November 24th, 2011
01:45 PM ET
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.
It wouldn’t be a “Top Chef: Texas” challenge without Chuy mentioning how he grew up with [fill in the blank main ingredient] because his [fill in the blank male relative] back home taught little Chuy how to [grow/slaughter/roast] said ingredient.
Welp, Chuy’s dish was overpowered by canned tomato, which I’m guessing he didn’t harvest as a child. Let’s be honest, we were here to see someone use the 1 million Scoville unit ghost pepper. Only Paul stepped up to the plate, and the judges loved his coconut soup, giving him immunity and “$20,000 furnished by Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauces.” Nine seasons in, and “Top Chef” still hasn’t figured out how to smoothly integrate product placement.
This week’s elimination challenge was a chili cook-off. The chefs split up into five teams of three, with each team creating one pot of chili to serve at the Tejas Rodeo. The rodeo fans would choose the winning team. But fear not, those pedestrian palettes wouldn’t pick the losers - that task still fell to the judges.
Since chili is all about slow cooking there was no time limit, so they cooked all night at the “Top Chef" house. (Which led to CRAYZEE behavior like drinking the cooking beer - zomg! - and riding a rocking horse. More importantly, why do they have a rocking horse?)
So, what did the sleep deprived teams come up with? Grayson, Lindsay and Ty-Lor of the White Team turned out a three bean chili. This was apparently a mammoth faux pas because authentic Texas chili doesn’t have beans.
The Black Team took a risk as well, making cinnamon-chocolate “mole” chili. Whitney, Chris J. and Dakota of the Red Team made brisket and short rib chili which sounded amazing but looked like shredded horsemeat prison gruel. The Green Team put together beer-infused chili con carne (to which I say: NOM NOM). Lastly, the Blue Team’s trio of Edward, Paul and Heather made smoked brisket chili with a side of pickled peaches. New life goal: find pickled peaches.
Everything looked pretty delectable...but I’ll never be able to un-hear the grotesque sound made when the chili was dumped into giant plastic vats.
Over at the rodeo, Gail Simmons was back! But where has new judge Emeril been? Do we even care? Anyway, the cowboy-hatted, bolo-tied masses were treated to a largely bean-free, drama-free service. And we were treated to a Rodeo Footage Interlude! (This episode was basically an animal rights activist’s worst nightmare.) Padma rode gracefully upon a steed (because, why not?) to announce that the Sarah, Chris C. and Chuy won with their beef and beer concoction.
The Black Team’s mole experiment finished on the bottom. But how were they going to eliminate one chef if all THREE of them contributed to - ah, the “Top Chef” producers were one step ahead of us. Nyesha, Beverly and Richie had to transform the losing chili into their own dishes. This after an all-nighter and catering a sporting event. Judge Gail pretty much summed it up: “We’re a-holes.”
Richie’s last stand was a Frito-crusted pork with ricotta-chili puree. Nyesha made Frito-crusted shrimp with a chili reduction. Beverly never got the Frito memo and made seared tuna with chili sauce.
The judges decided Beverly’s dish outperformed the Frito-LAME dishes. Nyesha’s dish was too safe, and Richie’s dish, the judges agreed, was one note and lacked seasoning. Richie was sent packing, and this was my first time seeing a mohawked bro cry. Here’s a re-enactment of Richie saying goodbye to his real-life boss Chris J.:
“Bro, my ponytail is gonna miss your sweet bro-hawk.”
“I know. I totally let down our restaurant!”
“Nah bro, you can vibe out as my sous-chef any day.”
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
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