Food Fright: The Top Chef Texas recap

Who’s the Plain Jane next to Charlize Theron?


If you were hoping that this episode was going to finally resolve the “how the hell do you pronounce Charlize Theron’s last name?” question once and for all, you’re out of luck.
We have 7 remaining contestants and roughly 7 different pronunciations—from Ther-in to Ther-on to the vaguely French sounding Thér-onnnn. (If Ty were still around, he’d pronounce it Ther-ön.) Such is life.
Anyway, before the show is graced by the one woman on the planet who can make Padma look frumpy, we have a fun Quickfire Challenge involving a conveyer belt.
And trust me when I say, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a man with floppy rooster hair chasing after a lobster tail on a conveyer belt.
Here’s how the challenge works: 30 minutes are on the clock. The belt goes ’round and ’round, but much like the luggage carousel at the airport, you’ve got to wait longer if you want the “good stuff” (in the airport, the “good stuff” = your actual luggage; here, it’s the aforementioned lobster,  plus the likes of halibut and foie gras.)
Some contestants just say, screw it, and grab rice crispies and macadamia nuts and bitter melon.
Chris decides to wait for that brass ring—the lobster tail. He misses a few times, lunging hilariously, but eventually snags it.
Time runs out and Beverly hasn’t been able to add her curried rice crispies to her sockeye salmon so she’s screwed.
Edward, revealing a bit more about his sportsmanship than perhaps he intended, claims that she should’ve just “cheated” and thrown some curried rice crispies in the air as time expired, hoping a few stray puffs landed on her plate.
The whole crispies fiasco is made an even bigger deal when Chef Ripert announces that Beverly would’ve won—by a mile, no less—if she had just had some damn crispies on her plate.
In an ironic twist, Lindsay, who some people (specifically Lindsay herself) thought should’ve won the Restaurant Wars challenge, is the beneficiary of Beverly’s misfortune.
She wins the challenge and. . .immunity. (Cue ominous music.)
Snap-Crackle-Pop-gate is in full effect.
No time to obsess over that though, because a goddess has entered the room.
And because I’ve been so numbed by the show’s relentless product placement, I actually find it refreshing that they’re only shamelessly promoting a movie this time—Snow White and the Huntsman—instead of a mini-van or a frozen food product or a  tequila brand.

Charlize plays the Evil Queen in the film, and it’s apparently a very dark, macabre retelling of the story.
As such, the contestants are told to make a gothic feast fit for an evil queen.
Unsurprisingly, Edward seems a little too amped up about making something evil.
And Chris knows that he’ll get to play with liquid nitrogen, so he’s like a kid in a molecular gastronomy store.
In the kitchen, glorious things are overheard like, “oooh, the maggots are everywhere!” and “my plate looks like a crime scene.” Good times.
Beverly is doing her Beverly thing: Namely, acting all cute and innocent as she bulldozes her way around the kitchen. (Also, she’s making halibut, people. Halibut. To prove to Lindsay that she DOES know how to cook the fish? Paul thinks so, and so do I.)
“She’s a bulldog, man,” says Graysen of Beverly. “That girl is tiny, but she’s crazy.”
Preach, Graysen, preach.
Anyway, the most charming thing about this episode is how nerdy and tongue-tied Tom Colicchio gets around Charlize Theron. He keeps trying to make these clever little jokes and they keep backfiring.
It’s funny to see a man who is sex symbol to many (including someone whose name rhymes with “faxthewhirl”) just totally lose his cool.
I will point out the various adorkable moments as they crop up. . .
“If I was going to make a dish that was evil, I would just make food and put poison in it,” gleefully announces Charlize Theron as the meal begins. She’s joking. Right? Right?
Up first is Edward, who brings out his tuna tartare. He says that the good (Asian pear vinaigrette) is battling against the evil (black garlic ponzu) for the heart of the tuna tartare.
Also, fried fish scales are involved.
“You combine the good and the evil you get a politician!” says Tom. (Adorkable wooing attempt FAIL number one.)
Anyway, everyone loves the dish. (A theme will soon emerge.)
“I could eat this every day,” says Charlize Theron.
Next up Paul with his foie gras with bacon, pumpernickel, picked cherries, beets—and bloody hand print.
“It’s fantastic,” says Chef Ripert.
Now Padma, sticking to the script, asks Charlize to talk a little about her movie.
“We have 8 dwarves,” says Charlize.
“Is that a union issue?” cracks Tom. (Not the adorkable FAIL yet, but wait for it. . .)
“If we had an 8th dwarf,” says Padma.
“It would be Tom!” says Charlize.
“Well, at least I’m not Dopey!” says Tom. (And BOOM goes the dynamite!)
Next up, Beverly with her perfectly prepared (she asked me to emphasize that) seared halibut with red curry sauce and forbidden black rice.
Again, delicious. But maybe not macabre enough?
Lindsay has cleverly named her dish seared scallops over witches stew.
It’s really just seared scallops over a bean sauce, but by calling it “witches stew” she has everyone fooled.
Regardless, it’s apparently witchtastic.
“The queen would’ve made it with peasants, not pheasants!” Tom jokes. (Ding!) (That was the dork bell ringing, by the way.)
“Lindsay has immunity and she may not have needed it,” Padma reports.
Next Sarah with her amarone risotto and lamb’s heart.
“I’d like to give you the key to my lamb’s heart,” Tom says to Charlize. Okay, he doesn’t actually say that, but he was thinking it.
Charlize loves the heart: “I am the queen! I want to eat more of this heart!” She’s joking again. . . right?
Next up, Grayson, with her slaughterhouse black chicken with dead chicken fetus (aka runny quail egg).
The judges agree that she “went for it.” (I’ll say.)
Finally, Chris’s poison apple and cherry pie, with puffed rice crispie maggots. (Ironically, earlier today Beverly was referring to her rice crispies as maggots, but for different reasons.)
They love the drama of it.
It’s so him, they agree.
So the meal is over.
 “I loved this meal,” says Charlize.
“This is clearly the most exciting meal we’ve had on the show this season, by far,” says Tom
“It’s the best meal I’ve ever had on Top Chef,” reports Eric Ripert.
Uh oh, dilemma time people. All the dishes were great. What’s a judging panel to do?
“We’d like to see all of you,” Padma reports.
“The meal was spectacular!” Charlize tells them.
“We are here to please you,” says Edward, smooth as silk, as Tom glowers at him from the table.
And the winner is. . Paul!
The bottom 3 comes down to Graysen, Sarah, and Beverly.
Again, all three had great dishes. The judges are just nitpicking here.
Sarah’s risotto was slightly undercooked. Beverly’s sauce was slightly sticky. And Graysen’s greens were slightly salty.
Aaaand. . .  Beverly, please pack your knives and go.
Ouch. One rice crispie away from glory.
Instead, she must sadly take down the “Congratulations, Top Chef Beverly Kim!” sign from over her bed.
“I never threw anyone under the bus,” she says, keeping her chin up high.
Suffice it say, she never personally drove a bus over anyone, but she was definitely a backseat bus driver.

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