Charlize Theron is an actress from South Africa who lives in Los Angeles and is currently filming a shitty-looking Kristen Stewart movie set in England, so naturally she's the best choice for this week's episode of Top Chef: Texas. This show continues to make less and less sense the more it wears on. I could've been drunk this whole season, and it wouldn't have mattered. It's like the inevitable crazy-train third season of a Ryan Murphy show at this point.
This week's episode picks up right where the last one left off, at the end of a stressful Restaurant Wars battle wherein the exhausted contestants are still sniping at one another. O joy. Everyone on the ladies' team is pissed that Beverly won over Lindsay, but I tend to think that it's more that Grayson and Sarah are upset they themselves didn't win and are jumping on the "poor, overlooked Lindsay" bandwagon because it makes them look an iota better. It's not working on me.
Back in San Antonio, some dumb Quickfire Challenge is happening involving a dish made with three ingredients picked off a conveyor belt that's a bit like a half-assed version of Chopped, complete with one of the contestants -- Beverley -- running out of time and leaving one of her three ingredients off the final plating.
Some chefs -- like Ed -- are quick off the mark to grab whatever strikes them first from the conveyor belt. Others, like Sarah and Ugly Chris, are trying to wait for the choicest things to float by -- not a good strategy when you've only got 20 minutes on the clock to cook. I do get a kick, however, at the Lucille Ball-ish way Ugly Chris keeps trying and failing to grab a pot of live lobsters off the conveyor belt.
Beverley continues proving that she deserved last week's prize when the judges declare that hers would have been their favorite dish had she gotten her curried Rice Krispies on the plate. But it's Lindsay -- in a move that makes up for last week's "snub" -- who wins the challenge and immunity. No time to dally on that, though, as Charlize Theron's legs have just entered the room. (Her head and torso join the party roughly five minutes later.)
Theron tries to sell us on her hideous-sounding movie by telling us that she's playing another serial killer ("REMEMBER GUYS I WON AN OSCAR THE LAST TIME I DID THIS!") and the contestants are tasked with creating an evil fairytale-themed dinner to further pimp the movie which I still refuse to name because I'm tired of Hollywood remaking every old movie, novel, comic book, etc. to death including the upcoming rape of childhood classic The Lorax that removes all mention of Dr. Seuss's original environmental message in favor of a saccharine "love story" between the voices of Zac Efron and Taylor Swift.
And also because THIS STILL HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH TEXAS. NONE OF IT. NOT THE QUICKFIRE CHALLENGE, NOT THE MAIN COMPETITION, NOT THE GUEST JUDGES, NOT THE INGREDIENTS. NOTHING. NADA.
Paul continues to win my eternal affections, however, by being the sole chef to really show consistent respect for his fellow contestants. They shouldn't underestimate Beverly, he says, because she's the one left out of the seven who has the most cooking experience. Also -- unlike Paul -- she's smart enough to not try and cram 14 ingredients onto one plate and is instead sticking with a simple dish of forbidden rice and halibut.
Meanwhile at the judges' table, Padma's mouth toasts Charlize, but not the rest of her face. And certainly not her eyes, which glint coldly as she regards one of the few women on earth who can make her look like a lumpy bag of softball equipment. (The terrible satin pantsuit she's wearing is partly to blame too. I can't wait for this latest jumpsuit trend to die.) It's a beautiful moment.
Paul has really stepped up his creativity by making a dish that represents a forbidden forest filled with delicacies and treats, curved away on one side of the plate from a giant bloody handprint that's meant to represent evil's reach. The judges love it, I love it, the viewers will love it...and Paul keeps my flame of hope alive that he'll reach the very end.
Grayson and Ugly Chris both really step up the game, however, when they present dishes that have taken the whole "wicked, evil food" challenge to new levels. Grayson's plate looks as if a chicken was slaughtered on it -- complete with a poached quail egg to represent the dead baby chicken inside (gruesome, y'all; I like it) -- and Ugly Chris has used his liquid nitrogen skillz to create a "poison apple" that melts apart with a touch to reveal a "rotten" core with "maggots." Love, love, love it. So do the judges, once again, which makes me think that some of the more standard dishes -- like Sarah's rather boring if solidly-cooked risotto -- are doomed.
The winner of the challenge ends up being Paul, bloody handprint and all. And for a guy who had so many ingredients on his plate to cook in such a short amount of time, that's pretty impressive. It's a big ol' love fest at the judges' table, as none of them really have anything all that terrible to say. "I'm nitpicking because I have to," says Colicchio as the judges haggle over tiny things later on when the bottom three contestants are announced: Sarah, Grayson and Beverly.
All the female contestants should be happy now, because Beverly is sent home. Colicchio drops a few points in my estimation by allowing the producers to make him say some hideously cheesy line about "the Queen having her head." And the preview for next week doesn't give me much more hope that the season will do anything at all to bolster the state's tourism image -- nothing in the next episode suggests "Texas" at all. Just keep that in mind when you remember how much of the state's ill-spent taxpayer money went to luring Bravo here.
Quotes of the Night:
"My God. I am making bouillabaisse for Eric Ripert, and he is gonna rip it apart." - Lindsay, who I like when she's being fun and plucky like this.
"I don't think a lot of people like bitter melon." - Paul, while making the saddest puppy dog face ever.
"Beverly should have just cheated..." - Ed. Who else.
See our previous Top Chef recaps here:
- Restaurant Wars: Episode 10
- Barbecue and Big Books of Modernist Cuisine: Episode 9
- Twitter and Tales from Childhood: Episode 8
- Tim Love and Tequila: Episode 7
- 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
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.