Top Chef: Texas Recap
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
January 25, 2012
For no apparent reason in the last episode, Sarah discredited Beverly’s victory by loudly announcing in front of the entire team that Lindsay deserved to win. Let’s just say that if this is true, the editing last week was remarkably misleading. The footage that aired indicated that Lindsay was the worst performer on either team. She and Sarah attempted to gang up on Beverly. Meanwhile, Grayson defended the most bullied player this season, but lamented the fact that Beverly won the prize. The awkward car ride to San Antonio gives everyone an opportunity to stew over the result.
Lindsay, whom we have enjoyed in the competition for the most part, snidely describes how difficult her task was relative to the cooking assignments. Yes, front of the house is hard and the person who could vent with her on the subject is Edward, who was much better in the task than her. Lindsay then provides an angry camera monologue where she describes her high standards and how she feels justified about her behavior since Beverly was dropping the ball. This is the point where we remind you that Lindsay chose an improper cooking technique for her dish that led to dry fish then complained to others that her fish was dry. Someone hand Lindsay a mirror so that she can start bitching at the right person.
Eric Ripert sighting! The nicest man in Top Chef history and apparently a cook of some sort, Ripert is a personal favorite of ours. Of course, his presence makes us miss his constant companion, Anthony Bourdain, that much more. Stupid second show on Travel Channel keeping him busy. Anyway, Ripert informs the chefs of the details of today’s inventive challenge.
There is a conveyor belt full of items. Each chef must grab three items off the rotating belt and use them in a dish for the Quickfire challenge. The moment they touch an item, it is a component of their dish. Also, there is an element of strategy in that lousy items like pop rocks are released first while the highest quality ingredients will not be released until much later. Since the chefs have only 30 minutes to cook, elements of strategy and luck come into play.
Here are a few examples. At the 15 minute mark, Paul grabs a bitter melon. He acknowledges that this was a panic move due to the fact that half of his time was gone. It is right there in the name that the bitter melon is bitter and thereby not the tastiest flavor for a dish. Chris struggles in a different way. He sees a lobster go by not once but twice. He half-heartedly chases the first time then sprints the second time but is unsuccessful in acquiring it. The third time the crab circles around, Chris almost throws himself onto the conveyor belt in order to acquire it and seems to get clipped by the lobster’s claws for his trouble. And Sarah sways in the breeze as precious moments tick off the clock as she hopes for a delicious fish. She settles for saltine crackers instead, which is like hoping for a Ferrari and settling for a tricycle. Finally, Beverly makes the worst mistake of all with time management. She forgets to include one of her three ingredients in her dish, Rice Krispies, thereby negating her chances for victory.
The only chef who demonstrates impeccable strategy is Lindsay. She embarks upon preparations of a dish before she knows what her conveyor belt ingredients will be. In creating this base, she attains flexibility in her preparations and also uses her 30 minutes better than her competitors. With a few minutes left, she casually heads over to the conveyor belt and grabs some grouper and clams, presumably the tasty fish Sarah had wasted so much time looking for. This makes the result of the competition a foregone conclusion. Eric Ripert breaks the bad news to Chris, Grayson and Paul that their dishes were lacking.
The surprise is that Beverly finishes in the top group despite her mistake. She is even informed that she would have won if the Rice Krispies had been included, which bums out Sarah and Lindsay, the other people in the top group. Even when they finished ahead of Beverly, they cannot celebrate her failures. That takes all the enjoyment out of schadenfreude. Anyway, Lindsay does win for her cleverly calculated dish and thereby earns immunity, a huge deal with only seven competitors remaining. Also, we love everything about the challenge. Please do it every year, Top Chef!