Top Chef: Texas Recap
By David Mumpower
January 18, 2012
Chefs are expected to deliver “a complete concept from name to design to menu”. In other words, the food and the design need to reflect the name of the store. This has proven to be a dramatic stumbling block to some very smart chefs in the past, which is why Restaurant Wars has led to some shocking eliminations in the past. There is also a dreaded front of the house assignment in this iteration; also, the chef given this task is also responsible for creating at least one dish. This is exactly the scenario that has doomed multiple contestants in the past. They have defined the ingredients and the preparation to a cohort only to see the dish fail to reach their idealized concept.
Perhaps taking a page from Top Chef history, Grayson volunteers for front of the house. No wait, Grayson volunteers Lindsay for front of the house. This is a rare moment of selfishness for an otherwise considerate chef. Since the move could prove the difference between losing and winning, it strikes us as the perfect moment to be calculating. Lindsay had not expected this and stutters her (eventual) consent. Meanwhile, Sarah continues to conflict with Beverly and seems to be setting up the petite teammate to be the fall girl if the men do in fact win. As such, Beverly and Lindsay currently seem like the most likely people eliminated from their teams.
The men are impressively harmonious. Edward volunteers for front of the house because he is the rare competitor with a great deal of experience in this regard. This should mean that he is a bit better at navigating the glad-handing in the front with the cooking in the back. The men choose Canteen as their name, explaining it to be “a communal place to eat”. That’s the long and short of their discussion. The menu comes together almost immediately and Moto Chris is thankfully low key, proffering no adventurous suggestions, something of a first for The Cigar Man. Wait, no. We spoke too soon. Chris offers to do a dessert that involves Cracker Jack flavors in liquid nitrogen. Chris seems like a very nice guy who is his own worst enemy in life.
Meanwhile, the women select Half Bushel as their concept. As we learn, Lindsay’s grandparents had a farm and sold peaches and so the idea of a bushel is seminal to her upbringing. An adorable picture is shown of a teeny-tiny Lindsay grinning broadly as she picked a peck of peaches. Anyone who ever joined their parents in acquiring produce in such a manner as a child can easily relate. The memories do cause a person to remember with fondness their childhood, making this a communal eating experience as well. Score this portion of the competition to the women. And the décor portion is obviously going to go with them as well. Only 25% of the men remaining in the competition are gay, meaning that they are basically hopeless in this regard.
The “twist” if it justifies such a designation is that the teams eat at one another’s restaurants. The men cook on the first night and the women sample their cuisine first. The following evening sees the roles reversed as the women cook with the men as their customers. The rest of the clientele is the same on both nights in order to normalize the judging. The customers use some shiny new Top Chef app (presumably available for download now on iTunes although I haven’t checked it out yet) to express their level of satisfaction with the meals. Meanwhile, the judges will determine who is being sent home.