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Top Chef: Texas – Ep 11 – Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall, Who’s The Most Talented Of Them All?

This was a great episode of Top Chef. I always like the episodes where the chefs all do very well, and where both the chefs and judges seem to be enjoying themselves. There were two excellent challenges, a very game guest star, some unbelievable creativity, and the image of Eric Ripert trying to hand a chicken foot from the chandelier.

However, a digression first before we go into the episode. What’s with the Snow White resurgence? I mean, by the time 2012 is over, we will have THREE versions of Snow White out there on the big and small screen. Ginnifer Goodwin, Lily Collins and Kristen Stewart will all be playing the iconic character. Goodwin is currently doing the job on the TV show “Once Upon A Time,” a surprisingly fun show to watch. She’s doing a decent job, but that show is early in unspooling its mystery, so we’ll see how that goes. Collins, the daughter of Phil Collins (really!), will be in the lighter “Mirror, Mirror” opposite Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen. That movie looks a lot more Disney, kid-friendly than the third one starring the Twilight lady who refuses to smile.

I must say that having watched the “Snow White and the Huntsman” preview during this episode of Top Chef – not sure if you realized the Jack Donaghy-like synergy of cross-promotion going on with this film (same company owns the studio and Bravo), I am not really sure about it. It is clearly dark, and Charlize Theron is having fun chewing some scenery, but not sure if I am really interested in an epic, Lord of the Ringsish telling of the Snow White story. We’ll see, but there you go.

So, yes, Oscar-winner Theron was the guest star this week, and really, really, REALLY brought the pretty and brought the charm. I mean, perhaps it was the 70s jumpsuit Padma wore to the Quickfire, or just Theron’s natural beauty, but for once Padma was not the best looking woman in the room. Oh man, I feel badly just for saying that. I still love you Padma, don’t be mad! I mean, it is Charlize Theron after all – that’s the level we have to go to (along with something from the Kate Jackson rejected outfit pile) in order to usurp your power.

You all know my opinion about the product placement in the show, and how I don’t like talking about it, but I have made a slight change to the policy because the challenge was so good. Because Theron plays the Evil Queen, the chefs had to embody evil with their dishes. And they not only accepted the challenge, but boy, did they run with it. All seven of them put out some very, very create dishes, and made them all delicious. As the judges went from dish to dish you could see them enjoying each one of them. No negative feedback given for anyone. Theron loved every minute of it, and the judges took her lead and seemed to be having a grand ole time.

However, when all of the chefs do well it means that someone goes home for a nitpick. That is probably pretty difficult for them to swallow. I mean, losing this competition without screwing up? Hard to deal with. But that meant that someone was going home despite being part of what Tom called one of his favorite meals he’s gotten on the show. Watching the episode the first time, I could not figure out anyone worthy of elimination. Upon watching it the second time, I found a flaw with the one who wound up getting the axe, even if it wasn’t the reason we saw.

Yep, after winning last week, Beverly gets knifed this week. Tom said it was a somewhat sticky sauce, which Theron called a “weird texture” that did her in. Meanwhile, Tom said something in passing which I think played into it a bit more. They were told to make a dish as part of a “gothic feast” that was “wickedly beautiful” and Theron said they should “think like an Evil Queen.” Six of the seven of them factored in evil. They played to the queen. Beverly made a dish that focused on Snow White. In a challenge where all of the food was good, I wonder if the approach to the challenge played a bigger role than we expected.

What made things doubly terrible for Beverly is that she was mere seconds away from being immune. The Quickfire Challenge was another good one. Create a sophisticated dish using three ingredients from a conveyor belt. That’s right, Top Chef returns to San Antonio – where the season started – and while the chefs were away, the production staff played. They took some time to install a small conveyor belt. It was a circular one where food items would come out to the kitchen and if unclaimed, would go back to behind the wall where the production staff waited. The trick is that the crappy items would come out first, but if you waited, you could get some good stuff but not with much time to cook it.

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