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Top Chef Texas Recap: Make or Break Steak

By L. Stolpman in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 8, 2011 8:00PM

Pictured: (l-r) Chris Jones, Heather Tehune, Nyesha Arrington -- Photo by: Vivian Zink/Bravo
First off, we apologize for no recaps the last two episodes. The thing is, we were out of town both weeks and we're recovering from a pretty awesome bug.

So here's the skinny. During Thanksgiving week, we learned that Texans don't put beans in their chili. Richie was sent home. We booed our screen. Then last week, the chefs went to BIG-D-Little-A-Double-L-A-S and cooked for the nouveau riche and Chuy went home for overcooked salmon. Let's get to this week for a quick and dirty so that we can get back up to full recovery speed!

Quickfire. The chefs head into Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts where they meet up with Padma and Chef Dean Fearing. He's got a nice set of teeth he would like you to see. The chefs draw knives and get a random mother sauce upon which they must base their own sauce for a dish: Espagnole, Tomate, Hollandaise, Bechemel, and Veloute. Time starts, chefs begin. Grayson and Nyesha feel confident and love making sauces.

(Reading that back, we wish to stress that they love to make sauces...."love" as a verb. The sentence wouldn't even make sense otherwise. So,...quit reading it as 'love-making-sauces' because that isn't right. Got it? Good.)

Grayson did a charred corn Hollandaise over a corn ravioli. Chef Fearing asks some chefs about if they used a roux or if they clarified their butter. We also get our first hint of some less than friendly feelings of Heather toward Beverly. Nyesha's tomate sauce with coconut ras el hanout and braised lentils. Chef Fearing thinks the flavors are muddied. Grayson, however, handily takes the win and gets immunity.

Pictured: (l-r) Dean Fearing, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Hugh Acheson -- Photo by: Vivian Zink/Bravo
Elimination Challenge. The chefs must create a four course steak dinner for 200 guests. Two courses must highlight the steak at the Cattle Baron's Ball. We can think of many jokes to make here but refrain. Sarah tells us that these diners are used to eating steak on a daily basis... with a side of Lipitor. Chef Fearing makes it clear that the steaks should reach the table a nice medium rare. This is because you can be forgiven for putting beans in your chili outside of Texas but no one anywhere loves someone who overcooks a nice ribeye. That's just plain wrong. Oh, and winner gets a car.

The chefs break up into teams and here's what you need to know. Ty-lor worked in a steak house for two years so he's going to be in charge of the ribeyes. Heather is making the same cake she made previously for the dessert course. Also: Heather seems to hate Beverly for cooking under the speed limit.

During prep, Ty-lor gouges his hand right between his fingers with an oyster knife and gets sent to the emergency room where he waits until 6 a.m. to get four stitches. We suspect that Beverly could have worked that ER like a meat counter and gotten her stitches in 10 minutes. He returns with no sleep and then stands outside in the hot Texas sun to put grill marks on steaks which will then get fired in the oven prior to being served. Whitney will be making a potato gratin to go with the ribeye. Nyesha is making a sauce and a compound butter with marrow (also for the ribeye). Christ J. is doing a triple seared beef with a vegetable salad by Ed and Paul. We get a shot of Heather asking Beverly about pickling watermelon rind (for a tomato and watermelon gazpacho) and then a talking head of Dakota calling Heather a bully.

During service, the timing of the courses gets muddled and the steaks are fired at inconsistent times. The result is inconsistent steaks. Gazpacho is slightly dull but okay. The judges find the vegetable salad on the seared beef boring as hell. The cake is not overly sweet so Tom likes that but Hughnibrow would like a bit more sugar.

Judges Table: Chris J's well-seasoned, well-seared sirloin earns him top marks, along with Heather's cake and Nyesha's compound butter and sauce. Ty-lor gets called out for the steaks, Whitney for raw potatoes in her gratin and Ed for his utterly boring vegetables over the seared sirloin. The judges express great disappointment in the quality of the food and Tom goes so far as to suggest that the wrong chefs made it this far. With that, the judges decide that Whitney should head home for her raw potatoes.

Ahhh, Whitney, we hardly knew ye. Back next week with more Top Chef!