Top Chef Texas: Snakes. On a Plate.

This week – it’s time for the regular competition to begin on Top Chef Texas. Yee-HAW! Yippee Ki-Yay! And other Texian cliches!

And, speaking of tired Texas cliches, we have our first QuickFire Challenge – complete with live rattlesnakes in glass tanks! Because, rattlesnake is more stereotypically Texas than, oh, for example, beef! And the Lovely Padma, in homage to that famous Texan* Samuel L. Jackson, warned the chefts that she had better “see some m***********g snakes on some m***********g plates!” Of course, she smiled when she said that. Because it would appear that the Elves** is under the impression that in Texas, ladies smile sweet as honey while launching f-bombs out of their word holes.

Let me warn you, right now, this is not, and is not intended to be, a straight recap of Top Chef Texas. If you want a recap of the show, go and read Kate Shellnutt’s blog post on the subject over at Tubular. If your tastes run to the slightly snarkier and you can handle unobfuscated f-bombs, go check out Katharine Shilcutt’s recap over at Eating Our Words.

To add to the level of stress, the chefts have to open up sealed boxes to retrieve their theme ingredient.  Those Elves would never put live rattlesnakes in the boxes, would they? Actually, no. The snakes are not only killed, but also skinned. Which still freaks out a few of the chefts. One of them, however, takes a more pragmatic approach: looking at her snake meat, she immediately thinks of a uniquely Texan way to prepare it. How about… using beer? And… a fry-o-lator! Because, TRUE FACT, in Texas everything is beer-battered and deep-fried. Do you have doubts? Go visit the Texas State Fair. SRSLY. Her logic, though impeccable, is slightly flawed:

“When I see ‘snake’, I think ‘beer’.”

My dear, I have lived here most of my life. When I see ‘snake’, I think ‘RUN!’ Then I do it. Unless there is a thick sheet of glass between me and said slitherer.

Black Mamba, Houston Zoo

If you see one of these? Run. Or die. Your choice.

Ooh, a distraction! Bravo embraces the term “chef’testant”. Wait a minute… what’s with this “chef’testant” stuff? Who’s editing this show – the Goa’uld?

They finally finished over-cooking the rattlesnake, and the results are judged. The beer lady won! Who woulda thunk it?

She gets some money and Blessed Immunity for her victory, and we move on to the Elimination Challenge. We also move on from ankle biters to ankle-biters that are mostly grown up. After drawing knives (and missing an obvious product placement/Texas stereotype moment, for alas they were not Bowie knives), they are introduced to a nice enough young lady, who is looking forward to her quinceañera. Which the Elves have kindly offered up the services of 16 chefts to cater. Her requests are simple enough. She would like “elegant Mexican food”*** for her party, if you please. A tres leches cake would be nice. As well as cabrito, and cochinita pibil.

Elegant Mexican food? Obviously, she has never before seen Top Chef. My guess is, she would end up with more elegant Mexican food from the local Taco Hell Bell.

But, it is not as if they don’t try. After a whole 30 minutes(!) to prepare a menu featuring a food genre most of them had probably never cooked before, the chefts go shopping. To that most Mexican of all grocery chains, Whole Paycheck Foods. With the help if their “token resident Mexican”, and without too much help from two chefts who should know “elegant Mexican”. Poor Keith the ex-con, while shopping for another cheft, he purchases pre-cooked shrimp, which is promptly 86′d, and he is given the cold shoulder. Unfortunately, the pre-made (store-bought) tortillas didn’t get the same treatment.

Then there is the cheft who stands in the middle of the store, and yells out at the top of her lungs how HER ORDER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ORDER IN THE WHOLE WORLD STORE and WHY WON’T SOMEONE STOP WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND TEND TO HER VERY IMPORTANT ORDER? She is, incidentally, the one who motivates herself by posting a message announcing that SHE HAS WON THE COMPETITION on her mirror, for her (and her competitors) to look at every day. Surprisingly, no one calls her out on her blatant rudeness.

And then, it is time for the party. The young lady at the center of the party appears to know her food – possibly better than some of the chefts. The judges arrive, and we notice that Hugh Acheson’s Unibrow will be on duty tonight. Also, that the Lovely Padma has on a gown that is fancier than the one worn by the 15-year old. How Real Housewives of her! Some of the food is well received, while other dishes get a thumbs-down. Among those: the enchiladas which are made with store-bought (gasp!) flour (GASP!) tortillas (what’s next – box cake mix?), and the multi-colored Easter quince cake, which has too much icing (and thus is cloyingly sweet.) The other cake (the tres leches cake) is also a #FAIL (though ultimately it “won” for its team), because although the taste was fine, the poor thing looked more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa than anything Mexican (or Texan.) And, no, Latin != Latina.

Best line of the night (after that “snakes on a plate” thing): one of the judges notes that “We’re still struggling…” What is this still crap!? This is the first Elimination Challenge, by the Great Pumpkin!

Once the food has been consumed, the Elves need to get the Lovely Padma away from the dance floor, lest she show up the poor young lady again. So, they announce the winning team, then leave the chefts to clean up their stuff and repair to the Stew Room.

Reminding all the Houston viewers that their city chose not to pay $120,000 to have an episode shot here, we get a loooong scene of the Riverwalk.

Eventually the bottom 4 are called before the Tribunal Judges’ Table. Among the four: poor Keith the ex-con, who bought those horrid shrimp, and prepared those horrid enchiladas. Then follows the inevitable game of “Throw the Cheft Under the Bus, and Run Over Him Again, and Again, and Again…”**** Not that Keith didn’t deserve criticism for purchasing pre-cooked shrimp, and also for those enchiladas. However, Sarah drew some heat for admitting she knew the tortillas were wrong, and for not saying anything. She is really not coming across very well a-tall. Were she a coaching assistant at PSU, the masses would be demanding her head as we speak.

Oh, and the person responsible for that abomination of a multi-colored cake? Fortunately for her, she had Blessed Immunity, and therefore didn’t have to answer for her crimes against baked goods.

In her case, thinking ‘beer’ when seeing ‘snake’ worked out. However: do not try this at home.

Texas Stereotype alert! Cadillac with Longhorn horns on the front!

In the end, it was poor Keith who was told to PPYKAG. He was a nice enough cheft, but unfortunately tended a bit toward the whiny side, while not bringing enough Reality TeeVee DRAMAZ to make him really interesting.

Next week, on Top Chef Texas: in the wake of Keith’s 86′ing, activist Quannell X levels charges of racism, while Sheila Jackson Lee knocks him over as she makes a beeline for the cameras. Oh wait, that can’t happen, as they aren’t filming any of the episodes in Houston!  Instead, we have MOAR TEXAS STEREOTYPES revealed, as the chefts have to make chili. And, they go to a rodeo. Where the Lovely Padma rides a horse. One that, alas, does not buck.

And, we hope, a whole lot more Texas Stereotypes. With a heaping helping of cliches, to add flavor.

* Despite the fact that he was born in Washington D.C., and apparently has never actually lived in the Lone Star State.
** A reference to the Magical Elves, the production company for Top Chef.
*** Upon review of the replay, it was determined that the Lovely Padma, and not the birthday girl, was the one who mentioned “elegant Mexican”.
**** Which of course didn’t happen, since that was a reference to the Clara Harris murder, which happened in – you guessed it – HOUSTON.
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