The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Top Chef Texas Recap: Game On!

By L. Stolpman in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 15, 2011 8:00PM

Pictured: (l-r) Chris Jones, Grayson Schmitz, Beverly Kim, Heather Terhune -- Photo by: Vivian Zink/Bravo

Welcome back, Top Chef fans! This week's episode opens up with Nyesha expressing her surprise at how harsh Heather was on Beverly last week. Oh, Nyesha, hang on tight because that was just Heather's amuse bouche. An entire entree serving of harsh is waiting in the wings to be served.

Quickfire Challenge. Guest judge this week is Chef Tim Love, owner of The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro.

(At this time, we break for a public service announcement: If you've never read Lonesome Dove, we highly recommend it. Also, Captain Call is Newt's father. Don't worry, that didn't really spoil anything. It isn't like we just told you that Rosebud was Charles Foster Kane's sled.)

The challenge is to make a dish that pairs well with a variation of a Don Julio tequila. Sarah uses the blanco with risotto and seared sea scallops. Ty-Lor uses the 1942 on a Southeast Asian dish of steamed clams. Chris uses the blanco with a raw oyster and caviar. Beverly does a cold smoked oyster, Dakota does a pan roasted lamb chop, Lyndsay does pan-seared salmon with a caramelized fennel puree. Chris J. made a dry chicken breast with some puffed quinoa. Heather makes a salad with mango, avocado and rock shrimp. Ed did a bok choy lettuce wrap with lamb. Grayson did a sesame cod with a tequila brown sugar glaze. Dakota made a lamb with Medjool date pistou. We lost Paul in that mix but he wishes he made clams like Ty-Lor. Bottom of the pack: Heather and her salad which Chef Love called a "new special at a new chain restaurant." (*flinch*) Joining Heather at the bottom is Chris J. whose chicken is, in fact, called out as dry. Finally, Sarah for what Chef Love calls undercooked risotto. Earning top marks are: Chris with the raw oyster, Lindsay with salmon and Tylor with the clams. Winner is Ty-lor for his simple, clean dish and pairing.

Elimination Challenge: Padma informs the chefs that they will be competing in teams of two with the person next to them. Each team will cook a different game meat. Teams are: Ty-lor and Ed with quail, Grayson and Chris J. have elk, Sarah and Paul with squab, Nyesha and Dakota with venison, Lindsay and Chris have boar, and that leaves... Heather and Beverly with duck. Talk about bad pairings. This one definitely needs some tequila.

Padma drops the bomb on them that the chefs will be judging the food of the other teams and nominating the bottom three for elimination. As if that wasn't enough, they then learn that an entire team will be going home.

We then get shots of Heather and Beverly in Whole Foods. Heather shoots down some of Beverly's ideas. Next scene: Heather tells Beverly to go get juniper. Then a shot of Chris J. promising Grayson that he can make links out of sweet potato. This obvious foreshadowing makes us cringe in anticipation for both of them.

Into the kitchen! Heather tells Beverly that she wants to make sure that the whole dish isn't too Asian because that's not her (Heather's) style. Then she tells Beverly that they should think of the name of their dish because she doesn't want it to appear as a completely Asian dish. Ummmmmm, okay, Heather. WE GET IT. If passive aggressive contempt was a sport, Heather couldn't compete in the Olympics because that woman is a professional. Ed talking heads that Heather is being a complete bitch. We get an aside with Beverly telling us about leaving an abusive relationship. We try not to draw obvious parallels but it's just that the editors make it so obvious.

Lindsay and Chris: Roast wild boar with kohlrabi slaw and farro fried rice. Slaw and sauce get praise from Tom but he also states that it isn't exciting.

Heather and Beverly: Five spice duck breast with creamy polenta and pickled cherries. Slightly safe but nothing too terribly harsh from judges.

Grayson and Chris J.: Juniper roasted elk rack with sweet potato and citrus greens. The meat is seasoned well and tender but one judge says it reminds him of 1982.

Ty-lor and Ed: Sorghum quail with pickled cherries and eggplant. Judges really enjoy it.

Nyesha and Dakota: Rack of venison with kabiocha squash and beet gratin. The venison is on the raw side of rare and the judges notice it - despite the otherwise great flavors.

Sarah and Paul: Squab and sausage with nectarine pickles. Presentation is slightly sloppy but a nice plate of food, according to Tom.

Judge's Table: Ed and Ty-lor pick up the win for their quail and split $10,000. Then the remaining teams nominate three teams to be up for elimination. They choose Heather and Beverly, Grayson and Chris J., Nyesha and Dakota. Dakota feels awful about the undercooked venison. Judges feel Nyesha should have checked on the venison earlier in the process. Chris J. gets raked a bit over for his attempt at a sweet potato fence though the judges do acknowledge that the meat was cooked well. Then we get to Heather and Beverly.

Where to begin? Heather says that she and Beverly do not see eye to eye, and that she believes that her work ethic is completely different from Beverly's. She then brings up the challenge from last week and how Beverly took, in her opinion, too long to prepare shrimp.

Dakota (who, we have to say, we'd love to have as a friend and chef) states that she doesn't like the conversation and believes Beverly to be a hard worker. Nyesha nods vigorously. Tom asks if Heather doesn't trust Beverly and Heather offers some armchair psychology that Beverly doesn't trust herself.

Wow. We suspect that Heather might be that "friend" who totally gaslights you if you object to anything she does. (And to the author of that article: Thank you.)

Judges deliberate and, in the end, it is the raw venison that sends Nyesha and Dakota home. To her credit, Dakota takes full responsibility for this and feels awful. We'd like her as a friend. We might eat Heather's food — well, maybe not after she reads this — but we'll pass on her friendship. (Not that she was offering. Which... we're pretty sure she won't be.)