Top Chef Texas: Meeting the D-Baggers

Disclaimer: This is in no way, shape, or form a “serious” recap/review of Top Chef Texas. Instead, my self-imposed assignment is to bring to light how the State of Texas pissed away somewhat over $400,000 of taxpayer funds, with the City of San Antonio adding another six figure amount to the pot. If you are looking for “real” recaps of the show, I would suggest you check out Kate Shellnutt’s post on the subject over at’s Tubular blog, or – if you prefer your recaps on the spicy side, with a liberal sprinking of f-bombs – you can try Katharine Shillcutt’s recap over at Eating Our Words.

I plan on keeping the scribblings short this week. Because, truth be told, this episode was a total snooze-fest. It starts out with a time-honored Texas cliche tradition, a ROAD TRIP! The chefts pack up their Toyota SUVs, and hit the road to “Big D”. During which, one of them displays his total lack of fashion sense by donning a cowboy hat (Texas!), and another displays her total lack of knowledge of Texas trivia (Dolly Parton from Dallas? RLY!?)

It is not a tribute to their sense of direction (nor to the nav systems on board those Toyota SUVs) that the chefts wind up on a remote 2-lane road (what part of “get on I-35 and DON’T GET OFF UNTIL YOU GET TO DALLAS” did they not understand?), and they are met by another Texas stereotype tradition: the police roadblock/checkpoint, complete with Smokey the Bear hat-topped trooper. One of the chefts remembers (and tells the camera!) that there is an outstanding warrant for her arrest for an unpaid ticket (oops! Also, TMI!) But, they need not worry: the only judges awaiting them are John Besh and the Lovely Padma. Oh, it’s a QuickFire! With a money prize, and Blessed Immunity, for the winner! Maybe the cheft with the outstanding ticket could win, huh?

Then, the theme of the QuickFire was announced, and it was as if the “Off” switch clicked with me. They had to break out the “Survival Kits” that were in their SUVs, and prepare a Top Chef-worthy dish using the ingredients contained therein, and a camp stove. What does cooking on a camp stove, using canned and processed crap, in the middle of what looks like a plowed field, have to do with Texas!? Do the Elves really think we are culinary Neanderthals?

Anyway, cooking happens blah blah blah, and the winning dish is a “soup and sandwich”, with a sardine and saltine “sandwich” and Vienna sausage in some kind of greasy liquid “soup”.


But wait: it gets better! Seems that one of the chefts (the one I think has been crushing on the Lovely Padma) has now set his sights on John Besh! I mean, this is embarrassing, and I hope Chef Besh wasn’t watching with his family (“Daddy? Why was the guy with the ridiculous hat saying those things about you?”)

In the “plus” column: Houston, while not a “featured” city on Top Chef Texas, does have its moment in the sun:

The chefts arrive in Dallas, to find that they are going to cater a “progressive dinner” in the nearby town of Highland Park. This must be a feasibility study to see if the “Real Housewives of…” franchise can be expanded to include a certain city in Texas. If you doubt me, watch the Elimination Challenge. I mean, these women aren’t even close to being good caricatures of Texas femalehood!

We are introduced to the level of cuisine to expect, as these examples of D-bagger society explain their wishes to the chefts: no “cilantro, garlic, or bell peppers” – something about making the guests “self-conscious” about their breath. SRSLY, ladies? (Elves? Sounds like a perfect opportunity for an Orbit gum product placement, to me!) Another hostess lays down the law: no raspberries. (I wonder if the seeds give her digestive distress?) And, one of the husbands requests dessert include his fave ingredient – Gummi bears! (Gummi bear panna cotta, anyone? Where is Chef Chiarello when you need him?)

By this time, I was pretty much not paying attention. However, even I couldn’t miss a few things. Such as, Tom Colicchio and John Besh doing a “dueling eye roll” thing when the hostesses said something especially dim-witted. Like the hostess that said of a red wine reduction sauce, “it looks like blood”. I also couldn’t miss that hideous cigar-like thing made from roasted chicken, sweet cord, collard greens, and a cumin “ash”. Last, I couldn’t help but notice the salmon stuffed with cheese abomination that earned its creator (Chuy) the PPYKAG Award this evening.

And next week, the Parade of the Stereotypes continues, as Top Chef heads to… Southfork Ranch!

I can’t wait.

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