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Top Chef Texas – Episode 4: “Red Hot Chili Cookoff”

Last Week’s Episode  Next Week’s Episode

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I was away and my brother didn’t have Bravo on his cable plan, so I wasn’t able to watch Episode 4 until I got back home.  Not that I would’ve been able to write on Thursday, with all the cooking and football watching to be done.

First, a little housekeeping – In my Week 3 recap, I may have overstepped some boundaries in a couple readers’ eyes by saying that Sarah was fat, ugly, and catty.  I thought it was interesting that saying Lindsay looked like a penis was fair game, but saying that Sarah’s actions were a result of her physical appearance or that her weight defined her was insensitive.  I apologize for my ignorance and offer this clarification – she’s fat and ugly but it’s her bitchiness that makes her catty.  Better?

Quickfire Challenge – Make a dish using a hot pepper

This was interesting.  The contestants had to use a hot pepper, with the winnings increasing with the hotness of the peppers.  The challenge here is balancing the desire to cook something delicious with the desire for the most money possible.  I love hot food but over time have come to appreciate subtlety and discretion when using heat.  Way back in the day I used to get the hottest chicken wings available – often sauces that weren’t on menus.  But it was after a few times where toilet paper actually caught fire the next day that I decided to hold back.

Richie’s Fresno slaw with pineapple curd and seared scallops was voted one of the worst.  I guess his presentation and innovation couldn’t overcome the flavor.  That’s too bad, because I didn’t think that the three top ones were very interesting.  The three chosen as the best for the challenge were Grayson for her habanero popper, Heather for her couscous with Thai chili, and Paul’s coconut soup with the Ghost pepper.   The winner was Paul, although one of the Chrises also did a coconut soup.  So his dish wasn’t really that unique – even less of a stretch considering Paul works in Asian restaurants.  He could very well have hit a home run with it, but I wonder if his choosing the hottest pepper gave him an advantage with the judges.

Elimination Challenge – Chili cookoff

The chefs were split up into teams of three and were given a whole day to make enough chili for 200 people at the Tejas Rodeo.  Those cowboys and staff voted on  the best and worst chili.  As the best chili takes a long time to make, we got to see them make it through the night.  The combination of no sleep and/or getting schnockered made for some fun times at the mansion.  Best of all, we were almost treated to the hot tub scene I’ve been predicting when Nyesha did a somersault into the pool.  Here’s how they did:

–       Red Team – Whitney, Chris J, and Dakota made a braised brisket and shortrib. The flavor was described as excellent, but the stringy texture was not good.

–       Black Team – Beverly, Nyesha, and Richie went for it and made a non-traditional, mole-inspired chili with cornbread.  Nyesha has definite skills to go very far in the competition and she was rightfully concerned having these two as teammates. Beverly still hasn’t gotten out of her Asian comfort zone, and Richie is great on presentation and innovation, but flavors have eluded him.

–       Blue Team – Edward, Heather, and Paul made a smoked brisket chili with summer pickles (peaches, haricot vert, radishes) and pork rinds.

–       White Team – Ty-lor, Penishead, and Grayson made a three bean and beef chili with poblano cornbread. They beat us over the head with the “Texas chili doesn’t have beans” thing, so  it seems like they were set-up to lose.

–       Green Team – Sarah, Chuy, and Chris C made a classic chili with beef chuck, Shiner bock beer, and roasted corn garnish.

The winner – The Green team.  It wasn’t really a surprise since it was a whole bunch of “regular folk” choosing it.  Since they weren’t a bunch of chefs judging them, of course the traditional crowd-pleaser would win.

Bonus Challenge – Repurposing the losing chili.

The losing team was the Black team.  Each of them were sent to the kitchen one more time to use the chili and make it into something completely different:

–       Beverly – seared Ahi tuna with habanero creamed corn and reduced chili sauce.

–       Nyesha  – Frito encrusted black tiger shrimp with roasted corn salsa.

–       Richie – Frito encrusted pork tenderloin, potato hash, ricotta cheese chili puree.

Beverly’s was considered the best so she was given a pass to the next round.  Richie ended up getting cut as his dish didn’t “come together” enough.  Not a surprise considering Nyesha’s skills and that Richie was at or near the bottom in each of the Quickfire challenges.  I liked him on the screen, but I could see why he was cut.

Random thoughts

–       The chefs rode to the rodeo in new Toyota Siena minivans.  They looked nice and were tricked out with push button starts, automatic doors, and huge moonroofs.  Pretty sweet but, at the end of the day, it’s still a fucking minivan.

–       The interaction between Padma and judges at the rodeo was really awkward and painful to watch.

–       I’ve never seen so many black people in cowboy hats before.  The only other time I can recall seeing that was Charlie Pride on Heehaw as a kid.

I guess Hootie (without the Blowfish) went country, but I don’t know if he’s rocking the hat.  Or would that be “countrying” the hat?

–       Beverly’s getting on my nerves.  Not only is she weeping at a drop of a cowboy hat, everything she makes (except for the team chili) has some kind of Asian inspiration.  It may be really good, but at some point she’s gotta get out of her comfort zone.

–       There was a movie preview for “We Bought a Zoo” and I was instantly excited to see Leon from Curb Your Enthusiasm.  It also has the lovely Scarlett Johansson and Matt Damon, who’s my cinematic Guilty Pleasure.

–       Chris C thinks Sarah is a beyotch.  See? I’m not alone.

–       I actually saw Whitney cooking in the Quickfire, but have no idea what she made.  I would’ve liked to have seen it as we haven’t seen her food since the season premiere.  I wonder if they want to throw us a curveball later with her.  Perhaps she just doesn’t make for good television, unlike…

–       Twitchy! aka Dakota!  There was a great shot of her in the Quickfire challenge where it looked like she was ready to knife someone.

She almost lost it at the meat counter when the others took all the meat she wanted.  I’m really starting to like her.

About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

9 comments on “Top Chef Texas – Episode 4: “Red Hot Chili Cookoff”

  1. lauragrai
    November 28, 2011

    Your Top Chef recaps are great; I pretty much agree with all your “random thoughts.” Beverly drives me insane as well, and I wanted her to go home solely so I wouldn’t have to watch her cry anymore. And as far as the interaction b/w Padma and the judges – I think Padma is just always robotic. She brings the pretty but she’s not so good with the words…

  2. chiaros69
    December 2, 2011

    Hmm…Sarah, Heather, Chris C, Chris J, Dakota, Whitney, etc etc – everything they make has some kind of Western inspiration. It may be really good, but at some point they’ve gotta get out of their comfort zone.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      December 2, 2011

      Don’t you know that Western is superior??? Point taken, but I guess I should clarify. Beverly is Korean-American who cooks Asian cuisine at Aria. I think she has a lot of talent and, weeping aside, I’d like to see her go far. But she’s gotta bust out of what she does everyday. Then again, if you read a bunch of my other posts, you’ll find that I’m pretty jaded on Korean food these days…

      Thanks for stopping by and keep commenting!

      • chiaros69
        December 3, 2011

        Heh. Cultural Imperialist much?

        Sure, Beverly ought to cook stuff other than what she normally does at Aria, but the same can be said for anyone else there who cooks European or American food at their respective places. How come one does not hear about how Sarah keeps making vaguely Italian-like/European-type food and not doing something “Asian” instead?

        The show is based in the USA and the general audience is *used to* (and expects) European/American food. That is the in-built bias and discriminatory basis of commentary upon styles of food. [I’, talking in a general sense here] “Asian” food is always “other” on this basis, “not normal”, something exotic – so one thinks that someone who cooks “Asian” should cook Western/European?American instead of his/her natural cuisine. Even when this person’s dish might have only an “Asian” influence – such as use of an “Asian” ingredient in an otherwise Western dish – that dish is often regarded as an “Asian” dish altogether. Why is that so?

        Here’s a post from TWoP on this topic:



        p.s. “Asian” can mean a lot of things. Asia is a large place. It could mean Cantonese, Szechuanese, Pekingese, Fukienese, Hunanese, etc etc; or Korean, Japanese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, Vietnamese, Javanese, Sumatran; or Gujarati, Bengali, Keralan, Tamil, Persian, Turkish, Uzbekistan, Mongolian or or… you get the idea. Tony Bourdain thought so too. If you meant “Korean” in relation to Beverly, it might be an idea to just say so. If you meant “Chinese” [disregarding regional differences] and/or “Korean” and/or Japanese one could say “East Asian”. Etc etc. 🙂

        • thefoodandwinehedonist
          December 3, 2011

          I just picked on Bev as an add-on to my rant on her crying. They all need to diversify to go farther in the competition. Except Sarah. I just want there to lose for reasons that have nothing to do with food.

  3. Pingback: Top Chef Texas – Episode 5 « The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on November 28, 2011 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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