Top Chef Texas - Ep. #8 - 12/21/11 (Spoilers)
OK, mcf said at the tail end of last week's thread that I'm required to stay here recapping until the finale, so here I am again. :-)
Tonight's episode is all about tributes - the cheftestants will get to pay tribute to the person who taught them how to cook, and they get to create a dish in that person's honor. But we're getting ahead of ourselves - that's not until the Elimination Challenge!
The show starts with the end of the previous show, with Beverly saying that Heather stepped over the line. Padma steps into the still very hot kitchen, and tells everyone to pack their bags...they're heading to Austin! This is Paul's hometown, so he'll have to represent.
They all jump into the Toyota Siennas (thanks, Chris Crary, we *never* would have known!), and hit the road. Chris J. asks Heather, who's driving, what kind of guy she's looking for. She says she's been career-focused, so she's not had a chance to find a guy, but he'd be tall and dark. Then Edward asks her she has a choice - one night with John Besh, or $5,000 and immunity in the next challenge - she takes John Besh. In another car, Chris C. asks Paul if they were both on Match.com, would they be compatible? Grayson said Malibu Chris would be the girl and Paul would be the guy. Chris complains "Why do I have to be the girl?" and Grayson replies "Because you're so beautiful!" It seems Chris Crary got the nickname of Malibu from the other cheftestants, says Grayson, because he's the most beautiful and most concerned about his hair! LOL
They all arrive at The Driskill Hotel and check out the suite in which they're staying. The relax a bit, and then head out to Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, where both Padma and Tom Colicchio greet them.
The Quickfire will be directed by fans on Twitter, of all things. Per Padma, Twitter gained popularity in 2007 at the South by Southwest Festival. It seems for this challenge, they had fans tweet what they wanted the chefs to do, and any time Tom Colicchio of Padma see a suggestion they like, they'll call it out. No matter *what* the cheftestants are doing for their dish, they are required to switch it up based on the latest tweet. The winner of the QF will get $10,000 - BUT no immunity.
The first tweet comes out with "everything is better with bacon" - so they have 45 minutes to create a dish with bacon. Chris Crary said that's a softball challenge, as it's everyone's guilty pleasure. Beverly goes for the pressure cooker, even though she's never used it before, to braise pork belly. Meanwhile, Tom is asking the Twitter universe for the first twist.
The next Tweet says "Do a hash for a #hashtag challenge." A hash has to be one component as part of their bacon dish. Edward could have a issue, has he's making a bacon paté, and pairing it with softshell crab, so the hash will be an interesting blend. Meanwhile, Beverly's pressure cooker is open, and her pork belly is tender.
The next Tweet Twist - "Every chef needs to pick a pantry ingredient and then hand it off to another chef to use in another dish." Chris C. gives Lindsay a bottle of sriracha, and she gives him a container of maple syrup. Chris Jones gave Beverly a lemon, and she gave him oil. Edward gave Ty-Lor scallions, and he gave Edward sriracha. Grayson's got to get a tomatillo on her plate, and ends up pureeing it and uses it like a sauce.
We're back for judging - Beverly's crispy pork belly with a corn, bell pepper, and habanero hash. It looks very good! Chris Jones ends up over-salting his Corn Purée with Bacon and Butter Poached Potato Hash and a Seared Scallop. Tom said something was too salty. Chris realizes he over-salted the potatoes.
Heather said she immediately thought of making a bacon jam. She did a Smoked Paprika Quail with Bacon Jam and Leek Hash. Edward makes a Potato Hash with Bacon & Soft Shell Crab DeGlazed in Sriracha. Sarah did a Burrata-Stuffed Squash Blossom with Bacon & Zucchini Hash. Tom said "It's crispy!" Next up is Chris Crary, who did Bacon-Wrapped Monkfish with Potato, Leek and Bacon Hash with Clams and Passionfruit-Glazed Bok Choy and Maple Syrup. Tom said he think it works very well, and was very surprised. Grayson is next - she made a Shrimp Puff with Crispy Bacon Hash Cake. Tom asked why she called it a puff, and she replied she wanted it in their mind that it was light.
Next up, Ty-Lor - he made Maple-Glazed Bacon with Bacon & Kale Hash. And finally, Paul made Bacon several different ways - Bacon Fat, Crispy Bacon, Blackberries, Chorizo & Mushroom Hash.
The bottom group is: Grayson, Chris Jones, and Ed
The top group? Beverly (and yup - we see a roll of the eyes from Heather upon Tom's announcement that she's in the top group!), Sarah, and Paul
The winner? Paul! Sarah's really disappointed. Bu Paul's up to $30,000 in winnings - Tom said the drinks are "on us in the hotel bar - but don't go too crazy!" OK - you KNOW what this means! Tom and/or Padma will show up to announce another challenge! The piano player starts up in the bar, and then announces Patti LaBelle, and she sings on stage (which I fast-forwarded through!). And YES - Padma comes into the bar - and says that Patti is a guest judge. Patti and a few of her friends will join them for dinner. Padma asks Patti who taught her to cook, and Patti explains how she started cooking. So Padma says to the cheftestants that the judges want to know who started them on their culinary journey. The cheftestants are to tell a story with a tribute dish to that person who helped give them their love of cooking.
They'll have 2 hours to cook before serving at the Driskill. The next day, they're off to Whole Foods - 30 minutes to shop.
We're back, and they're shown getting ready in their rooms in the a.m. Sarah asks Beverly about the picture of her family - Beverly's son was only 4 months when she left for the competition (or so it seems - he was at least 4 mo. when the picture was taken). The Congratulations Beverly! sign goes back up on the mirror, and Beverly notes that the competition is for her family and even though there's a lot of bullying going around (HER words, people! - and the Elves show Heather at the mirror getting ready), she has to keep it in perspective. Her family keeps her motivated.
The two Chris's are shown getting ready, and Crary said to Jones "Chris - crack kills" - and Jones ends up tugging up his sweatpants. LOL Ty-Lor and Edward are at the table, asking each other who their inspiration is. Ty-Lor had a Japanese housekeeper growing up, and Edward's grandma always made vegetarian soups, so he'll make something vegetarian even though he doesn't cook a lot of vegetarian. Ty-Lor said that's pretty cool - it takes some balls! Edward replies "I've got balls...and I'm gonna show 'em!" Lovely. :-)
They head off to the Top Chef kitchen in the Driskill Grill. Everyone's going balls to the wall in trying to get everything done on time. The judges file in to the dining table - Emeril Lagasse joins Tom, Padma and Patti at the dining table, along with friends of Patti's.
The first chefs serving are Heather and Chris Jones.
Chris (tribute to his grandmother) - Lemon-Pepper Steak with Baked Potato and Vegetables
Heather (tribute to her mom) - Beef Stroganoff with Herb Spaetzle & Roasted Wild Mushrooms
The judges like Chris's dish, although Emeril calls out the use of A-1 in the demi-glace. But everyone seemed to like it. For Heather's dish, Emeril said he didn't even know the cut of meat, and Patti replied "It's Bigfoot!" Emeril said to Tom "I feel like I'm at a banquet at one of those hotels you drag me to!" Padma said "I don't even want to know the rest of that story!"
Next up - Sarah and Paul.
Paul (tribute to his grandmother) - Quail Adobo with Ginger Rice and Green Mango Salsa
Sarah (tribute to her grandmother and grandfather) - Pork Sausage-Stuffed Cabbage and Spinach with Browned Butter
Tom really liked Sarah's dish - light and nice. He said whoever taught her how to make this dish should get a kiss and hug! Paul's dish was also well received. Patti's NOT a quail lover, but she never got to the ginger rice because the quail knocked her out! Emeril asked Patti that if Tom and he came to Patti's house for dinner, what would she make? Fried chicken & cabbage and mac & cheese with 8 cheeses with lobster and shrimp. Yeah, not TOO heavy a meal, is it?
Next for service is Beverly and Chris Crary.
Beverly (tribute to her mother) - Korean-Braised Short Rib with Edamame, Scallion Purée and Hon Shemeji Mushrooms
Chris Crary (tribute to his uncle) - Sockeye Salmon with Confit Potato & Brown Sugar Carrot Purée
Patti liked the carrot purée but thought the fish was just fish. Tom, however, didn't like the carrot side, as he didn't taste carrots. Too much going on in Chris's dish. Beverly's dish, however, was VERY well received!
Service time for Edward and Lindsay.
Lindsay (tribute to both of her grandmothers - one Greek, one Southern) - Trout Spanakopita with Crispy Leeks and Rainbow Trout Roe
Edward (tribute to his grandmother) - Modern Bibimbap with Lemon-Chili Sauce
Lindsay's dish was liked by Patti - the Trout Roe reminds her of caviar, which she first had with Emeril. And Lindsay's dish reminds her of that. Emeril likes the crispiness of the trout, loves the roe, but there's too much butter and it shuts down the dish. One of Patti's friends who joined them at the dining table is allergic to egg, but she *loved* Edward's dish. Emeril sid the dish played right into the story of his grandmother.
Finally, Grayson and Ty-Lor are up.
Grayson (tribute to her parents) - Grilled Rib Eye Steak with German Potato Salad and Grilled Vegetables (and her 12 oz. steak is HUGE!)
Ty-Lor (tribute to his Japanese nanny) - Duck Fat-Fried Chicken Tenders with Pickled Peaches
Ty-Lor's dish was liked a lot. Tom noted that his story about his nanny ties in well with his dish. Grayson's dish was overwhelming - and the meat was gristly and stringy for some diners, although Grayson stands by her dish in the kitchen.
Padma comes into the kitchen and asks to see Grayson, Heather and Chris Crary - based on the comments from the diners, they are DEFINITELY in the bottom group! Yup, they're the least favorite dishes. Could this be Heather's farewell? (probably not, but oh my fingers are crossed, even though I still have some typing to do!)
Discussing Grayson's dish, Emeril said the beef wasn't trimmed (although she said she did trim all the fat outside and that she felt confident cooking it the way it should be). Padma said it was sinewy and spongy. Tom asked why she didn't take a more modern take on it and Grayson said she took the challenge literally.
Chris's salmon dish was seared too fast, and Emeril said the dill was overpowering. Heather's stroganoff just went awry. Padma said the dumplings were dry, overcooked, and chewy. Patti said the meat wasn't cooked enough - it was so gristly. Tom asked if it was supposed to be braised, it wasn't braised enough. Heather said she was afraid to use the pressure cooker, as it was used last time for duck and the duck was stringy. Tom dryly pointed out that Beverly pressure-cooked her meat, and "she's not here!" Woo-hoo Tom - NICE bit of a slam to Heather. Loved it!
Beverly, Sarah and Edward are asked to go in - they're the top group! Wouldn't it be pure justice if Beverly wins? Heather's shown shrugging her shoulders as the three of them file out to JT.
All three dishes were enjoyed - Patti liked the mushrooms were like meat, with a beautiful presentation. Beverly's dish was noted by Tom as beautiful presentation, with every ingredient having a purpose. Sarah's dish was praised for the techique by Emeril - she could have bought the sausage, but she didn't.
Patti announced the winner - and it's Sarah! Doesn't look like she wins anything, though.
The judges discuss the bottom group - Heather's dish was too gristly, Chris's dish just had things thrown on a plate to see what happens and Grayson's dish didn't have any "freestyle" and wasn't made current.
I'm thinking it's Grayson or Chris Crary who are going home. We're back in front of the judges, and Tom reviews the issues they had with all three dishes. And who is it? WHOA!!! It's HEATHER!!! Woo hoo! Latah!
The camera pulls in on Beverly's face in the Stew Room at her finding out Heather was going home, and then in the confessional, she said "Heather reaped her own karma. No one told her what to do, and she's going home for what she did." Beverly had some personal satisfaction for that as well.
Previews for next week show an outside BBQ, and Sarah seems to have problems with the heat and ends up being taken away in an ambulance, and Edward getting ticked off that she's not there to finish up her dish. (Their dish?)
We're on to Last Chance Kitchen, where it'll be Nyesha against Queen of Mean, Heather. The LCK Challenge is to create a dish using three techniques - frying, injecting and foaming. Nyesha said she relished the fact that Heather walked in the door - that she talked down to people and she really wanted to shut her up and wipe that laughing smile off her face. Whoa. "Undermining and condescending." It seems there WERE some cheftestants who didn't like Heather either!
They've got 30 minutes. And all the other ejected chefs are there asking questions, stressing Heather out while she starts cleaning jumbo prawns. Nyesha, on the other hand, is going to make a dessert! Out of the blue, Heather's injection got shrimp juice on Nyesha's fried dough because she's a total mess in her kitchen. Tom tried Nyesha's dish first and then Heather's. Tom was pleased with Nyesha's dessert, and he really liked Heather's prawns. And a winner is chosen in LCK. :-D
Don't care if it was the producers, karma or just an off cooking night for Heather but I am so glad that the storyline/and or Heather actually being a bully is over.
The quickfire was ok but I wish they had more than three suggestions from twitter.
Really liked that they didn't have a texas themed challenge and actually got to cook individually and without any crazy twists.
Also liked Emeril's critiques and even Patti LaBelle were useful and actually explained why the dishes didn't work.
Liked that a lot of the chefs used their memories as a jumping off point to their dishes.
What I took from this episode:
Hey, they can cook! There were some very nice dishes being put out tonight.
Sarah is making a move.
A pressure cooker is a good kitchen tool.
That pan Asian fusion stuff looks really good.
Tom to Heather - "Beverly used a pressure cooker and she's not here". I thought WE were bad enough. Et tu Tom?
Heather, for all she's been, was pretty gracious on the way out.
Finally, karma can be a bitch.
Bev sure was a whiz with the pressure cooker for someone who has never used one before! We're probably lucky that Heather didn't want to use the pressure cooker. For all we know there wouldn't have been another one available and she would have blamed Bev for THAT, saying that if that mean, rotten, lazy, sous chef Bev hadn't hogged the pressure cooker and prevented her (Heather) from cooking food "her way/the way she wanted" she wouldn't have been on the bottom!
That pan Asian fusion stuff looks really good.
Yeah, that's why PF Chang is packed. At least the Heather drama can go away now. Paul is still the only person that seems to show real creativity and talent. I would love to try his adobo dish. The rest just seems so ordinary regardless of their resume. Oh Sarah would actually look cute if she wasn't obese (at least she looked good when she was young). If Ed can bring it on a consistent basis, he'd give Paul a run for his money.
Yes, there was a certain satisfaction in seeing that.
In fact, I would consider Beverly Kim's dish as almost wholly spruced-up "Asian"/Korean, while Ed Lee's seems to me to be a kind-of "Noveau Korean". :-)
Perhaps the rest of this season will see an easing up of scurrilous comments about different cuisines. :-)
Nice "drop-dead, HT" from Tom Colicchio.
Since we know TC & Co heard all that clap-trap from HT last episode at JT, surely he must have surmised certain things about HT and the dynamics in the BOH which he probably had in the back of his mind at this week's JT, notwithstanding the "judging each episode by the food presented that episode only" stuff. :-)