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Top Chef 9-2: The Heat Is On Recap

Updated on January 4, 2012

The Heat is On

This is a review for Top Chef Texas Episode 2. If you don’t want to be spoiled, go back into the refrigerator and don’t continue on. This is really shaping up to be a superb season and it's only the second episode.

Spoilers Below! You've been warned.

The scene is set and those cheftestants in the ‘bubble room” are sweating it out. Edward, the “I’m here to prove something to my parents”, guy is ready to kill some people. He’ll have to wait though, since the Qualifiers still has to battle it out in the Top Chef Kitchen.

The Qualifiers

Before the 10 cheftestants is a table with 10 ingredients. Next to the ingredient is a cloche (or as I call it, the silver cover thingie that butlers put over trays of food) with a mysterious something underneath. The cheftestants as a whole must decide who gets what and there is even an epic battle of Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who gets mushrooms.

The cheftestants line up in front of the judges: Tom, Hugh and Padma and prepare themselves for the worst. They get it. They lift the cloche to reveal timers. Each ingredient has their own timer separating them into groups, but giving some cheftestants a mere 20 minutes to create something great for a spot on the show. Brilliantly wicked.

As time ticks, we have the cheftestants running around like beheaded chickens carrying knives. It is a display of organized chaos and curing the lord of Top Chef land for that vicious timer.

What to buy BEFORE going on a reality TV show

When Will They Ever Learn?

This is the moment where we see someone struggle. Ashley gets oxtails and has a perfect recipe for it, but she doesn’t know how to use a pressure cooker.

Are you kidding me?

If you go on Amazing Race, learn how to drive a stick shift. If you go on Survivor, learn how to make fire with a rock and wet twigs. If you go on Top Chef, know how to use a pressure cooker, because everything is timed and you might get stuck with a crappy protein.

This isn’t season one. No excuses, Missy.


Group One: 20 minute Group

Time goes fast this round and the cheftestants are shaking. First up is Kim who serves pan seared lamb chops which are apparently overcooked and greasy. Tom is unimpressed and off she goes.

Next is Paul who serves grilled trout and tomato salad, which sounds refreshing. Tom thinks it’s precise and of the first three, this is his favorite dish. Paul gets a coat.

Andrew’s the last of the group and serves “properly roasted mushrooms” with fried spinach. Fried spinach? Sounds gross and wonderful at the same time. Paul wasn’t happy with his sloppy plating, but says he’ll cook 5 times for his spot if they want. Watch what you ask for. The judges think his spinach was greasy and I say, of course it was: it was deep fried. Tom thinks there is a lot of flavor in Paul’s food, which is why Paul is bubbled.

Berenice, Laurent, Johnathan and Chaz
Berenice, Laurent, Johnathan and Chaz

Group Two: 40 Minute Group

First to get the boot is Chaz who didn’t have enough time to plate his risotto. He says his Italian wife will be disappointed in the lack of risotto, but I think she may just give him the side eye for his 'Padma is the most beautiful woman in the world bar none' and ‘breaking up with Padma and having to separate our CDS and friends’ comments. Eh, I laughed and that’s all that matters.

Jonathan, the private chef, serves Spanish style Brussels sprouts with a tomato sofrito. Apparently it wasn’t seasoned or cooked properly and children around the world scream, “Damn you Brussels sprouts!”

Frenchy Laurent made duck with lemon yuzu curd. Everyone sees the technique, but there’s something wrong with the dish. Tom says nope, but Hugh wants to bubble him. It’s all up to Padma, who gives Laurent another chance. Bubbled.

Last is Berenice who served Asian style short ribs, which are one dimensional and uninspired. Tom is on fire tonight, which is actually still last week and we say goodbye to Berenice. Goodbye Berenice, I will not miss having to spell your name.

Is it juts me, or was this group utterly massacred? No coats for you!


Group Three: 60 Minute Group

Lindsay, also known by her Native American name “She who runs from Tom”, made braised veal over creamy polenta. Maybe she shouldn’t have ran, because Tom loved it.

Next is Ashley of the “I can’t get the pressure cooker to close or open”. Lindsay told her how to open the pressure cooker (pour cold over the top to help release the pressure) because helping her open a pressure cooker won't change the food. Ashley worries that her kare-kare oxtails weren’t tender enough and Tom agrees. Padma wants to bubble her, but Hugh isn't having it. Ashley is out.


Last is Beverly, who is cooking because apparently her husband is sans job and she’s the only breadwinner in the family. Her dish is octopus nakju bokum, a soulful Korean comfort food. It is delicious and Beverly gets a coat.

The Qualifiers are Over

The qualifiers are over and now there are two groups: the 14 back at the luxurious estate filled with bunk beds and alcohol that are already part of the show and the bubble group filled with high strung and possibly homicidal chefs. The Qualifiers might be over, but the game isn't ready to begin quite yet.

Our judges: Emeril, Padma, Tom and Hugh
Our judges: Emeril, Padma, Tom and Hugh

Bubble Me, Baby

It’s time for the bubble group to battle it out. Those remaining are Ms. Molly who doesn’t want to cook, Edward the homicidal chef, Janine who got dumped by her partner over the phone, Grayson who lets a jerk butcher the butcher job, Andrew the will cook as many times as they want Texan and Frenchy Laurent. They are told that there are only 2 spots left and they must compete once more for a spot on the show.

The cheftestants are introduced to the new judges, Emeril and Hugh, since some haven’t had the honor. Tom and Padma are there as usual and we have our rules: use any ingredients in the Top Chef kitchen, take 45 minutes and made the dish of your life.

And the Last 2 Are…

Ms. Molly serves jumbo stuffed shrimp, which she thinks she overcooked. It is and it’s also bland. She didn’t want to cook for her spot on the show and now she doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. She’s out.

Frenchy Laurent made scallops 2 ways, cooked and tare tare. There’s a rule about duos on Top Chef: if you make them, both better be delicious or one will bring down the other. Apparently Frenchy didn’t get the memo and his tare tare is grey and gross. Au revior.

Homicidal, Nutter or Genius?


Edward wants to stand out from the rest of the seafood preparing group and chooses duck as his protein. In the process he cuts his hand and bleeds profusely. I’ll give the guy credit; he puts on a glove and keeps going. When he continues to bleed, the paramedic is brought in to bandage his hand, but he will not be deterred and continues to cook as the paramedic does his thing.

He serves his duck with BBQ and sweet Asian custard, a sort of Asian southern style cuisine. Hugh thinks he overcooked it, but the concept and flavors were all good. I think battling through the stabbed hand and still producing good food goes a long way with Tom and Emeril, who saw flaws in his food, but still gave him the coat.

He said he would kill to get his spot, but I guess stabbing himself was close enough. If I were the chefs back at the estate, I’d be concerned with this guy who is either homicidal, a nutter or a genius.

I’ll go with all of the above for right now.


Andrew serves mussels fregula with pana cotta and charred shrimp. The mussels are superb. Tom says that if he had only served the mussels, he would have been in, but since he confused the judges with the panna cotta, he’s out of there.

The last two left are Janine and Grayson. Janine serves seared scallop with baby clams, corn and watermelon. Everyone thinks she’s getting a coat, because her dish, though simple is highly praised. Grayson presents creamy polenta with bacon wrapped shrimp and figs, which the judges praise for execution. The last spot goes to…Grayson and Janine is dumped again, only this time on television.

We have our 16 cheftestants and the season is now ready to go.

Who is your favorite to win Top Chef Texas?

See results

The Previews give us a Inkling of the Future

  • Of course we have the tears.
  • The paramedics will be making several appearances.
  • Celebrities Patti Labelle and Charlize Theron will be around and by the sound clip Ms. Theron has some ‘tude and I am so looking forward to it.
  • Pee-Wee Herman riding on his bike through the Top Chef kitchen. I mean, really? Pee-Wee Herman. Please tell me it’s a Quickfire involving choked chicken or creamed sauces. Please.
  • Then we have Padma who’s holding a container with a live snake inside and says, “I better see some mother(bleeping) snakes on some mother(bleeping) plates”. OMG. This season is going to be so good. To see Episode 3's Quickfire challenge check out the link to the video from Bravo below.

Last Chance Kitchen


Twist Me!

But wait, there is a twist! Two chefs must compete again to get a chance for their coat and spot on the show.

They call it the Last Chance Kitchen.

Janine has a chance at redemption and Andrew gets his wish to cook as many times as needed to get his jacket.

Extra large serving with some drama on the side? In Texas? Yes please.

Stay tuned for episode three where we get to see the 16 cheftestants do their thing and Top Chef really begins.

Who will get their coat from the Last Chance Kitchen?

See results

Books by Head Judge Tom Colicchio


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    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 6 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      bri, I think this season is shaping up really well myself. There are a lot of James Beard Award Nominees and Winners and that bodes well for some tasty looking food.

      Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      bri36 6 years ago

      starting to get better, i am really liking this show it is way more involved and has lots of good chef's to boot.I am hoping to see all of the show this year thanks V for the reviews and stuff

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 6 years ago from Vancouver, WA


      Thanks so much. You should catch the show, it is a fun watch and the food looks so good. Have you been to the restraunt Keith works at? This season is filled with such good chefs, I'd currently want to check out their restraunts.

      *that might change as the season progreses.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      This is a great review. I've yet to see either episode but I'm definitely interested in watching. Keith is actually from my hometown so I'd like to follow his progress.


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