Previously on Top Chef: Living up to their name, the folks at Magical Elves managed to get the entire nation talking about the delicious properties of pepper spray as a promotional gimmick for an episode about cooking with hot peppers. After an all-night chili cook-off and a sadistic eleventh-hour sudden death face-off which may have ended in an actual death, Richie of the Accessories was sent packing.
Have I mentioned how much I really hate Texas? Because I really, really do. This episode did nothing to change my mind about that. Not one tiny bit.
Another side note: Am I the only one who's disoriented about the logistics of the previous episode's losing chef getting to back to the Casa Cuisine to collect his stuff during the day while the others do the required "I can't believe he's gone" chat at night? Do they stash the evictee in a van overnight until after the gang heads off to the Quickfire the next morning? Does he get a toothbrush? So when does the Redemption Kitchen thing happen? I think about these things.
We meet up with our not-so-merry troupe late at night right after Richie's de-knifing, and Padma appears to deliver news. The chefs have their knives ready to clean and gut the hostess as they're assuming that the inflicting-pain-as-entertainment will continue with the sleep-deprived chefs having to perform the next Quickfire challenge right then and there. Amazingly, though, she sends them home to sleep because in the morning they'll have to be on the move ... to Dallas.
And to pay for their transport, they'll have to participate in a grand infomercial for their SponsorMobiles. As part of the script, they are to act as if they're following a GPS which directs them down a side street, through charred landscape of burned-on-the-stalks cornfields (Thanks for the prayers, Gov. Perry!) and directly at a "Road Closed" sign and a highway patrol officer right out of Central Casting.
There, in the once-muddy field, the chefs discover Padma and hunkalicious chef John Besh. She tells the chefs that they'll have 32 seconds to create a five-star, three course meal using only the survival kits stashed in their CorporateWagons and whatever drought-and-pestilence-ravaged crops they can snag from the fields nearby. Go!
Honestly. Why do they do these things? I mean, I know they really, really want to make sure there are disasters on a plate for everyone to remember, but what does this prove? And isn't there some other seems-like-an-SNL-parody-of-Top-Chef show out there where people have to create a dish while skydiving or some such rot? Is this what we want to emulate?
In any case, the chefs make the best with the nothing they are given and, against all odds, Lindsey wins the challenge for making a sandwich with crackers and Vienna sausages. She finds this "awesome."
Side note #2: It has been established that your gentle blogger is likely world's worst cook, having once hospitalized himself for a week with food poisoning for not knowing certain basic basics about food preparation. But did you know that in grade school his specialty was the culinary creation of a peanut butter and jelly, ketchup, raisin and Vienna sausage sandwich on white bread? (The raisins made the peanut butter taste "crunchy," but the Vienna sausages kept rolling around between the bread slices.) Who knew I could actually win a food competition for something like that?
Pads informs the gang that for this challenge they'll be catering a progressive dinner party for some of Dallas' most disgustingly nouveau riche cretins. They'll be divided into three teams of five, preparing appetizers, entrées and desserts. But, while they'll be in teams, each chef will (finally) be responsible for his or her own dish and be judged individually.
The chefs meet with their respective cretin couples and every stereotype about McMansions, over-the-top design and conspicuous consumption coupled with pedestrian tastes (Nothing exotic please! We thought we'd have everything be pink! A gummy bear wedding cake! Really?) is reinforced to the nth degree.
Wait. I lied. I must say, I didn't see a room full of Aquanet/Ultra-Clutch big hair. I take it all back.
The chefs do their thing. The guests do their Desperate Housewives impressions, yet, sadly, a single-engine plane doesn't come crashing through the neighborhood taking half of them out. When it's all over, Tom tosses off the world's most expected cliché, "Close, but no cigar?" regarding Chris J.'s cigar-inspired creation, and has the absolute nerve to say, "My mother always said that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. So I'll stay quiet." All of this inspires me to hunt him down with a meat-cleaver.
Paul wins the challenge for listening to his horrible clients and delivering a delicious fried brussels sprouts dish.
And Chuy is sent packing for making a badly conceived, badly prepared salmon and goat cheese thing.
And the test will be ... take a whole cow from a Texas field and take it down to a steak in 30 minutes.
Who do you think wins?
That's how it went.
- Nyesha Arrington, 28 — Showed a bit of personality this time, getting a bit testy over Beverly's Extreme Home Kitchen Takeover. Made what I gather was a delicious dish with a red wine reduction, which one of the cretins said looked like blood. Even John Besh was aghast at the idiotic comment.
- Lindsay Autry, 29 — The leader in my annual "awesometer" sweepstakes. Gets brownie points for winning the Quickfire with Vienna sausages for reasons explained earlier. Yet I assume she's the least popular chef with the viewers for her personality, which, at this stage at least, doesn't seem fair to me.
- Ty-Lör Boring, 34 — Mentioned he has a boyfriend back home which made me want to consider making a Big Love plural marriage overture towards the chef. Sadly, ending up on the losing end of things yet again suggests I may only have a brief time left with my Scruff-y fantasy.
- Chris Crary, 29 — When this season started, I wondered how the hell this fit, pretty boy is originally from Bucyrus, Ohio. On the ride to Dallas, he revealed he had recently lost 70 pounds and they showed a "before" shot, thus ending my wondering. ... Also, I'm still pretty sure he's trying to tell us he's bi, adding John Besh to Fabio (the romance novel one, not the Top Chef one) and Padma on the list of his crush objects.
- Sarah Grueneberg, 29 — Is still in the running to be Last Chicago Chef standing, ending up in the top group again.
- Chris Jones, 30 — With a new city, Chris decides to ditch the San Antonio two-pairs-of-glasses look for a new Dallas Samurai-Delicatessen-inspired hairstyle. It doesn't help him, though, since nothing can distract from his idiotic concept of having Real Housewives wannabes (and Gail's boobs) chow down on "cigars" and "ash" in fancy (cleavage-revealing) cocktail dresses.
- Beverly Kim, 32 — Oh, this one. First we had the crying jags and the "vision board." Now we learn that she's a mess in the kitchen with little regard for those around her. We have achieved storyline.
- Edward Lee, 38 — Finally explained how it is he ended up in Louisville (a lovely city, by the way). Turns out he moved there for love. Aw. Also won bonus points for opting to ignore his nitwit client's call for a gummy bear dessert.
- Whitney Otawka, 30 — Managed to poke her head out of obscurity to end up on the losing end of the Quickfire for serving green beans out of a can as her offering. Bravo.
- Paul Qui, 31 — Still coming on strong for Tejas. Surely makes it to the end.
- Grayson Schmitz, 28 — Was sure she'd be on the losing end of the Elimination Challenge and found herself on the winning side instead. Now that's how you win Fan Favorite.
- Heather Terhune, 39 —Seemed to be an early favorite coming into this thing, but stumbled yet again. Will she survive? And can we hear more details about how your brother used to throw up all over you on driving trips? Because that was just so delicious to hear on a cooking show.
- Chuy Valencia 25 — Not only the Demon Butcher of Meat Street, but the possessor of the Dad Who's Done Everything. Sadly, this wasn't a storytelling competition. And it's really unlikely that he'll fend off every other incoming chef in the Redemption Kitchen.
- Dakota Weiss, 35 — OK, maybe it's not the younger-than-she-looks thing. Maybe it's the fact that no matter the topic, she always seems worried/freaked out in interviews, even when talking about winning shit. Maybe that's it.
Next time on Top Chef: Southfork. Miss Ellie. Pam. Who shot J.R.? And why is Ty-Lör going to the hospital?