Seven episodes in, and I'm sorry to report that none of the challenges thus far have involved the contestants being forced to shoot their own horses and grill them over a fire of cactus paddles. What is this, Bravo? Amateur hour? THAT'S RATINGS GOLD.
On a more positive note, the show has continued the positive trend set by last week's episode with guest judge Dean Fearing. Another pre-eminent Texas chef is featured tonight: Tim Love, of Fort Worth's Lonesome Dove. Eater Dallas predicted earlier today that "his Top Chef Texas appearance will effectively erase the embarrassment experienced by the metroplex thanks to the Highland Park progressive dinner episode."
All I know is that I love the batshit crazy show that comes on before Top Chef, because every time I tune in to Bravo and catch the last few minutes of it, some "artist" (?) with crazy eyes is literally weeping and rending the clothes they stole from unattended dressing rooms on the set of Glee -- even the judges! Why can't Padma display this level of emotion? Or anything even approaching it? It's almost the level of crazy I want to see from Top Chef, although I know a show with OCD-level plugs for the Toyota! Sienna! probably has to maintain some sort of Thorazine-drugged affect in order better align itself with the Sienna's core customer base.
Starting right where the last episode left off, the contestants -- nicknaming themselves the Dirty Dozen at this point -- get drunk back at the house, although Fernet is still suspiciously absent from all of these gatherings so far. Not looking even remotely hungover the next day, they walk into the kitchen and see Tim Love amidst a sea of tequila bottles. There's a joke in there somewhere, but Padma's dull gaze has lulled me into complacency.
The Quickfire challenge involves cooking a dish to pair with one of the Don Julio tequilas (which I don't have a problem hawking here too, since it ain't bad stuff). None of these humorless motherfuckers are making any tacky tequila shot jokes, though, and are being all professional about the stuff, talking about it as "a vehicle for all these different flavors." And suddenly I'm disappointed in myself for being bored by someone's professionalism.
Oh, gee. Beverly makes something Asian again. Unsurprisingly, she wins nothing. Tylor does, on the other hand, neatly bookending his earlier interview -- just, like, 10 minutes earlier in the episode; this isn't Tolkien -- in which he complained of always being in the bottom three. Welp, that ties that up neatly!
And then - BAM. Just like that Bravo pulls out the big guns: An arsenal of big-name chefs as judges, including Houston's very own Bryan Caswell and two dudes from
Animal House Animal in Los Angeles. Bravo ups the ante even more by making the contestants themselves judges, tasked with eliminating each other at the end. With their balls sufficiently sucked up into their body cavities, the contestants hit the grocery store to pick up their ingredients for the wild game feast ahead.
Meanwhile, Paul continues to be my favorite contestant by VO'ing that he thinks Sarah is going to kick ass because she's an awesome chef. A gentleman for you, folks. A true gentleman. Foghorn Leghorn, in comparison, calls his fellow chef Heather "a complete bitch." Slow clap, Eddie. Someone's gotta play the Jax-Ur to Qui's Clark Kent.
Somehow, it doesn't seem fair that Lindsay and Pretty Chris -- who've been consistently in the top three so far -- are on the same team. It seems equally unfair that Heather and Beverly -- both of whom are clearly low-hanging fruit -- were paired together too. As Lindsay and Chris have just demonstrated, there is no such thing as strength in numbers in this challenge.
Grayson scolding a hand-wringing Chris as they walk about of the room, big sister-style, is actually hilarious. As is Caswell's comment that their juniper-marinated elk with sweet potato fries reminded him of a banquet meal, circa 1982. Meanwhile, one of the Animal chef's beards is telling a bizarre tall tale about alligator wrestling that I can only imagine made it into the episode because some post-production assistant was stoned one late night in the editing bay.
Venison cooked rare? That's undercooked? GIVE THAT RAW, BLEEDING MEAT TO ME. (Sorry, dinner was hours ago...)
Foghorn Leghorn, er, Ed and Tylor end up winning the wild game challenge, giving Tylor a much-needed boost for the day after winning the Quickfire challenge as well. They're then tasked with sending out the bottom three teams -- in their estimation -- like lambs to the slaughter.
By the way, Healthy Choice, putting my dream girlfriend Mindy Kaling in one of your commercials is not going to make me want to buy your frozen dinners. It's just going to make me hate The Office that much more by proxy. (But not you, Mindy. Tweet me.)
Back on the show, the throatripping has begun. Sort of. "The claws haven't really come out yet," says Ed, of the rather passive way the six lambs went down to ye olde killing floor. Nyesha, Dakota, Heather, Beverly, Grayson and Chris face Coliccho, Padma and Hughibrow. Dakota and her eyeliner start crying (YESSSSSS, now rend some clothes!) and Heather vainly attempts to throw her teammate Beverly under a bus. Ugly Chris takes Grayson's advice from earlier and keeps his mouth pointedly shut.
"I don't understand why you would tear down your partner," says Grayson afterward of Heather's bus-throwing activities, who aptly points out that this is a double elimination: "You'll both go home." Unfortunately, it's Dakota and Nyesha who get sent home -- two contestants who probably weren't going to make it through to win the show anyway, but who are still arguably more talented than either Heather or Beverly.
Eh, they'll be gone soon enough too.
Quotes of the Night:
"I've been known to make a mean margarita on the playa in my day." Tylor, who seems determined to awkward his way into my heart.
"I never drink tequila. I'm a beer girl." Grayson, whose Wisconsin was showing big-time this episode.
"I felt like that [shrimp] was the new special at a chain restaurant." Tim Love, on Heather's trite entree in the Quickfire challenge.
"I just hope he doesn't go overboard." Grayson about Moto/Ugly Chris, a team which I'd pay to watch Lucy-and-Ethel-style on TV.
"The potato was like WAAAUUUGHHH?" Hughibrow, doing his finest Miss Piggy impersonation.
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See our previous Top Chef recaps here:
- Mediocrity Is Served at the South Fork Ranch: Episode 6
- Dallas Is a Damn Fool: Episode 5
- Chiles and Chili: Episode 4
- Rattlesnakes and Quinceañeras: Episode 3
- Bloodsport and Oxtopus: Episode 2
- Neck Tattoos and Nonsense: Episode 1