Thursday, November 17, 2011
Top Chef Texas Episode 3 finally gets down to it
Wherein Padma swears like a sailor.
Having dispensed with the casting, Top Chef Texas finally got into the real season on Wednesday, with 16 final contestants now in serious competition mode.
Padma bragged that this season would be bigger than ever, and on curse-words alone, she delivers by using the word "motherfucking" twice, as in: "I better see some motherfucking snakes on some motherfucking plates." (To get the Snakes on a Plane reference correct, it should probably be "motherfuckin", no G.) Pretty ladies swearing like sailors is a thrill. Hopefully there'll be a Padma curse every week, which would easily outdo feeling bitter about Texas cliches.
Snakes are scary, and they were the quickfire challenge; boy, is this season ever ramped up. "Winning Top Chef requires nerves of steel," Padma says. Guest chef Johnny Hernandez is rattlesnake wrangler/chef-owner of La Gloria restaurant in San Antonio, who says, "Rattlesnakes are something very traditional in Texas cuisine." Huh; maybe it's a San Antonio thing. Contestant Dakota, who says snakes scare her, wins by turning them into fritters; Austin's superstar chef Paul Qui of Uchi comes in at the bottom for making his colors and flavors too big for the delicate rattlesnake.
The elimination challenge is a quinceanera for sweet-15 Blanca. The chefs break into two teams, pink and green. Both boast at least one expert in Mexican food. On the pink team, it's blond Caucasian Lindsay who lived in Mexico for a couple of years and brags about her cochinita pibil; on the green team it's Chuy Valencia, whose parents are from Mexico. Wonder which team wins?
Padma displays a strong bond with Blanca. "Happy birthday, you look beauuutiful, muah," she says, then goes on to describe for Blanca the components of every dish. "Here's the pink team, we're having a fire-roasted summer fritter, it has avocado mousse on the bottom of it," Padma says.
"It was good, but like you couldn't even taste the avocado," Blanca says.
"I mean, it's a hush puppy, whaddya want," says chef-judge Hugh Acheson, who delivers his lines with cartoonish zeal, as if he's auditioning for The Pee Wee Herman Show on Broadway. Remember, this season is bigger than ever.
The dinner ends with competing cakes, and then Padma says, "Blanca I know you have a dance to get ready for, so happy birthday!" Cut to Blanca dancing with her dad and a closeup of Padma in the audience -- staring.
The green team wins. On the pink team, it takes both Lindsay and bossy Sarah cooking the cochinita pibil together to screw it up. But chef Keith -- who's called a lovable bear by another contestant -- gets axed for purchasing pre-cooked shrimp and using flour tortillas in his enchiladas instead of corn. To underscore how unfair his dismissal is, they flash back a couple of times to other contestants acquiescing to both his purchase of pre-cooked shrimp and his use of flour tortillas instead of corn. But someone must go, and the lovable bear it is.