Chiles and Chili: The Most Obvious Episode of Top Chef: Texas Yet
Above is is how I imagine the initial planning meetings for Top Chef: Texas went. I'm also imagining future episodes where the contestants will be forced to shoot their own horses and grill them over a fire of cactus paddles. Let's go, Top Chef: Texas! DO THIS SHIT RIGHT.
Until then, we'll have to deal with tonight's episode, in which we're dealing with -- what else? -- chiles and chili.
This episode's Quickfire Challenge is a table of chili peppers. Each basket of chili peppers is assigned a dollar value, which I think ranges from lowest amount/least hot to highest amount/hottest. Or not. The camera cuts from scene to scene so quickly it's like I just snorted eight cups of espresso.
Wait -- the prize money comes courtesy of Tabasco? That shit's from Louisiana. Way to showcase Texan foods and culture, Top Chef: Texas and Texas tourism dollars.
Anyway, Beverly heads straight to the table and starts biting huge chunks out of the peppers. I really like her, as do I like Greyson, who has the chutzpah to serve an entire fried habanero pepper to the judges, who include previous Top Chef: Masters contestants Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, along with Padma.
The GE product placement shots are incredibly distracting and not at all subtle. It's just insulting. I'm actively going to avoid purchasing GE products in the future, despite all the goodwill they built up with me by allowing 30 Rock to continuously and mercilessly mock their company.
Paul Qui goes whole hog and takes the ghost pepper in the Quickfire Challenge, which comes with a $20,000 bounty, and he's nervous until the judges start talking about the "wimpy" chiles that other contestants wussed out with. Meanwhile, Chuy gets called out for using canned tomatoes -- as well he should have been.
Paul takes his fingers away from his mouth long enough, where he's nervously nibbling at them the whole time, to hear the judges' compliments on his dish. And, unsurprisingly, he wins. Go, Paul. We hear you're in it to win it, dude.
Fig. A: Top Chef research material, Part I
Oh, and speaking of squandering goodwill earlier...Top Chef just squelched the goodwill that came with Paul's win by announcing that they're cooking CHILI AT A MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMNED RODEO WITH OVER 200 MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMNED COWBOYS.
Because, seriously, if the rest of the episode is going to be contestants screaming at hapless Whole Foods employees (DAKOTA) and the bitchiest straight guy ever hating on my girl Sarah and one shitty stereotype after another, I am going to lose what little interest I had in this show to begin with.
Granted, I just judged a chili cook-off a few weeks ago, and then a wine competition at the rodeo. And a few weeks before that, I was at a rodeo in Henderson with my family. Hell, my first job out of college...was at a rodeo.
Fig. B: Top Chef research material, Part 2
But that doesn't mean I like a TV show picking and choosing small, out-of-context portions of our larger lives in Texas and broadly papering them into stereotypes that only serve to portray Texans as the one-dimensional characters the rest of America already thinks we are...it gets under my skin. I mean, I get that this is what America wants to see, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. If I were to watch a show about Russia, for example, I'd want to see more than just vodka, fur hats and the Kremlin.
Anyway, I honestly can't understand why this cooking chili challenge is freaking out the contestants so much. It's not like Padma or Tom or Gail know what proper Texas chili should taste like anyway... The proper Texans on the show -- including the ones judging the chili at the rodeo -- at least point out that none of the chilis should have beans in them. Of all the chilis, the Black Team's mole-inspired chili sounds (and seems) the worst. But we'll have to see what the "cowboy judges" say.
An artist's rendering of Padma entering the rodeo arena on horseback.
To no one's great surprise, the Green Team wins and the Black Team with their disgusting-sounding mole chili loses. And in more news that will shock absolutely nobody, Padma looks extremely uncomfortable on a horse, like a Barbie doll whose legs you've tried to bend to fit on a plastic horse you stole from your cousin's Fort Apache playset.
The Black Team is given one more chance to redeem themselves, though, with all three members given 30 minutes to somehow salvage their shitty chili. Richi and Nyesha head straight for the Fritos, which is smart fucking move. I mostly don't want Nyesha to go because -- as you'll see below -- she has the best lines. Ultimately, however, the Fritos aren't enough to save Richi. He runs crying straight to the arms of his brother chef from Moto and they sob "I love yous" to each other while I once again tear up unexpectedly. Fuck you, show.
Stay tuned next week, when Chris is starstruck by Chef John Besh, like Narcissus admiring his own reflection. It won't be creepy or anything.
Quotes of the Night:
"It's turned cutthroat all of a sudden. It's not fun anymore." - Nyesha, on getting further along in the competition.
"Look at that gigantic star..." - Chris, gazing drunkenly into the night sky.
"Muevete, guey." - Nyesha, before cannonballing into the pool.
"There's no sleep 'til the rodeo. Chili's an all-nighter." - Chris, confusing "the rodeo" with "Brooklyn."
"All right, you rodeo clowns. Let's mosey on out of here," - Tylor, before hopping into a Toyota! Sienna!
"I would have served it with a tortilla! Or some chips!" - Mary Sue, who would get her ass beat at my house for suggesting either of those to serve with chili to "sop up the liquid."
"There's no crying in cooking." - Nyesha, about a weepy, homesick Beverly.
See our previous Top Chef recaps here:
- Rattlesnakes and Quinceañeras: Episode 3
- Bloodsport and Oxtopus: Episode 2
- Neck Tattoos and Nonsense: Episode 1
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.
More Food & Drink News
- Houston's 5 Best Weekend Food Bets: Labor Day Weekend BBQs & Brews
- Upcoming Houston Food Events: A Saint Arnold and Original Ninfa's Meeting of the Minds
- Openings and Closings in Houston: Pour Society And A Newly Announced Speakeasy
- 100 Favorite Houston Dish, No. 62: Oxtail at Le’ Pam’s House Of Creole