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Top Chef S9-3: Quinceanera Recap

Updated on December 2, 2011


Top Chef Texas is on its third episode, but since we still have 16 cheftestants and haven’t seen our first Quickfire yet, we are still at stage one.

Don’t forget there’s still The Last Chance Kitchen, which can only be seen online, but you want to be spoiled about that, check out my review of that online episode.

Don’t forget, if you don’t want to be spoiled about this episode, get out of the kitchen now!

Quickfire Challenge

I’ve been anticipating this Quickfire and Padma cursing like Samuel L. Jackson about snakes and plates. It was wonderful and worth the wait. Padma is joined by chef and owner of La Gloria Restaurant, Johnny Hernandez. The cheftestants are battling for immunity and $5,000.

There are boxes in front of the cheftestants and their task is simple: create a dish showcasing rattlesnake. Padma starts the time and the cheftestants are relieved when they open their boxes and find the snakes have already dead and have been skinned. Where’s the fun, Top Chef? There were enough cheftestants freaked about snakes, I wanted a good laugh.

Padma and Johnny
Padma and Johnny

Motherf-ing Snakes on Motherf-ing Plates

We get to see Padma and Johnny taste 10 cheftestants plates and that narrows down who’s on the top and the bottom: Sarah, Beverly, Chris, Moto Chris, Texan Paul, Dakota, Keith, Nyesha, Chuy and Richie. For better or worse, keep an eye on these chefs for the episode.

Sarah makes flash fried snake in brown butter sauce. She likes to keep it simple and if you didn’t hear her the first few times, she’ll repeat it for you. Beverly made nigiri Thai basil with jalapeno aoli. There’s a shot of Heather and Lindsay scowling at Beverly’s dish when it is tasted, but they are just haters because it lands Beverly in the top. Dakota makes beer battered tempura style rattlesnake. Johnny thinks its screams of Texas and the one cheftestant who squealed and complained about he rattlesnake the most wins, gets immunity and takes home $5,000.

Richie making his snake obsolete.
Richie making his snake obsolete.

Texan Paul made BBQ snake with peaches and peanut, but Johnny thought the rattlesnake was lost and he ends up ashamed and on the bottom. Nyesha made braised snake wit tequila, jalapeno and citrus, but Johnny felt the dish was one-dimensional and she overcooked the snake. Richie made a jerk seasoned, grilled snake, but all Moto Chris’ help couldn’t salvage the fact that the made the snake “obsolete”.

The others that weren’t in the bottom or the top, but were featured during the walk around should be noted. Chris C. made snake nicoise with olive oil pudding. Moto Chris made cumin battered snake with bacon and BBQ sauce. Keith made sweet corn griddle cake with fondue, which Padma was only so happy to double dip in. At least she asked if it was OK. Chuy made adobo pasilla with balsamic BBQ sauce.

The Elimination Challenge

The cheftestants draw knives and get separated into two teams: Team Green and Team Pink. Their client arrives and people are guessing she’s a Mexican singer, but alas, she’s only a girl celebrating her quinceanera, or 15th birthday.

Her name is Blanca Flores and she’ll be joined by the judges and 100 guests to eat elegant Mexican Cuisine and a fabulous cake.

You know what I love? They’re throwing pastry chef work at the right off the back. It’s one of the many curses this show has. My other favorite is the trios curse, because 1 out of 3 usually is subpar and somehow the chefs never learn that.

Don't Go There Ed!!!!

Morgan from Top Chef: Just Desserts Season One
Morgan from Top Chef: Just Desserts Season One

Team Green

The team consists of Heather who was once a pastry chef, Moto Chris, Chuy, Paul, Crazy Ed, Beverly, Grayson and Richie. The team asks Blanca really good questions about what she likes and her favorite meat. Except for Crazy Ed who asks Blanca if she likes boys. He seems pretty low key this episode, so I’m happy to see his cray-cray if only a wee-bit. (Although, I thought it was a bit creepy and reminded me of Morgan[1]).

They seem to pinpoint the flavor combinations and work really well as a team. As the resident Mexican, Chuy steps into the leader role with the rest of the chefs deferring to him about their dish’s flavors and components.

  • [1] If you don’t know, Morgan from Top Chef: Just Desserts was arrested (in a snuggie!) for having child pornography videos. Oh yeah, creeped me out too. And in case you were wondering…”as young as toddlers”. Yikes.

Who's that standing next to Keith?  Is that you Ty-Lor, Nyesha and Chris C?  Yes it is.
Who's that standing next to Keith? Is that you Ty-Lor, Nyesha and Chris C? Yes it is.

Team Pink

The team consists of Immunity Dakota, Ty-Lor, Keith, Lindsay, Nyesha, Chris C, Sarah and Whitney (I think). They didn’t use their time properly and their questions to Blanca are disjointed and don’t seem to be pointing the cheftestants in the same direction. No one steps us as leader, but there are people who try only to fail, bossy people to run over people and others who have no backbone. It started to go wrong during the meeting with Blanca and got worse when at the grocery store.

Keith makes the decision to buy cooked shrimp and anyone who watches the show knows that’s a stupid move. You’re on a cooking show, don’t buy already cooked food! But it appears the other 3 cheftestants (I’m looking at you Ty-Lor, Chris C and Nyesha) don’t get it either and agree it’s a good idea.

The Tasting

The judging is by Tom, Padma, Hugh and Johnny. If you’ve never seen a quinceanera, it looks almost like a wedding and cost about as much. I didn’t have one; I wanted a car instead and to this day, I’m happy about that.

Winning dishes are scored as (1-0), then losing dishes as (0-1). Pretty simple. Let’s oogle some food.

The Appetizers

Team Pink: Ty-Lor made dry fritters on top of avocado and Hugh scoffs their basic hush puppies. People are wondering what the avocado is doing there and no one is impressed. Keith and Lindsay made pork tenderloin hurache, which everyone was ambivalent about. That’s getting off to a bad start. 0-2

Team Green: Richie made pork carnitas, which sound delicious, but apparently don’t taste right. Geez, all the appetizers seem to be subpar. Texan Paul steps up and makes a shrimp ceviche, which everyone thinks is refreshing and yummy. Finally, someone made something worth drooling over. 1-1

Tom, Padma, Johnny, Hugh and Blanca
Tom, Padma, Johnny, Hugh and Blanca

The Buffet

Team Pink: Nyesha made tilapia ceviche with tomato and lime. Tom thinks the flavors are spot on and Pink finally gets it right. Chris C made corn chili, which is flavorful and pink is on a roll. Keith made enchiladas in verde sauce with flour tortillas. Everyone is as mortified as I am and Hugh is absolutely correct: enchiladas in flour tortillas are burritos. People are confused.

Ty-Lor made carne asada, which the judges seem to like. Simple Sarah and Lindsay made a conchita pubil, which should be awesome because Lindsay lived in Mexico for many years and she knows the culture! Apparently not, since everyone thought the food sucked.

I know I’m missing a name. Someone didn’t seem to make anything. Who is it? What was her name? 3-2

Team Green: Crazy Ed made a tomatillo gazpacho. Tom was a little confused by it, but the rest of the judges thought it was a hit. Moto Chris made empanadas that made my mouth drool. I’m glad the judges thought they tasted as good as I thought they looked. Chuy made the birthday girl’s favorite goat with cabbage. The goat is a hit, but no one seems to like the cabbage.

Beverly made short ribs that was an Asian and Mexican fusion dish that everyone liked. Grayson made pulled chicken mole with cinnamon. My family uses chocolate, so the cinnamon sounds awful. Apparently, her mole tastes like cinnamon and really is awful. 4-1

The Cake

Dakota made a pink and blue hibiscus, yogurt pound cake with pineapple filling. The layer of frosting was about two inches thick. No good. 0-1

Heather, who used to be a pastry chef, made a tres leches leaning mass of flowers cake. Looks aside, it tastes yummy and really screamed Mexican cake to the guests. 1-0

Pink Team with Blanca when they should have been getting their act together.
Pink Team with Blanca when they should have been getting their act together.


  • Team Pink: 3-5
  • Team Green: 6-2

Declaring the winners was easy to spot. This was about as close to a butt whopping as you can get. Team Pink were sunk and though they might have had an inkling, they could see this episode and see how outclassed they were.

Even though it was clear that Chuy was the Green Team’s secret weapon, they worked well as a team and communicated well. For the first time, Top Chef didn’t announce a winner on the winning team and I think that’s for the best. They all did well and there’s no need to add any unneeded drama. Save the drama for later, because you know there will be drama!

The judges
The judges
Sarah, Ty-Lor, Keith and Lindsay
Sarah, Ty-Lor, Keith and Lindsay

The Elimination

Padma doesn’t call all of Team Pink to get their lambasting, instead telling Ty-Lor, Sarah, Lindsay and Keith they have the worst dishes. There are some things to take from this elimination. Ty-Lor got handed the fritters at the last minute because Lindsay couldn’t make her shrimp cocktail since Keith purchased pre-cooked shrimp. It doesn’t matter since they were still dry. Keith admits to buying the pre-cooked shrimp and but Ty-Lor who was standing around then and now doesn’t say a word. Spineless. Sarah isn’t afraid to drive the bus right over Keith and for such a huge dude, he knew it was coming and didn’t prepare a better defense.

Keith says in his part of the south, he makes his enchiladas with flour tortillas. Tom wonders if anyone knew that Keith wasn’t doing an authentic Mexican enchilada. Sarah knew Keith was screwing up, but didn’t bother to tell him and she also helped with the nasty conchita pubil. Lindsay, who (and have I mentioned this before?) lived in Mexico and helped open a restaurant there, made a terrible dish. The irony is that this was the first dish she learned to make there. Ack.


Luckily, Dakota had immunity because the judges said she would have been in the bottom if she had't. Her cake was that bad. In the end we have Bus Driver Sarah (formerly Simple Sarah), Spineless Ty-Lor and Lived in Mexico Lindsay (formerly She who runs from Tom) are safe and Keith is asked to PYKaG. Well, not quite. He still has a one more shot at the Last Chance Kitchen. There are no buses there, Keith, only food, so good luck.

Who deserved to PYKaG?

See results


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    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 6 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      Yeah, This is really turning out to be a good season.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Yeah, I agree with you on Sarah and Lindsay. They're both too sneaky for me to trust them, even though Sarah's team won this past week. I think Ty-Lor might crack in tomorrow's episode, so it'll be interesting to see who else comes out of the woodwork.

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 6 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      I agree Alecia. Why on Earth would he buy pre-cooked anything? It doesn't make any sense. The fact that he did that and made subpar enchiladas sealed his fate. That team was a hot mess.

      For me, Ty-Lor came across badly because he was there when the decision was made, but he said nothing. Worse off were Sarah and Lindsay. They had every reason to be upset that pre-cooked shrimp was purchased, but solely focusing on one person when there were multiple people doesn't seem fair (not that life is, but there ya go). It also strikes me as odd that they would allow him to fail in spite of their team. If this keeps up, I think they might line up to be villains, but you never know with this show.

      The more episodes that show, the more you get to know the chefs and it could play out any way.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I'm sorry Keith deserved to go. I agree with Tom that Sarah should have stood up and said, "We make enchiladas like this instead of this," but he should have asked for help. And the same goes for the shrimp.

      Ty-Lor, was really silent in this ordeal so I don't really fault him.


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