Top Chef: Texas and an Impromptu Tour of the Houston Press Offices

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I arrived home yesterday evening to find that my cable had gone out. To be fair, it could have been out for days. I have no idea. Such are the perils of owning a Roku box and living off Hulu and Netflix instead of basic cable. Either way, I had no means of watching Top Chef that didn't include crashing a friend's otherwise quiet Wednesday evening and monopolizing their TV for an hour while I curse, drink, type loudly and bitch. You see, I literally don't have any friends - that I know of - who watch Top Chef.

And then I remembered: the office has cable! Sort of. We have a 15-inch CRT TV that only has a weird blue tint to it - no other colors - and satellite. God only knows why one of those things is fancy and the other is worse than almost any piece of electronic equipment you could buy for $15 at Goodwill. But that's where I ended up. And because the entire episode of Top Chef ended up being as boring as expected, today's photos are not of anything to do with the competition and instead are a tour of the Houston Press offices by night. EXCITING.

In tonight's episode, the four remaining competitors get a fifth chef added back into the mix: Beverly. Fucking Beverly. Who has somehow battled her way out of Last Chance Kitchen - the companion webisodes that have been airing after Top Chef each week - and back onto the show proper. Literally no one is happy to see her. Including me. I really wanted Nyesha back.

Tom introduces the Quickfire challenge, another excessively gimmicky challenge that involves the contestants picking ingredients blindfolded - for real; blindfolded - and then cooking with what they've pulled from the basket. Colicchio is having a grand old time watching the chefs wander around the kitchen blindly, grasping for ingredients from the pantry and refrigerators. I just think it's an unnecessary waste of everyone's time. Let's be honest: This is not a display of skills or talents that anyone would use in real life unless they were actually blind. And even then, no one would be so cruel as to let a blind person stumble around a kitchen trying to pick cryovac'd meats out of a lineup.

"I ended up with avocado; I didn't realize I grabbed that," says Beverly, which is just about the dumbest shit you'll hear all night. Because a fucking avocado feels like an apple. Or a shallot. Or a trout. Fuck off. An avocado distinctly feels like nothing else other than an avocado. See what I mean about how dumb this all is?

The winner of tonight's Quickfire has to choose between winning a car - a Toyota, of course - or immunity in the real competition. Who would NOT choose immunity? Who would choose a car that they HAVE TO PAY A SHITLOAD OF TAXES ON BECAUSE THEY WON IT ON A GAME SHOW instead of a shot at continuing in the very competition you came to Texas to win? My mind can't wrap itself around why this is even a decision. But then there's fucking Ed, who really wants that car for some godforsaken reason. Luckily, Sarah wins - and she's properly thrilled. She also smartly chooses the immunity, which Ed stupidly misinterprets as a lack of confidence. Dumbass.

Thankfully, the show brings something actually awesome out and introduces a line-up of the competitor's mentors, including heavy-hitter chefs Tony Montuano from Spiaggia and Tyson Cole from Uchi. There are a lot of tears, including from Paul. He cries so much, in fact, that he makes Sarah cry, makes Tyson Cole cry and makes me cry. These are the times when I both love and hate this show. I am so easily manipulated sometimes; aren't we all?

Sarah gets even better news than just winning Quickfire: She and Tony get to hang out all evening, instead of having to participate in the elimination challenge. Meanwhile, all of the competitors get some one-on-one time with their mentors before prepping for tonight's challenge: They have $500 and a few hours to shop at Whole Foods and make their dishes. But not before inserting a few really obnoxious product placement shots and voiceovers about the damn Toyota they're all "trying" to win. Let's not kid ourselves; they're here to win the competition, and they probably hate doing these product placement spots as much as I hate watching them.

Speaking of which, part of me wonders if the poor people at Whole Foods - employees who are very close to my heart, as several of my good friends work there - have started to hate seeing these Top Chef fuckers come in from week to week, run rampant throughout the store, demand shit and generally careen around like chickens with their heads cut off. Like there's not enough of that going on in any given Whole Foods on a daily basis with some of the crazy demanding customers they have.

Back on the show after a commercial break, Paul breaks hearts nationwide by talking on the phone to his [very pretty] girlfriend. Sorry, ladies. You'll have to settle for Ed. Hope you like misogyny and face burns!

Padma points out that this is the last competition in Texas, something which I somehow missed. This means no more cheesy interpretations of Texas food and culture, which I'm thankful for. But it also means that there will be no further chances for the show to redeem itself in the eyes of our state nor redeem itself for the way it portrayed Texas solely as the producers' interpretations of our home instead of a non-gimmicky, honest look at the Lone Star State. I mean, where were the chefs like Tyson Cole this entire time?

I just feel like there have been so many missed opportunities along the way to honestly showcase all the ridiculously cool shit that our chefs cook, that our farmers and ranchers produce, that our breweries and distilleries create, that our bakers bake, and so on and so forth. You get it. I still feel cheated. I'm sorry, but I do.

Ugh, Michael Showalter. I love you so much. What are you doing appearing on the cheesy talk show that airs after Top Chef? Stop it before you erase all the love in my heart for The State and Wet Hot American Summer.

Fifteen minutes left and I just can't wait to see who gets eliminated. Not because I care who wins - Paul has this in the bag, period, so it's all just kind of a farce right now - but because I really just want to go home and go to bed. Even with the mentors and the crying earlier in the episode, I just can't connect with the show past a few brief moments of real emotion each episode.

Naturally, Paul wins, even after cooking a soup for his elimination dish - a ballsy move, to be sure. Let's see Ed go now, and let me get into my pajamas. This is taking forever. It's ridiculous how long they're drawing this one out tonight.

Lindsay is crying some more back in the walk-in cooler, or wherever they keep the poor contestants between takes, because she's in the bottom two. It must be an unfamiliar feeling for her, as she's consistently in the top echelon of chefs on the show. Ed jokes that she shouldn't be worried, as he's probably going home anyway and cites his crappy canned oysters as the reason why. Hughnibrow makes the prescient point that Ed became too fixated on his central ingredient - oysters - to make a good dish. You go to the market and cook with what's fresh and available, he says, instead of buying sorry substitutes for what you originally had in mind. A good chef is flexible and able to adapt; Ed is not.

Sure enough, Ed is gone. And so am I. My pajama pants are calling... Also, the cleaning guy just turned all the lights off and it's kind of scary in here now.

Check out our past Top Chef recaps here:

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