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Top Chef Texas Recap: The Sweet 16 is Announced

By L. Stolpman in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 10, 2011 7:40PM

Image Credit: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo TV

Welcome back, Top Chef fans! Let's get to it. The show opens up with those chefs "on the bubble" - which is like Top Chef limbo. Grayson, Molly, Edward and Janine ponder their fate and the upcoming challenge that will determine if redemption is in their future or if, instead, it will be knife packing.

Edward contemplates what a joke it would be if, in fact, there were no spots left. We can't help it. We think it would be rather funny for the judges to put the bubble-chefs through a challenge just to get another meal. Before we find out what happens to them...

Hugh Acheson speaks. Swoon! (Image Credit: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo TV)
Group 3 walks into the kitchen. They are greeted by Tom, Padma and Hugh Acheson. We get a talking head with contestant Chaz Brown who talks about his enduring crush on Padma. Then the editors cut to Padma grinning. Then back to Chaz. Then back to Padma grinning. Then back to Chaz. Then back to Padma grinning. Seriously. Why do we find this so entertaining?

We meet the chefs of Group 3 and we aren't going to list them all until we get down to the nitty gritty of who gets in. Their challenge: each chef must cook with one of ten available ingredients. The catch? Each ingredient comes with its own time limit for cooking which the chefs find out after they've chosen their ingredient. Padma watches them realize what they've done and she says (essentially), "How you like them apples??" She's positively giddy.

The chefs run off and we get various peeks of them racing against the clock. First to face the judges are those with a 20 minute time limit. Earning a jacket right off the bat is Paul Qui from Austin with his grilled trout. Tom loves it and Hugh's eyebrow agrees. Hugh reminds us a little bit of Bert, of Ernie and Bert fame. It's the eyebrow. Singular. Kim Calichio's lamb does her in and she's sent home. Andrew Curren's roasted mushrooms get him placed in limbo land. This guy has a great attitude. He is grateful to have another shot at getting a jacket and says he'll cook five times if they want him to. We instantly like him and hope he makes it to the pearly gates.

Next up: 40 minute time limit chefs: Jonathan, Laurent, Chaz, and Berenice. Chaz Brown has risotto and spends 40 minutes fretting that he won't get it cooked properly and thereby disappoint his Italian wife... only to completely fail at plating it at all. That reminds us of when we spent all day laboring over making perfect, golden chicken stock only to spill it all over the kitchen floor. Do you know how long it takes to make soup when you have to wring it out of a bunch of paper towels first?

Jonathan's brussel sprouts fail to impress and he's sent packing. Laurent's duck gets him placed on the bubble - but not before Tom tells him that he's old. Something like that. Frankly, we rather like the Frenchman who fell in love with L.A. despite being dragged there, kicking and screaming. Berenice gets a no-go on her Asian style short rib. Ooo, that reminds us that the McRib is at McDonald's. We feel no shame.

Chef Lindsay Autry. (Image Credit: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo TV)
60 minutes - next group! Beverly, Lindsay, and Ashley. Lindsay Autry earns a coat for her braised veal over polenta. Ashley Villaluz doesn't earn a coat for her braised oxtail. Beverly Kim impresses the judges with her Korean-style octopus and earns a jacket. We hear our Korean mom (who loves Chef Kim's food) cheering from the suburbs.

Next, we get a peek at the drama in the stew room with the six remaining chefs. Molly informs Edward that she works on a Royal Caribbean ship and his response is smug, "Oh, a cruise ship," followed by some chuckling. Dude. Uncalled for, Edward. Though, we honestly wonder if Edward is getting the evil-edit here. Well, we wonder until he says that he might kill the other five chefs to get the jacket.

Let's get to the cooking. The challenge for these chefs: Use any ingredients in the kitchen to make a dish that shows why you deserve a chef's jacket.

Presentation time. Each chef is asked about his or her dish and the judges provide feedback to each before telling us any results. Apologies for not going into more detail but let's get down to the brass tacks, shall we? Earning a chef's coat from this final bubble round: Chef Edward Lee (despite cutting his finger open during cooking—see below) for his duck with BBQ sauce and sweet Asian custard and Chef Grayson Schmitz for her shrimp, grits and fig combination. These two make an interesting pair: the evil-edit Chef Lee and the redemption of Chef Schmitz (whose pork tenderloin was mangled by the guy who sucked so badly, he didn't even get a chance to cook before he was booted off the show).

We have our final 16 contestants! All six chefs from Chicago make the cut. So do the three Los Angeles chefs and Brooklyn's Ty-Lör Boring. We get previews of things to come and it seems to involve a lot of blood, sweat, tears and mother*bleep*ing snakes.