Cattle balls: The Top Chef Texas recap

Will the real supervillain please step forward?

I think I’ve finally figured out the one flaw with this otherwise kickass season of Top Chef: There’s no villain. There’s no 5-star egomaniac, just a series of 2-star egomaniacs. We need that one jerk, that one contestant we love to hate, who throws others under the bus with impunity, who crows endlessly about his or her own culinary prowess, who is bullying, combative, who acts like every personal failure is somebody else’s fault. (In short, we need Stefan Richter from Season 5.)

They tried Heather on for size last night. Sure, she’s brassy and a little pushy, and she wasn’t particularly “nice” to Beverly. But she strikes me as a gal I’d love to belly up to a bar with. “Fun to go drinking with” is rarely a good quality in supervillains.

That being said, I figured I’d go through the remaining contestants, ranking them on the Stefan scale.

0 Stefans = absolutely no villain potential.

4 Stefans = Ralph Fiennes, dust off your resume. (It’s a Voldemort joke, people. Keep up.)


Edward Lee

Villainous attributes: Shifty jaw might reflect shifty moral character; outsized ego
Mitigating qualities: Chuck Norris-like ability to play through pain; invited Beverly and her hubby to his restaurant
Final VPS (villain potential score): 3 Stefans



Paul Qui

Villainous attributes: Too adorable?
Mitigating qualities: Hard-working, sweet, and loveable. Is that mitigating enough for ya?
Final VPS: 0 Stefans

Beverly Kim
Villainous attributes: Went all Kanye on that Whole Foods meat counter that one time. (Never forget.)
Mitigating qualities: Cries at the drop of an onion; has secret food crush on Edward Lee
Final VPS: 1 Stefan


Lindsay Autry

Villainous attributes: Unmistakable air of superiority; alarmingly good posture
Mitigating qualities: Really hasn’t done anything villainous since episode one; made Vienna sausage homage to her pappy
Final VPS: 2 Stefans

Dakota Weiss 
Villainous attributes: Nobody with that many tattoos can be all good
Mitigating qualities: My sister from another mister.

Final VPS: 1 Stefan


Heather Terhune

Villainous attributes: Seriously would NOT shut up about Beverly’s shrimp
Mitigating qualities: Prefers Dynasty to Dallas.
Final VPS: 3 Stefans

Whitney Otawka
Villainous attributes: It’s always the quiet ones. .  .
Mitigating qualities: Grew up as a poor sharecropper during the potato famine in Ireland, or something
Final VPS: Does it really even matter at this point?


Sarah Grueneberg

Villainous attributes: Control freak; plays the “I grew up in Texas” card shamelessly
Mitigating qualities: I like her smile. (So sue me.)
Final VPS: 2 Stefans


Chris Jones

Villainous attributes: Condescending attitude toward “little buddy”; Pebbles Flintstone/Samurai delicatessen (h/t Cliffie) judging hair.
Mitigating qualities: Much to my great annoyance, still hasn’t actually done anything “villainous”
Final VPS: 2 Stefans


Chris Crary

Villainous attributes: Resemblance to Billy Bush.
Mitigating qualities: Sexual confusion playing out adorably on national TV; used to be a fatty.
Final VPS: 1 Stefan


Ty-lör Boring

Villainous attributes: Umlaut abuse.
Mitigating qualities: If you slice him with an oyster knife, will he not bleed?
Final VPS: 2 Stefans


Nyesha Arrington

Villainous attributes: This is the SECOND reality TV cooking show she’s appeared on.
Mitigating qualities: Considering her affiliation with Chef Robuchon, could be so much more of a diva.
Final VPS: 1 Stefan


Grayson Schmitz

Villainous attributes: “Sauces ain’t no thang to me”
Mitigating qualities: America’s sweetheart
Final VPS: 1 Stefan

So there ya have it. Looks like Edward and Heather are truly our last hopes. Go forth and be shitty, guys!

Anyway, onto the show, which was actually kind of boring (or, as Umlaut might say, böring) hence my “vamping” above.


The Quickfire challenge is about the 5 mother sauces—Veloute, Béchamel, Hollandaise, Espangole, and Tomate.

Each cheftestant gets assigned a sauce and then they are asked to create a dish using their sauce in an innovative way.

“Ready for the mother of all Quickfires?” Padma asks.

And the chefs all laugh like she has just said something “funny.”

Guest judge is Dean Fearing and he’s throwing out all sorts of misdirections involving the words “clarified butter,” “roux” and “hmmm.”


“What was your roux?” he asks Paul, who nervously responds he didn’t have one.
“Hmmm,” says Dean Fearing.


“Did you clarify your butter?” he asks Grayson, who nervously responds that she used whole butter.
“Hmmm,” says Dean Fearing.


I only mention this because both Grayson and Paul end up in the Top 3, along with Chris C. (That Dean Fearing: So saucy!)

So the winner is Grayson, who also gets immunity.

(Oh, for what it’s worth, the bottom 3 are Dakota, Nyesha, and Beverly. Particularly awkward for Nyesha, because saucing is apparently her life.)

Now onto the Elimination Challenge. After weeks involving chili and rodeos and Texas state troopers, it was surely time for some elegant fine dining, right? Right?

Uh. . .no.

Instead we get steaks—prepared for the Cattle Barons ball at the Southfork Ranch from the TV show Dallas. (Yes, it’s a real thing.)

“For Texans, steak is one of life’s most important pleasures,” says Padma
I give up.

Also, the winner of this challenge gets a car, by some German car company, I believe. Nyesha grabs the keys to das auto like she already owns it. (Does she know something the rest of us don’t?) (Spoiler alert: Only that Heather might let her borrow the car one day.)

Very little of drama happens:

At Whole Foods, the cheftestants break shit like a bunch of bear cubs in a grocery store.


There’s some brief flare-up of Edward accusing Heather of stealing his cake recipe, but even the show can’t be bothered to follow through on that.

As mentioned above, Heather is annoyed with Beverly for taking too long to peel and poach her shrimp and, miraculously, Beverly does not cry. (New rule to the “Blubbering Beverly” drinking game: Any episode where Beverly does not cry, you must take the tasty beverage you are currently enjoying and spill it down the drain. It seems only fair.)

The steak thing ends up being all about Umlaut, because he used to work at big New York steakhouse and he has volunteered to grill the steaks.

Then he cuts himself with the aforementioned oyster knife and it’s bloody and gross—so he’s sent off to the hospital for stitches. (Edward Lee doesn’t need to go to no stinkin’ hospital for stitches: He sterilizes a steak knife, grabs some dental floss and goes to work.)

Umlaut comes home at 6 am, poor dear, all groggy and hopped up on pain meds.

“I cut my hand, I got no sleep and I’m playing with fire,” he says. Yup, that just about covers it.

But he’s got to make all those steaks medium rare, as Texas cattle barons like em. (Hey, I found the one thing I have in common with Texas cattle barons!)

Also, Whitney, who is milking her new role as Poor!Whitney for all it’s worth, is making potatoes au gratin, because when she was a girl, sometimes her family subsisted on potato chips and Cheese Doodles and her mom called it “Potatoes Au Gratin” (or somethin’ like that).

There’s some technical glitch involving “flashing” the steaks prematurely and, apparently, medium rare is not in the offing and Umlaut is scrëwëd.

Here’s how the food goes down: First course is tomato watermelon gazpacho prepared by Beverly, Sarah, and Dakota.

The judges think it’s a pleasant, but unambitious way to start the meal.

Second course is a seared NY strip steak carpaccio salad prepared by Edward, Chris Jones, and Paul.

Judges think the steak (done by Chris) is perfection, but the salad is a flaming pile of meh.
Third course is the ribeye and potato gratin prepared by Umlaut, Whitney, Chris, and Nyesha.

So yeah, the steaks are no good, the potatoes gratin are raw, and the plate is a mess. However, the whole thing is almost saved by Nyesha’s compound butter (who knew?).

Dessert course is Texas peach cake made by Heather, Lindsay, and Grayson.

I think at this point, we can officially say that the Top Chef Dessert curse is over, because the judges flove it.

Top 3: Heather, Nyesha, and Chris Jones.

And the winner is. . .yeah, Heather. Told you that already.

On the bottom we have:

Whitney, Edward, and Umlaut.

Remember when Tom said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Happy to report that guiding life philosophy lasted all of one week.

Because he rips these 3 a new one.

“Usually it’s hard to send someone home,” he says. “Not tonight.”
Ouch.

He even questions whether or not he chose the right 16 chefs to begin with.
Double ouch.

And. . .even Whitney’s (heretofore unmentioned?) special relationship with judge Hugh Acheson doesn’t save her, as she has to pack up her knives and mosey on outta there.

It’s time for Whitney to slip back into a life of complete and utter anonymity. . .which is to say, there will be no change for her whatsoever.

3 thoughts on “Cattle balls: The Top Chef Texas recap

  1. Love the Stefan rating! Stefan was an egomaniac, but he could back that up with his cooking chops. He did win the most challenges that season. And he's really a nice guy, if a bit foul-mouthed.

  2. Ty-Lör deserves more credit than you gave him. First, he had a medic bandage his hand and kept prepping, only going to the ER after prep was over and waiting behind all the gunshot victims to get his hand stitched up.

    Second, he took sole responsibility for the ruined steaks at Judges' Table even though he was isolated outside at the grill and not in the kitchen to keep Lindsay from panicking and ordering Ed to flash the steaks too early.

    In fact, I'd give Lindsay a few more Stefans, as I think she may be the quiet stealth villain of the season, undermining the others with passive-aggressiveness.

  3. I am a bad, bad man! I've been horribly remiss in reading the blogs and here I missed one where I got a h/t! (Things have been way complicated of late.) Mad love, dearie!

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