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Top Chef 9-1: Everything's Bigger In Texas Recap
9-1: Everything’s Bigger In Texas
The new season of Top Chef is here and it’s time to take it to Texas. And in case you haven’t heard-everything’s bigger in Texas. If you don’t know about Top Chef, let me give you the quick run down. There’s a bunch of chefs and cook competition style for money, in this case $125,000, a spread in a magazine and a cooking gig in Aspen for a bunch of important foodies. If you haven't watched the episode yet, be prepared, there are spoilers a plenty below!
I will note that the last few seasons (not including All Stars) have been filled with people who were interesting personalities, but who couldn’t seem to get interesting dishes together. It looks like the people in charge of Top Chef agreed and so instead of introducing us to 16 contestants, they’ve introduced us to 29 and making these cheftestants battle it out for a spot on the show. It seems like Top Chef wants to make sure that they’re back in the game, in top form and it looks like that’s the case.
Oh Golly Ms. Molly
What I love about the introduction of the cheftestants is when they figure out they must fight for their spot on the show. One cheftestant, Molly, actually says, “I don’t’ want to be cook for that spot.” Orly? How bad do you really want to be there Ms. Molly? You’re a chef on a cooking show for $125,000 and you’re complaining about cooking. Alrighty then. There always has to be one. Moving on.
Au Revoir Chef Ripert
Another change is the judges table. Gone is the handsome Eric Ripert, who was very good at analyzing and critiquing dishes, but often missed simple Americana stuff like what would be good to eat at ballpark and the like. So, I’m sad he’s not here this round, but since he couldn’t grasp the wonderfulness of a meatball sandwich at a baseball park I’m not surprised. Top Chef is known for embracing the area where they’re filming, so the idea of Chef Ripert dirtying his dainty hands with ribs or chowing down on chitlins might be amusing, but wouldn’t make for good judging.
Judges and Judging, the Lowdown
So, who’s at the judging table? Host Padma Lakshmi, Chef Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons return to the panel and joining them is Chefs Hugh Acheson and Emeril Lagasse.
I think I’m going to like this season if it involves Chef Hughnibrow (known for the wonderful unibrow) and crazy Emeril because both have, in past shows, given direct and descriptive feedback about stuff we can see, but can’t actually eat.
So, how’s 29 cheftestants going to work out? The 29 will be divided into three groups to battle it out in Qualifiers. The cooking process will be monitored by the judges. Don't forget this part, because Tom gets to show how awesome he is later because he's constantly doing his 'sniff and sneers'.
Decision by the 3 judges is simple; majority rules and if you get two ‘yeses’ then you get a coat and are a part of the 16. If you get a maybe, then you are in the ‘bubble’ and get another chance at a cook-off for a coat. The action goes fast and there’s no point getting used to anyone quite yet.
The Qualifiers: Round One
Colicchio, Emril and Padma are the judges for the first group and they present a whole pig. The pigs parts are separated into 10 parts equaling the number of cheftestants competing in this round. Though there are 10 parts, some of the pig must still be butchered so the parts can be divvied up for use. For serving, the 10 cheftestants will be divided into three different groups to serve to the judges. Some will get coats, some will be bubbled and some will have went all that way for nothing.
Did you see the catch? The little evil chuckle from the producers? The mwuahahahaha? Some chefs find themselves butchering the pig. Some cheftestants must depend on others to butcher their meat. Shenanigans indeed.
But, I Pay to Have Someone Butcher MY Meat
One chef comes right out and says he’s a vegetarian and hasn’t butchered meat in a while and gives up the responsibility to someone else. That was the smart thing to do. Another chef, Tyler, Mr. I am a Chef to the Stars, butchers the pig. By ‘butcher the pig’, I don’t mean properly; I mean he butchered it with the same appeal as Cary Elwes cutting off his foot in Saw. The lady who was supposed to get the tenderloin was pissed, but moves on. Colicchio assesses the situation and looks disgusted. Right then and there he tells Mr. Chef to the Stars to pack his knives and go (pack your knives and go…PYKG). Later Tyler, I won’t miss you
They are not playing around this season and just like that we’re down to 28.
Qualifier 1: Round 1
The vegetarian is up first and puts down a plate with soup splattered all over the place. It doesn’t matter that he can’t butcher because he’s outta there before a judge tastes anything.
The last two left are Chris from Chicago’s Moto, who made pork in an apple and Sarah who made pork skin in ravioli. Both plates look and sound delicious, so both get jackets.
Qualifier 1: Round 2
Second group is up and there’s Grayson whose techniques impress, but whose tenderloin is only OK; bubbled. Next is Ms. Molly, who doesn’t want to cook to get a spot on the show; but she has to one more time since her smoked sweet potato soup didn’t wow anyone. Karma, you don’t seem to favor Ms. Molly either. I hope she makes it just so she’s forced to do something she doesn’t seem to want to do on Top Chef, cook.
Qualifier 1: Round 3
It looks like the judges are really into ravioli since Nyesha made a Tex Mex version and wowed them all, getting her a coat.
Heather had some problems with her grits, but corrects it enough so they make her baby back ribs a satisfying meal. I hate grits, but I'm not a judge and they seem to love them, so she earns her coat.
Some guy with too many tats on his neck made a dry pork roulade and gets PYKG.
This leaves Richie, who works for Chris at Moto and made a pig ear onion soup. That sounds yummy and looks like Team Moto is two strong and Richie gets his coat. The season is young yet, so I will have more than enough time to address the unfortunate mohawk, facial hair and bandana usage. Until then, there might be a gust of wind and blow this guy out of Texas, but that's another issue altogether.
Qualifer 1: End Totals
In the end: 5 are given coats, 2 are bubbled and 2 are gone.
The second group is up and is given a table full of proteins. They, as a group, must choose one protein and they all must use that one protein for their dish. They pick rabbit.
According to the cheftestants, rabbits are plentiful because of all the sex they're having and they taste just like chicken. Geez, what goes through a chef's mind while they're cooking. Maybe they shouldn't share, cause I don't want to know. I'm glad that's all cleared up.
The judges are Gail, Padma and Tom.
Qualifier 2: Round 1
Whitney, made rabbit sugo and it impressed so she gets a coat.
Nina forgets to put rabbit on her plate and Padma PYKG without tasting a bite.
Keith, the former drug dealer and prison inmate who turned his life around, made rabbit 3 ways and is handed a coat before he passes out.
Edward, who is cooking for the respect of his parents, didn’t impress entirely with his duo of rabbit and is bubbled.
Qualifier 2: Round 2
Goth girl, Dakota, makes rabbit crepanette with vanilla jus that sounds horrible, but must taste delicious since she gets a coat.
Then there’s Janine who forgets her sauce and is bubbled for it.
Chris does a duo of rabbit with polenta and gets his jacket.
Oddball Ty-Lor pours fish sauce on his confit rabbit leg and gets his jacket. I guess you had to be there, cause that’s another one that sounds horrific.
Lastly, is Chuy, who is young like the already booted Tyler, but differs in that he can back up his trash talk. He made rabbit loin adobo and earned his jacket to boot.
Qualifer 2: End Totals
In the end: 6 are given coats. 2 are bubbled and 1 gone.
Total Results for Episode One
There are 10 more contestants and 5 more spots open. Currently, there are 11 cheftestants with coats already, 4 people bubbled and 3 PYKG. Something’s not adding up, but that may just be me. Looks like real slim pickings out there for jackets after the first two qualifiers.
My Thoughts...well, more of them...
My only issue is that in a season dedicated to Texas and an episode called Everything’s Bigger In Texas, why didn’t they make the episode a two hour special? Not only do they have Group Three to do, they also have the Bubble people to battle for any spots that may be remaining. Give me more!
This is a killer start to an exciting season. I can’t wait to see what the judges have in store for us all.