On a brighter note, though, the Blue Teams’ food was excellent. That chicken Paul made was phenomenal, and the other meats and sides were fantastic, too, and it wasn’t just us judges who thought so. It was pretty much unanimous among the crowd of dyed-in-the-wool Texans that attended that day that the Blue Team’s food was best. It just goes to show you that having a point of view and carrying it through is important. Many places and cultures have their own variations of BBQ. Texas is all about brisket. In Kentucky, the BBQ is more vinegar-based. BBQ can be found in South America, in South Africa, in India, Japan, Korea, Russia… you name it. BBQ requires a dry rub -- usually salt, some sugar and seasonings. Paul and his team decided to use flavors that he really knows -- curry, coriander, mustard -- figuring that the flavors were probably going to taste good… and it really worked. Furthermore, you’ll note that the team worked exceptionally well together. There was very little tension among them. They were OK with one person taking the lead, and no one was snotty about it. Lindsay even said, essentially, “Paul’s been doing really well, and I’m comfortable working with his vision for this.” And, in fact, the team did support Paul’s vision and did so in great spirits, whereas there was a lot of backstabbing and second-guessing going on among the members of the other teams. They were tired and stressed out, which is inevitably when things start to break down.
You may be asking why we had the first chief technology officer at Microsoft as a judge on Top Chef. Simply put, he’s an expert at BBQ and a great choice for this challenge. I’ve known Nathan Myhrvold for years… since he was at Microsoft, in fact. He has a very, very bright and inquisitive mind and is a real Renaissance man, excelling in all he does. He started college at age 14 (not a typo), has worked on quantum theories of gravity as a postdoctoral fellow at Cambridge under Stephen Hawking, and his areas of expertise range from paleontology to technology to barbeque to applying scientific principles to cooking, to geoengineering. Geoengineering? He’s figuring out how to reverse global warming. Really. Oh, and he’s also figuring out how the creation of clouds at will can ameliorate drought and hunger. Meanwhile, his barbeque took the top prize att he world championship of barbeque in Memphis. He brought his trademark enthusiasm and intelligence to our challenge this week, and it was an honor and a pleasure to have him with us.
Great challenge! it was a great show! Respect for these guys! @Michelle45 i completely agree with you. Let's see what normal people can!
They need to quit using executive chefs and get real people that do not own there own restaurants like they did in the first few seasons.
My fan Fav :-( sides if are really poor also would not bring me back to a restaurant...because I don't want to eat just the meat whatever it may be... Tell Bev to pack her knives and GO Home....
I thought it was a little unfair Chris had to do the second chance challenge with no sleep for so long.
How about stinkbugs as the required protein ingredient? Since they're getting into food accidentally in various part of the (plagued) country & are an intentional part of Asian cuisine, all y'all can show us how to make the stinkers taste like something other than aged sweat socks.
Chef Tom, thanks as always for your comments on the episode. It's great to read about things we can't see in the edited version, as well as the thinking that goes on at Judges Table that we don't hear.
One question, I had, though, is why the show keeps making the chefs work in substandard conditions? For example, you stated that they were using "unstable tables at the wrong height to comfortably work." Yet, despite that, they're supposed to put forth high quality food? The same thing happened in the finals of All Stars when the chefs had to cook on the beach using camp ground "grills" to cook on. If the purpose is to show who is the best chef, why all the gimmicks? Managing the fire and temperature in the pits is one thing, and some challenge to their creativity is great, but to make the final product be something that is influenced by whether someone has camped before and knows how to build a wood fire doesn't really seem like a cooking competition.
Thanks again, and look forward to the next one!
Wow. I love barbecue of all kinds and I am really glad that the Blue Team stuck to their vision and got the win at the end. It just goes to show you that food made well, whether it is traditional or not, will always win people over. On a side not, when I grow up, I want to be like Nathan Myhrvold.
For generations, home cooks along the Appalachian trail from North to South, of all cultures have used legumes in their cooking. At my grocery store, a bag of dried beans on sale is $0.69. If Beverly is a classically trained chef, can we assume that bean cookin' was not taught at her school? Or are they too low brow for her to bother with? I personally like Beverly, but her talk does not match her walk. If my Girl Scouts, from ages 6-11 can be taught to cook dried beans over an open fire at camp at lunch time and turn them into a delicious side dish by dinner, why couldn't she? I have disagreed with some decisions in the past, but Beverly has stayed past her time. She needed to go tonight. No one else. I'll admit that coleslaw can be tricky; it took me a while to get the right tang in mine, but I've been cooking beans from dried since I was 12. Boston baked beans from my mother who was raised in New England to pinto beans for my boyfriend from Virginia to cannelli beans for my Italian husband. Beans only need time, enough water and remember not to salt, no matter how much you want to, until they are soft. Otherwise, they will never cook all the way. Tom, you were wrong, Beverly needed to go.
BBQ is a lot more difficult to do, and most people think you grill it, through sauce on it and it's all good. Not true! When we plan one it is weeks if not months in the making, the meat is cured, cleaned and the pit, and drums are are prepared. My aunts and uncles take there rubs and sauces seriously, I mean UN type meetings take place. I really like seeing the different takes on cooking the meats, you were right, real BBQ has to have a smokey flavor.
I LOVE THIS SEASON! Maybe Y'all can come down south for some really good BBQ.
there's nothing wrong with a BBQ challenged, but when you basically admit that it was a really hard challenge and therefore not surprising that 6 people were going to make bad food, don't you think that's a sign that the challenge wasn't well developed?
obviously the task wasn't impossible, but it seems like the cooking is becoming a bit attenuated in the pursuit of "cool" challenges. this is the second "all-night" cooking challenge, where the cooking that is done throughout the night isn't exceptionally interesting. i know fatigue leads to stress and crankiness, which in turn lead to frustrated sniping and juicy sound bites, but the show is ultimately about bare bones cooking.
i don't want to pile on too much, as i'm not saying that the entire challenge was terrible or misconceived; i just think that the pursuit of unique challenges has somewhat subverted the cooking in the show, to the show's detriment. the chefs seem to be fighting the challenges, and while i concede that this may reflect more on the failings of the chefs, it seems like a few too many hurdles or hoops are set up for the chefs to jump over/through.
Took me awhile to realize this season was filmed in tx this summer. I have lived In Austin for 32 years and 27 in Tampa, Fl. This summer was so hot it was insane. My grown son runs and he actually said,hey Mama there's a big difference between 101 degrees and 108 degrees. It's a wonder they didn't all drop dead from heat exhaustion. Kudos to those crazy chefs.
kudos to Ty-Lor for being a caring human being when Sarah fell ill. More praise should be given to the good people.
BRAVO, PLEASE POST MY COMMENTS. THANK YOU. Tom, I can't really get into this season, but I enjoy watching "Last Chance Kitchen". There are people who watch Top Chef, but don't have a computer. I know it is hard to believe, but it is true. I would like to suggest that "Last Chance Kitchen" follow Top Chef. There are too many team competitions, because the wrong person seems to be eliminated. I think Andrew, Keith and Nyesha were eliminated too soon. Please bring back the Top Chef Winners next season so they can compete and please let it be about the Chef doing what they do best "Cooking Food". It should be about “the food”, not about drama and gimmicks. Top Chef has great chefs every season; bring back what the show was created to do for chefs and viewers. Most of Bravo shows are about drama and gimmick. True viewers are tired of those shows. My two favorite Bravo shows are the "Top Chef" and "Project Runway". I watch Project Runway on another network. Tia and Tamera were great on your show “What What Happens Live”, I hope the show come to Bravo. I also hope that "The Braxton Family also get there show with Bravo.
Home cooks of all cultures all over the US have recognized that legumes are a cheap way to provide a healthy and tasty addition to their menu. I can get a bag of dried beans on sale at the market for $0.69. If Beverly is a classically trained chef, one has to assume that she missed the cookin' beans class or that she considers beans too low brow to prepare correctly. I have taught my Girl Scouts, age 6-11, to cook beans over an open fire and we started at lunch and they were ready by supper. All it takes to cook beans is time, water and not to salt even if you want to until they are soft otherwise they will never cook properly. I can understand having problems with coleslaw, it took me a while to get the correct sweet/tang taste that I like. But Beverly should have cooked her own chicken, while the beans were simmering. I like Beverly, but her walk does not equal her talk. Tom, she needed to go. I am surprised she lasted this long. From what the judges said, I would have sent Beverly home: lackluster chicken, crunchy beans and bland coleslaw far outweigh a rub that could have become salty due to bad cooking. And I believe that Beverly cooked Pinto Beans which are the easiest to prepare. She needs to go.
The tone for this season was set at the beginning of the first episode when you sent home the hapless kid who butchered, literally and figuratively, the pig. It really hasn't gotten much better. You might as well call the show "Survivor: Texas," because it seems more of an endurance contest between competing personalities than a high level cooking show. Listening to your critique it sounded as if you could have sent 6 chefs home. A far cry from the episode on All Stars where you couldn't send anyone home.
In the chef's house last night they were discussing helping each other and one of the chef's (don't remember which one) said words to the effect that it's about playing the game to win. Well, yes, there's a lot of money at stake, but the show would be a lot better if they just tried to cook the best, most creative food and let the judges decide. While there was silly drama in past seasons the top chefs seemed always to put the food first.
In my opinion you are devaluing your brand. One of these chefs is going to get the title that eluded Mike, Bryan, Carla, Jenn, Antonia, Casey, Kevin, and a bunch more. Maybe the last half of the season will turn around and prove me wrong. I hope so.
I have watched every season religiously and am such a true fan. This season, however, is just SO uninspired and down right boring. BBQ! We freaking get it!! I just hate having the competition in Texas has made it a continuous theme. I like the contestants and think there is talent there, but I'm already pining for next season.
I enjoyed this episode. As Tom said they are in Texas, did they think it wasn't going to happen!!! If I know anything it is that the chef's have to expected the unexpected as well as the expected ie: when in Texas: BBQ in and when on Top Chef: Restaurant Wars! It's called wake-up and smell the kitchen! I would like to see the chefs ave to use the snakes, armadillos, bull's testicles and anything else they can find in Texas.
That was just sad, having Nathan Myhrvold as a BBQ judge is like having Jethro Tull judge a heavy metal contest. Nathan didn't actually win Memphis in May by himself, he was a member of someone else's team (David Cox in 1991) - BIG difference. By that logic I'm a 3 time world champion because I occasional cook with Jack's Old South and Myron's won MiM 3 times.
It was clear that not only did the contestants not have a clue, but neither did the judges. Please come see us at the Big Apple BBQ Block party in June and I'll be happy to give you an education on BBQ Brisket.
Paul has been my favorite chef since the ghost pepper challlenge. Sorry to see Ed and Sarah struggling, and not surprised at all to see Beverly in the bottom 3. Is she this seasons Black Hammer or what? Anyway, Karma is about to pay her back for dancing on Heather's grave. The other chefs are not going to say anything to her and she's just gonna fade away.
Can't decide if it's gonna be Ed or Sarah or Lindsay or Grayson with Paul in the Top 3. Can't wait to find out.
Wow! Those are some credentials for the guest judge. Very, very interesting. That said, I protest these incessant team challenges. Enough, enough, ENOUGH! The environmental conditions were deplorable (slaves wouldn't be subjected to that). Why do you think the chefs can pull out their best efforts being sleep deprived and dehydrated?
Cruel and unusual punishment--what was the point of making the chefs stay awake for nearly two days, and then slave away in the raging heat? Being tortured has nothing to do with good cooking. Is this Top Chef or Top Survivor?
Tom, Love the details in your blogs. I especially felt for the chefs in the bbq challenge. The producers went way overboard punishing them with this challenge. TC fans like the show bc you see these talented people creating fantastic dishes in limited time and strict parameters. However, yesterday's challenge was just cruel. I tuned in to watch TC, not Survivor. I think it's also pretty lame that the producers felt if was ok bc they provided lots of water and medics. Really?!? Can we please just stick with the food and move on from the nonsense? I know everything's already filmed, but something to keep in mind for upcoming seasons. Just stick with the food. This is NOT SURVIVOR!!!
I have a hard time with Nathan Myhrvold. If you google his name and "patent troll", you can read up on why. It's hard to reconcile the chef with the behavior of his company, Intellectual Ventures.
What standards are in place for treating the contestants in a humane fashion? How is it OK to deprive them of sleep in excess of 40 hours? I would very much like to see the code of ethics for this show.
While stationed in Texas, I enjoyed some awesome BBQ. While the winning team did an Asian spin on theirs, you didn't comment on brussel sprouts. I've never heard of having brussel sprouts with Q. So looking forward to Restaurant Wars.
I agree too many team challenges- please have them cook thier own food!!!! it's Top Chef, not Top Kitchen! I love Paul- hope he goes all the way and beats Nyesha- who was offed too soon- in the final! I love reading Hugh's blog- the man is soo funny!
Paul is the only chef in the group period, which is why he is winning all the money. When Tom said he was wondering if he picked the wrong chefs to participate this season he was absolutely right. They can't cook steaks to order or cook beans & Brussel sprouts until they are tender and try to smoke meat with aluminum foil wrapped around it. Geesh! I'm a weekend novice but could show these wannabes up. "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen", she did and should have went home. Restaurant Wars is going to kick their butts. Highlight of the season....Padma using the F word! : )
Lisaquirk, your logic for wanting Bev to be sent home is erroneous--her sides were good, they just weren't cutting edge, they were tame but edible. The judges said that Malibu Chris's sauce was over salted, hence, "inedible." Having the adjective inedible applied to one's cooking is always a ticket to home. The right chef was sent home.
Credit to Paul and the two ladies. Texas our proud of their BBQ. To use Asian spices in TX is suicide. I have not observe how they prepare their spices. For one the difference with Asian and Western BBQ is marinate and rub. And Asian BBQ only takes at most 4 hrs. not the whole night.
i agree with lainiec5- we havent seen enough individual cooking this season, while team challenges show the personality of a chef, its not the style. there isnt really a chef on this season yet that im dying to eat at his/her restaurant because we dont know their styles. i LOVED how ruthless you were in the beginning, like the kid who couldnt break down the pork, but where is that now? beverly is consistently underwhelming and she keeps making it through! undercooked beans and i can only imagine that slaw tasted like it came from a bucket? are you serious? ugh!!!!
Tom, I think a lot of viewers agree with me that we are tried of seeing group challenges where the chefs are forced to work in dangerous and inhumane conditions. I really want to see them do some individual cooking to show what they do best. I love reading your blog!
OK, we had the Mexican food challenge, rattlesnake cooking challege, steak for 200 challenge, chili cookoff, and now BBQ. All but one team challenges, really these challenges make a "top chef" ? These challenges are not my idea of a top chef which is why I have missed so many episodes.
Let's see next is a New England Top Chef where all the chefs cook clam chowder, lobster rolls, lobster newburg......boring.
Personally, I enjoy and prefer the contrived tortures the cheftestants must endure, such as lack of sleep, using items found at a gas station, broiling rib eye with a hammock, preparing food with flavor... The true test of a chef, said Georges Auguste Escoffier in 1876, is fluffy buns while storming the Bastille. In the real world, customers desire good tasting food that's visually appetizing. On Top Chef, Tom, Hugh, Gail, and Padma desire good tasting food that's visually appetizing! What a SURPRISE!
I really felt for these chefs during the BBQ challange! We had the most 100 plus days this past summer and we found that any work we had to do outside was done before noon or after 6 p.m. Heat stoke can set in very quickly!
Hi Tom, Good Blog. I wish you Produced and edited the show. Pretty sure they won't post this-- Been a TC watcher since inception. This is BY FAR THE WORST SEASON EVER!!! What is up with all of the "Bravo Drama"???? I have a hard time getting through each episode. I used to eagerly wait for the show on its scheduled night and time and now if I miss it I do not care!! Please tell the Producers to get back to the show's ROOTS!!! Cooking!! Paul, Ed, and Ty seems like a very qualified chefs. Nyesha was axed way too soon. We barely see any cooking anymore...All stupid AD PLACEMENT and DRAMA! Enough Bravo. Or maybe we will start a TC Boycott
I agree that Chris C. should have got some sleep before the second chance challenge, where I believe Beverly should have been. Time for her to go home. Although, this is probably Top Chef's way of making us hate her so she"ll end up in the finale.
I've watched every show of every season of Top Chef since the beginning (multiple times as my poor suffering husband can attest) but I am not enjoying this season as much as past seasons. I think Texas/Southwestern cuisine is a poor choice and is very limited for creativity. How many hunks of meat will they cook with what (limited?) flavors. I grew up in New Mexico and love Southwestern cooking but think this season of Top Chef is boring to watch as far as the food produced... I do like the Last Chance element.
Oops, I forgot to add: Texas in the summer is cruel and unusual punishment and another bad choice of the producers. Those of us who really love the show would just like to see the chefs have a chance to cook great food without all the gimmicks...
Chef Tom, perhaps they went more traditional than you wanted them to go in this challenge because they misunderstood just what it was that was wanted from them? Modern or Traditional? I did hear the word, TRADITIONAL, emphasized when the challenge was announced. Perhaps you should have specified that some twist was expected? I don't know. That's how it LOOKED to this viewer at home. Perhaps the challenge wordings can be nailed down tighter with more precision in the future?
I am noting a lot of comments this season pertaining to the "quality" of contestants themselves, and the crowd seems to be less than impressed. I say it is all relative, folks. A few stand outs among a bunch of young sou chefs in the previous seasons vs. ambitious, super competitive, truly talented chefs this season ... this is how it looks to me right now. I personally HAVE ALREADY SPOTTED stand outs in spite of all the smoke and mirrors (as well as combatants' mis-assessments of their relative places in the culinary constellation) because talent and creativity have a way of asserting themselves.
This group is not worse than usual; they are just bottlenecked, and quite talented ... and scary ambitious. They are also contending with EXTRA BRUTAL TREATMENT by the production team, which has jacked up the sadism level for whatever reason. Watching at the comfort of my own home I've been cringing here ...
It does not help at all that so many challenges were MENTAL-tests, as well as team (ugh), which puts more stress on mindgames and strategies as well as sheer endurance and stamina, which have claimed talented chefs in the past as the season wore on. It seems that the production team spotted early on the EGO LEVEL of this particular collection of individuals and could not resist playing that gift card. More power to y'all, but would it kill you to let them at least catch some snooze every now and then? Three people of Korean genetic background still in it -- Beverly, Ed, Nyesha. Do you have ANY IDEA what you are messing with? Mess with our temperament at your own peril is all I will say, seriously. Heed this warning.
Also ... what is it with so much PICKLING going on this season? (not a complaint but an observation that EVERYTHING is getting pickled ALL THE TIME by all) And why such preponderance of corn season after season? Do you have some sort of a deal with the Corn Council of America or something? Why not give them more variety of stuff to work with? As one lovely Babette once cried out, every Artist yearns for just one thing -- the OPPORTUNITY to show off the very best they've got. Let them show off. Treat the viewers to the sight of geniuses at work. I have just two words to persuade you to take this more appetizing approach: TRIBUTE. DINNER.
I do love Top Chef. Totally. I adore Chef Tom and Lovely Padma. I really like The Last Chance Kitchen. GO NYESHA!!!!!!!! I would like to continue to see Hugh Acheson's involvement.
-- your very loyal and supportive viewer
I suppose you don't care about the little people anymore, but the fact of the matter is: Nathan Myhrvold is killing off creativity and competition by speculating on patents and then drowning small companies in a barrage of lawsuits. He may well be the smartest person on the planet, but he's smart in the way brutal tyrants are.
For shame, Tom.
I have to say, I don't like this season at all. Not one chef has impressed me or jumped out as the one to beat. Look at the talent you had in the Voltaggio season. I don't see anyone in this season that could even compete with them, except maybe Nyesha who SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ELMINATED (because Dakota can't cook!!!). Enough already with the team challenges, these chefs are there to compete one on one.
Loved this BBQ episode. Really showed off the BBQ hertiage in Texas. Kudos to Grayson. I am from Wisconsin too. YOu go girl
As a Memphian and Cook-off attendee, I can say that this episode had me salivating. The challenge of open-pit grilling is underestimated by many. As for this episode, I think Sara(h) should have taken more "heat" for her decision to head to the hospital and ditch her team. She is far too young and healthy for the temporary increase in BP to have been a huge problem. Her teammates suffered because of it. Ordinarily, I'm a Sara(h) fan, but she went down a few notches in this week's episode. When it comes to team challenges, I'd avoid her like the plague.