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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Top Chef Texas recap, Episode 8: And the beast was done

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

SPOILER ALERT

Out here in the real world, a week has gone by since we endured the onslaught of Heather-zilla, but we are quickly reminded how fresh the experience is for the rest of the chefs, especially Beverly. She keenly observers, “The universe is full of karma…and it always comes back to you.”

As the chefs continue to swelter in that hotbox of a kitchen and try to ignore the commentary from Heather, Padma re-appears to tell the remaining 10 chefs to pack their bags. Time to get their hipster on and head over to Austin. And you know what that means!

That’s right! Another Toyota Sienna montage!

Highlights: Heather would forfeit $5,000 and immunity for a night with John Besh and Chris C. earned the nickname Malibu for his pretty boy ways. And he would also trade $5K for a night with John Besh and those stunning white teeth.

QUICKFIRE

As soon as the chefs enter the kitchen and see that Tom has “graced [them] with his presence”, they know something is up. In honor of Austin’s tech-centric culture, this week’s Quickfire centers around Twitter, with “live” tweet suggestions from fans throughout the 45 minute cook time. The winning chef gets $10K. @DentonBiety leads off with an easy one: make something with bacon.

Everyone gets their pork rolling, and Tom and Padma start trolling their Twitter feed for twist suggestions to throw into the mix. They settle on @habitat67’s suggestion to “do a hash for a #hashtag challenge”, so now the chefs must incorporate a hash into their dish.

Finally, and by far the best suggestion, @koreanblue has the brilliant twist of making each chef pick an ingredient to hand to another chef to use in their dish. Immediately, everyone starts trying to screw each other over. Lindsay hands “Malibu” maple syrup in retaliation for him pushing sriracha into her dish.

Surprisingly, the whole ingredient swap tweet wasn’t the undoing of the chefs in the bottom three. Grayson’s tomatillo wasn’t a problem, but her shrimp puff was too mousse-like, Chris J. over salted his potatoes, and Edward burnt his hash. Despite the fact she’d never used a pressure cooker before – “I’ve never tried this before” are usually famous last words on TC – Beverly impressed with her braised pork belly. (Cut to a sour-faced Heather) Sarah’s squash blossom fritter also won high marks, but Paul’s bacon three ways earns him $10,000 and about five “I’m the only chef from Texas” anxiety-free minutes.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE

The chefs retire to the hotel lounge for cocktails, and in walks this week’s celebrity judge, Patti Labelle. I was all amped up to rip on Bravo for another completely obscure and unqualified judge….and then I realized that she is a cookbook author and has her own line of sauces and seasonings. Touché, Bravo.

For their inspiration this week, the chefs are to put on a tribute dinner, honoring the person in their lives that taught them to love cooking. Cue the waterworks from Sarah, who gets emotional thinking about learning from her Grandparents.

The chefs scramble around Whole Foods, an Austin-based company, and Grayson heads to the butcher to get some honkin’ ribeyes, in honor of her grill master father. However, she isn’t thrilled with the selection of lean beef, complaining that there isn’t enough marbling. You hear that, massive corporate sponsor?

We fly through cooking – split up with “this is what I’m making” and “this is who I’m making it for” cutaways for each chef – and a few of the chefs show some obvious stumbles.

WHOA! Is that Emeril? Thanks for showing up big guy.

Heather knows that her stroganoff is spongy, but is too scared to resort to the pressure cooker to save it. Sarah’s presentation has her worried next to Paul’s vibrant plate. Chris C’s salmon is leaking albumin – perhaps the grossest sounding sentence I’ve ever written about a dish – and Grayson realizes that she is about to serve a Flintstones sized steak, and not much else.

During tasting, Patti drops some great comments, but the obvious winner is her guess on Heather’s mystery-meat: “It’s Bigfoot!”

Couldn’t be a man in a gorilla suit? No way, now you know he’s real.

For Judge’s Table, they mix it up and call up the losers first. Chris C’s albumin-oozing salmon, Grayson’s gristly ribeye, and Heather’s braised Bigfoot land them all on the chopping block.

For the first time in a while, competition for the top three seems heated. Lindsay’s trout spanakopita, Ty-Lor’s duck fat-fried chicken tenders, and Paul’s adobo quail all win rave reviews, but aren’t enough to land them in the top. Those honors go to Edward’s modern bibimbap, Beverly’s steamed and braised short ribs, and Sarah’s pork sausage stuffed cabbage.

It seems that Sarah’s worrying over her presentation is unfounded, because her sausage beats out the competition and wins the challenge. Grandpa would be proud.

Ah, but we aren’t done yet. Heather, Grayson, and Malibu shuffle back to Judge’s table to hear the verdict. And….the “Queen of Mean” is no more. Karma really is a….Heather.

In case you felt the need to reflect on Miss Congeniality’s best moments, head on over to Last Chance Kitchen to see her take on Nyesha. About half of the seven minutes is spent on flashbacks to her awfulness.

SPOILER ALERT! – Karma wins again.

Favorite Quotes:

“You know, I have balls. And uh, I’m gonna show ‘em” – Edward

“Because I know my beef is not good.” – Heather..

“Love bells on, HEEEEEEY” – Patti

“That plate didn’t flip me” – Patti

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

10 comments Add your comment

Glenn

December 22nd, 2011
8:20 am

Usually to me there is an episode every season that gets the ball rolling . This was it for me . You have familiarity with the contestants and their style of cooking whether it be using foam or making sausage. Yes instant karma was served as well as bad stroganoff . I’m glad Heather is gone . I was afraid her bulldozing people would be a main story line though out the season . I enjoyed this episode .

PapaDoc

December 22nd, 2011
9:47 am

Ding dong. Karma is a bitch.

Lisa

December 22nd, 2011
10:24 am

Yes Virginia…there IS a Santa Claus…
I didn’t see the Last Chance Kitchen but I truly hope Nyesha kicked Heather’s butt…

Edwar

December 22nd, 2011
1:53 pm

This was an epic episode. I can’t understand why Grayson chose those gristly ribeyes. Whole Foods (at least the ones near me) offer some dry-aged prime beef, which would have been a much better choice. But maybe out of the price range. But, as Tom said, she shouldn’t have done such a literal dish, but used some creativity. Edward’s take on bibimbap looked amazing, I would love to try that. And Lisa, you can rest assured, Nyesha did wipe that grin off Heather’s face. The editing on Last Chance Kitchen was some of the best I’ve seen, they really brought out the true creepiness that Heather exudes.

Edward

December 22nd, 2011
1:54 pm

man, I hate it when the backspace wipes out my “d” :-)

GaPeachy

December 22nd, 2011
3:22 pm

Sooo glad Heather is gone, she hadn’t really done anything impressive to me anyway! Now on to the chefs…. i wanted to eat Edward’s dish and Tylor’s chicken fiingers so badly mmmmmm. Glad Emeril finally showed up and with his pal Patti no less. You know he got that setup. Her pipes sound the exact same, she can still blow. Really glad this season is starting to pick up a little steam now.

Wino

December 22nd, 2011
3:47 pm

Patti Labelle? Really? The Patty that made here career singing the same bad song over and over? I was appalled when she came onstage wearing that skirt that made her look like 50 lbs of flour in a 30 lb sack, but I realized she gave me an opportunity to refill my wine glass without missing anything. And I guess that her friends were there for their 15 seconds of fame. For my last Toyota Sienna observation, what cookbook author (sic) won’t taste a dish because it is made with quail. By the look on her face, you would think it was a stuffed turd instead of quail.

SP

December 22nd, 2011
3:55 pm

I loved seeing Beverly’s slight smirk when Heather got axed. If it was me I would’ve jumped up, pointed at Heather and yelled “Suck it, loser!”. But that’s just me. Beverly handled it much classier.

Kat

December 23rd, 2011
1:37 pm

No one has pointed out how Tom smugly told Bigfoot Heather how well Beverly used the pressure cooker at the judges table. She looked like she wanted to smack Tom from across the table.

So happy Bigfoot is gone! My husband and were shocked the producers let Heather go. They usually get a say somehow in elimination so they can make entertaining television.

Edward

December 23rd, 2011
2:56 pm

Kat, I noticed that dig of Tom’s, too. I liked how Tom even smirked when he said it.