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Top Chef Texas - Ep. #11 - 01/18/12 (Spoilers)

OK, we're down to 7 cheftestants - and we have the battle of gorgeous people as judges tonight - Charlize Theron, Padma, and Eric Ripert. Everyone's happy!

We start off back in the Stew Room, and WHAT a surprise - Sarah *still* thinks that Lindsay should have won as "she was the glue that kept us together." Seriously? Gah - and Lindsay's face was sour throughout the entire time in the Stew Room. Tom shows up in the Stew Room, and tells them they're heading back to San Antonio. The women are in one Toyota, silent as church mice - except when Lindsay is saying she's got "very high standards". Sheesh.

They head into the TC Kitchen, and there is Padma and Eric Ripert. The Quickfire is all about quick thinking. Ripert says sometimes there's time in a kitchen where they have time to think and plan; other times they have to think quickly. The conveyor belt behind them will have items coming around and they will be required to choose three of them - the longer they wait, the potentially worse the items will be that they can choose. They have 30 minutes to make a dish, using their 3 items and everything else from the pantry.

Some people choose things right away; some are waiting like Chris Jones. Sometimes they'll see something, miss getting it off the conveyor belt, and wait for it to come around - and the people in teh back remove it. Chris Jones is waiting for lobster, and sure enough, they remove it. TWICE he goes for it, and TWICE they remove it. Tee hee! But on th ethird try, he is able to snag them.

(A NOTE - I *thought* the mini-rewind worked during the DVR'ing, but it seems that it's still screwed up, so I'll try and get the items - OH NO! Here we go AGAIN! It's screwed up!) NOOOOOO!!!!! Trying to fix.....

OK, I'm watching live so I won't have descriptions of each QF dish and what they each chose. But Padma and Eric are trying each dish; Paul thinks he's bombed using bitter melon. Lindsay takes a chance and makes a bouillabaise-type dish for Eric Ripert. Beverly didn't get an item on her dish, where Edward said "I would have cheated and just thrown it in the air and hoped that it fell on the dish." WOW. Edward, you'd CHEAT?

Low group - Chris J., Grayson, and Paul
Top group - Sarah, Lindsay, and Beverly - but she can't be in the top group, as Padma tells her that she would have won hands down if the curried Rice Krispies had been on the dish.

The winner? Lindsay - SHE gets immunity. But she knows she was really 2nd best.

The Elimination Challenge is to make a dish "fit for a queen" - Charlize Theron comes in to tout her movie "The Queen and the Huntsman". She plays a serial killer evil queen to get her competition, Snow White. They are tasked with making a Gothic feast - each dish should be wickedly beautiful - indulgent, and think like a queen to "take out their competition."

They head to Whole Foods to shop for their items; then they're back at the house and are discussing how they'll incorporate evil into their dishes. Chris Jones seems to be going *way* overboard again - thinking concept vs. the actual food. A lot of camera time with him, including him being on a phone call with his wife....is this portending him leaving?

They're in the living room and Paul is asking that everyone plays nicely in the kitchen the next day. Lindsay says in the confessional that "everyone's had problem with Beverly jumping in and taking things without asking; she's like a bulldog in the kitchen." So Sarah and Lindsay continue to snipe about Beverly. :::Sigh:::

They arrive at Southwest School of Art, and they have 2 hours to cook. Edward is the first course; Paul is stressed with 14 ingredients on his plate. Paul is also saying that he thinks Beverly might be doing halibut to show Lindsay that she *can* cook halibut. He also said that Beverly's had MORE cooking experience than anyone in the TC kitchen.

The guests arrive - Padma, Charlize, Tom Colicchio, Emeril, and Eric Ripert.

First course:

Edward - Tuna Tartare with Black Garlic Ponzu Pudding with Asian Pear Vinaigrette.

(AND it went into freeze mode again - I'm SORRY! I'll try and catch up! I seriously HATE this freakin' remote control!)

Paul - (need a description - TV froze again!) - got it - Enchanted Forest of Fois Gras, Bacon, Strawberries, Pumpernickel, Serrano Peppers, Pickled Cherries and Beets with a Bloody Handprint (THANKS to debbiel below for listing Paul's dish for me!)

Beverly - (another description needed! - got it) - Seared Halibut with Red Curry Coulis and Black Forbidden Rice (again, THANKS to debbiel!)

Lindsay - Seared Scallop over "Witch's Stew" & Dragon Beans - the smell is enchanting everyone, and everyone loved her dish.

Sarah - Amarone Risotto with Lamb Heart, Currant and Sunchoke - again, everyone loved the dish

Grayson - Black Chicken with Roasted Beets, Red Chard and a Quail Egg - she REALLY took the "slaughter" theme to the max - they are LOVING the presentation, and everyone loves the dish's taste as well.

Chris J. - Poisoned Apple & Cherry Pie (with Rice Krispie maggots) - Tom LOVED the drama of it, saying "this is where the bag of tricks works". Yet again - another great dish.

Tom said it was the best meal of the season so far; Padma said because the entire meal was so good, it would come down to the glitches in each dish.

Padma comes into the Stew Room and asks to see ALL of the cheftestants. Tom notes that in all of the years of doing the show, this was one of the finest meals he's ever had.

Edward - "We are here to please you." to Charlize saying if she were Queen, she would have been more than pleased. NICE suck-up! LOL Tom notes to Chris J. that he knows he was getting on him all season about the tricks, but this was the time to use them. Charlize notes to Grayson that it really looked like she slaughtered the chicken.

The Winner? Paul! (Now I *really* need to know his dish description please!) He gets two tix to the World Premiere of "Snow White and the Huntsman". Edward, Lindsay and Chris J. are also safe. Left are Sarah, Beverly, and Grayson. The judges are having problems

Sarah - Charlize said her first hit of risotto had a hit of salt; and Tom said it was slightly undercooked. He admits he's nitpicking.

Beverly - Tom said the sauce was sticky having used arrowroot, and Charlize said the sauce had a weird texture. (And she gets teary defending herself.)

Grayson - her dish, while appropriate, had salty greens.

I have a feeling it might be Beverly this time.

The judges discuss each dish and make their decision. Tom reviews each of their dishes with them...and Padma tells Beverly to PPYKAG. She could have saved herself from this Elim round if ONLY that curried Rice Krispies had been on her dish. She has a gracious farewell, saying she never threw anyone under the bus.

Previews - theres a head-to-head battle - Sarah vs. Lindsay, Grayson vs. Chris J., and Paul vs. Edward.

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

So it's Beverly against Nyesha in Last Chance Kitchen! Beverly walks in and Nyesha says she's thinking she's got this in the bag. Hmm... Tom asks the eliminated chefs, who file in, who will take this one. Heather spouts off "My money's on Nyesha!" And Tom replies "Well, you two have had some bad history all the way through" as he points to both Heather and Beverly. WTG, Tom! But NO ONE bets on Beverly. She's hoping to prove them wrong.

The challenge is about local fare - Black Drum, a fish local to the waters. With one twist - once they're at their station, they will have ONE CHANCE to make a pass through the pantry and gather *all* of their equipment, food, pantry items, etc. for their prep and dish. They get what they need; Beverly gets in Nyesha's way. Tom runs into the kitchen, and throws yet another twist - they have to STOP and switch stations - literally using the other's pantry ingredients! Yowza! Beverly settles into Nyesha's ingredients; Nyesha's pissed at how Beverly's ingredients are NOT what she'd like. Beverly's got 5 min. to butcher her fish, leaves a pan on the stove too long with way-too hot oil (which she then pours on to the grill, pissing off Keith!) Tom tries both dishes; liked both dishes but it comes down to seasoning, and he makes his choice of winner.

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  1. I liked the conveyor belt challenge. More interesting than most! Lindsay wins, but Beverly would have won if she hadn't forgotton one of the challenge ingredients. I hope the others took notice. And Charlize looks just beautiful!

    11 Replies
    1. re: jeanmarieok

      Yea what a bummer. 5 more seconds in the quickfire and we would have gotten rid of Sarah instead of Bev!

      I'm more upset about the twist in last chance kitchen! Switch stations?? So the less prepared chef gets the advantage? How does that make sense? Worst twist ever.

      1. re: Firenzilla

        How was Beverly less prepared? Nyesha just didn't like the ingredients that Beverly selected. It's not like Nyesha had to hold the food over a flame with tongs because Beverly forgot a pan.

        1. re: dmjordan

          Beverly wasn't thrilled with Nyesha's choices, either. Both chefs cook completely different styles. Tom liked the food from both of them,

          1. re: dmjordan

            Neysha was much more organized. She was already back at her station prepping her dish. I don't know how much prepping Nyesha has already done. Whereas Bev has dredged the fish which required Nyesha to then wash the flour off.

            1. re: Worldwide Diner

              That was my impression too. Generally speaking, if you give me a choice between cooking from a station hastily set up by Nyesha and cooking from one hastily set up by Beverly, I'd happily take Nyesha's station.

              Beverly seems to have some real strengths in her cooking style. But fast, efficient, organized prep doesn't seem to be among them.

              1. re: Worldwide Diner

                I just checked out LCK again. When Beverly returns with all of her supplies, you can see Nyesha's prep table to the right. Nyesha isn't even there yet. Also, when Tom comes in to tell them to switch Nyesha was unloading all the ingredients from her bus tub and hadn't prepped anything yet. Beverly was already dredging her fish, as you said.

              2. re: dmjordan

                I'm not saying Bev WAS less prepared, I'm just commenting on the absurdity of the twist. What if one competitor had forgetten some vital ingredient or cooking tool? the more prepared chef would be punished.

              3. re: Firenzilla

                I think it is an awesome twist. Forcing chefs out of their comfort zone and making them cook with ingredients that are not their favorite is great. I always enjoy when classically-trained chefs are made to engage with ingredients that they think are beneath them and someone less rigid rises to the occasion and does something interesting.

                1. re: FoodPopulist

                  I think it would have been a better twist if it was handled differently. Separate the contest into two parts - allot the first 5 or 10 minutes specifically and only to having the contestants grab and organize all their prep supplies. Then have them switch.

                  The problem comes into play when the chefs are given an overall time limit for the challenge. The chefs run around and assemble their prep in a rushed manner, because they are eager to get started cooking - you are in fact penalizing the chef who more efficiently assembled and planned their prep. Taking the time factor out of the equation would at least make it more of a fair assessment of what each chef would do with the other's favored ingredients and tools.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    I thought the challenge was interesting, but as others have said, unfair. I don't think it worked out unfairly in this particular case, but it could have. I'm not sure it was necessary to force them to use the "basics" that the other person chose (pans etc.); really the ingredients are the important part.

              4. re: jeanmarieok

                Maybe this was mentioned downthread, but that challenge comes from Masterchef Australia. I liked it back then, too - it's basically a gamble. Everyone ends up with a disadvantage but they can't complain since they made their choice.

              5. Generally speaking, I've been defending the talent level of these chefs this season, arguing that they're not as bland or lame as they seem.

                That said, even I'm left wondering right now - where the hell did that meal come from?

                31 Replies
                1. re: cowboyardee

                  EXACTLY! Even Padma, Tom and Emeril were all amazed!

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Great cooking is what happens when you take away all the team challenges and the hoops they had to jump through in other challenges. It was so much fun to just see them cook!

                      1. re: debbiel

                        +2

                        I *really* wish they'd let them do stuff like this more often - just let them COOK their own stuff!

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          + 3
                          I loved this episode. We got to see what these chefs can really do! And the judges were surprised "This is the best food we've had all season" No crap!! It wasn't a gimmicky group challenge to make the best gummy bear.... they got to make REAL food the way they wanted to.

                          1. re: kubasd

                            +4

                            This is the episode I've been waiting for to get me excited about this season in general and a chef specifically.

                            I LOVE when I learn about new ingredients like black chicken and lamb hearts.

                          2. re: LindaWhit

                            It looks like we'll have more of that from here on out. In his blog Tom said that there will be no more BBQ or something to that effect. Great news, if you ask me. Just turn them loose in the kitchen and let them cook.

                        2. re: dmjordan

                          +4

                          I was so hoping Sarah was going home tho.... :(

                            1. re: ChefJune

                              So was I. The risotto curse seems to have been lifted, even for those who undercook it.

                              1. re: KailuaGirl

                                I know ha. Beverly got beat out by risotto. WTF, this is Top Chef and not Top Risotto!

                                1. re: JAB

                                  Yeah, why doesn't someone say "Sarah only cooks risotto!"?

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    I'll say it:

                                    Sarah only cooks risotto.

                                    Why aren't I on TV?

                            2. re: dmjordan

                              +17 (I lost count)

                              I think that the "tradition" of Restaurant Wars (minus the "one group goes today, another tomorrow" hiccup) is great.

                              And having, maybe, one other Team-type showdown can be interesting...but it so often limits what they can do.

                              1. re: DougRisk

                                Even with RW, I'd like to see a bit of a change. In addition to not forcing one of them to do FOH, I'd like for them to each do one dish or each do two dishes. None of this he did two and part of one and he did one but helped to expedite... I realize there has to be some collaboration in the real world, but I want things a bit more clear cut for my RW.

                                1. re: debbiel

                                  "In addition to not forcing one of them to do FOH, I'd like for them to each do one dish or each do two dishes. None of this he did two and part of one and he did one but helped to expedite..."

                                  Good point.

                              2. re: dmjordan

                                +100!!! I say it every season, it makes it so much more fun to watch when they can compete like they did for this episode.

                                1. re: dmjordan

                                  Yes I think it was Paul who said that he works well with "parameters"; I absolutely agree- a basic "theme" to get the inspiration going, and then let them at it.

                              3. re: cowboyardee

                                All very cool stuff. I think we're done with the team stuff and now they have to perform on their own. I also believe that with only 7 left, they no longer have the luxury of playing "not to lose" while hoping someone else screws up. Now if they want to stay in the competition they have to go for it and play to win. There is no more being under the radar if you want to move on.

                                I think, in the end, Beverly might have played it a little safe with her dish and that's what did her in, in addition to the sauce. How could you possibly send Grayson home for over salted greens after she put together that plate and Sarah, as much as I have liked to see her go if only because she did risotto, used the hearts - real gutzy move.
                                Newfound respect for Moto Chris
                                Lindsay - still don't really care for her but two nice dishes.
                                Sarah has enough talent that it's not really necessary for her to stab people in the back.
                                Ed just keeps on keeping on.
                                Grayson. I really like everything about her and she can cook. Where were you 30 years ago?
                                Beverly, like her poster says, really can do it but alas, I think this really was about as far as she could go. In the end, it was the clock that beat her in the QF. That multi-tasking thing.
                                Oh yeah, Paul. He's the man.

                                1. re: bobbert

                                  I have to give it up to Paul, that was a lot of ingredients to pull off into a cohesive dish let alone win.

                                  1. re: JAB

                                    Yeah, he said he had about 14 different components (minus the one with the figs that he burned) for his dish.... WOW.

                                    1. re: kubasd

                                      I thought it was Cocoa Nibs that he burned, as well as some sauce...I don't remember the sauce.

                                        1. re: LurkerDan

                                          Whoops!! Thanks guys, don't know where I was getting figs from...

                                    2. re: JAB

                                      Yea when it was happening, I was like whoa I think Paul is trying to do too much. And then the judges tasted it and loved it! Paul is a real pro and favorite, at least in my eyes, to become the next Top Chef.

                                  2. re: cowboyardee

                                    "That said, even I'm left wondering right now - where the hell did that meal come from?"

                                    I'm a pretty regular diner at Uchiko, the restaurant Paul is the exec in. His success on the individual challenges does not surprise me in the least, he was well on his way to being a well known chef even without top chef, its one of the best restaurants in a city with a lot of very good food.

                                    1. re: twyst

                                      I'm very excited to try Uchiko Saturday night. Going up for my wife's and my birthday weekend.

                                      1. re: saeyedoc

                                        Oh nice!! Definitely report back how it is!

                                        1. re: saeyedoc

                                          make sure you have the jar jar duck!

                                          1. re: twyst

                                            twyst, when I saw your comment solo (the other ones around it were closed), I thought you were making a reference to star wars...... haha! oh and no pun intended with "solo"

                                    2. Those of you watching right now - PLEASE help out with Paul's and Beverly's dish names for me if you can? I'd like not to stay up to watch it at 11:30 tonight if I don't have to. (I don't want to have to bug the Mods tomorrow either!)

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        Paul had the forbidden forest with a "bloody" handprint. I don't remember all the forest ingredients.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          Beverly had some forbidden rice...I can't catch it all and type. Props to Linda as usual!

                                          1. re: momjamin

                                            I remember hearing she used Forbidden Rice in her dish...so I've added that and the "enchanted forest" for Paul...hopefully someone will chime in before I go to sleep. Thanks!

                                            (I'm SO calling Verizon FiOS to get a new remote tomorrow morning! LOL)

                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                            Paul: enchanted forest of fois gras, bacon, strawberries, pumpernickel, Serrano peppers, picked cherries, beets, bloody handprint

                                            Beverly: halibut, red curry coulis, black forbidden rice
                                            Eta: pineapple in there somewhere, too, and halibut was seared

                                            1. re: debbiel

                                              OMG - I ****LOVE*** you debbiel! THANK YOU! ::::copying and pasting with credit to you!:::::::

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                No problem; it was still on the dvr. But note that Paul's cherries were pickled, not simply picked as I wrote above. :)

                                                1. re: debbiel

                                                  I actually read it as pickled, and that's what I wrote up above in the OP. (You can change your post for about 45 min. after you've posted it, you know! That's the ONLY way I'd get this original post started! LOL)

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    Yes, unless your iPhone gets all wacky when you hit edit, even tho it has worked before. But I don't think I should complain about technology to you at this point, at least not until Verizon really fixes your system.

                                                    1. re: debbiel

                                                      Yeah, I'll be calling for a new remote first thing tomorrow morning! Then, of course, I'll have to work through programming the damn thing. Grrr....

                                          3. Amazing what happens when you just let them cook without a restraining gimmick or Texas cliche!

                                            When Grayson said she had never cooked black chicken, I got worried. Glad she did well and stayed. Love that Paul won! Loved that the episode was mostly about food!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: debbiel

                                              Amazing indeed! This is what Top Chef is all about!

                                              1. re: debbiel

                                                I agree. I was so happy that this wasn't a group challenge and that there were no Texas-related themes involved!

                                                1. re: Boudleaux

                                                  Or drama unrelated to food / cooking.

                                              2. This is totally parenthetical -- what was Ed cooking in the panini press for breakfast?

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: chicgail

                                                  i was thinking egg sandwiches - one of them definitely had a lot of yellow filling and it didn't all look like cheese.

                                                  1. re: chicgail

                                                    I already deleted the episode, but I thought it was a waffle maker and they were waffles. Waffles with bits of green stuff in them.

                                                    1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                                      My memory said it was a waffle maker, but I saw green stuff in it also and decided it couldn't be waffles - it must be some kind of panini. What kind of green stuff do you suppose goes in a waffle?

                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                        Yeah, it was definitely a waffle maker, but it didn't look like he was making waffles.