Top Chef: Texas Recap
By David Mumpower
November 14, 2011
Previously on Top Chef’s season premiere, 29 chefs arrived at the Alamo, excited by the prospects of joining the ranks of previous contenders. Then, the first surprise of Top Chef: Texas was revealed. Only 16 of the invitees will be competitors this season. The rest of them barely get to set foot in a Texas kitchen before being forced to pack their knives and leave. Suffice to say that this turn of events has escalated tensions in a historically unprecedented manner.
Last week’s debut also created a numbers crunch. Out of the 19 participants who have cooked thus far (well, 18 who have cooked plus the one pinhead who was eliminated for improperly butchering a meat slab), only four are out of the competition. Eleven have earned chef coats while four are currently on the bubble. With ten chefs yet to cook, only five spots remain for 14 potential cheftestants. Today’s episode will feature a lot more heartbreak than happiness.
We begin today’s episode with a jittery conversation between Grayson and Molly, half of the Purgatory quartet along with Edward and Janine. Out of the group, Molly is the only one who delivered the dish she wanted yet was found wanting. All of the others had snafus that could have easily led to their elimination. Our suspicion is that this trio has underachieved and will be strong contenders for the final spot(s), but that is only a guess given the amount of face time Grayson and Edward have received thus far.
The final ten contestants in Group C arrive at the Top Chef kitchen. A couple of them are from Texas, which means they didn’t have as far to travel. We will see if either of them has a home field advantage. Top Chef’s newest judge, Hugh Acheson, also makes his first appearance here. Those of you who watched Top Chef Masters know him as the dude who was voted off twice in one season. He is probably a nice guy as well as a supremely talented chef, but his recent performance makes him a strange choice for a judge. Wasn’t anyone who, you know, did well on one of the first three seasons available instead?
The heat for Group C is unfair. There is no sugarcoating this. The first two groups competed against one another in a manner where no one had an unfair advantage. This is not the case with the final ten participants. After a brief scramble to select the main ingredient for the dishes, the cheftestants are informed that a surprise in the offing. A giggling redhead named Ashley is asked if she likes the ingredient she had chosen, and the viewer already knows that she is conflicted about it since she had lost a game of Paper, Rock, Scissors for a different one. She happily (?) quips that she does as long as she has enough time to cook it.
Sure enough, the catch with this heat is that some of the chefs have the full hour to compete while others have only 40 minutes and an unlucky few have only 20 minutes. Top Chef drives us nuts when it tries to out-twist itself. Let great chefs prove they are great chefs. We don’t want to know who can make the best dish when they have chosen the wrong ingredient, then lost the time limit lottery. At the very least, tell them in advance that some of them will have only 20 minutes to prepare a dish so that they can plan for it. The first 19 players had no artificial restraints with their cooking. Why are the final 10 arbitrarily punished? It’s nonsense.