Top Chef: Texas Recap (Part Two)
By David Mumpower
November 8, 2011
Keith, a former prison inmate and quite possibly the largest man in the history of Top Chef (sorry, CJ), is also suffering a bout of nerves, stating that he hopes he doesn’t pass out. If he does, we guarantee you that nobody there is strong enough to catch him before he hits the ground. Tom, Gail and Padma quickly inform the giant that he had little cause for concern as he is given an “extra, extra large” coat for his troubles. The news is not as good for Edward, who knew that his dish wasn’t quite right. Tom offers him the opportunity to cook again and, much to Padma’s frustration, Gail concurs. Thus far, Padma seems to be the most critical judge. Edward joins the women from Group A’s second heat in Purgatory. By the time this is over, the three of them plus another two or three chefs may be competing for only one remaining spot.
There are five competitors in the final heat of Group B. Janine Falvo is the least fortunate of them. As time runs out on the clock, she realizes that her sauce is on the table behind her. She cannot reach it before time runs out. The judges save her for fourth, which is a bit cruel. Gail strongly supports the dish and wants to give Janine a jacket. Unfortunately, Padma disagrees and Tom feels she could create a better dish. So, Janine because the fourth player in Purgatory.
Out of the remaining four participants, Dakota goes first. She has received little air time thus far, so we were using the same logic with her as with Nyesha. The lavish praise for her dish, however, paints her as one of the early favorites. And then she gets immediately one-upped. Chris, a chef who describes himself in the style of the Voltaggios and Richard Blais, earns the strongest compliments of any contestant thus far. We had considered him to be an egomaniacal blowhard up until now, but he suddenly appears to be the frontrunner. Ty-Lor (yes, that’s how he spells it and there is an umlaut on the ‘o’) is also a unanimous choice for a coat. This group has had three no-brainer selections thus far; rabbit was certainly the right call.
The final person judged tonight is Chuy. He tries to joke about the situation, stating that the judges have “either saved the best for last or the absolute worst for last”. Padma curtly replies, “Or neither.” Padma has been feral in this episode whereas Emeril Lagasse was quite approachable. This surprises us. Chuy is eventually informed that he earns the 11th coat thus far.
Working through the numbers for the season premiere, 19 contestants have participated thus far. 11 of them earned their coats, leaving five up for grabs. Out of the 11 who have advanced in the competition, four of them have working relationships. In addition to buddy chefs Chris and Richie, we discover in the closing moments that Ty-Lor worked as executive sous chef for Heather for a couple of years. These pre-existing interpersonal relationships should make for fascinating television down the line.
Out of the eight chefs who did not earn jackets tonight, four will have the opportunity to cook again for the judges while four are eliminated from the competition, three of them before their dishes were even sampled. Out of the participants removed from the competition, Simon was the only one whose food wasn’t up to snuff. The rest all made mistakes prior to Judges Table. Out of the players in Purgatory, three of the four players (Grayson, Edward and Janine) had preparation problems; only Molly made the dish she wanted yet was found wanting by the judges. That is probably not a good sign for her candidacy.
With ten chefs remaining in Group C and four more in Purgatory, there are 14 players competing for five spots. Our expectation for next week’s episode is that the Group C players are judged more harshly with only three of them being ceded jackets. That would leave a secondary competition with eleven chefs battling for two spots. If four members of Group C get jackets, ten players on the bubble will fight for the lone remaining chef’s coat. The numbers game is grim for those who do not have jackets yet.
Eliminated: Tyler the Strange, Colin, Simon, Nina
Purgatory: Molly, Grayson, Edward, Janine
Contestants: Chris, Sarah, Richie, Heather, Nyesha, Whitney, Keith, Dakota, Ty-Lor, Chris, Chuy