Hugh Acheson judges the chile and rodeo challenges from the comfort of his couch.
I am not on this episode. Rejoice or commiserate based on whether you fall into the hater or lover category. I seem to have many of both. Love the lovers.
Fifteen chefs remain, and it's getting chilly at ye olde luxury homestead. You immediately see the effects of the last judging lineup taking its toll on the chefs. Nyesha thinks it’s not fun anymore, a moment she has been secretly waiting for. I think this is an important turning point in the mindset of the Top Chef contestant: the sudden realization that this is not a walk in the park, but rather a very exhausting battle with uber-competitive people who will go out of their way to win, not always in ways that will earn them merit badges. Let the moral erosion begin.
Its chile time. This is spelled as chili on the signs. I hate that, though it is accepted usage. To me chili is the meat dish and chile is the vegetable of the nightshade family. (Debate will open now in the Comments section). Mary Sue and Susan are up front rocking the pastel jackets, looking very judgey. After Disney recently announced a sitcom based on their lives I am hoping to play the role of Javier, the first Border Grill bus boy. Javier would have one eyebrow, be full of one-liners, but only in Spanish, not translated for the English-speaking audience. He would be a cult hero south of the border. Robert Iger, call me.
From poblano to ghost we have a number of different varietals on chiles. The milder the heat, the less the payout, giving a real risk-taker who cooks with the elusive ghost pepper a huge cash payout, whilst the basic poblano is the more paltry win. The ghost pepper is a chile more reminiscent of pain than taste and we have just the masochist in young Paul. Chuy owes Uncle Sam some bucks. For what we do not know. Payroll taxes from his restaurant? Back taxes on his yacht? Extraordinary rendition fees from a failed coup attempt in central Africa? This is a statement his accountant hopes he had not made on national television.
Nyesha thinks Paul is amazing. Paul is amazing, but let's not let this fawning take away from Nyesha’s resume. She is amazing in her own right. She has more Michelin stars on her resume than all of Belgium (this quasi fact has not been verified). Paul, reacting to a compliment with pure aplomb, cackles like a nervous hyena. The Moto boys are not chile heads. They are a little wary of that fire belly. They just get wonderfully weirder those two.
The raw Anaheim dish by Beverly is an odd choice. Like a crudité if you remove the ité. She gets in the bottom three. The other two to land in chile purgatory are Richie with his sweet scallops (what’s up with the fad of savory curds? Laurent did that in Episode 2 as well) and Chuy, with his canned Yucatan flavors. Chuy wants to die under the table. This can be arranged but is not good TV.
Grayson, Paul, and Heather are in chile heaven. Paul wins with his Thai style soup. Grayson and Heather look less than pleased with the result, Grayson giving the lightest clapping ever to the result. If Grayson claps in the forest, can anyone hear?
Paul’s use of the ghost pepper in a Thai soup was very smart, as the coconut milk and the lemongrass can hide a lot of heat yet still be very nuanced. I loved Grayson’s popper but I don’t think it will go on the Chile’s menu anytime soon… too spicy. Heathers couscous surprises me. Again, I di not taste the food but it looks like she nailed the balance between the heat of the chile and the sweetness of the dates.
Alas, the Elimination Challenge is introduced and we’re cookin’ chili… all night long. Heather is confident because she makes chili a lot! This is good because as things progress, it looks like people want to work with her like they want to stick pins in their eyeballs. Teams are organized, and Nyesha is not happy with her team, giving us an ominous foreshadowing. She doesn’t want to carry this team on her back. I picture them in a large rooster costume, with Richie on top, his Mohawk as cockscomb, then Beverly in the middle screaming that she needs help at the meat counter, Nyesha plodding around looking for a chicken fight. Whole Foods meat counter war! Dakota starts to cry, or kind of looks that way. Does she apply her mascara in the shower? Meanwhile, Chris and Sarah are rubbing each other in a way that Chris is not happy with… the wrong way. Brisket is flying. Beverly is again having issues at the meat counter. Chris is grocery blocking Sarah at the checkout. Chris’s hair is standing on end.
Crash, bang, boom. Who's taking the outdoor living fireplace? Moto Chris moves on in for the woodsmoke flavor. It’s a long night at the house cooking. Grayson is bartering for fireplace space. “I will give you Park Place and a get out of jail free card for space in the fireplace.” Chuy grinds a dance. It's creepy.
Chile con carne for the Green Team. Braised brisket chili for the Red Team. Brisket Chili with summer pickles for the Blue Team. Three-bean chili for the White team. Mole chili, not mole the small animal, for the Black Team. Everyone looks exhausted. Then they get drunk and crazy around the pool. Moto Chris is trippin’ and looking at stars. Edward is opening wine with a shoe like a drunk MacGyver. Chuy is still being creepy, talking about his muscles. He and Chris Clary are having a creep-off.
Stir that chili. Texans make it very obvious that they are not into beans in chili which makes me fret for the White Team. “Authentic” is tossed around a lot. I find when people say “authentic” about food then it usually isn’t. C’est la vie.
Gail, Mary Sue, and Susan are in the judging fold. Gail has had a bagel accident which I need to learn more about. Whitney finds some very excited Texans to holla about the beans thing with. YEE-HAW! Pickled peaches are winning but the accompanying chili is not to the judges' liking… could be bad for big Blue. Cornbread is kicking for the White Team. Susan likes acid. Black team was too sweet. We saw that in the Quickfire too. Uh-oh. Rodeo time. Beverly is crying because she loves. Nyesha is not into this crying stuff. Buck up, little Beverly. Chris is sweatily lauding praise on Padma's riding abilities. His positive zeal is great, and I think it helps cause they win.
Black Team loses in a very very public forum. They must now immediately battle again.
Using their chili as a base for a new dish proves a little challenging, but Nyesha and Beverly eke out good enough dishes to compete another day. Fritos play a strong roll in the challenge. Moto Richie not so much. Very sad. Moto Chris is devastated. I am sad too. I liked Richie. I will miss the rooster. Cook on Richie.