What's Your Damage, Heather?
Hugh Acheson reacts to Heather Terhune's treatment of Beverly Kim.
>We begin our episode, full of tears, tears of rage, and even tears of freedom, in the luxo chef digs. It is right after the last episode where we found Heather bashing Beverly over shrimp prep times and laziness, a trend that may continue, whilst at the same time winning the Elimination Challenge. Whitney loses an epic battle with the common potato.
Nyesha is expressing some annoyance with Heather, which is the chorus of this episode. Let’s get one thing straight: Nyesha is total pro. She has busted her butt for French chefs who incessantly scream, always responding with a “Oui, Chef!” I know some of the chefs she’s worked for and they are pretty hardcore fans of kitchen discipline. What Heather is doing is not culinary leadership, it's belittling nonsense, and that’s what rubbing Nyesha the wrong way. I get the feeling Nyesha would follow a number of great chefs off a cliff but she wouldn’t be led by Heather out of a patch of poison ivy.
Padma and a dapper-looking Tim Love, from Ft. Worth’s Lonesome Dove are kickin’ back shots of tequila and they need some food pairings.
Cook and pair with a Don Julio selection. No immunity. $5 G.
Sarah talks about her tequila shot ritual when flying with her boss Tony. She speaks in a tone that shows off her immense admiration for the man. Tony is the much-lauded owner chef of Spaggia where Sarah is the executive chef. You feel the love for the mentor. It’s Jedi strong.
Ed Lee likes bourbon. He lives in Kentucky. More at 11.
I found Lindsay’s southern drawl more pronounced last week and I have a theory: when she is talking directly to the camera she speaks like she was on the honour (British spelling) role at Eton. When caught in casual banter its like she’s pulling up the Daisy Dukes and getting her apron on.
Chris Crary likes quiet walks on the beach with a fifth of Don Julio and beautiful people who think like he does. Who doesn’t like that? These likes come to food fruition in his dish: raw “let’s get it on” oyster, taut Tapioca balls, sensuous salt air, and sexy-time lime.
Did you catch Beverly flying through at one point screaming, “COMING THROUGH!!!” Everyone is hoping that she goes at Heather like a crazed spider monkey, Lil' Bobby-style. She seems to be moving quickly in her smoked oyster quest, and I like the sound of the dish.
Some of the chefs pick some pretty strange things to match with tequila… Dakota’s lamb comes to mind. Rarely do I think to myself, “With this roasted lag of lamb I would like a shot of tequila.” If I am drinking tequila, it’s because Traci or Mary Sue are prodding me to do so. I don’t need much prodding to enjoy a libation with those two.
Dakota with her lamb, which I saw coming. The dates made it too sweet, and the pairing was weirdoville.
Moto Chris is in purgatory with his overcooked chicken, his most rational plate ever. Minutes before he was recorded saying everything was fine, except his chicken. This is like a declaration of buoyancy on the Titanic.
Finally Sarah is in Dante’s inferno with her risotto, which she defends adamantly. I would too if I was the executive chef at Spiaggia. Honestly, I would take advice from Tim Love on elk cookery, but I would gladly direct my risotto queries to Tony Montuano, from whom Sarah learned to cook risotto. The pairing probably sucked though, so I am with Love on that part. Top Trio:
Chris Crary with his oyster and salt air. Tim Love is onto this “purity of life style,” and says it's like being at the beach. Crary has taken over Love’s brain, or everybody is woozy with the tequila, bleach, and ammonia in the air.
Lindsay flew flavor through her whole dish. She says thanks with her Eton accent. This is not the time to pull out the harried Slingblade character.
Ty-Lor with his clams. Perfect ingredient to pair with the tequila, a thought that was already uttered by Paul Q. who didn’t see the clams in the refrigerator. Like Paul needed to win more moolah. Man is cleaning up this season.
Elimination Challenge Time!
Game challenge, many visiting chefs, battling teams. Chefs get to rank the bottom three teams. Then the judges vote for last place, and both members of that team pack up their knives. Prepare for breakdowns of pigeons and egos.
When you get promised an old carpenter’s technique for sweet potato link fence, what do you envision? I was at a loss except for this: Yams carved as Jesus’ foster dad Joseph, holding hands, linking the world in a sweet potato fence of goodness.
Grayson: “You promise this shit is going to be bangin’?”
Moto Chris: “I promise.”
I love the way Grayson communicates. Straight to the motherf---in’ point. Moto Chris is the most unconfident confident fence salesman ever. I would not buy his fence. A tortilla fence, sure. We have to protect our borders, you know.
“Bev, I just want to make sure that the whole thing is not too Asian, cause that’s not my style.” I think she’s had a bad Asian experience at P.F. Chang’s, the most authentic Asian she’s ever had. I thought these two would be like Gretzky/Messier, an unbeatable combo. They are more like ammonia and bleach, when combined they make everyone around them feel like crap.
Edward calls this how he and most of the chefs see it. He calls Heather a word that rhymes with b-itch.
And now for the saddest side story in Top Chef, and I am completely serious here: we hear about a past abusive relationship that Beverly was in, which she luckily escaped. I have nothing funny to say. This makes me want to tap Heather on the shoulder and say, “You need to think about what people may have been through in life before being so rude and self centered.” The true chef success stories in my industry empower a team with trust, skillsets, and honor. Those are the chefs I like. This is a team competition tonight. Go team. Look at Ed and TyLor… teams respecting one another.
Breaking down around the luxo digs. Time to get to Ft. Worth. Tim Love owns this town. It’s a great honky-tonk town. The tiny kitchen was about 150 degrees and the chefs are vying for space in an already emotional clusterf---ed space.
Jesus’s Dad Can Do Anything… except be a sweet potato fence.
Big meal time. We wait at the table while Heather berates Beverly with rustic American fervor.
Boar up first. Crary and Eton Lindsay. They looked pretty strong. Meat was nice. I have an aversion to BBQ sauce in a fine-dining setting, but that’s just me. Luckily Ty-Lor Boring didn’t cook this, as the puns would be too much to handle.
Elk from Grayson and Moto Chris. WTF sweet potatoes are the odd part of this one.
Grayson is calling this a disaster, yet instructs, smartly, for she and Chris to be very positive. Smart girl. “Listen, we are probably going home, so do not say anything to them. I am getting a bottle of vodka, getting crunk, and going to find me a motherf---in’ cowboy.” There dish was actually not bad at all. Just a little boring and the failed sweet potato fence thing.
Duck from Heather and Beverly. Five-spice duck breast, creamy polenta, and pickled cherries. Breast was a little rubbery. Currence liked the cherries. I like Currence. I thought the duck plate was fine, yet a little to be expected. Nothing risky, but given their team dynamic I am surprised they were able to get anything out at all.
Venison. Nyesha and Dakota. UNDERDONE. So sad because they are both strong. I love Nyesha’s professionalism. She trusts Dakota, and I would have done the same. I guess I would have double-checked that the meat in the middle was at 125 F, but anybody I work with is never offended at things like that. We check each other for the better good of the food.
Quail up next. Ed and Ty-Lor. This truly was great. Best dish to me of the whole season so far that I have tasted. They teamed up and just made it work. Teamwork reigns supreme.
Squab. The fancy person’s pigeon. Sarah and Paul. Rockin’ it out, but the sausage is not up to Sarah’s thoughts, and she bursts into tears after judging. She is most worried about getting Paul sent packing, taking ownership of what she has done, and the effects it has on a team. How refreshing.
Quail wins. As it should have. It rocked. They are both elated and honorable and classy at the table.
The vote to the bottom three is a pretty miserable mess. Sad to see all this happen.
They vote the following to the bottom: elk from Grayson and Moto Chris, venison from Dakota and Nyesha, and duck from Beverly and Heather.
The logic of Heather throwing Beverly under the bus at the Judges' Table will only ever make sense to her. It makes no sense to me.
I am cutting to the end here, but Nyesha and Dakota lose. It truly was harad for both of them to take, but mostly for Dakota. Her meat cookery missed the mark. Alas, tears are shed and we move on. Sad to see both of them go because I thought they both had great skills, and Nyesha had what it took to get to the very end. Alas, it's TV.