Top Chef: Texas Recap
By David Mumpower
December 21, 2011
“Usually, it’s really difficult to send someone home but tonight you really made it easy.” With this biting statement from the rarely vicious Tom Colicchio, Whitney was eliminated last week. This was as much as Tom had ever scorched the Earth in dismissing someone, which emphasizes the brusque nature of the wording. The judges this season have reached the boiling point with regards to the mediocrity of the participants, most of whom are unwilling to stick their necks out enough to take a chance. And those that have (hello, Moto Chris) have selected the quirkiest possible methodology…as well as the least appetizing.
The latest episode picks up where the last one ended. People are still horrified by Heather’s abusive treatment of Beverly. This is like a wrestling storyline. Beverly was the person who appeared certain to be the primary villain of the season. She is selfish, immature and tearful. Her erratic behavior to date is indicative of someone who is not long for the completion. But Heather has now taken it upon herself to smite Beverly for her many transgressions. And the result is a cooking competition equivalent of Ike and Tina Turner but without the sex. God, I hope it is without the sex.
Tim Love’s presence reinforces the season’s theme of Texas cuisine. Love is a native of the state who fell in love with cooking back when he was a classmate of mine at The University of Tennessee in the early 90s. And yes, I just dated myself quite a bit there. Anyway, Love is one of the finest chefs in the world, someone who has competed on Iron Chef, and is well known for his love of game. Presumably, the Quickfire Challenge will involve this in some way.
Oh no, I am totally and completely wrong. There are so many tequila bottles lying around that you would think Keith Richards just played a gig. The product endorsement for the day is Don Julio premium tequila, whatever that is (I’m not a drinker). The contestants are instructed to pair a dish to the tequila they choose. Several of the chefs express the same concern that the degree of alcohol in tequila creates pairing problems. Some of them come up with genuinely creative dishes, though. Overall, this is a nifty challenge and even I, a non-drinker, wish I could taste some of the creations.
Tim Love, unlike last week’s mega-obnoxious guest, is quite happy with most of the dishes. The most noteworthy one in terms of appearance is Chris C. His “dish” is really just a raw oyster on top of a shot glass. The stated intent is to duplicate the atmosphere at the beach and this is exactly the compliment he receives from Mr. Love.
Meanwhile, Heather hasn’t truly paired her dish and Moto Chris has burned his chicken. The high and low sides of this challenge are more obvious than normal. Sure enough, Heather and Chris J. are placed on the bottom along with Sarah, whose dish created a strong reaction with the judge. I wasn’t sure if it was positive or not until now. She blames Tim Love in a camera discussion, all but shouting that his palate isn’t advanced enough to appreciate her flavors. There is a non-starter of an argument.