top chef texas “tribute dinner”


Heather’s a bitch. No one wants to go home. Ed’s jaw is still weird. Dakota and Nyesha keep it raw—the venison, that is—and get sent packing.

We begin in the Stew Room of Last Week. Beverly says that she is now going to be alone in her room with Dakota and Nyesha gone. Surprisingly, Heather doesn’t offer to keep her company. Probably later when they braid each other’s hair. Then Padma comes in, and, at first, everyone wants her to go away, but then she’s like, “Bitches, pack your bags! We’re going to Austin!” And everyone’s excited. I would be too. Because Austin > everywhere else in Texas. Paul tells us that he is from Austin, and then teaches us that you can say “I’m sweating balls” on TV and not be censored.

Another Top Chef road trip in the TOYOTA SIENNAS! Van Number One has become a portable Dating Game, as Heather talks about her ideal man. Then it cuts to a one-on-one, in which Heather admits that she’s all old and shriveled up and no man will want her. Or something. And she says that she often asks herself where she would be if she had started a family ten years ago. Well, you would probably have a ten year old. Ed and His Jaw then ask Heather if she would rather spend a night with John Besh or receive $5,000 and immunity for the next challenge. Heather chooses John Besh.

In Van Number Two, Grayson explains that Hot Chris is often called Malibu, at least by her. I like that better, so I’m going to call him that too.

The chefs finally get to their new place, which is full of fake furs and wood. We cut to Paul, who talks about how he used to sell weed and let his dogs poop in his house. Then he decided to stop all that and became a chef. I’m sure the others have similar origin tales.

The Quickfire takes place at Le Cordon Bleu Austin, where Padma AND TOM await the chefs. I call Relay Challenge! Tom always watches that shit! Also, Tom looks really bored. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge the chefs. Instead, he just bites his lip and looks off in a different direction. I bet Paul sold him some weed.

Alright, I guess it’s not a relay. Ugh! That better be soon! Instead, it’s some weird Twitter Challenge, where Top Chef fans will tweet the instructions. That sounds like it will go terribly wrong. Ugly Chris talks about how at Moto they tweet back and forth with the customers all the time. That seems inefficient.

Padma explains that she and Tom will shout out their favorite tweets, and then the chefs have to do it. Kind of a “Simon Says” situation. She also explains that they will have 45 minutes, and there will be no immunity. But they do get $10,000. So that’s nice.

Padma and Tom huddle around a phone and try to decide which tweets will really be exciting and challenge the chefs, although they kind of fail and come up with some lame ones instead:

First tweet: “Everything is better with bacon.”

Second tweet: “Do a hash for a #hashtag challenge.”

Third tweet: “Chefs choose pantry ingredient and hand it off to another chef must use in their dish.”

The only tweet that anyone seems remotely bothered by is the third one, even though no one is really being mean-spirited about it. Lame sauce. Give someone else frozen scallops! Or ghost peppers! Whatever, time’s up, fools.

BEVERLY crispy pork belly, hash of corn, bell pepper, habenero, and potato.

UGLY CHRIS seared scallop, corn pureé, bacon and butter-poached potato hash.

HEATHER smoked paprika quail, leek hash, bacon jam.

ED soft shell crab deglazed with sriracha, potato and cocoa nib hash, braised bacon and mustard spread.

SARAH burrata-stuffed squash blossom, bacon and zucchini hash.

MALIBU bacon-wrapped monkfish, clams, passion-fruit-braised bok choy, maple syrup, hash of bacon, potato, and leeks.

GRAYSON shrimp puff with fig, bacon hash cake.

TY-UMLAUT maple-glazed bacon, bacon and kale hash.

PAUL bacon fat, crispy bacon, clams, asparagus, blackberries, chorizo and mushroom hash.

LINDSAY mostly unknown, bacon, a hash, and sriracha (from malibu).

Bottom Three: Grayson (shrimp puff like wet mousse), Ugly Chris (really salty), and Ed (hash was burnt and bitter).

Favorites: Beverly (subtle, but flavorful), Sarah (fritter nicely fried), and Paul (unusual, but delicious dish). Aaand Paul wins! Sarah looks very pained. Paul’s getting mad rich at this point. He’s got $30,000.

Tom then tells them to go have some drinks at the bar, but not to get too crazy. Obviously something’s up. Heather gets all Dating Game again and starts hitting on Malibu. Her outfit is way too tight. Malibu is kind of just stuck there because there aren’t any free seats.

So everyone is just chilling and drinking, and then, the pianist introduces Patti LaBelle. Which is super random. But everyone now becomes the biggest Patti LaBelle fan. Patti just starts singing “Lady Marmalade,” which I’m assuming is her default response for any situation she is thrown into. At one point, she seems to ask the audience for some backup, but they give her none. This whole thing makes me uncomfortable.

Padma comes onstage, and everyone finally gets it. Patti will be the judge. Because she’s a cookbook author. Yeah, well, so is this lady…

Patti starts talking about her inspirations as a cook, and it is revealed that the Elimination Challenge is to throw a “Tribute Dinner” for Patti and her friends, in which each chef pays tribute to the person who first inspired them to cook. Then everyone gets all emotional about their grandparents and mortality.

Padma explains that they will have two hours to cook the following night. It seems as though everyone just gets to cook whatever they want, as there is no discussion of who will do what course. I hope Heather makes Ed’s cake again.

Back at the hotel, Beverly gets weepy about her family. And about Heather being a total bitch. We get a shot of Ugly Chris crack. Malibu tries to scratch his eyes out to rid them of such an image, likely to no avail. Elsewhere, Ed and Ty-Umlaut discuss their inspirations. Ty-Umlaut reveals that he had a Japanese nanny. Everyone watching feigns surprise that a mustachioed hipster came from a rich family. Ed appears to eat a plate of gravel. I think it’s actually Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! cereal, which is about the same thing. Ed talks about how his grandma always used to cook vegetarian food for him, and also would tell him to shave his beard, so he is going to honor her by cooking vegetarian. Unfortunately, it appears that he will keep that scraggly-ass beard. He also says that he is going to show his balls. Maybe he heard about the Ugly Chris crack.

In the kitchen, Malibu assures Grayson that he is not Amish. Beverly reveals that her mom inspired her to be a housewife. Sarah praises her grandfather’s sausage. Heather talks about her bad beef, although not the one with Beverly.

And then we’re out at the Judge’s Table, and Cro Magnon is finally fucking gone. I hope Emeril killed him. Emeril is apparently now on the Hallmark Channel? What. The. Fuck. He got kicked off Food Network to make room for Sandra Lee and has been banished to the Hallmark Channel?! Dear America, you disgust me.

Anyway, the dishes are coming out now. And the chefs appear to be presenting two at a time.

UGLY CHRIS (inspired by his grandmother) lemon-pepper new york strip steak, a1 demi-glace, asparagus, carrots, baked fingerling potatoes with sour cream, bacon, and chives.

HEATHER (inspired by her mom) beef stroganoff with herb spaetzle, roasted wild mushrooms, citrus crema.

Emeril likes Ugly Chris’s mini-steak-dinner idea, but doesn’t so much like the A1 demi-glace. Typical Ugly Chris. Patti loves the vegetables. Some lady loves the presentation. Emeril doesn’t know what cut of meat Heather used, and he feels like he’s at a banquet at some hotel that he and Tom go to. I’m sure it’s one of those pay-by-the-hour deals.

PAUL (inspired by his grandmother) quail adobo stuffed with ginger rice, green mango salsa.

SARAH (inspired by her grandparents) pork-sausage-stuffed cabbage, spinach with brown butter, aceto balsamico.

Sarah’s dish goes over well with everyone. Paul’s dish goes over well with the judges, but Patti doesn’t like quail. Ugh, I hate when celebrities / people who think they’re celebrities come on to judge. Because they have dumb ideas about things. Like cilantro and gummy bears.

BEVERLY (inspired by her mother) korean-braised short ribs, hon shimeji mushrooms, purée of horseradish, edamame, and scallions.

MALIBU (inspired by his uncle) sockeye salmon, potato confit, brown sugar and curry carrot purée.

Beverly’s dish goes over very well. Patti likes Malibu’s sweet carrot purée, but Tom doesn’t because it doesn’t taste like carrots. Patti thinks that the fish tastes like fish, so she doesn’t like it. Ugh! Tom knows that the salmon was cooked too quickly, which is why the albumen was coming out. Yummy.

LINDSAY (inspired by her grandmothers) trout spanakopita, rainbow trout roe, crispy leeks.

ED (inspired by his grandmother) “modern bibimbap” of pickled carrots, picked cucumbers, sautéed zucchini, fried egg, rice patty, nori, lemon chili sauce.

Lindsay’s dish is too buttery for Emeril. Patti says that the roe reminds her of caviar. Brilliant! Ed’s dish goes over well. Even the mystery lady who is allergic to egg (wtf?!) likes it.

GRAYSON (inspired by her parents) grilled rib eye steak, german potato salad, grilled vegetables.

TY-UMLAUT (inspired by his Japanese nanny) duck-fat-fried chicken tender, pickled peaches.

Ugh, enough with the pickled fruit, people! Grayson’s plate is called “grisly” by the pianist, and he looks outraged. Ty-Umlaut’s tender goes over well. And Tom likes Ty-Umlaut’s story.

Oh noes! People I like are going to be in the bottom! I can feel it.

In the stew room, Ty-Umlaut insists that Patti LaBelle’s toenails were painted to match Padma’s shirt EXACTLY. First of all, that doesn’t make any sense. Second of all, how could he even see her toenails? I call shenanigans, you rich little hipster boy! Padma comes in and says that they want to see Heather, Grayson, and Malibu. Everyone is like, “wtf?!” Because everyone knows that those fools didn’t win. And they didn’t. Tricky, judges. Tricky.

Emeril didn’t like Grayson’s trimming of her meat. Tom thinks that Grayson should have edited more. Tom tells Malibu that his fish wasn’t cooked so well. Emeril was overwhelmed by dill. Heather’s dumplings (What dumplings? Girrrl, you didn’t tell me about any dumplings!) were dry and overcooked, and so was the meat. Then, in a hilarious turn of events, Tom tells Heather that she should have used the pressure cooker because “Beverly used the pressure cooker, and she’s not here.” Oh snap, bitch! You just got pwned by Tom. I bet Tom just couldn’t even help himself when he said that.

So the Dejected Three come back in to the strew room to announce that the REAL favorites are Sarah, Beverly, and Ed. Tom commends them for using their childhood inspirations as only a launching point, and then building from there. Tom tells Beverly that everything in her dish had a purpose. Emeril was impressed by Sarah’s sausage. But who is the winner?! Patti does a terrible job of building suspense, and just says, “SSSSarah.” as if she would have said “SSSBeverly” or “SSSEd.” Or maybe she would have. She’s kind of kooky.

I hope Heather goes home…I hope Heather goes home…I like those other two!

And so, despite everyone’s shortcomings, who’s actually going home? Tom beats around the bush for awhile and pretends like it’s hard for him to send someone home. And then Padma finally says it’s…Heather! Tom clarifies that Heather went home for overcooked steak. And because he hates her. When she gets back to the stew room, she’s all, “Byyyyyye, don’t be upset…” I’m embarrassed for her. She is so unaware of how awful she is.



After Heather giggles her way into Last Chance Kitchen, and it becomes clear that Nyesha just wants to murder Heather in cold blood, Tom gets down to the rules for the showdown. He tells the two that their challenge involves three techniques—frying, injecting and foaming—so they must create a dish in which all three techniques are utilized. They have 30 minutes. Heather’s never foamed anything before, so this should go well for her. As the challenge gets underway, the audience of Actually Eliminated Chefs shows up again. They start asking the two what they are making, which makes Heather all huffy and puffy and stressed out. Heather appears to be doing an injected prawn dish, while Nyesha has decided to make a dessert. Once again, the Actually Eliminated Chefs help keep track of time. And time’s up!

NYESHA beignet injected with caramel sauce, brown butter foam.

HEATHER fried gulf shrimp injected with smoked paprika, corn and chanterelle ragout, porcini mushroom foam.

After tasting the dishes, Tom brings down his Iron Hammer of Judgment. He applauds Nyesha for making a dessert, and a tasty dessert at that, although her foam was a little heavy. Tom liked Heather’s ragout, but questions her use of goat cheese with prawns. And the winner is…Nyesha! Because Heather’s shrimp was overcooked. Nyesha is pretty damn excited.


Beverly’s stuff is on fire. Ugly Chris says there is a “monster of a BBQ” going on. Grayson assures someone that her dish “is like sex in the mouth.” Sarah feels faint and is whisked away. Ed is pissed off because Sarah may or may not be dead. Someone puts too much salt on something.


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