Dallas Makes a Damn Fool of Itself on Top Chef: Texas
Hi, y'all! I'm country singer Dolly Parton and according to Top Chef contestants, I'm also from Texas!
Thoughts: Is it really a "Healthy Choice" when so many of your frozen dinners are laden with preservatives and other chemicals?
With that, we're hitting the road to Dallas, better known these days as a "dining nowhereville." Great choice, Bravo! Enjoy that!
"When I think of Dallas, I think of the Dallas Cowboys...I think of country singers," gasps Beverly. "Dolly Parton, isn't she from Dallas?" See, even the chefs can't manage to come up with a single Dallas chef or restaurant and instead resort to cliched Texas stereotypes. (Oh, and for the record Beverly, DOLLY PARTON IS FROM TENNESSEE, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.) Meanwhile, Tylor is still insisting on wearing a cowboy hat and, as a result, looks like a poor man's Woody from a community theater production of Toy Story on Ice.
Suddenly, "on their way" to Dallas, the contestants inexplicably find themselves on a tiny, two-lane road that looks straight out of Kansas, not Texas. The DPS roadblock that's been created is so clearly a cheesy set-up that it's making my eye twitch. This is the beginning of the Quickfire Challenge, in which the gang has to make whatever they can from the camo-covered survival kits in the trunks of their Toyota! Siennas! while Once Fat Chris goes completely Single White Female on poor John Besh.
"John Besh is a handsome man," he gushes. "His beautiful white teeth and hair blowing in the wind..." No one talks that way, do they? I mean, outside of romance novels??
Wait, nori paper was in Chris's survival kit? Did I overlook that particular kit the last time I was at REI? I don't understand where they came up with some of these ingredients. The winner ends up being the most resourceful of the group, Lindsay, who made a surprisingly good sandwich with Saltine crackers.
If Dallas intended to redeem itself with appearances on Top Chef, it's not working.
Photo illustration by Dallas Obsever
"It feels like Dallas; it's big, it's opulent," says Chris upon their arrival in the Big D. They haven't said exactly in which neighborhood they're doing the progressive dinner, but it looks like Plano, judging from the tacky, new-money bullshit that's been vomited up in each of the three houses. It could also be Highland Park, though, because there are a lot of trees in the backyards (something which Plano doesn't have). Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because boring rich people are the same no matter what West Egg community they're from.
The first hostess of the progressive dinner doesn't like cilantro, bell peppers or anything that makes people "self-conscious" about their breath. "I'm not very adventurous about food," she mewls through tight lips while her castrato husband looks on, moon-eyed. The second hostess hates cilantro, too. And raspberries. Raspberries. "These people are high-maintenance," sighs Chuy. YEP. WELCOME TO DALLAS, ASSHOLES. The third hostess's husband wants Gummi Bears in his dessert, and also probably his mommy.
The one thing I can't complain about is the challenge this episode being annoyingly cliched. After all, this is how Dallas actively seeks to portray itself to the world: as a bastion of people who are not only willfully ignorant and materialistic, but excessively proud of it.
To wit, Ugly Chris's beautiful and creative twist on a cigar with cumin ash goes completely over the hostess's heads. It's clear from their vacant, rather rude expressions that they neither understand what any of the contestants are saying about the dishes, nor do they care. I wouldn't want to cook for these people either. Seriously, they're all horrendous. I'm frankly confused as to why these vapid socialites were chosen to appear as "judges" with the sole exception of the "party planner," who at least admits to enjoying and roasting Brussels sprouts on the regular.
I feel like just shaking my head and muttering, "Fucking Dallas" under my breath for the rest of this recap.
A Picard facepalm is equalled in intensity only by a Colicchio eye roll.
Example 1: "It almost looks like blood decorating the sides of the plate," ditzes one of the blonde hostesses about a completely normal plating. "That's a red wine reduction, I can assure you," whips back Besh, who's red-faced and clearly embarrassed on her behalf. WE'RE ALL EMBARRASSED, BESH.
Example 2: "The presentation looks like a little Elmo," ditzes another, about a dessert. Cut to a shot of Coliccho rolling his eyes that should immediately be immortalized in GIF form and used in the same manner as the ubiquitous Picard facepalm meme. At least the Top Chef panel is appropriately aggravated with the socialites at this point.
In the end, Paul Qui is once again named the winner of the competition for the night. "This is a Texas competition and I'm the only chef who cooks in Texas," he says, pride practically seeping from his pores. Good on ya, Paul.
The judges hated Ugly Chris's collard green and cumin ash cigar, however. Could the second Moto man in a row go home tonight? Nah, that'd be too easy. Instead, Chuy is sent packing -- still another Chicago chef to go home, however -- due to his overcooked salmon. I'm baffled that Once Fat Chris and his bizarre cupcakes made it through, but maybe Besh thought it best that his potential stalker be well-occupied while Besh gets a new alarm system for his house and perhaps a bodyguard or two.
Quotes of the night:
"Ugly Chris": The nickname bestowed upon Moto Chris, i.e., not Once Fat Chris (a.k.a. The guy who will eventually have a restraining order taken out against him by John Besh.)
"It's truly ironic that I would win the challenge with a can of Vienna sausages. Dad, I hope you're proud." Lindsay, on winning the Quickfire Challenge.
"I get stuck with dessert, again. I'm pissed. I didn't come here to make desserts." Dakota, who I really don't blame.
"Someone with that much elegance is telling me to cook Gummi Bears." Chris, increasingly aggravated with the idiot socialites he's being forced to cook for.
"Goddamned son of a whore," Tylor, showing off some exceptional swearing. I approve.
"I don't think there's any story I can make up that Chuy's dad hasn't done." Ugly Chris on Chuy's tall tales about his dad (which are sort of endearing in their way, really).
See our previous Top Chef recaps here:
- Chiles and Chili: Episode 4
- 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.