Previously on Top Chef: Texas: Over 3,000 chefs from the farthest corners of the galaxy (but mostly Chicago) gathered at the site of a famous defeat in Texas to compete for a spot on this season's Top Chef competition. After two hours of this, the judges narrowed the field to 16 by getting rid of all of the chefs that couldn't finish on time ... and anyone from Seattle. (Also, online we had a secret competition for a third chance to get into this game. But more on that later.)
And so it begins.
- Nyesha Arrington, 28 — Barely made an impression this time, which probably isn't a good sign in the long run. Plus, whatever she made for the party didn't exactly get raves.
- Lindsay Autry, 29 — She certainly is a take-charge gal, ain't she? And while she should get praise for knowing to 86 Keith's frozen, pre-cooked shrimp, she didn't seem to know that she couldn't make her pork specialty taste as good as it should in the limited time provided.
- Ty-Lör Boring, 34 — I am so in love with this man. There, I said it. Was just relieved that he wasn't going anywhere, since the judges did like one of the two things he made. Don't let me down, bucko.
- Chris Crary, 29 — Vanished without a trace in this episode. Basically, only showed up in footage showing him not stopping Keith from impaling himself on ShrimpGate.
- Richie Farina, 28 — Still the odds-on favorite to win Project Top Accessory Chef.
- Sarah Grueneberg, 29 — I really have to feel for the woman, since she clearly is very talented and very kind. She seemed really pained to have to call out Keith's flop. We'll just have to see if she can play the competition game later.
- Chris Jones, 30 — Is distinguishing himself as the chef with the bravery to wear two pairs of glasses at once.
- Beverly Kim, 32 — Love that she had the oomph enough to muscle her way to the front of the line at the store to get her meat. And feeling the Korean-parents-never-respect-my-decision-to-become-a-chef thing. But how do the others feel about her "The Secret" vision-board-thingy?
- Edward Lee, 38 — Didn't have to risk being called Stumpy this time.
- Whitney Otawka, 30 — Not in this episode.
- Paul Qui, 31 — The Lone TejAsian.
- Keith Rhodes, 39 — Surprisingly, not actually a blind blues musician from the 1960s. Seems to think that enchiladas are made a certain way on the coast of North Carolina.
- Grayson Schmitz, 28 — A winning personality may not long cover up what seems to be a lack of experience if her cinnamon-y mole is any hint of things.
- Heather Terhune, 39 — The entire episode was worth watching for the look on the judges' faces when they saw her Cake Wreck'ed Leaning Tower Of Dulce De Leche at the party. Good thing that it tasted better than the other team's.
- Chuy Valencia, 25 — The HMIC (Head Mexican In Charge). Grew up butchering rabbits. Grew up butchering goats. Grew up butchering snakes. I suspect we'll learn in the next episode he also has cleaned and gutted a Chupacabra
- Dakota Weiss, 35 — Again. Lovely woman. But 35? Honestly? I'm really scared at the prospect of seeing her at 45.
We have our sixteen chefs and we'll get to their individual accomplishments/quirks in a moment. But first, a brief recap.
After the obligatory getting-ready footage, where current-fan favorite Grayson burnishes her plucky underdogggery, the chefs arrive in the Logofied Kitchen for the ...
Before each of the chefs is a box cleverly designed to appear to contain a live rattlesnake. And the producers have obviously commanded that the chefs stick their bare hands into the box and pull out the critters.
The chefs are relieved to discover that the (non-rattling) boxes contain already killed and skinned snakes. This relieves Dakota, for whom this was clearly designed, since she is the one most panicked at the prospect of encountering a live phallic symbol.
But when it's all over, naturally, she's the one who comes out on top with the prize and immunity in the upcoming ...
As it turns out, she's just a nice kid who will be turning 15 and the chefs will be charged with, in two competing teams, catering her quinceañera. (A quinceañera, for the uninitiated, is a coming out party for a 15-year-old girl, much like a Sweet Sixteen party or a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. It is a Latin tradition, not exclusively a Mexican one, no matter what Chef Chuy tells you.)
The chefs pull knives and pick their teams. They chat with the girl and get to shopping and cooking.
The event turns out to be a darling gathering which seems very fun. But maybe it's where I was from, but it bears little resemblance to the over-the-top, costing-enough-to-put-your-family-in-hock-for-the-rest-of-their-lives extravaganzas I saw among the (mostly) Cubans I grew up around. I mean, where were the dancing waiters? The choreographed water ballet? The grand entrance from a mirrored sphere descending from the ceiling? I mean, how is a girl supposed to understand her worth to the world without that?
One team wins. (No individual chef is named the individual winner.) And one team loses.
Padma calls up four chefs for possible elimination: Keith, Lindsay, Sarah and my über-stud Ty-Lör.
And after the usual back-and-forth (and a vaguely awkward Sarah/Keith face-off over his foolish choice to buy frozen, pre-cooked shrimp), Keith is sent packing.
In the online bonus scene, Keith is seen heading back to the Energy Draining Chefs McMansion where he learns that he has to head to the Redemption Kitchen Of Darkness to face off against Andrew (who finally won something after failing twice before) for a chance to get in/get back into the competition.
They have to prep some ingredients and make a dish. And after some consideration, Tom decides to make Andrew suffer the knowledge that he's failed again. Just like that, Keith gets another chance to cook. And, unlike Andrew, he'll be facing off against someone who will have failed only once.
Next time on Top Chef: Texas: Chili! Save, Delete or Restart?