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Top Chef S9-8: Tribute Dinner

Updated on December 28, 2011

Tribute Dinner

Top Chef Texas is on its 8th episode and we have 10 cheftestants battling it out for the title of Top Chef.

Remember, 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!

The chefs find themselves facing Padma right after Dakota and Nyesha were asked to PYKaG. She tells them they have more business to take care of, but it’s not all bad. They’re heading to Austin and Paul is ecstatic since that’s where he’s from.

Of course we have shots of Heather and Bev glaring at each other. Bev says that “the universe is full of karma” and an immediate cut to Heather glaring. This is where we find that Heather would take John Besh over $5,000 and immunity and I wonder if he’d be given a choice or if Lusty Chris would argue with that. That is when we find that the group has taken to calling Lusty Chris, Malibu Chris. Works for me, Malibu Chris it is.

Padma looks on as Tom #tweets
Padma looks on as Tom #tweets

Quickfire Challenge

The chefs arrive to greet Padma and Tom and I have to say that though I love to see Tom at Quickfire Challenges, I’m sure the chefs never are. He’s tough.

Padma tells the group that Twitter originated in Austin and that they’ll have a #technology based challenge. Top Chef fans will tweet instructions to the chefs. The winner will get $10,000, but no #immunity.

The first tweet is read and it says that “everything is better with bacon. Prove it.” #baconisgood. I couldn’t agree more. The chefs run around creating chaos and around 10 minutes later Padma and Tom pick another tweet to wreak havoc. The chefs must do a hash for a #hashtag challenge. Some chefs knew this was coming and others are like #wtf. The last #twist is the chefs must pick an ingredient and hand it to someone else.

This is where we have some chefs screwing others, like Lindsay handing Malibu Chris syrup and him and others trying to help by saying, “I’ll give you lemons for…”

In the end, Tom calls out the bottom for #notsteppinguptotheplate. Grayson made a shrimp puff with crispy bacon hash that she couldn’t explain. Tom didn’t think it was successful. Moto Chris made a corn puree with bacon, potato hash and scallop. Tom thought the dish was good overall, but the potatoes were so salty he even called out Moto Chris when he tasted it. Usually, Tom likes to keep his opinions to himself during a tasting, so it must have been #reallyreallysalty. Lastly, Ed made a potato hash with bacon and soft shell crap with deglazed #Sriracha. Ed got thrown off by the Sriracha Ty-Lor gave him, but Tom thought the dish was bitter because the hash was burnt.

Tom thought the top group adapted the best to all the twitter #twists. Bev made a crispy pork belly with corn and potato hash that was subtle and had a lot of flavor. Cue evil sneer from #BitchHeather. Sarah made a burrata stuffed squash blossom in bacon and zucchini. Tom thought it was nicely friend with subtle flavors. Paul made a bacon fat, crispy bacon, blackberries chorizo and mushroom hash. #Soundsawful, but was such an unusual dish that “just works” that he gets the win and the money. Paul has racked up $30,000 in Quickfire Challenge prizes and is looking like the one to beat.

The chefs who were featured, but ended in the #middleoftheroad were #BitchHeather, #MalibuChris and #Ty-Lor. Bitch Heather made a smoked paprika quail with bacon and jam hash. Cue a steely look from Bev. Malibu Chris made bacon wrapped monkfish with potato leek hash. Lastly, Ty-Lor made maple glazed bacon with bacon and kale hash.


Patti and Padma
Patti and Padma

Tom sends the cheftestants off to drink. A piano player hits the keys and out walks legendary singer, Patti LaBelle who belts out Lady Marmalade. Not only is she a badass singer who still looks great, she’s a cookbook author and the guest judge. Work it, girl.

Elimination Challenge

The challenge is simple: make a dish to honor your cooking inspiration. All the cheftestants get emotional, but it is a fact that Sarah is a crier. Any mention of her not dead grandparents brings her to tears.

Other cheftestants have their stories, like Heather, whose mom worked a lot and was the queen of one pot cooking. There’s Ed whose grandma couldn’t afford meat, so she would make miracles with vegetables. Ty thinks Ed must have balls to make such a simple vegetarian dish, but Ed’s response? “I have balls and I’m going to show ‘em.” Every episode must have a Crazy Edism. So, who was Ty-Lor inspired by? His mom? His grandma? No, he was inspired by his Japanese nanny Michiko. Sigh. Too bad it wasn't Mary Poppins or Nanny McPhee, I would love to see food inspired by them. It does explain a lot about Ty-Lor's cooking inspirations though.

The judges are Ms. Patti, Tom, Padma and finally Emeril.

The cheftestants bring their food out in groups of two to the judges and two of Patti’s friends.

Patti, Tom, Emeril and Padma
Patti, Tom, Emeril and Padma

The Rounds

Round One

Heather was inspired by her one pot cooking mom. She made a beef stroganoff and herb spaetzle. Emeril doesn’t have any idea what cut of meat Heather used for this dish. Patti thinks it’s bigfoot and Heather is in trouble.

Inspired by his grandma, Moto Chris made lemon pepper steak with baked potato and veggies all miniaturized. He seems stuck on gimmicks, but everyone thought it was a nice presentation. Emeril doesn’t like the modified A1 sauce Moto Chris used, but thought the small portions were a good idea.

Round Two

Sarah was inspired by her grandparents. She made pork sausage stuffed cabbage and spinach with brown butter. Did you know her grandfather still makes sausage to this day and he does this even though he’s old? One episode I hate her, the next I like her and now I’m back at the beginning. She’s a damn good chef though and everyone thinks her flavors are clean.

Paul was inspired by his grandma who was the one person who kept him clean, stopped him from being a drug dealer and was awesome all around. He made a quail adobo with ginger rice and green mango salsa. Patti doesn’t like quail, but she did like this one. The green mango salsa was a hit.

Round Three

Malibu Chris’ mom didn’t coo good food. I’m sure she’s pretty happy he announced that for everyone to hear. He was, however, inspired by his uncle who always took him fishing. He made sockeye salmon with confit potato, brown sugar and carrot puree. Tom was not a fan of the dish and immediately knew that Chris cooked his fish too quickly while the heat was too hot. Patti thinks the fish was just fish. Ouch.

Bev was inspired by her mom and wanted to grow up to be a housewife like her. She made a Korean braised short rib, Edamame scallion puree and hon shime mushrooms. The moment they bite into the short rib, they praised its tenderness and say that this dish is everything you can ask for in a dish.

Round Four

Ed was inspired by his grandma and made a modern bibimbap with lemon chili sauce. Emeril loved and thought it was tasty.

Lindsay was inspired by both her grandmas, one Greek and the other a very Southern woman and made trout spanikopita with crispy leek and rainbow trout roe. Patti thinks the roe tastes like caviar and did you know that Emeril introduced Patti to caviar? You know now. Emeril thought the dish had too much butter, but was good.

Round Five

Ty-Lor was inspired by his nanny, Michiko and made duck fat-friend chicken tenders with pickled peaches. Patti though the dish looked beautiful and felt it obviously meant a lot to Ty-Lor.

Inspired by her parents, Grayson made a HUGE grilled rib eye with German potato salad. Damn, that girl made enough food to feed the entire Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Everyone was in awe at the portion size and when they tasted the meat, they found it was grisly and unappealing. It’s odd that steak has bombed so badly in Texas.

At the end, the Patti felt that the cheftestants hearts were on the plate. Emeril thought that the cheftestants that stood out were the ones took their inspiration and modernized it.

Malibu Chris, Grayson and Heather
Malibu Chris, Grayson and Heather
Heather, Malibu Chris and Grayson
Heather, Malibu Chris and Grayson

The Judges Table

Padma enters the room and calls out Grayson, Heather and Malibu Chris. People are confused, since they’ve never called the bottom first. It seems the cheftestants thought those chefs tanked and they’re not wrong. Padma declares that these chefs dishes fell flat.

What I found odd was that these three were grouped together when Patti sang. Heather threw out pick up lines and flirty lines to Malibu Chris while Grayson sat on the other side of him and chuckled nervously. /conspiracy theory

Emeril thought Grayson’s meat wasn’t trimmed. Grayson says she trimmed it and that the flavors were all there. Padma told her the meat was sinewy and spongy. Tom gets right to the biggest issue in general, Grayson’s dish needed a more modern direction. She just put steak and potatoes on a dish and called it a day.

Tom told Malibu Chris he seared his fish too fast. It was unappealing. Emeril thought there were too many herbs and that the herbs were cut too large. Though they liked the potatoes, Patti though the salmon was too basic and didn’t “flip me”. If the woman wants to be over the top and flipped, just do it and he failed.

Tom though everything on Heather’s plate went awry. Padma thought her dumplings were dry, chewy and overcooked while Patti shared her meat as Big Foot comparisons.

The biggest difference between the top and bottom group was that the top group took their inspirations and modernized it. Everything in Bev’s dish had a purpose. Sarah showed a lot of technique and everything on the plate just worked. Ed had a beautiful presentation and Patti thought his plate was memorable and amazing.

Sarah gets the win and what does she thinks the coolest part is? Her grandparents have bragging rights. That is pretty cool.


The Elimination

Grayson, Heather and Malibu Chris stand in front of the judges awaiting the decision. As Tom talking, Heather keeps nodding her head while Grayson still looks annoyed at being there.

Padma tells Heather she must PYKaG for overcooking her steak. Heather goes back to the other cheftestants and tells them not to be sad. None of them look sad to me. Especially Bev, who can’t help but talk about karma.

To think, she was one of my early, early favorites. Oh well, she turned out to be a bit much in the end. There's no doubt that her food deserved to be in the bottom and anyone who serves food called Big Foot should get a verbal lambasting. However, anyone think that her prior behavior during the last elimination challenge made it real easy to give her the boot? Or was Big Foot enough?

Whose dish looked the most horrific?

See results

The Last Chance Kitchen

The next duel is the Current Last Chance Kitchen Champion, Nyesha versus the newly dubbed Queen of Mean, Heather. Whose food will rise above the drama?


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    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 6 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      The two chefs I don't see winning the whole thing are Malibu Chris and Ty-Lor, which is a shame because I like them both. In fact, everyone left seems like a nice person, which is surprising compared to the last few seasons. Although, I still haven't forgotten Sarah and Lindsay's mean girl streak, it has been a very long time since either of them have shown their nastier side.

      It looks like next episode has Ed losing it. Yay! I hope the quotes are plentiful.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Yeah Moto Chris can be added to your bubble category. His cooking does seem to be too cerebral for his own good.

      Heather did have potential but she slipped into the stereotypical villain role and it was over.

      The winners circle, I'm leaning toward your picks because I think these people really did come out the gate and set themselves apart.

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 6 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      I think you might be right about Grayson. She just didn't seen to get that not only wasn't it ok that her portions were off, but that her meat didn't taste good. She kept repeating that at least her flavors were good and they disagreed with that.

      At this rate, I think Grayson, Lindsay and Malibu Chris are on the bubble. But, like Ed said in a previous episode, you never know.

      I was really glad to see Heather leave, but I remember her the first episode and I had been rooting for her. I like rustic food and she was supposed to excel at that. Sadly, the only thing she excelled in was harrassing Bev.

      Now, I'm looking at Paul, Crazy Ed, Bev or Sarah for the win. Poor Moto Chris, he started out so strong and seems to be cooking inside his own head. Or maybe was as beneficial to him as he was to Richie?

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I was so glad Heather got cut. I was cracking up when Ms. Patti called her food Big Foot. She was not only a bully but also a mediocre cook. She never really made anything that stood out to me. I'm glad that Cray Cray Ed and Bev got a chance to shine because they did do a good job. I think Grayson's next. Sometimes she's on, but mostly she's been off. It's her or Lindsay-I'm thinking.