Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut: The Top Chef Texas recap

Beverly oversells her “surprised” face

 

Since I no longer can indulge my favorite guessing game—Malibu Chris: Friend of Dorothy or just a really close acquaintance?—I can now turn to my second favorite guessing game: Beverly: Sweet as a basket of baby sloths or stealth assassin?
Once again, I’m struck by the fact that Beverly, while clearly being an adorable, moptopped underdog who you just want to hug and feed chicken soup to, is also quite possibly. . .a deadly ninja.
And last night may’ve been her best work yet.
All the girls on Team Half Bushel kind of mowed her over (well, with the exception of Graysen, who, as usual, managed to rise above the fray). They bossed her around, they patronized her, they treated her like she was some sort of assistant to the assistant to the assistant sous chef, and she quietly took their crap, diligently perfecting her one dish and following Lindsay’s prep instructions to the letter.
“I’m just doing what she told me to do” she shrugged of Lindsay’s increasingly moisture-free halibut.
And look what happened people. Look. What. Happened.
So yeah, in case you hadn’t figured it out, it’s Restaurant Wars, broken into a convenient battle of the sexes package.
Edward is not intimidated.
“The girls are good, but the boys are more talented,” he says, adding, “Sarah knows flavor, but we know her weakness is barbecuing out in the sun.”
Seriously, dude, let it go.
Instead of the usual practice—two concurrent services—there will be two separate services in the same space over the course of two nights.
I wonder if this is because all the Imodium in the world can’t make judging 4 appetizers, 4 entrees, and 4 desserts in one night go down easy.
The cheftestants begin strategizing. Both teams come up with the exact same concept. If you guessed: Indian street food, you’d be wrong! It’s the incredibly original farm to table.
At this point, I’m convinced that every kitchen in every restaurant across the country is doing some variation on the farm-to-table, elegantly rustic, upscale comfort food theme.  (It’s just a matter of time before there will be an option of salt, pepper, or dirt in your condiment dispensers).
I mean, look, I like a pork belly or a free range chicken or an organic beet salad as much as the next hungry blogger, but there are other kinds of cuisine out there people. Food trends have become as insidious as fashion trends (jeggings for everyone!) and movie trends (that would look so much better in post-production 3D!). 
In keeping with this rustic theme, the boys have decided to call their restaurant Compost (just kidding, Canteen) and the girls have decided to call their restaurant Gristle (okay, Half Bushel).
The boys go first.
They geniusly decide to put Edward out front, because nothing says “welcome!” quite like a shifty jaw, a bloody appendage, and a scowl.
He’s doing a pretty good job in his usual fueled-by-rage way, but he keeps inadvertently revealing his anxiety.
“Wow, you’re on time!” he says nervously to the first group to arrive.
“Wow, you’re all lining up!” he says a few minutes later, as customers just. keep. arriving. “We must be doing something right—heh, heh.” Ummm, no.
Meanwhile, the guys are so busy cooking they forgot a basic component of Restaurant 101: Expediting.
Last I checked, a huge part of that farm-to-table thing is actually getting the food on the table.
Quoth Rick Perry: Oops.
They try several things: First Edward is expediting. That doesn’t work. Then Umlaut is expediting. Uh, no. Then Paul, who has basically gone all Angelo on us and is cooking almost every dish, decides he’s also going to expedite.
Padma, who misses nothing (seriously, she probably knows that I forgot to floss this morning) notices all the shuffling in the kitchen.
“Ty is in his apron outside the kitchen,” she informs the table.
“They’re really in the trees right now,” Emeril says. (Is that like being in the weeds, but worse?)
“And now Paul is outside the kitchen,” she says.
“I think Edward may’ve just farted,” she notes a few minutes later. (Joke.)
As for the food: They’re not in love with anything.
But mostly, they freak out because Edward’s Almond Joy bar has no coconut.
Tom seems to take this personally.
“It can’t be an Almond Joy without coconut,” he sputters. “If you’re not going to have coconut, just don’t call it an Almond Joy!”
Later he adds, “The coconut is the best part!”
Good lord, somebody get this man some coconut.
“The best that we can hope for now is that the girls all blow up at each other and screw up worse than we did,” sighs Edward.
Well, let’s just see about that. . .
Day Two: girls up to bat.
They decide to put Lindsay up front. Again, slightly strange choice. Lindsay has a Tracy Flick-like quality about her—her perfectionism is sharp-edged. (It comes as ZERO surprise that she was the prom queen and graduated at the top of her class in college.)
Like Edward, she doesn’t exactly project warmth. (Where’s Graysen when you need her?)
But the funniest thing about Lindsay is that she Honey Badgers it: She really doesn’t give a damn.
The judges—the judges!—have to stand around waiting for their table (cleverly, the girls have provided a little lemonade in a cooler for them to sip on) and she is unfazed by this.
“I can’t be in three places at one time,” she says.
Yeah, but if one of those three places contains the judges who are deciding your fate, it might behoove you to triage in favor of that place.
“I’d be walking a little faster if I had 12 people at my door,” says Padma.
The kitchen is, inevitably, a Beverly-bashing zone, but her little lip quivers and she just keeps perfecting her one dish. (Sorry I keep harping on that one dish thing: But how did she manage to pull that off? It’s no wonder her dish ruled, it’s pretty much all she had to worry about). (See? Ninja.)
The boys come in, too (forgot to mention that the teams are dining at each other’s restaurants) and service begins.
The judges note that there isn’t quite as happy a buzz in Half-Bushel as there was in Canteen. (That’s because when Edward smiles, the world smiles back.)
They also have to wait much longer for the food. But once it comes, they forget their troubles and get happy.
They adore Grayson’s peach salad with pickled shallots and bacon vinaigrette (yes please) and also Sarah’s Arancino with Buffalo mozzarella. And they want to marry Beverly’s braised shortribs with Thai basil and kimchee.
Over at the boys table, Chris J. is happily munching on his shortrib.
“This is the nicest dinner I’ve had since we got here,” he says innocently.
Edward shoots daggers at him.
(BTW, why do I find it strangely endearing that Chris J. is a Trekkie? I knew he was a food nerd, but now I know he comes by it honestly. Kobiyashi Maru for life!—whoever that is.)
The judges assess their two meals. Basically, the service was better at Canteen. The food was better at Half Bushel. Decisions. . . decisions.
Padma wants to see the ladies.  . .
They skulk into the judging room.
She grills them about how long it took to get seated.
They squirm.
“Do you think you did better than the boys?”
“Yes,” says Beverly firmly, quickly, ninja-style.
“Yes,” says Sarah tentatively (she has approximately twice the bravado but half the confidence of Beverly).
“Well, congratulations ladies. You had our favorite restaurant!”
There is squeeing and hugging and more squeeing, until Padma names the overall winner: Beverly.
WTFs are exchanged among everyone not named Beverly, who has to pretend to look surprised.
“Burn, burn, burn!” I write in my notes.
Ha. The girls head back to the holding room, buoyed by triumph but puzzled by Beverly’s sneaky win.
“We couldn’t have done it without Lindsay,” says Sarah. Surely, what she meant to say was “Congratulations Beverly, on a well-earned victory!”
Time to send the boys in front of the firing squad.
“The bottom line, the food just didn’t wow us,” says Tom. “All of you get an F here. Any one of you could go home for the mess that was Canteen.”  (Huh. So maybe “Mess Hall” would’ve been a more appropriate name?)
And all the umlauts in the world can’t save Ty-Lör from his fate. He’s göing höme.

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