Wild game and mind games on 'Top Chef: Texas'
December 15th, 2011
12:15 PM ET

Wild game and mind games on 'Top Chef: Texas'

This week on “Cold Case: Emeril Lagasse,” the 12 remaining cheftestants took on booze and boars.

But the biggest hurdle was Heather The Steamroller, who has gleefully embraced the path of villainy like some sort of comfort-food-cooking Harvey Dent.

We began with the booze. For the Quickfire, chefs had to pair their dishes with tequila. But not just any tequila! Tequila Don Julio, “the original ultra-premium tequila.” Because mere regular-premium tequila just wouldn't be good enough.

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'Top Chef': Were those steaks sabotaged?
December 8th, 2011
12:10 PM ET

'Top Chef': Were those steaks sabotaged?

Last night’s episode of “Top Chef: Texas” had it all: bickering, classical cooking, steak and a visit to the ER.

For the Quickfire, our chefs pulled knives labeled with one of five froufrou, Frenchy words: veloute, bechamel, espagnole, hollandaise and tomate. We’re told these are the five mother sauces, which I think means they’re the primary colors of the sauce world.

Each cheftestant had to make a dish based on the sauce picked. This season’s supposedly new judge Emeril Lagasse was subbed out again, this time for Dean Fearing - with an emphasis on “fear.”

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A roadside Quickfire on 'Top Chef: Texas'
December 1st, 2011
01:29 PM ET

A roadside Quickfire on 'Top Chef: Texas'

Last night on “Top Chef: Texas” we saw the contestants cook low-end and high-end, and four unlucky souls were tasked with dessert.

But first they packed up and drove to Dallas, where a highway patrolman pulled over their contractually-obligated-to-say-Toyota Sienna caravan. The cop was so clearly a plant that I expected him to ask, “did somebody call...the POLICE?” before ripping off tearaway pants as a groovin’ bass line kicked in.

Alas, it was merely Quickfire time. The chefs had to cook on the side of the road using propane burners and ingredients from a survival kit. And they turned out some impressive stuff, considering they used canned foods you wouldn’t even crack open during a nuclear winter.

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'Top Chef: Texas' turns up the heat
November 24th, 2011
01:45 PM ET

'Top Chef: Texas' turns up the heat

Tuck in your wattles because “Top Chef: Thanksgiving Edition” is here. And what says “Turkey Day” like chili peppers and cattle wranglin’?

OK, so the producers decided to forgo a themed holiday episode, but when the challenges are this good, who cares.

For the Quickfire, cheftestants had to make a dish highlighting a chili pepper of their choosing - the hotter the pepper, the more money the chef could win.

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'Top Chef': Nothing better than a team challenge
November 17th, 2011
12:36 PM ET

'Top Chef': Nothing better than a team challenge

Now that we have 16 cheftestants competing, "Top Chef" Nation can pretend the first two episodes never happened and return to skewering a manageable number of chefs and excoriating a manageable number of dishes using only our eyes. Otherwise known as normalcy.

After hitting the reset button, we were given a quick introduction to a few of the chefs. Like Beverly Kim, who had a vision board crumpled piece of paper that looked like it survived the Constitutional Convention and read, “Congratulations Beverly, you have won Top Chef Season 9.” Ugh. Chefs are a delicate bunch.

Back in the kitchen, we saw the first Quickfire of the year, and the show’s first chance to embrace Texas. So what Texas “staple” did they reveal? Rattlesnakes, which the guest judge assured us are “traditional in Texas cuisine.” OK, then.

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The return of old school 'Top Chef'
November 10th, 2011
01:31 PM ET

The return of old school 'Top Chef'

If you read last week's recap, then you'll know I was disappointed that the producers expanded the pool of cheftestants and extended the trimming-the-fat phase into two episodes.

I would love to tell you which chefs looked like the real deal and which should go back to flipping burgers (and which had the best tats or dumbest mohawk), but I honestly can’t yet because we had enough cheftestants to fill Kitchen Stadium. Wait, wrong competitive cooking show. See, too much going on! I’m so confused!

Thankfully, though, last night gave us the conclusion of Chefsplosion 2011, wherein the last of the 29 chefs were sorted out.

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