The quote used at the title came from Tom during the final judging at the end. Tom is clearly frustrated and I think many fans are sharing his concern. So far, Texas has not been bigger and better. Granted, All-Stars was an outstanding season and pretty hard to follow. However, this one has been somewhat ho-hum ever since the crazy first two play-in episodes. The chefs seem good, but the results during the challenges have been rather uninspiring so far.
I wonder if Top Chef is going to regret its decision to have 29 chefs play-in. Because they put it all on one challenge – and even the best chefs in show history have had one challenge that threw them for a loop. Perhaps those 13 chefs who failed to get in would have been better in the long run. I think we are far enough into the season to follow Tom’s thinking; maybe the wrong chefs got to qualify.
Case in point – in a challenge that was centered on steak, and presented to the Cattle Baron’s Ball. What won? Cake. Not just cake, but a cake that was already served two episodes ago. I am sure Heather’s cake was delicious, but the main crux of that story was that the chefs screwed up making steak.
Edward seemed to be most at fault with the main entrée’s failure, and his error almost led to The Destroyer’s demise. I say it was Edward’s error because he was the one who physically made the mistake, but really it was just a collective breakdown in communication that was the problem. The Destroyer had volunteered to grill up the 200 steaks outside. When the time was right, his teammates would flash bake the steaks in the oven. Except no one seemed to be talking to each other, and as a result, Edward put the steaks in too early. As a result, they were not cooked properly or consistently and the entrée was in a lot of trouble. Glasses said, “Flashing the steaks early is the same as when the meteor hit the earth and made the dinosaurs extinct. It’s that big of a deal.” It was only Nyesha’s butter sauce that, according to Tom, saved the dish. It likely also saved The Destroyer.
Wasp’s au gratin potatoes were badly made – perhaps because she didn’t start preparing them the day before as suggested by other chefs. Whatever the reason, the dish was bad. There are few offenses on Top Chef worse than badly cooking a side dish. And she did just that. I knew she wasn’t going to make it deep in the competition solely because she never actually got any screen time. Although, as viewers of RILCK know, unexpectedly Wasp took out Chewie in a burger challenge to sit as the current champ waiting for a chance to return to the game.
I am actually at a bit of a loss for words regarding this episode – not much happened. Bad steaks. Boring dishes. Likable cast, but no real frontrunner stepping up so far. I can’t say that I can really name someone I am actively rooting for yet. I like Grayson – she’s really cute, she’s got some comedy chops, and as the last chef in, is easy to root for. Glasses seems like a really nice guy, and is unafraid of taking chances. Edward is full of bitchiness. Sarah re-tweets my articles. But there is no one that I can say is the true hero of the season, nor anyone who has stepped up to be the Blais-like most-deserving yet. Something needs to happen soon to shake things up. Really soon.
Perhaps the Heather factor will become something interesting. She is aggressive, to say the least. And rather forceful. I can only imagine her kitchen in real life – either they love her or they live in constant fear of her. The seeds of a Heather-Beverly feud started last week with Heather’s implication that Beverly had taken over the kitchen with her many pots. This week, Heather complained about how much time Beverly was taking on her shrimp dish. I can understand how Heather could feel the frustration, but she has to understand that the judges were going to critique the individual dishes. This was not a team challenge. It was nice to work together, but it was an individual challenge and Bev’s shrimp was her one and only concern. Awesomely, it seems as if the two are paired next week in a challenge.
I am hopeful that Texas starts to take off next week and that this is just a bump in the road. Regardless, I’ll be watching, but I want to have some more fun.
One thing that has been consistent – the challenges have been really good.
Quickfire Personalize your “mother sauce.” These are sauces that essentially are the base of all sauces. The chefs randomly select the sauce between these — béchamel, espagnole, hollandaise, tomato, or velouté. We don’t get to see all of the dishes on-screen, so I went to the show’s website to get all of them. Padma and guest judge Chef Dean Fearing are on hand to judge. Fearing looks like Wormtail from the Harry Potter movie series, in my opinion.
All of the trained chefs learned these sauces – they are the classics. Grayson is confident with her sauce skills, having previously been a saucier. Paul is going with some ginger, Edward is bringing in some veggies for flavor, and Bev chooses to completely alter the sauce to be Asian. Uh oh.
Beverly – Espagnole – Sauce with Charred Shallots with Pepper Corn, Sake, Red Wine, Crab Maki Roll with Rib Eye
Pretty Boy- Veloute – Halibut over Mussels, Andouille, Hajimachi Mushrooms, Veloute with Mussels, Lemon Puree – Wormtail is impressed that he reused the fat in the sauce.
Glasses – Espagnole – Onion Soup with Butter Onion Puree
Vampira – Béchamel – Béchamel Infused with Peach, Truffle and Lemon Crab and Mushroom Duxelle, Seared Scallop
Edward – Béchamel – Cauliflower Milk Béchamel with Poached Red Snapper, Crab, Fried Oyster
Grayson – Hollandaise – Scallop, Charred Corn Sauce with Paprika, Corn Ravioli, Blueberry Balsamic Reduction – Wormtail loves the sauce and Grayson says it was using whole butter.
Heather – Béchamel – Gruyere Croquette with Chinese 5 Spice, Apple Ginger Compote and Asian Slaw
Lindsay of the Corn – Hollandaise – Charred Scallion with Soft Boiled Egg, Creamy Polenta, and Pickled Herbs
Nyesha – Tomate – Tomate Sauce with Coconut and Ras El Hanout Braised Lentils
Paul – Espagnole – Quail with Pickled and Roasted Honshimeji Mushrooms, Garlic Scapes – Wormtail wants to know if he used the roux – he didn’t. Wormtail would later get on Wasp for the same thing.
Sarah – Veloute – Shrimp Poached in Veloute, Braised Fennel and Leeks, Bread Crumbs and Fresh Herbs with Tarragon and Fennel Tops
The Destroyer – Hollandaise – Hollandaise ,Ahi Tuna, and Bok Choy with Sugar Snap Peas
Wasp – Tomate – Poached Shrimp, Fennel Pillau, Sauteed Okra, Pancetta
Bottom Three – Vampira for an overdone peach sauce. Nyesha for an overpoweringly flavored sauce. Bev for being sloppy and for transforming her sauce into a brand new one.
Top Three – Grayson for actually making ravioli to go with her sauce. Pretty Boy for a very good combination of items. Paul for a perfect pickling. That was fun to say.
I expected Pretty Boy to win, but this was Grayson’s Quickfire. She wins immunity, and as a result joins the dessert group for the immunity challenge.