'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.

This led to perhaps Padma’s greatest (and most meme-able) moment in the show’s history: As the 60-minute clock started, Padma channeled her inner Samuel L. Jackson and told the judges she wanted to see some motherbleeping snakes on some motherbleeping plates (see what they did there?) - profanity and all.

Unfortunately (fortunately?), the chefs didn’t have to go all Samuel L. on the poor reptiles, as they were provided with dead, skinned snakes. After hemming and hawing about how icky snakes are, the cooks turned out some delicious looking dishes, while I learned that I now want to try snake. I also learned that in chefspeak, instead of saying “chewy” you say “it has a chew to it.” The more you know.

Dakota, who seems to be perpetually amped up (and leads us to believe Bravo doesn’t test for drugs), won the Quickfire with her beer-battered snake tempura and was given immunity for the first Elimination Challenge. For said challenge, the chefs split into two teams and would cook “elegant Mexican cuisine” for a quinceanera (sort of like a Sweet 16, but with better food). The teams were to consult with Blanca, the birthday girl, on their menus and a chef from the losing team would be eliminated.

There’s nothing better than team challenges on "Top Chef." You’re guaranteed sociopathic behavior, a shotgun blast of passive-aggressive coping mechanisms, and about a dozen mentions of the phrase “thrown under the bus.” Basically, television perfection.

So what happened? Exactly that! Immediately it was clear Team Pink was Team Trainwreck, as Ty-Lor purchased some pre-made tortillas while Keith and his beard bought pre-cooked shrimp. Any avid viewer of the show knows the judges pounce on prepared ingredients like, well, Keith to a bag of pre-cooked shrimp. As soon as de facto leader Lindsay saw the cooked prawns, she declared them unusable and the group started talking mad noise about poor Keith. Things only went downhill from there.

Meanwhile, Team Green kept their heads down, chopping and stirring and marinating away with a workmanlike focus.

When it came time to serve the party-goers, the chefs learned part of the judges’ decision would be based on feedback from Blanca. While Blanka from “Street Fighter” would devour anything and is every chef’s dream judge, a child judge is a chef’s worst nightmare.

But this birthday girl, what a delightful surprise. She articulately described what she liked and didn’t like about all the food. Padma, on the other hand, said Chris’ corn chili was “yummy.” Maybe the two ladies underwent some “Freaky Friday” body switch before the party.

By the end of the challenge, the Chuy-led Green Team came out on top, so the Pink Team was sent to wallow in their dysfunction in the stew room. Their entire effort was plagued by miscommunication, poor shopping choices and failures in execution. Any one of them could’ve gone home, but only one chef exhibited all three of those mistakes.

So Keith and his soggy enchiladas with pre-made flour tortillas got the boot. Oh, but we had so much more to learn about this gentle giant! Who knows, maybe we’ll see him come back through this Last Chance Kitchen nonsense we’re being force-fed.

So, do you guys think the right member of Team Pink was sent packing?

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Filed under: television • Top Chef • TV recaps

soundoff (One Response)
  1. space b4 ?

    I have watched this show from time 2 time. Always wondered how they can just take ingredients and come up with some good recipe. *in a short time* I think I am supposed 2 say firsty, so firsty !

    November 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |

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