Bloodsport and Oxtopus on Last Night's Top Chef: Texas
I am proud to report that the above photo is now the one of the first search results for "Asian Leghorn."
...aaaaaand we're back! Last week, I drank heavily and recapped the first episode of Top Chef: Texas. Check that recap to familiarize yourself with the dumb names I've made up for nearly everything on this show so far.
After a short montage of the first two rounds of contestants' cooking calamities, the show recaps for us what we already knew (but what the remaining chefs don't): There were 11 coats given out last week, with four chefs on the bubble and 10 left to cook for THEIR LIIIIIIIVES.
Or something. So the structure of the show will be a predictable two rounds: the remaining 10 chefs compete against one another, then those left on the bubble from the entire affair will compete in a Gladiator-style bloodsport with maces, and then Padma's left breast will give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the survivors.
"We're like prisoners in a room together," says Asian Leghorn. How did he know I was picturing them as Roman slaves?! "We're starting to bond." He says this directly before side-eyeing it to the camera as he sleazes: "I don't want to get too close to people."
Antics like this are why I don't watch reality shows.
Hugh's unibrow's feelings are hurt.
Padma introduces Hugh Acheson and his unibrow while some creepy dude talks about having photos of Padma in his locker in high school.
Meanwhile, Locker's qualification that he trots out after all the James Beards and Food & Wines is: "I was nominated by my mom as one of her two favorite sons." Everyone laughs, but you can see in Tom Colicchio's eyes that he died a little while he did it.
There are 10 items on the table, and the chefs have to choose among them which ingredient they'll have to cook with. Under the cloche is a surprise. I hope it's horsemeat. (It's not. It's never horsemeat.)
Now the contestants are talking about "oxtopus" and I'm sad because that's something I wish really existed. They find out what's under the cloches and -- like I predicted -- it's not horsemeat. It's a stopwatch that looks oddly like my alarm clock from 1986. Each chef has their own clock, with times on them ranging from 20 to 60 minutes, and has that amount of time in which to cook their dish. Locker is suddenly regretting that he chose the risotto because he only has 40 minutes in which to cook it. It was nice knowing you, Locker.
Qui already has Hughnibrow hovering over him, which must be the most frustrating feeling in the world. I already don't want to talk to people while I'm cooking, and I'm just cooking ramen noodles for Broke-Ass Carbonara and I've got all goddamn night to do it. If Hughnibrow was hovering over me, asking shit about "Do you know how much cholesterol is in those ramen noodles, Katharine? A LOT." I'd freak out and burst into tears.
I'm removed from these disturbing thoughts by Redbeard telling the camera: "I just want to show the world what us Texas cooks can do." ME TOO, REDBEARD.
"Sous chefs shouldn't be underestimated," says some random girl. Who says they are??
Even Rutger Hauer agrees with my Roman slave analogy.
"I never wanted to come to the U.S. I had no choice," says man who looks disturbingly like Tom Colicchio's French doppelgänger or possibly a replicant. Have you ever expired a human by mistake?
Meanwhile, a lady chef runs amok about only having 60 minutes to braise veal with a bone in it -- at least you have an hour! And then she literally runs away from Tom as he edges toward her station. Best move you'll ever make, honey. (Anyway, it could have been that French Colicchio; gotta watch your back.)
"I wouldn't be able to face any of my guys in Austin if I go home today," says Qui. Yeah, he's safe. On the other hand, fellow Austin chef Redbeard is admittedly throwing shit on to the plate right now, but I have to admit that his roasted mushrooms topped with brown butter sound great.
Qui has kept it simple with a grilled trout and a roasted tomato salad. It's elegant-looking and apparently tasty, as he immediately gets a coat, like we had any expectations to the contrary. Kim leaves right after Qui, though, which makes Redbeard quake in his no-slip shoes. It's a good thing they have traction, because he's on the bubble. "I'll cook five times today if they want me to."
"I'm shitting bricks," says a guy who looks like that Australian male model who saved a woman's puffy dog that was blown off some pier. You remember.
The round of 40 minute chefs is nearly done, and everyone can already tell that Locker has fucked up his risotto -- as in, he has none at all to present to the judges. Your Italian wife is gonna whip your ass for that, Locker. Especially that parting bit about still being sexually attracted to Padma. Yeeeeesh.
Dog-Saving Model goes right after Locker, but French Colicchio is on the bubble.
Bernice presents her dish next, but it falls flat. I like that Tom is up-front about knowing her, knowing her employer and knowing her restaurant, but judges her solely based on what was presented. She's gone.
Wait -- why was there just a random, tight product shot of a GE appliance label after this other girl's heartfelt speech about knowing what's important? ARE YOU TRYING TO GIVE ME AN ANEURYSM, BRAVO? Seriously, I would be the first person to die of a tacky-induced aneurysm -- an aneurysm INDUCED BY TACKINESS -- and it would be Bravo's fault.
Back to the show...if you manage to fuck up something as inherently delicious as oxtails in an hour, I don't want to know you. Please let this dish be normal. "It left a lot to be desired," says Padma's vacant face. Everyone else agrees, and the oxtails and their redheaded chef are gone. The show solved that whole "don't want to know your problem" for me. Welp.
Octopus goes through, though, and takes her new chef's jacket and her fellow contestants to Casa de Cheftestant where they all commence -- WHAT ELSE -- drinking. You know there's Fernet in those plastic tumblers.
"Oh, you cook on a cruise ship?" sneers Asian Foghorn about Cruise Ship. She looks humiliated, and I suddenly want to punch the place on my TV where his stupid face is. Judgmental asshole. YOU CAN'T EVEN PRONOUNCE THE NAME OF YOUR OWN HOMETOWN. We're done, Leghorn!
The Bubbles head back into the kitchen for their final challenge: Bloodsport. This is absolutely the toughest challenge that the show could have thrown their way. Any ingredient in the kitchen and 45 minutes to cook? That's plenty of time to cook anything you want, so you can't blame time constraints or weird ingredients (two of the reasons I love Chopped). You have no one to blame if your dish sucks except yourself, and there are only two chef's jackets left to grab.
Fantasia has no boundaries!! (Top Chef: Texas does, however. They end right before Houston.)
In my mind, the show should have cut here to Atreyu facing the G'Mork in The Neverending Story, but instead this happened: the most heartbreaking break-up story I've ever heard. Jesus, lady! And what the hell did that have to do with anything, Bravo?
Leghorn nearly severs a damn artery with his shitty knife skills -- see? Bloodsport -- and I'm reminded of the time I saw a cowboy's thumb ripped off during a bull riding competition 10 years ago. The cowboy complained far, far less.
Cruise Ship goes way overboard (I'LL BE HERE ALL NIGHT) with her plate; it's composed of so many vastly different, buzzword-y ingredients that they all blend together in a ponzu-drizzled blur of insecurity. Sadly, her shrimp is overcooked and it looks iffy for her.
So far, the panel isn't really gushing over anyone's dish yet, except for Grayson. Emeril really does make a damn fine judge, like the few times I've seen Ben Folds on The Sing-Off. He's thoughtful and constructive and seems to be taking this really seriously.
However, as with Chopped, hearing the endless debate of the judges over which dishes fared worst or best is agonizingly boring. What, couldn't find more commercials to shove in there, Bravo? I'd watch those (or flip over to American Horror Story) instead of the jawing here.
After all that, Cruise Ship, French Colicchio, Redbeard and Heartbreaking Break-Up Story are all gone, but Grayson gets through and I love her because she wags her finger at the camera, mock Fly Girls-style. Oh, and Asian Leghorn gets through. Because there is no justice in this world.
And that means we are down to one single Texas-based chef on Top Chef: Texas, after only two episodes. In an upcoming episode, Padma's mouth says that she wants to see some "motherfucking snakes on some motherfucking plates."
I will need to start drinking again, it seems.
See our previous Top Chef recaps here:
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.