top chef texas “restaurant wars”

PREVIOUSLY There is a “monster of a barbecue.” Beverly starts the alcohols on fire. There is sun. Grayson tries to win over Tom with the ol’ “sex in the mouth” spiel. Ed hates Sarah. Sarah hates Ed. Malibu goes home because of his salty meat rubs.

This episode means business. It doesn’t start off in the hotel room with the chefs playing spin the bottle trashing whoever just went home and talking about how dogs used to poop in their houses drinking. No. INSTEAD we immediately cut to the chefs entering what appears to be an empty restaurant space, where Padma and Cro Magnon await them. What could be happening?! Grayson uses her incredible powers of logic and deduces that she knows what the next challenge will be. And after Padma’s usual “the best chefs always go home on this challenge…blah blah blah,” everyone’s suspicions are indeed confirmed that this week’s Elimination Challenge will be Restaurant Wars. And not just any Restaurant Wars, but a “Battle of the Sexes Restaurant Wars!” As if that makes it more dramatic. And as if there haven’t already been like eight team challenges on this season.

As expected, Ed and Ty-Umlaut bromance it out a little lot with the news, and then Ed and His Jaw say that the men are a stronger group than the women, although he seems to think that they will be cooking outside on a playground. Maybe that’s the real twist. Oh, and Ed talks shit about Sarah and heatstroke. Because in case we forgot, Ed. Hates. Sarah.

Sarah, on the other hand, does not hate on Ed. Instead, she hates on her own teammate, Beverly. Oh Beverly! At least someone something still believes in you.

After the girls and boys have reminded each other that the opposite gender has cooties, Padma further explains that, for this challenge, they need to build a restaurant “from the ground up,” even though that’s obviously not the case, since they are standing in a restaurant, which, although devoid of seating and decoration, is otherwise complete. At least she didn’t say, “literally.”

Padma also tells them that the teams will be cooking on different nights, and the team who isn’t cooking on one night will visit their opponents’ restaurant to sample the dishes. So that’s why there’s no Quickfire. Because I have to listen to them trash each other for an exceptionally long time. And haven’t they already judged each other’s cooking before? Yes. Yes they have. Word to the producers: all these twists and turns would be more exciting if they hadn’t already happened on previous episodes.

A coin toss decides who will cook the first night. The boys end up losing and have to cook first, although Padma both called and flipped the coin, which I believe is illegal in coin toss etiquette. For shame!

Now I am beginning to realize that there is really no Quickfire because there are so many instructions and stipulations to this challenge. Just when I thought everyone had all the information they needed, Cro Magnon starts talking about how the chefs need to cook three courses, with two choices in each course. And they will be serving 100 people. Cro Magnon’s inflection is very bizarre throughout his entire explanation. I wish he wouldn’t talk. Or be on camera at all.

Unlike some past seasons, the chefs are given the task of decorating their restaurant, which is annoying and seems like just another thing the producers threw at them to make sure that things go terribly wrong. We don’t really see or hear much about the decorating when it’s actually going on, although it is presumed that it takes up the front-of-house person’s time, which will lead to crying and agony later.

The teams begin planning their concept, and we get a glimpse of what the boys are up to first. Ed has been chosen to be the Front of the House person. I would have chosen Ty-Umlaut since he seems the friendliest. Ed just comes off as annoyed and douchey. Because he is. And I wouldn’t want to risk that Jaw becoming unhinged and wreaking havoc. The boys also decide on the name Canteen, which…I’ve heard worse.

Then, we cut over to the girls’ team, where Lindsay has decided to be in the front. Seems reasonable, given the other options. Grayson is nice, but she will probably just start pushing oral sex on the patrons and/or Tom. Lindsay comes up with the name Half-Bushel, which is funny because…BUSH hip and fresh.

Back to the boys, who are getting along swimmingly, and talking about Cracker Jacks and Almond Joys and nostalgia. They seem to plan their menu with very few issues.

On the contrary, the girls aren’t working so well together. Or, at least, Sarah is being rude to Beverly, and seemingly nixing any idea that Beverly comes up with. Sarah continues to be dismissive of Beverly at Whole Foods, where, instead of helping Beverly to plan a dish so the whole team succeeds, Sarah just questions Beverly’s every move. Way to build her confidence.

After witnessing the lack of cohesiveness on the girls’ team, Ugly Chris says, “Boys rule…and the girls are just going to lose.” That’s not even how that goes, dummy! He also starts talking about Star Trek. Because…of course he does.

After returning from shopping, Ed decorates the space and explains that they are going for a “quirky mess hall look, but with elegant touches.” Ah, the elegant mess hall, a common motif. Ed is also bitch, bitch, bitching about what he has to do. And we see that the ‘canteen’ sign has the same font as the stupid fucking v-necks that Ed always wears. OMG lowercase Helvetica! So edgy, bro. So elegant, and yet so messy.

The boys begin service and start having some issues with the servers and their ticket writing. They also realize that they need an expeditor, but are already slammed with orders and don’t quite know what to do.

The judges come in. Emeril is back. Cro Magnon is still there. Ed appears to greet them and seat them promptly. And as Ed is explaining the concept of canteen to the judges, it REALLY sounds like he says, “A canteen is where the community comes to die,” but I guess he says “dine.” Unfortunately.

The judges like the vibe they are feeling inside, as other patrons seem to be enjoying themselves. The judges are also able to see the kitchen from where they are, and they notice that Ty-Umlaut is expediting. Emeril thinks that shit is going down in there. Nevertheless, the food makes it out to them.

TY-UMLAUT thai-style crab and shrimp salad, caramel fish sauce, peanuts.

PAUL ham and pork pâté, mushrooms, braised mustard seeds, duck fat crostini, nectarines.

Things are still going awry in the kitchen, so Paul starts expediting, and Ty-Umlaut starts to get angry. The next course still makes it out to the judges without any known complaints.

TY-UMLAUT & PAUL poached salmon in warm tomato water, clams, crispy salmon skin, spicy tomatillo jam.

PAUL crispy skin pork belly, green apple and sweet potato purée.

Apparently, there were supposed to be mushrooms on the salmon, but they did not make it to the plate. Again, the dishes go over moderately well, but the judges aren’t blown away. Then the dessert courses come out.

ED almond joy cake, malted chocolate mousse, toasted almonds, banana coconut purée

UGLY CHRIS homemade cracker jack, cherries, peanut butter ice cream frozen in liquid nitrogen.

The judges like Ed’s dessert, but want more coconut. Emeril doesn’t like Ugly Chris’s dessert, but Padma and Tom do.

Grayson, at another table with her team, makes the Chris Jones joke that I have been waiting for all season.

After service, the boys are pretty beaten down. They tell the girls how terrible it all was. Paul says he’s embarrassed. Because he got perfect grades in high school while smoking a ton of weed. Still less embarrassing than that whole dog thing, bro. Ty-Umlaut tells the girls that it was be the hardest time of their careers, “for goddamn sure.” Helpful.

It is now the following day, and, as Lindsay is setting up Half-Bushel, she reveals that she is also a perfectionist. And that she was prom queen and valedictorian. So take that, Paul!

In the kitchen, we find out that Beverly has one dish of her own, which is a beef short rib dish, and therefore will be doing a large part of Lindsay’s dish. Lindsay instructs Beverly on how to prepare the fish entrée, but Beverly is not comfortable with Lindsay’s instructions for her dish. I smell foreshadowing.

Beverly says that Sarah and Linsday talk to her like a child when they are in the kitchen, but from what I can see, Sarah actually talks to Beverly like a dog who is in trouble. Nice.

The judges come in to Half-Bushel and are not so thrilled that Lindsay isn’t there to greet them. But there is lemonade. And once the judges are seated, the waiting continues. But they do finally get their food.

GRAYSON peach salad with pickled shallots, arugula, goat cheese, bacon vinaigrette, candied pistachios.

SARAH mozzarella-filled arancino, sweet and sour eggplant, celery salad.

Grayson’s salad goes over well, as does Sarah’s arancino. The boys, who have also arrived, are dismayed. Lucky for them, the judges’ second course is taking forever to arrive, just like the first. It might has something to do with the fact that the girls are all biting each other’s heads off in the back. The food does eventually come, though.

BEVERLY braised short ribs, thai basil potato purée, apple slaw with kimchi, curried peanuts.

LINDSAY (BEVERLY) grilled halibut with Spanish chorizo, fingerling potatoes, fennel and sherry salad.

Is it just a coincidence that Beverly is making both main courses, or is it a deliberate move to set her up to go home if the team fails? I’m guessing the former, but I don’t know. I’m surprised that Sarah isn’t doing one of the entrées since she seemed the most concerned about Beverly’s cooking abilities.

Beverly’s dish goes over very well, leading dessert to be served on a slightly higher note.

GRAYSON schaum torte with vanilla meringue, champagne-macerated berries.

SARAH italian doughnuts with hazelnut cream, banana sugar glaze.

The judges conclude that the food was better at Half-Bushel, but canteen had better service and a better vibe.

After service, the chefs are all in the Stew Room, and the girls are at each other’s throats. Lindsay is pissed at Beverly. Grayson sticks up for Beverly, telling Lindsay that Beverly tried to cook the fish well, and that maybe it was Lindsay’s cooking method that was to blame. Snap!

Padma comes in and says that they want to see the ladies first. Did they win? Did they lose? No one knows!

Much to my surprise, the girls win. I guess it really is more about the food than the service. Cro Magnon and Tom loved Grayson’s salad. Emeril loved Sarah’s appetizer. Padma loved Beverly’s dish. Lindsay’s dish was the only one that didn’t quite measure up, although the judges didn’t say it was terrible. So who is the winner? It’s…Beverly! Love. It. She wins a gigantic bottle of Terlato wine and vineyard tour or something. And Sarah and Lindsay’s everlasting disdain.

When the girls get back to the Stew Room, Sarah refers to Beverly as the “Big Bev.” And then she goes on and on about how Lindsay is amazing, basically implying that Lindsay, and not Beverly, should have won. Just because you try to be subtle—and fail—doesn’t mean that you aren’t a bitch.

Then the boys are sent in to face the judges. Tom calls out Ugly Chris for not really doing that much. Ty-Umlaut’s dishes, on the other hand, were not properly seasoned. And Ed gets called out for an almost coconut-less Almond Joy dessert. Interestingly enough, the judges say that Ed’s dish was perhaps the best dish of both nights, but the name ruined it.

So who goes home? Tom reams everyone out pretty equally, but, in the end, it is Ty-Umlaut who gets sent packing. Good. I can’t take his uber-earnestness any longer.

Ugh, that episode was exhausting.

LAST CHANCE KITCHEN As Ty-Umlaut walks into the kitchen, Nyesha reveals that, along with Heather, Ty-Umlaut is one of the people she most wanted to compete against because he and Heather were both bitches to her before she got fake sent home. After Tom has explained to Ty-Umlaut what the situation is, Tom tells them that their challenge is to make a dessert in 30 minutes. And they each get an assistant. Lame. Nyesha picks Heather just to be a bitch to Ty-Umlaut. And maybe she’s hoping that Heather can make Ed’s cake again in 30 minutes. Ty-Umlaut chooses Malibu. As the chefs start cooking, Heather tries to take control of Nyesha’s dish, but Nyesha’s all, “Bitch, please!” Then Malibu burns his team’s caramel sauce, which isn’t so great for them. Nyesha’s team, on the other hand, is supposedly running perfectly. Regardless, time runs down, and the teams present their dishes to Tom.

NYESHA & HEATHER coconut and lime tart, coconut crème fraiche mousse, salted caramel sauce.

TY-UMLAUT & MALIBU salted puff pastry with dark chocolate mascarpone cheese, cherries, vanilla bean rum caramel sauce.

Tom is very impressed with both desserts and refers to them as “restaurant-ready,” although neither mousse is perfect. Ultimately, though, Tom chooses Nyesha once again. Tom also reveals that there will be three more Last Chance competitions before the overall winner goes back. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nyesha beat them all. She seems stronger than several of the chefs still in the competition.

NEXT WEEK Charlize Theron. Eric Ripert. Seven-course tasting dinner. Bloody handprint plate. My DVR stopped recording at this point.

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