Top Chef Texas Recap: With Or Without ‘Cue

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It’s Top Chef Texas, Texisode 9, entitled “BBQ Pit Wars”. Looks like the chefsters will be either cooking pit-barbecue against one another, or eating barbecue then unrelatedly fighting in a pit like the Atari arcade game Pit Fighter. Note: You did NOT get served barbecue in that game.

The night before the Quickfire, the chefs are sent a copy of the COVETED Modernist Cuisine cook book, in order to promote it because it’s so COVETED study it, even though it’s a six-volume, 2438-page monster that they have one night to look at and they’re all on negative seventy hours of sleep.

Who can possibly even begin to read six giant books in one night? Oh yeah, cheftestant Johnny Five:

The chefs arrive the next morning for the Quickfire and surprise! The guest judge is Nathan Myhrvold, author of the book-shaped monolith they just received. I figured it would either be him guest judging or a talking, anthropomorphic Healthy Choice box.

The challenge: Cook some modern cuisine, aka, the “Blais Bonerfest”. Oh, and speaking of “Bonerfest,” can anyone explain this Austin B-Roll?

The chefs go to work with their nitrogen canisters and unselfconsciously expanded vocabularies, with each person hungry to earn immunity and a bonus copy of Nathan’s COVETED Modernist Cuisine book. Chris J says of Nathan Myhrvold, “If I could be 1/10th the genius of him, I would rule a small continent.” By that logic, wouldn’t the actual Nathan Myhrvold rule 10 continents? Also, there aren’t really any small continents, besides Australia and kind-of Europe, so you’re basically just saying that if you were smarter you’d rule Australia.

Fortunately, Chris J used to play a mad scientist at his local mall’s “Halloween Scare Nights,” so he’s all over this challenge:

Just how COVETED is this Modernist Cuisine Cookbook, you ask? It’s so COVETED, you can’t just buy it online; you must be a blood relative to one of the nine surviving “Myhrvold Druids,” an ancient order of mystics who – once you’ve completed the 7 Challenges Of Valor and retrieved the Emerald Key Of Traylgorr – will fly you on a griffin to the top of Mount Wintergarth where you will battle the legendary Modernyst Hydra, a deadly beast with nine fire-breathing dragon heads, and if you manage to cut off a head and escape with it, you can take it to the River Of Aspirations and on the night of the Seventh Red Moon, the head will turn into a copy of The Modernist Cuisine Cookbook. It’s that coveted.

Quickfire Bottom 3: Paul, Beverly, Grayson. Very sporting of Paul to throw a challenge to make it seem like he’s not 2438 pages of talent better than every other chef this season.

Quickfire Top 3: Chris J, Ty Lor, Sarah. Ty-Lor wins for his simple and cool-looking Watermelon with Vanilla Bean Honey, Saffron and Salted Olive Oil Powder. He earns immunity and a copy of the COVETED Modernist Cuisine book, which he can use to finally prop up his flatscreen.

Ty-Lor celebrates the only way he knows how: By taking off his pants.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs are headed to The Salt Lick, one of the most famous barbecue restaurants in Austin, for an overnight BBQ Challenge where three teams will each have to prepare three meats and two sides for 300 always-way-more-positive-than-the-judges people. The teams are divided as follows (get ready for thrilling exposition):

TEAM RED: Chris, Chris, Beverly

TEAM WHITE: Edward, Ty-Lor, Sarah

TEAM BLUE: Grayson, Paul, Lindsay

Hm – wonder why they chose the colors of the North Korean flag? Weird.

The chefs get a tour of the Salt Lick’s amazing pit facilities from its owner and operator Scott Roberts:

The chefs prepare their food feverishly, with Team Blue smartly getting their brisket into the smoker as early as possible, but things quickly go haywire for Teams White & Red: Beverly’s bourbon catches on fire and almost burns the chefs’ trailer, Chris C oversalts his sauce, different chefs’ beans and brussels sprouts aren’t cooking enough outside, and Sarah suddenly gets overheated/oversmoked and has to get rushed to the hospital, Blond Jamie-style. Sarah’s departure leaves Ed and Ty-Lor scrambling – especially Ed, since Ty-Lor has immunity – and Ed suddenly assumes the role of the new villain, dishing out constant insults to Sarah both in person and in his testimonial in a pretty obvious attempt to fill the Heather void.

The chefs serve their food, it’s mostly uneventful, and the judges aren’t wild about anything except Paul’s Team’s “Asian-Style BBQ” (aka, “Paul Is Clearly The Best One On The Show Style BBQ”). Also, at one point Grayson says her dish should be like “Sex in the mouth,” which is not something that anyone who isn’t doing a crappy Borat impression should ever say.

Elimination Top 3: The Blue Team – Grayson, Paul, and Lindsay.

Paul wins for masterminding the group’s combo of Smoked Brisket with Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Curry BBQ Chicken, Caramel Miso Pork Rib, Watermelon Salad and Nouc Mam. Paul has also officially entered into “Either he wins this season and it’s obvious, or he doesn’t win and it’s infuriating” territory, which is an awfully tricky place for the Bravo producers to be in. I fully expect him to have an exaggeratedly-criticized screwup in the next two weeks and “nearly” get sent home in an attempt to restore some unpredictability to the show, but right now, Paul is definitively head, shoulders, torso, waist, legs, and a pair of giant Uncle Sam stilts above the competition.

The Winners return to the main room and tell the others “The Judges need to see The White Team and The Red Team.” You could’ve just said “Everyone.” Guess they wanted to make it clear that Scott Roberts and his customers are not also on the bottom?

Tom rips on Ed and Ty-Lor for pre-slicing their brisket, which is just goddamn ridiculous; they were down to two chefs and had to serve 300 people by hand, and Tom was upset their brisket lost some smokiness in the steam tray? I know the chefs are held to unrealistic standards on this show, and the producers clearly wanted to fan the Ed / Sarah flames some more, but coooommme onnnnnn. If Eric Ripert had to serve the entire dining room at Le Bernardin by himself in like eight minutes, he’d cut a bunch of f*cking corners too, because IT IS LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO. That critique was probably the hardest I’d rolled my eyes at Tom since the time he ripped someone for using canned beans, as though anyone who isn’t Professor Beanie Q. Beanningson, Esq. could ever possibly tell the difference (never forget).

Anyway, #SARAHGATE is averted, and Chris C is eliminated for his overly salted “Dr. Pepper” Ribs. Guess Dr. Pepper isn’t a sponsor this year? Ya should’ve made Toyota Tundra Ribs, rookie. (Also, anyone notice that when the chefs saw the truck loaded with wood, there were two off-camera quips – “Wow, really roomy!” “What a cool truck!” – that were very clearly recorded later and spliced in? That was probably my second-favorite part of the season so far, behind the Knock-Off “Dallas” Theme Song).

Bye, Chris C! You’ll have a lot more time to hang up butt paintings in your modern apartment (“modern,” meaning, there are a bunch of butt paintings on the floor):

That’s all for this week! I’d just like to commend myself for managing to get through this entire post without quoting “SMMMMMOKIN!” And no, I didn’t just do it.

Top Chef BBQ Episode thoughts? Stuff we missed? Reactions to the Sarah controversy? Can anyone beat Paul? Leave ‘em in the comments.

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