I Am Not an Animal! The Top Chef Texas recap


I would like to make an addendum to last week’s recap: Nevermind.

Because Heather kinda emerged as a supervillain this week, huh?

I mean, she made Beverly cry, which, granted isn’t exactly the hardest thing to do—Beverly cries at office park openings—but still. . . awww, widdle Beverly!

And Heather’s the worst kind of supervillain, too: the kind who’s constantly shooting herself in the foot. She’s the Plaxico Burress of supervillains. (At this moment, I’m actually envisioning the thought bubbles with question marks over all my readers’ heads.)

Seriously, how did she not see that sabotaging Beverly was also sabotaging herself because they were on the SAME FRICKIN’ TEAM?

When Grayson, who fried several brain cells due to teenage alcohol poisoning (I kid, I kid), sees the error of your logic, you know you’re in trouble. But Heather was on a roll. She was going to complain again (and again . . . and again) about Beverly peeling those shrimp if it was the last thing she did. And damned if it nearly was. (She would also like to complain about the premature cancellation of Freaks and Geeks, the Florida Supreme Court presidential ruling of 2000, the 1919 Black Sox scandal, and other things about as relevant to this challenge as Beverly’s shrimp.)

And I don’t want get all grassy knoll on y’all, but the minute I found out it was a double elimination and saw which teams were paired up, I knew who was going home. Dakota and Nyesha were going to have to smoke the competition (figuratively, that is) to avoid the whole, “You have no clearly delineated character or storyline so bye-bye” fate. Just sayin’…

So. . .yeah. The Quickfire Challenge. More shameless product plugs for some tequila brand. Remember when TV shows and commercials were two different things?

The guest judge is Tim Love, who is an actual chef and not a chef in a porn film, in case there was any confusion.

The assignment is to create a dish that pairs beautifully with the tequila of your choice. . . and man, Love is a meanypants!

“I felt like it was a new special at a chain restaurant,” he says of Heather’s rock shrimp.

“The chicken was dry on my palate…it stuck in my teeth,” he says to Chris Jones. (Luckily, Chris is able to pull the bone from his Pebbles hairdo to help him pick his teeth.)

Love also isn’t a fan of Sarah’s undercooked risotto but she trots out the old “your palate is meaningless to me; I’ve been to Italy” line, albeit somewhat unconvincingly.

On top? Not!Fat Chris, who is quietly emerging as a contender.  Lindsay, for her perfectly seared salmon, and Umlaut, who was the only chef clever enough to know that clams and tequila are the Ashton and Demi of food/liquor pairings.

And the winner is: Umlaut! (Does this mean there’s hope for Ashton and Demi, too?)

Now, for the Elimination Challenge.

Team up with the person you are “coincidentally” standing next to and definitely not “standing next to because the producers told you exactly where to stand” (Beverly and Heather? Quel surprise!).

I’ll call this challenge: The NRA’s Revenge. (Or, conversely, PETA’s Raging Bile Duct). Turns out, Tim Love loves game and he’s having a dinner party for his fellow game-loving chefs, including Vinny Detolo from the restaurant Animal, who looks like Tobias Funke from Arrested Development and apparently used to hunt gators (!). When bearded hipster nerds do macho things, it puzzles.

I kill gators

Nyesha and Dakota get venison for Brian Caswell

Sarah and Paul gets squab for my Top Chef Masters homie Anita Lo

Grayson and Chris J get elk for Tim Love

Chris and Lindsay get boar for John Shook

Heather and Bev get duck for Jon Currence (would it be too obvious to make a “currant” sauce?)

Ed and Umlaut get quail for the aforementioned macho hipster Vinny Detolo.

And there is a catch: The bottom 3 teams will be determined by a jury of their peers, meaning each other. Oh that won’t be awkward at all.

The kitchen is positively oozing with body fluid. Everyone is sweating and when they are not sweating they are crying and when they are not crying they are probably farting. It is like a petri dish in there and it is gross (and pretty much the reason why I don’t like to look into the kitchens of my favorite restaurants—frankly, I’d rather not know.)

In a completely shocking move, Chris J has decided to make some sort of snazzy sweet potato “chain link fence.” Because potatoes taste so much better when they’re shaped like a chain link fence. Wait. . . no.

First up, Not!Fat Chris and Lindsay.

They have made roasted wild boar with peach BBQ sauce and Kohlrabi slaw.

The judges seem to like it and so do their fellow cheftestants (“It’s a nice, playful way to do BBQ,” says Sarah) except for Paul, who—perhaps because he possesses the clearest conscience of them all—is the only one willing to step up to the plate and do a little criticizing: “The slaw is a little watery,” he says.  Upon hearing this, Lindsay’s face freezes into a rictus of despair. “It’s gut wrenching,” she says. (This may be when the farting took place.).

Next up: Heather and Bev, who—spoiler alert!—haven’t really been seeing eye to eye.

Bev wants to do her Asian thing and Heather wants to do her farm-to-table thing and Heather says, and I quote: “It’s like a knife to the heart.” Good lord, people. Take a “chill pill” as we used to say back on Long Island.

They end up creating five-spice duck breast with creamy polenta and pickled cherry.

The judges think the plating is a little confusing and all over the place.

Back in the kitchen, and true to form, Sarah declares the duck breast “perfectly cooked and super tender.”

Paul thinks the skin needed to be crisper.

Next up Chris and Grayson and their jumbo roasted elk with sweet potato chainlink fence bouquet.

“Is there a reason why the sweet potato looks like this?” Padma says. (You have to wake up pretty early in the morning, do a juicing cleanse, an hour of pilates, and read several chapters of The Satanic Verses to fool Padma.)

“I. . .I was trying to do an elaborate technique and I didn’t quite accompli—” sputters Chris.

“It IS how we wanted it to be,” interrupts Grayson. “We wanted to get height and we accomplished that.”

As they exit, stage right, you can hear Grayson saying, “Don’t TELL them that!” Now kids, play nice.

So the sweet potatoes are a sour note, but the elk is cooked perfectly.

Next up, Umlaut’s Redemption Tour 2011 is almost complete. The chefs love the Sorghum quail with pickled cherries he made with Edward as do his fellow cheftestants.

Then, Dakota and Nyesha, who are making sacrificial lamb. Just kidding, they’re making rack of venison. “I’m racking my brain trying to figure out how to cook this,” Dakota says, no pun intended. (Literally, the pun was unintentional.) (Punning is a dying art people. . . I’m only one woman.)

While their Kobocha squash and beet gratin is delish, the venison is way undercooked. It’s just the opening the judges need to eliminate them without controversy. Whew!

Finally, squab two ways with Sarah and Paul.

Sarah is totally freaking out about her squab sausage.

She is violating the three rules of the kitchen: Never let them see you sweat. Never let them see you cry. Never let them see you have a nervous sausage breakdown.

“The scariest thing is not that I would be eliminated. It’s that something I did would make Paul go home, I’d be devastated,” says Sarah. “That sausage killed me, you guys.”

(So, in case you were playing the home game: The competition is “gut wrenching,” a “knife to the heart,” “devastating,” and “killing” one of the cheftestants. I can sure see why everyone wants to be on the show!)

Padma pads in: “Can we see Ed and Ty?” she says. They win!  Umlaut is on fïre.

Now it’s time for the cheftestants to pick the bottom 3 teams.

“Why don’t we just vote?” Grayson says, logically enough.

“But you’re not going to vote for yourself!” counters Heather. (At this point, I’m beginning to consider the very real possibility that Heather simply isn’t bright enough to be a supervillain.)

“Neither are you,” Grayson says, barely able to contain her contempt.

The vote takes place. Chris and Grayson, Beverly and Heather, and Nyesha and Dakota are in the bottom 3.

So an elk, a duck, and a venison walk into a bar. . .

“Obviously, your fellow chefs felt you served the three worst dishes at dinner,” Padma says. She just loves to dig that knife in a little deeper, doesn’t she?

(This, BTW, is the portion of the show where Heather starts attacking Beverly over her shrimp from last week’s challenge and, in case you can’t get enough of it, the Top Chef website has conveniently posted a video called,  “The Most Cringeworthy Parts of Heather Vs. Beverly.” Heh.)

Anyway, once Dakota and Nyesha were in front of the firing squad it was a foregone conclusion, right?  Kinda sucks for Nyesha, who did the “delicious” part of their meal and obviously didn’t deserve to go.

“I took Nyesha down with me and that sucks,” says Dakota. (Awww, love ya, sis. )

In closing, double eliminations are gut wrenching, a knife to the heart, devastating, and they may one day kill us all.

4 thoughts on “I Am Not an Animal! The Top Chef Texas recap

  1. *beet* gratin, not beef gratin! Actually, they both sound kind of gross.

    Great blog as always! I'm looking forward to seeing Heather go away…

  2. Whoops! Good catch. Will fix. Thanks!
    (And yeah, beet gratin SLIGHTLY less gross.)

  3. Dakota not only honestly regretted taking Nyesha down, she came roaring to the defense of Beverly's work ethic at Judges' Table. And for both those reasons, I will have to throw a few Fan Favorite votes Dakota's way. She is a class act.

  4. Like I said before, crazy late comment. … Grand work. Will be curious to see how much farther Nyesha can go in Redemption Kitchen. Good luck to her!

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