The season has honed down to the traditionally-sized group for a Top Chef beginning and the chefs look a little more comfortable in their blue chef coats with official contestant status.This is natural, as navy blue is a soothing color. Well, the soothing lasts about ten seconds…
We start out in the apartment where Chris C. is seen doing his best to talk to members of the opposite sex. Undershirt from International Male? Check. White belt from Wet Seal? Check. Completely syrupy way of asking the simple question, “How you doing?” Check.
Keith is getting some airtime. The guy is a heartfelt man. Big heart. Awesome. The Moto boys have gotten up from their matching camp sleeping bags and are ready to practice some dodgeball... or snake cookery.
Rattlesnake is the Quickfire. The chefs are a little shocked when Padma blurts out “motherf---ing” twice. I am aghast as well. What the hell was that? Proud though…. After many seasons she is coming out of her shell. Just to add a little excitement the boxes in front of the chefs have screens on them, hinting that what’s inside may still be alive. I am not fooled. There ain’t no show on TV that has that much insurance to cover 16 nervous chefs handling live rattlers. When in doubt, get Edward to open the box. Edward seems like that kid who would actually hold the fireworks while his friend lit them.
They all seem pretty cool with the snake. Lindsay is not the fastest snake butcher. Moto Chris quotes movies, “Fry like bacon you freshmen bitches.” When in Texas, bring up Dazed & Confused references a lot. Except the line is “…piggies” not "bitches." They were evidently told to swear as much as possible this episode, and he just can’t help it.
Bottom is Paul Q., Richie, and Nyesha.
Top is Beverly, Sarah, and Dakota.
Padma double dips. There a lot of innuendo.
Chef Johnny Hernandez is the snake judge. Very nice guy and a local star. The goal was to feature the snake. Dakota is the winner. She doesn’t appear to be crying, but she may be getting better at hiding it. The X on her arm means immunity!
Blanca Flores comes out. Coolest 15 year-old ever. Truly balanced 15 year-old. I was skipping classes, playing snooker, and drinking beer at that age, which makes me a wee little bit remorseful…. I tell Dakota to cry for me later. Blanca tells the chefs her loves and likes for her Quinceañera, which is pronounced by Padma with utmost care, making me think of Alex Trebek.
Here we go. Shopping problems. What are pre-cooked shrimp doing in any chef's cart? This is going to haunt that team, with a haunting murky fish pond odor that they can’t get away from. Who’s there when this happens? Funny you should ask: Ty-Lor, Nyesha, and Chris C. but the ultimate faux pas was committed by Keith. But, all guilty as charged! Most of them are thinking of alibis at this point in the episode. “I was on aisle four looking for an Korean lady named Chee.”
Sorry but this is Top Chef…. You cannot cook with pre-cooked shrimp. Best line ever. “I would like kimchi. Get the brand with the Korean lady on it…” says Beverly while pointing at her own face. She’s talking on the phone so this illustrative move was effective to only Beverly. I have a feeling Beverly illustrates a lot to herself.
Back to kitchen. Big spread coming. Lindsay ain’t happy about the shrimp. She is truly shocked. Chris C. promptly throws Keith under the bus, yet he’s on tape saying, “Just buy them,” five minutes prior. This has tamed his libido and for a very brief moment Chris C. is not trying to hump someone’s leg.
Cook. Chill. Pack. Freak out. Preview to a leaning tower of three milks.
Reminder. It was hot as hell in Texas, so cakes are tricky in this. Pink Team seems to be frazzled. Not really working well together. Sarah and Lindsay are trying to figure out logistics, but they may have a mutiny a-brewing.
Dakota will cry if her cake falls. She will cry if it doesn’t as well. You have been warned.
I am wearing white bucks and feeling a little looser than last episode. Nerves got me on my first judging! Blanca is the best judge today though… she knows what she wants.
Ominous sound effect as Keith drops the enchiladas into the steam table. My voice still sounds nasally to me but oh well. Can’t change that, so let’s limit the commentary. Enough about me… Pink Team. Tom gives a pretty rough look to the tilapia choice for the ceviche. They did not make the tortillas. Keith’s enchilada was no enchilada. They were flour tortillas first off, which is more like a burrito than an enchilada. Pretty rough. Funny though, because up to this point Keith has been pulling off some very complex, multi-item dishes and then he gives us a very basic gutbuster. Tom seems to like it, but this democracy may have its say. Viva la Judging Table Libre! Ty-Lor and Chris slide through with pretty fine dishes. But all in all, Pink Team is a little rough around the edges with no real shine.
The Green Team: Edward has not killed his team, but has made a pretty great gazpacho. Moto Chris has kept it pretty normal with empanadas, but you know he really wanted to make empanada air around a plate that looked like an empanada. Chuy brings it with a goat birria, which is not chewy. Beverly has brought a Kogi truck to the extravaganza. Grayson has made a cinnamon-infused cinnamon stick with some meat around it. Bring it, Big Red. They seemed to have all fared a bit better than team Pink, but it's cake time and anything could go wrong.
Heather, army of one, is getting her cake to the table. The Tres Leches cake looks a little flustered with Heather’s leadership style and is listing in a mutinous fashion. It is a cake that is screaming, “Stop screaming at me!” Dakota, immune from elimination, but not from crying, is also setting up a colorful little number.
Heather seems to have won the cake-off with a nod to a Hispanic classic. Chef buen trabajo desde Chicago!
Judges' Table gets pretty ornery. Sarah and Keith are throwing each other under many many buses. Keith to Sarah: “You love driving the bus and hitting people!” This team had no leader and is quickly diving headfirst into Lord of the Flies territory. "Serve you right if something did get you, you useless lot of cry-babies!" (Lord of the Flies)Reminder about all of this: They are chefs. They align people everyday in their kitchens. They failed in that very basic step towards a meal. It’s such a basic tenet of running a restaurant and if you don’t do it then you will flail.
Keith goes home to his bigger bed. Totally understood. May he continue his great career and continue to be a great man who succeeds against a lot of hard odds. May he also learn how to make an enchilada.