Karma’s a bitch (and so am I): The Top Chef Texas recap


I know that everyone thinks Beverly is sweetness and light and a basket of kittens and stuff like that, but I have a new theory on her: She’s scary.

Seriously, she’s some kind of wicca, or shaman, or voodoo sorceress.

Because yes, there might be karma in the world—and yes, it can be a powerful thing. But it’s not usually instantaneous. It’s not usually, like, a vending machine, where you put your quarter in for cosmic retribution and it comes popping right out at you.

But in Beverly’s world, that’s exactly how it works. It’s like instant messaging: She texts “T8k Hthr dwn” to the universe and the universe promptly responds.

Hey, speaking of instant messaging, holy shit! Twitter has only been around for four years? I guess all those fond memories I have of me live Tweeting my 4th grade holiday pageant are false.

I mention Twitter, because it was apparently popularized at the SXSW festival, which is relevant for two reasons:

a. The chefs have now made their way to Austin

b. I can at least briefly stop making fun of Texas because Austin is awesome.

The Quickfire challenge is make a dish based on live-Tweet requests from Top Chef followers.

Some cat named @DentonBiety (everyone follow him, it’ll be fun!) tweeted, “Everything is better with bacon. Let’s see if that’s true.”

So Tom and Padma tell the chefs they have 45 minutes to make a dish with bacon. Lame, right? I mean, I don’t presume to know @DentonBiety, but I don’t think that’s quite what he (she?) had in mind. I think @DentonBiety was thinking more along the lines of “If everything is better with bacon, can you make lemon meringue pie better with it?” Something a little more, you know, challenging.

But of course, this was only Part One of the challenge.

As they’re cooking away, Tom drops in another live Tweet, from @habitat67: “Do a hash for a hashtag challenge” (I see what you did there, @habitat67).

Finally, a third Tweet comes in: “Chefs, choose a pantry ingredient and hand it off for someone else to use in their dish.” (Oooooh, sneaky.)

So there’s all sorts of consternation about sriracha sauce, which is just silly if you ask me. Take @DentonBiety’s tweet, substitute “sriracha” for “bacon” and you pretty much have my culinary philosophy.

Tom does the judging.

The bottom 3 are Grayson (her puff wasn’t puffy), Chris J (his dish was too salty) and Ed (his hash was too ashy).

And the top 3 are Beverly (the karma begins!), Sarah (her bacon was nicely smoked), and Paul (his dish was wonderfully weird, just like Austin).

And . . . Paul wins!

Then they all go to the hotel lounge where Patti LaBelle comes on stage and works out “Lady Marmalade.”

As if on cue, Padma struts in and I have a feeling this is now in her rider: “Patti LaBelle must sing Lady Marmalade every time I enter a room.”

So Patti is a chef herself (who knew?) and was inspired by her mother. The elimination challenge is this: Make a dish to honor your cooking inspiration.

Amazingly, it’s not Beverly who cries, but Sarah, because her grandparents are her inspiration and they are both dead. Oh, wait. . .this just in: Both her grandparents are alive. But they will die some day. (Especially if they tick off Beverly somehow.)

Okay, the next sequence on the show I’d like to call “Both Max and Malibu Chris are still terribly confused about his sexuality.”

I should, of course, mention an earlier scene, the road trip to Austin, where Chris—now nicknamed “Malibu Chris” by Grayson—said the following, “If you were on match.com, do you think we’d be compatible?”

To whom do you think he said this:

a. Grayson

b. Paul

c. His hair gel

If you guessed “b” you’re right. (And if he’d only known that just one car away, Heather was professing her love for John Besh, Chris would be all like, “Back off, bitch. He’s mine.”)

At this point, I’m fully convinced that the producers of Top Chef know that Chris’s sexuality is a source of great debate in the blogosphere and are just messing with us. To wit: The following triptych back at the house:

First, Chris sees Chris Jones’ butt crack and can’t look away—but must.

“Crack kills,” he says half-heartedly.

Then, Umlaut and Ed are sitting around a table discussing the size of Ed’s balls (really).

“I have balls and I’m going to show them,” Ed says. (Off camera, Chris has his hands over his ears: ‘”La, la, la, la, la. I can’t HEAR you!”)

Finally, they head to the challenge site and Chris J, brandishing a piece of fruit, happily announces, “I have my banana!”

Oh. the. Humanity.

Cooking time and I learned a new word: You know that gunky white stuff you sometimes see on overcooked salmon? You no longer have to call it “that gunky white stuff you sometimes see on overcooked salmon.” It’s called albumen. Malibu Chris had some on his salmon and he tried to shave it off and was hoping that the judges “wouldn’t notice.” (Good luck with that!)

Heather’s beef stroganoff contained some kind of mystery meat that Patti LaBelle identified as “Big Foot.” (Heh.)

Sarah was concerned that her pork sausage stuffed cabbage looked a little too “Creature from the Green Lagoon”-ish, but the judges floved it.

Grayson made a plate of meat and potatoes so unappetizingly enormous that even Texans would be like, “Girl, show a little restraint!”

Edward’s vegetarian bibimbap was so delicious that one of the guests was allergic to it but STILL ate it.

Beverly’s Korean braised short ribs were a revelation and the judges were particularly impressed—karma alert! karma alert!—with her masterful use of the pressure cooker.

Judgment time.

Padma asks to see Grayson, Heather, and Malibu Chris.

They exchange looks. Could it be that they read the tea leaves wrong and they’re secretly awesome? No, they’re the bottom 3.

“Your tributes fell flat,” Padma says.

Padma found Grayson’s beef to be “Sinewy and spongy”. I truly can’t imagine two words, used in concert, that would be less appetizing.

“Sorry,” Grayson says. Because really, what else can she say at this point?

As for Malibu Chris? Suffice it to say, the judges were all-bummin’ because of the albumen.

Then onto Heather’s karmic retribution, aka her beef stroganoff.

The judges tell her the meat was so grisly they couldn’t cut it.

Heather explains that she considered using the pressure cooker, but feared it might make her beef stringy.

“Beverly used the pressure cooker,” Tom says pointedly. “And she’s. . . not here.”

Knife, meet heart.

Okay, off they go to stew in their sinewy and spongy juices.

Now the good news! The top 3 are Beverly, Sarah, and Ed.

“You put your heart and soul on that plate,” Patti said to Ed.

“Everything had a purpose,” Tom says to Beverly.

“You showed a lot of technique in that dish,” Emeril says to Sarah.

And the winner is. . .Sarah! (In a sad note, the news is so exciting, her grandparents both drop dead on the spot.) (Joke.)

And the other winner is. . .Karma!

Because, yes, Heather is gone.

“Don’t be upset,” she says to the gang in the holding room. And they’re all like, “Who ya callin’ upset?”

“There is a personal satisfaction,” Beverly meekly admits, adding under her breath, “Mwahhaha!”

2 thoughts on “Karma’s a bitch (and so am I): The Top Chef Texas recap

  1. I know Heather was a bit harsh, but I kind of liked her. She always seemed like a workhorse to me – the kind of person you want to work with when you're totally slammed.

    Why do all these chefs try using a pressure cooker on national television? Wouldn't you think they'd practice at home first?

    Excellent recap, as usual.

  2. Oh, the wicked glee at seeing HaggyHeather hit the road. And she can take her hair pets with her!

    As for Pretty Chris … I still vote “bi.”

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