!! He ruined this season and did a foam!!!!" But his dish did sound amazing....

    Oh! and I was like.... Oooooh we can get rid of BOTH Bev and Heather in one shot!!

    ETA: Ok wow, now I am switching my view up a bit.... I just want heather to leave, not Bev.... Too bad that isn't an option this week. Heather is a straight up bully/bitch.... I think it's all Bev could do to have ANY say whatsoever!!

    7 Replies
    1. re: kubasd23

      Exactly what I thought - I'd rather have just Heather leave and not Beverly. Heather was a complete SNOT in not allowing Beverly to say anything or the continual interruptions. I'll bet the judges noticed that.

      1. re: LindaWhit

        Yeah, I think it's really clear that Heather is bringing ugly to just about every interaction. I was pulling for her to leave.

        1. re: mcf

          I'm glad Beverly and Heather weren't eliminated because I'm one of the few people who actually do like Beverly. If there was an option to send Heather home alone, then I'm all for it. We can only hope she goes home next week!

          1. re: Leepa

            And honestly, what kind of self-sabotaging person bullies and belittles her team mate during the cooking? It looked like Heather was trying to sabotage herself as well as Beverly.

              1. re: kubasd23

                Not kamikaze -- she doesn't do Asian.

      2. re: kubasd23

        Yea too bad it was a team elimination... Heather and Chris J are ready to go home.

        Chris J assured Grayson that he's "done this 100 times" when she was totally against the idea. If she had got sent home for that, it would have been awful.

        Heather has been a total bitch (not just this episode)

        I'm sad Nyesha got sent home, she really seemed like one of the top contenders. I was thinking Paul, Ty-Lor, and Nyesha as the top 3.

      3. Ouch. I stayed out of the Heather/Bev sub thread this past week, not convinced that Heather was a bully or a bitch. But wow, did she ever just come across horribly.

        Hoping Grayson doesn't go home for Chris Moto's sweet potatoes.

        12 Replies
        1. re: debbiel

          People can differ on whether Heather is a bully/bitch or not, but I don't think there's any question that the way she behaved at judges' table was just plain stupid. Did she not realize when she threw Bev under the bus that she was throwing herself under the bus?

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Did she not realize when she threw Bev under the bus that she was throwing herself under the bus?
            I'm guessing she didn't, or she hates Bev so much she's willing to cut off the nose to spite the face. After this episode, I'm on board with Heather being a bitch at least. I'm not sure on the bully part.

            1. re: Worldwide Diner

              Apparently Heather is completely unclear on the concept of a team challenge. First, she said she had no input in the dish, which was clearly not true. But I started to understand what she meant when she said she didn't want to be judged on a dish where she didn't have complete control of every single element. Apparently, for Heather, it's complete control or nothing. Too bad that wasn't the challenge.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                I think Heather was simply griping about team challenges in general. I don't think Nyesha would've disagreed.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  "...she said she didn't want to be judged on a dish where she didn't have complete control of every single element. Apparently, for Heather, it's complete control or nothing. "
                  Yes. I thought that was a most revealing comment from her and appeared to be an essential point about her apparent character. Not only does she seem to be a bully and a bitch - she is a control freak, can operate properly only when she is the sole dictator/despot of all she sees around her and apparently goes a little berserk when she can't achieve that. That might sound like many chefs in commercial kitchens but somehow the situation here seems more objectionable?

                  1. re: huiray

                    It's objectionable because the whole point of the challenge is to work as a team. And the other person has as much at stake, so basically it's selfish. She also said that she was just going to concentrate on making her food -- again, missing the whole point. When you go on Top Chef, you have to accept that team challenges are going to be part of the deal!

                    1. re: huiray

                      To me, the reason it seemed more objectionable, was because she crossed the line into lying. She wouldn't adjust any of the flavors and pretty much dictated to Beverly how things were going to be, and then she lied at the judges' table, saying that she had no say in how things were done. You know the judges are going to check out her story and figure out that she lies to shift blame.

                      1. re: AsperGirl

                        I don't think she was lying if lying is defined as intentionally saying something you know to be false. As a complete control freak (which she seems to be), she probably viewed having to "compromise" to some of Bev's desires as having no say. Delusional, sure, but not necessarily lying.

                        As for the judges checking out her story, that doesn't happen, generally speaking. It only happens in very egregious cases (like maybe the pee puree case).

                        1. re: LurkerDan

                          You're right, there's a distinction between delusional and lying. I googled that pea puree thing, thanks for pointing it out!

                  2. re: Worldwide Diner

                    That's exactly it. I hope we don't have much more Heather to watch this season, since she's clearly got more hate than brains.

                  3. re: Ruth Lafler

                    "Did she not realize when she threw Bev under the bus that she was throwing herself under the bus?" - for me, heather at that point knew there was a pretty good chance they were going home, and she wanted to make sure she got her say in, and let everyone know SHE thought it was Beverly's fault.

                    She's a bitch alright. We all know there's a lot of editing on the show, but it seems pretty clear that she controlled that dish and beverly every step of the way. it would have been worth it for me to see Beverly go home to have Heather go. I was sorry to see Nyesha and Dakota go.

                    By the way, Linda - just a nitpick - i think Bev said she was "de-veining" the shrimp, not divvying.

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      Thanks mc - I rewound that part several times, and couldn't figure it out. "divvying" was the only thing I could come up with. I'll ask the Mods to fix for us. :-)

                      And yes - Heather was totally contradictory in what she said to Beverly (this *isn't* going to be an all Asian dish and the onions were her rustic style and "we'll just have to compromise!") and what she said to the judges. She was the one and only person who was running the show on that dish - so she pretty much lied to the judges at JT saying she had had no say in the dish.

                      I dislike her even more now. And I wouldn't be surprised if more people didn't feel the same way after last night's episode.

                  1. Irony: Heather complaining that Bev isn't a good teammate!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Regardless of Bev being a good teammate or not, she was really slow. If Heather is to be believed, she had to help on the shrimp on the last challenge at the request of Bev's teammates. Which really does mean Bev is so self absorbed that she's not a good teammate.

                      1. re: Worldwide Diner

                        Well, yeah. The fact that Heather really is a miserable bitch doesn't make Beverly any less self absorbed, as we've seen in incidents not involving Heather.

                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                        and Heather complaining that Beverly asked too many questions and lacked confidence, when (to me) it was clear that Beverly was trying to defer to Heather just to get along.

                        All that bitchiness was painful to watch.

                      3. So what did we learn tonight?

                        Chris Jones is an idiot. (Already thought so after the cigars; tonight solidified my view.)
                        Heather really is exactly what most of us thought she was.
                        Beverly... hm. Yeah, she may be getting bullied, but she's got plenty of her own issues.

                        ... And finally, the producers control who goes home, not the judges. I think it should have been Heather and Beverly, whose plate got the least praise. But no, instead it was the dish that everyone agreed was delicious except for the somewhat undercooked meat. Yeah, it was a meat challenge, but still, it made me wonder what the decision making process really looked like.

                        88 Replies
                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                          Well, I didn't learn that the producers not the judges decide. We don't know who got the least praise; we know whose dish had the least praise in the edited footage we saw. We do know, I think, that one dish in particular did a very poor job of cooking the the game challenge. The elimination didn't seem a stretch to me at all.

                          1. re: debbiel

                            Under/overcooking your protein is a cardinal sin on top chef... especially when its a protein challenge

                            1. re: Firenzilla

                              Yet last week, when Ty Lor screwed up the protein (and the reason for the dinner), he did not go home. The judges are inconsistent.

                              1. re: Chatsworth

                                You mean when Ty Lor AND a bunch of other people messed up the steak, and Whitney served raw potatoes? Yeah, that was a baffling elimination.

                                1. re: debbiel

                                  But Ty-Lor was responsible. By your argument, Chris should have been sent home for his sweet potatoes.

                                  1. re: Chatsworth

                                    No. That does not follow from my example. For many reasons. One being that the sweet potatoes were not raw. Also, why was Ty Lor solely responsible? I don't see that at all.

                                    1. re: debbiel

                                      I agree. Wasn't it Whitney who freaked out about the steaks and put them in the oven too early? Tylor couldn't have had any control over that since he was still outside at the grills.

                                      Edit: Not Whitney, but the girl with the short blond hair whose name I cannot recall. : )

                                      1. re: Leepa

                                        Lindsay. But tylor took the fall.

                                        1. re: bobbert

                                          Thanks. At least he didn't go home over it. And made a great comeback, too!

                                2. re: Chatsworth

                                  He screwed up the protein (or rather took the fall for that) but "screwed up" in that case meant not all of them were cooked to a perfect medium rare. Screwed up did not mean he served them raw. And in any case, Whitney's simple potatoes were raw, whereas nothing in this week's group was that egregious.

                                  1. re: LurkerDan

                                    Edible vs inedible trumps every time.

                                    1. re: LurkerDan

                                      They may have ended up a perfect medium rare if the ladies had not decided to re-warm them too early.

                                      1. re: babette feasts

                                        Some of them did. They were all over the map in terms of doneness.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          Which makes you wonder why they couldn't find a dozen that were done medium rare for the judges. What were the expediters doing?

                                            1. re: chowser

                                              I wonder, in the past I have seen challenges where they clearly knew which dishes were going to the judges (like during restaurant wars), but perhaps for these, they didn't know?

                                      2. re: Chatsworth

                                        Yknow, that inconsistency had been bothering me too. If that was the steak challenge, and Ty Lor messed up, by the logic in Ep 7 he should have gone home. I get that other people besides Ty Lor also worked on the steaks, but if he was the main person on them...

                                        1. re: stgrove

                                          But they weren't the worst dish. And they weren't all bad. And he did not have sole responsibility (or appear to be the one who made the fateful decision, tho we don't know what the judges knew). Generally it seems the person sent home is the person who screws up the most. Whitney in the steak episode for raw potatoes. Dakota this episode for near raw venison. Nyesha because of a cruddy double elimination. How is this inconsistent?

                                          1. re: stgrove

                                            The posts above yours would appear to address your issue successfully.

                                            1. re: stgrove

                                              Funny in that he took responsibility for the steaks but in reality, he did not screw the dish up. Heather was quick to take "responsibility" for expediting when she was talking with Tom behind the scenes but when it was the expediting that essentially f***ed up the steaks, where was she? Now I remember... "anyone want to go for a drive in my new car?!" that I won by using someone else's recipe. To be fair, Lindsay was the one who essentially "fired" the steaks and the other chefs - especially the 6 whose dishes were already done, did absolutely nothing to help. 13 chefs and they couldn't find 6 med. rare to serve the judges? The screw up was in expediting, not what Ty-Lor did. And as others have said, inedible trumps anything else and the potatoes were inedible.

                                              1. re: bobbert

                                                I wonder if Lindsay ever took any responsibility for the over steaks in footage that we did not see?

                                                1. re: bobbert

                                                  actually the footage shows both ed and chris jones helping lindsay finishing the steaks in the oven. *way* too many people had their hands on the steaks, it's no wonder there were wild inconsistencies in doneness/temp. also with the full-size sheet pans in a wind oven, the steaks will be unevenly done and there is less control over the result. not only will the thinner steaks cook more quickly, but the steaks on the edges of the sheet pans, close to the fans, will also get done faster-- so there will be steaks of varying doneness on the same sheet pan. astoundingly stupid and wasteful decision, understandable in a rookie (as *individual* steaks, on broiler plates, are often finished this way), but not in an exec at a steak house... but it explains why some steaks were fine and others were ruined. the steaks were at least edible, while the gratin was not. blue-rare/raw venison would also fall under the inedible category for the judges.

                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                    Agreed that it was a strange way to cook the steaks. I think 2 good broiler cooks using all those grills could have banged out those steaks just as Tom said they should have done. Also agree that way too many people had their hands in it - the one scene where there were 3 (4?) standing over a tray of steaks saying "...this one is perfect". Any good cook who has worked a grill station should be able to, by touch alone, be able to pick out 6 med. rare steaks.

                                                    My latest theory. Maybe the judges insisted that the steaks for their table be chosen by someone at random - that's the only reasonable excuse I can think of for not at least having those done right. That would also be a way for them to insure that the chefs did not JUST try to make 6 med rare steaks, but at least try to make all 200 correctly.

                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                      ah yes, iirc that was paul judging the doneness of the steaks. so we have 3/3 of the second course chefs on finishing the steaks for the 3rd course as well...

                                              2. re: Chatsworth

                                                But the thing with overcooked meat is that it is still safe to eat while uncooked meat is safe. I think if Ty Lor had served raw beef, he would have gone home. they are are hard on both under and overcooking but usually much harder on under cooked.

                                          2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                            Come on - the producers do NOT decide who goes home. It's been said countless times. Even by Tom. Yes, he's an executive producer, but he won't allow his integrity to be thrown to the side just for ratings. He'd leave the show first.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              Have you seen the disclaimer at the end of the show? Fact is, I don't know what happens behind the scenes, but I can read that text and I can certainly put together numerous situations over the course of the seasons where seemingly odd choices have been made. Anyway, doesn't matter. It's entertainment, nothing more.

                                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                Yes, the disclaimer has been pointed out many many times as well in previous seasons. Yet again, I'm going to believe Tom Colicchio that the judges make the decision. He's not going to put his reputation on the line amongst his fellow chefs in the industry.

                                                The ONLY time the producers had a say is during the Marcel head-shaving incident in TC2 - Tom wanted to send them all home and declare Marcel the winner, but the producers stepped in and said it would drastically shorten the season - which is why only one was booted from the show.

                                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                  Every single reality judging show on tv has this disclaimer.

                                                  1. re: Manassas64

                                                    Indeed. And I'd bet that every single reality TV show is controlled to some degree by the producers. This isn't about fair; it's about ratings and advertising revenue. At least, so says my extremely cynical mind. Again, I have no clue what goes on behind the scenes -- this is only my opinion.

                                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                      Tom Colicchio has a clue and he's been very candid about it.

                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                        Well, yes, it's about money. That doesn't mean Colicchio chooses to stay on the show if his authority as judge gets usurped. Having the disclaimer is not the same as acting on it. And I'm still unclear as to why this elimination would make you so certain that producers have a hand in it. They served blue venison!!! Surely you can see how one might get eliminated for that, yes? (And I lean toward the extremely cynical myself)

                                                        1. re: debbiel

                                                          Very over or very undercooked next to raw protein gets eliminated pretty much without fail, it's the main part of the dish, and the whole challenge was *about* the game meat.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            Added to which, in this case, it WAS the challenge.

                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                    Given the drama they provide -- evidenced by this thread -- there's no way the producers are letting Bev and/or Heather go home, at least until one of them poisons someone. It's the same reason they let pompous idiots like Marcel and Stephen stick around until almost the end in their respective seasons, despite serving completely odious food.

                                                    1. re: acgold7


                                                      I knew neither of them were going to go home. That would have been too easy. Better to let them both stick around and see what other fireworks fly. Hey, it's a mainstay of reality TV, and TC is no exception to the rule.

                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                        I'm going to have to agree with others on this thread and say that the only producer that has a final say on who stays and who goes is Tom Colicchio. I don't even think the behind the scenes producers are suggesting who stays and who goes. I don't think he would stand for it.

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          Agreed. He may put up with the idiocy of challenges like the progressive dinner party for folks with...questionable food priorities (did anyone else notice his eye roll response that episode when one of the party goers mentioned liking something because it was colorful...or something like that?), but I can't imagine he'd put up with being told who to send home.

                                                          And again, in this challenge, why would one question that it was the judges' decision? The game was horribly cooked! They didn't need the Heather/Bev drama as a reason to keep them around--those two may have served uninspired food, but they cooked it.

                                                        2. re: acgold7

                                                          ::::Sigh:::: Read John E's comment to your supposition that the producers have any say in who goes home.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Every season, Linda, every season. Sigh.

                                                            1. re: Mushroom

                                                              We're lucky if it's only once a season!

                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                              Everyone's entitled to his/her opinion, but with all due respect, John has no experience in this. Obviously I could be wrong but my experience says I'm not.

                                                              And Tom's a "Producer" the way Ted Danson is a "Producer" on all his shows. It's an ego-boosting title, nothing more, sometimes used to justify paying someone more when they demand it or else they'll walk. Larry Hagman was an "Executive Producer" on Dallas at the end and he used to cackle gleefully about this all the time, about how the title was just a way to pay him an extra $35K per week for doing no work at all. He had no influence on how the show was run, and I'm betting neither does Colicchio -- despite his insistence to the contrary. I'm sure when he walks into the room, the producers say, "sure, Tom, whatever you say, you're the boss" and then the moment he leaves they do what they want. He's a meat puppet designed to give the show the appearance of credibility, nothing more.

                                                              But if it makes you enjoy the show more to believe that it's a pure meritocracy, then more power to you. But all the weary **sigh**s of exasperation are unnecessary.

                                                              1. re: acgold7

                                                                You clearly haven't been watching this show very long. Over the seasons there have been many, many contestants who would have been interesting, who stirred the pot both literally and figuratively, who have been sent home early.

                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                  I've seen every episode, and just because something doesn't happen every single time doesn't mean it doesn't happen at all.

                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    +1 Ruth

                                                                    Sorry, late to the party!

                                                                    I was surprised to see over 600 comments! wow!

                                                                  2. re: acgold7

                                                                    Just so it's clear, you are calling Tom a liar.

                                                                    Whether he is or not, I don't know. Just want to be clear that is what you're saying, since you don't come out directly and say it.

                                                                    FWIW, most of us have come to the conclusion that this show at least is meritocracy not because it makes us enjoy it more. We have come to that conclusion after watching the show for a long period of time, reading the judges' blogs, and seeing time after time chefs get sent home when keeping them around would have provided better, more entertaining, TV. You may scoff at our experience, but I (and others, apparently) are not convinced your bold allegations of bald-faced lying, based on your supposed "insider" knowledge, provides a more accurate picture. And THAT is why you see the weary sighs of exasperation.

                                                                    1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                      No, I'm calling Tom an "actor." Actors give interviews all the time in which they say this is the best movie they've ever worked on and it's completely obvious it isn't. And he may in fact really believe he runs the show -- he wouldn't be the first hired hand to get a swelled head and think he's God.

                                                                      It's totally fine with me whether you believe me or not. I'm just trying to provide a little perspective and I'm far from alone. Others have postulated exactly this dynamic within the show and I'm just saying it isn't so crazy.

                                                                      But as with all the opinions on these boards, you are perfectly free to agree or disagree as you wish. It doesn't make me feel good if you agree with me nor bad if you don't. I'm perfectly fine with holding an unpopular opinion.

                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                        There's no way we can guarantee that none of that goes on since we are not in the room, but I think the appeal of this show to the food community, and in that I will include working chefs and lay cooks at home, is the appearance that it is a meritocracy. I don't think you get the support of the many guest judges and guest restaurantuers from around the country if it came out that the best food didn't always win or that the worst food didn't always get sent home. I know that many of them may just want the exposure as it's good for business and I can only speak for myself, but the minute I learn that's not the case I will lose interest in the show. If I want faked up drama I can watch the Real Housewives.

                                                                        I'm not saying you're wrong or wrong to have that opinion. I just don't think that faking it is good business for this show so it's less likely to be true.


                                                                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                      i agree with Ruth and disagree w AC, who claimed that tom c. is an *actor,* not a chef. there is a very big diff between folks who are on television because they are at the top of their industry, and folks on survivor or real housewives or celebrity drug house or whatever, where people are trying to leverage their personalities into fame and a paycheck. we've only reprised this conversation a zillion fucking times... the judges are actually judging a real cooking contest and not trying to market products. the contestants are trying to gain some traction, sure, but it's based on skill, not popularity, notoriety, looks or drama.

                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                        Interesting. Wonder what Tom C. would say to you calling him a meat puppet and nothing more.

                                                                        But if you want to believe that Tom's lying, and he's totally willing to shoot his reputation in the foot in front of his peers in the industry, please - feel free to do so. Also, all of the guest judges - they're totally willing to throw all credibility about their reputation out the window as well, just for the sake of a television show? Riiiggghhht.

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          Why does it matter what Tom would say? No one here seems to care what the other participants on the show think of the comments about them.

                                                                          But if Tom's in complete creative control, as many have postulated, then it's in his best interest to see that the show does well and the ratings stay up and to that end, to amp up the stakes as much as possible. He's just being a good team player and if his is the Lion's share of the vote, no other "deception" is necessary on the part of the other judges. But I'm guessing he's more like Obi-Wan: "You don't need to see his identification... These aren't the droids you're looking for... He can go about his business. .." and that's all it takes.

                                                                          People are taking this far too seriously and personally. Next thing you know everyone will be claiming the Super Bowl is a mere athletic competition and that every play isn't planned and rehearsed.

                                                                          This is a *produced* TV show, folks. The *Producers* *produce* everything you see. The Executive Producer in charge of the show is called the "show-runner" and he/she is responsible to no one but the Network. And if the show fails he/she is out of a job.

                                                                          I've been the "Production Executive" on a few docu-style "Reality" shows and I can tell you from experience that very little of it is unplanned and unscripted. Noting happens randomly. Just read the interviews from some ex-"Survivor" competitors (and other shows as well) for others who say the same thing. Of course, maybe *they're* lying...

                                                                          But whatever. Everyone can disagree. I'm glad to read others' opinions on this but I'm not going to keep going around in circles on this.

                                                                          1. re: acgold7

                                                                            You seem to be pretty skilled at twisting what people are saying. Who on earth on this thread, or other TC threads, has suggested the shows aren't produced?! Hell, 1/4 of the posts on some threads have "Based on what they shows us", "the elves want us to see..." types of disclaimers before an opinion is stated. No one has suggested these shows aren't produced.

                                                                            Who has suggested that Tom has complete creative control? I think people are suggesting that the judges decide who goes home, despite the legal disclaimer that allows for other scenarios.

                                                                            And your super bowl analogy makes absolutely no sense to me.

                                                                            1. re: debbiel

                                                                              < your super bowl analogy makes absolutely no sense to me.>>

                                                                              I think it was tongue-in-cheek. That kind of remark is very hard to make work in this format.

                                                                            2. re: acgold7

                                                                              "But whatever."

                                                                              Nice Marcel comment. As debbiel said, no one has said the shows aren't produced. Nor has *anyone* said that Tom C. has complete control. Plain and simple - the judges have control of who goes home. Not the producers. Yet again - reputations are on the line, and I can't believe ANY of the chefs who are judges or guest judges would sully their reputation in the industry for a TV show.

                                                                              So yes, I and practically everyone else will continue to disagree, despite how you choose to twist what others are saying.

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                This has become a pretty personal and nasty conversation.

                                                                                My own professional experience tends to agree with AG's. "Reality" shows demonstrate very little reality. They really are mostly scripted - not that there aren't surprises, but most of those "surprises" are prompted and/or encouraged by the producers.

                                                                                As for any of the chef/competitors and the chef/judges not wanting to sully their reputations, they view this much more as an opportunity to promote themselves and their restaurants and sign pretty tight contracts giving full artistic license to the networks and/or the production company. They say and do whatever they say and do and they get what they get.

                                                                                TC tends to be less brutal than a lot of other reality shows (Big Brother, Survivor, the Bachelor), but the control is ultimately in the hands of the producers, not the judges who are ultimately employees.

                                                                                Collichio may have some say. He may even have a lot of say, but if something is going to make "good television" (i.e. provide long conversations like these and good ratings), they will make the final edit.

                                                                                1. re: chicgail

                                                                                  Yes, it has gotten pretty nasty. And I'm fully aware that reality shows aren't real. I think everyone is aware of that, and that editing allows for a LOT of non-linear time line occurrences to be shown. I have family in the film business so I'm fully aware how things happen. However, until we actually speak to someone who works on the show and can give insider knowledge, Tom Colicchio's statements that the judges make the decision about who goes home is the only truth we have. It's been said many times that there have been MANY cheftestants who have been told to PPYKAG who would have provided better drama than those who stayed. So until it's proven otherwise by showing a contract that says the producers choose who stays for "good television", Colicchio's the man.

                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    Hopefully you've had the last word.

                                                                                    1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                      We agree -- it's time for everyone to let this sub-thread go.

                                                                              2. re: acgold7

                                                                                <"Next thing you know everyone will be claiming the Super Bowl is a mere athletic competition and that every play isn't planned and rehearsed.">

                                                                                You mean the outcome is scripted as well? As in professional wrestling? Ooh, those tricky, tricky producers.

                                                                    3. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                      It wasn't just undercooked. It was RAWWWWW! Where's Gordo when you need them. This wouldn't have been a tough decision in Hell's Kitchen. Freaking donkeys!!!

                                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                        "And finally, the producers control who goes home, not the judges. I think it should have been Heather and Beverly, whose plate got the least praise."
                                                                        I can see how you would think that the wrong pair got sent home. I might even agree. But the decision to send a team home for undercooked meat is very much in keeping with the style of judging that has always dominated Top Chef. Colicchio in particular seems to put most of the weight of his judgement on how well the 'centerpiece' of the plate was cooked. And it seems to me that Colicchio's logic seems to carry more of the judging decisions than not (I suspect the other judges sort of bend to his authority).

                                                                        Agree or disagree, how well you cook the protein seems to matter more than the other parts of the dish on Top Chef. And Dakota's venison was the most egregiously flawed of the proteins on display. Likewise, as soon as they said that Chris' elk was well cooked, I knew that team wasn't going home. Considering how much praise Nyesha got for the gratin and various garnishes, I thought it was possible that the judges would change their MO a bit and send home a better-cooked piece of meat. But I can't say I'm surprised at the outcome.

                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                          Agreed. Whenever you hear words or phrases like "inedible, raw, over cooked, dry", etc. someone is usually going home. Raw trumps messy. Inedible trumps raw, etc. It is a shame that Nyesha had to go and aside for the obvious Heather throwing away any pretense that she is not a bully (which we will probably rightly write about several hundred times this week), I think Moto Chris might have shown that he's more show over substance. He's dodged a couple of bullets so far. He's going to run out of luck real soon.

                                                                          1. re: bobbert

                                                                            The weird thing about Moto Chris is he doesn't seem bad when he's cooking straight forward food. He got the hard part (the elk) more or less right. And he obviously has some technical skill, though he uses it completely the wrong way. If somehow he actually got it through his head that visual gimmickry is a bad thing - that dishes should be built from the flavor up, rather than trying to figure out what flavors work into whatever too-clever-by-half idea he's conceived for the dish - I think he could be very competitive this season.

                                                                            But so far he's seemed very resistant to learning that lesson.

                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                              Exactly. He did appear very humbled. Hopefully he takes the lesson to heart.

                                                                              1. re: bobbert

                                                                                I hope so too. I sort of like the guy.

                                                                                But I wouldn't bet on it.

                                                                              2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                It's the Moto thing that it seems he has totally bought into.

                                                                          2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                            When the other judge started to comment on the fact that the 'pressure was clearly starting to get to some of the contestants', or some such, Tom almost cut him off, stating emphatically that it was about the dishes they cooked that week, not personalities or previous history. So, while I was sorry to see Nyesha go, the outcome was consistent with the judging standards. It was a game challenge. And I did appreciate Nyesha's willingness to take responsibility for not checking on the cooking of the venison earlier.

                                                                            OTOH, I did not appreciate Grayson's interrupting Chris to say the dish came out 'exactly as we planned it', as he started to explain (and take responsibility for) screwing up the sweet potato.I appreciate her motive, but it was an untrue statement and she knew it was an untrue statement. I might have kicked him or tried to step on his toe, or interrupted him to say, "We hope you enjoy your dish" or some such, but all she accomplished was showing the judges that she was willing to lie under pressure..

                                                                            and, I also must say that even though I don't think the producers chose who got to stay, I bet they were cheering at the outcome. I thought Heather's behavior was more than a bit scary but also entertaining in the way a horror movie can be fun to watch...

                                                                            One final thought: with the possible exception of one or two of the quickfire dishes (and I was sort of happy to see foam make an appearance, actually, and I think that would have been my favorite of the quickfire dishes) I thought overall the cooking just didn't reach the levels of creativity and expertise we've seen from some of the top contestants in previous seasons.

                                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                                              "When the other judge started to comment on the fact that the 'pressure was clearly starting to get to some of the contestants', or some such, Tom almost cut him off...."

                                                                              Wasn't that other judge Padma?

                                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                  I am talking about at Judge's table, and there is a third male judge, whose name I am afraid I don't know. I thought he was the one who made the comment, not Padma. But if I am wrong, obviously yes, my statement should have read she, since Padma is clearly female. :-)

                                                                                2. re: susancinsf

                                                                                  Excellent point in regard to Grayson.

                                                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                    Agree with the level of creativity with this group as compared to previous seasons. They are almost *all* playing it safe. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tom get pissed and call everyone out about it. He's done that once before telling a previous season's group to step up their game.

                                                                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                      I was annoyed that Chris was telling them it wasn't what they had planned. It's like in theatre, you never let the audience know that you missed a line. You just keep going. That kind of honesty is very much appreciated at Judges Table. Good idea, wrong time.

                                                                                      I like Grasyon, but what did she do on that dish. Chris cooked the meat and screwed up the sweet potato. What else was there?


                                                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                        Heather as a horror movie - I like it!

                                                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                          I think Grayson's interpretation was that while the sweet potato 'fence' or 'chain' or whatever he was trying to make didn't pan out, the were able to accomplish the same goal using the fries - to add visual height to the dish.

                                                                                          I didn't mind her cutting him off - he was likely feeling guilty about screwing up his part of the dish, but she obviously realized that it would be better not to draw attention to something that the judges might not even notice. It's a rule that anyone who has regularly spoken or performed in public knows - if you make a mistake, just keep on going like it was what you meant to do. Most of the time you are the only one that knows something went wrong. Be confident in what you've done and the audience will likely never be the wiser.

                                                                                          1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                                                                            the judges had *already* noticed: they specifically asked about the potatoes.

                                                                                            1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                                                                              Does anyone have any idea *what* he was trying to accomplish with his sweet potato chain? I can't picture what he was attempting.

                                                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                I think he was trying to create a "corral" around the meat.

                                                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                                                    yeah, that must be what he was *trying* for. It would have been pretty cool if he'd succeeded! Too bad....

                                                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                                                      I'm sorry, but that's dumb. It adds nothing to the dish.

                                                                                                      1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                        Flavors look good. "corral" looks dumb. Why bother?

                                                                                                        1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                          Yeah, I don't think the judges would've been very impressed by that. Form over substance.

                                                                                                        2. re: huiray

                                                                                                          That's some of the worst food photography I have ever seen.

                                                                                                  2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                    < And finally, the producers control who goes home, not the judges. I think it should have been Heather and Beverly, whose plate got the least praise. But no, instead it was the dish that everyone agreed was delicious except for the somewhat undercooked meat.>

                                                                                                    Based on what we heard of Judges' Table, I also thought it would be Heather & Beverly going home when I heard Tom say the dish was uncohesive. BUT, if you've watched more than just this season of TC, you already know that undercooked/uncooked meat pretty much always trumps any other errors and sends the perpetrator home.