Top Chef Texas - The delicious sound of chili being poured from a height

What did we learn in the pre-Thanksgiving episode of Top Chef? Well, we learned that Mary Sue Milliken would make a great recurring guest judge. We learned that Susan Feniger likes acid--probably not a surprise. We learned that Beverly is a total nut.

I'll tell you what I wanted to learn, but never did: whose breast milk is in the Top Chef House's fridge?? Seriously: did anyone else catch that, off-camera, when all the chefs were running in to start cooking their pots of chili? "Nobody touch my breast milk!"

Hey, maybe breast milk is the best relief for the burning heat of chili peppers (the star ingredient of this week's Quickfire). Maybe someone is lactating--my bets for most hormonal are Chris Crary, who appears to have a boner for anything that walks by; Beverly, who probably would cry if someone spilled her breast milk; or Richie (see previous).

Richie made an inoffensive Quickfire dish of scallops, and an apparently-delish cornbread side for the Elimination challenge, and then made a fine looking Frito-breaded pork dish for the "second chance to save your season" portion of the Elimination round--and still got sent packing. He wept. A lot. Into the bosom of his MOTO buddy Chris. It was a little awkward, especially with Richie's shuffling, looks-like-he's-got-to-poop gait.

This week's Quickfire was fun: prepare a dish highlighting one chili pepper, choosing from the selection in the kitchen. From anaheim to ghost, they covered a wide range of Scoville ratings. In addition, the hotter the pepper, the higher the cash reward for the winner. A nice concept, and the gamble paid off for one of my horses (Paul Qui of Austin, who was the only chef to use the ghost chili).

The Elimination challenge had the chefs teaming up in threes to cook a pot of chili for the Tejas Rodeo. This was hard for us Sconnies to watch, particularly my wife; we're Midwesterners, and not only do we like beans in our chili, but noodles as well. Elbow macaroni. If you're my wife, you like them as an independent bottom layer under the chili, a la Cincinnati style. In Texas, we'd be run out of town on a rail for that.

(That the White Team of Ty-Lör, Lindsay, and Grayson made a three-bean chili and managed to survive the rodeo, is a mystery to me.)

Blue Team (Heather, Paul, and Edward) made a winning pot of chili in my estimation--the pickled peaches sounded great and it was disappointing that Tom's Tom-ness in the kitchen took Heather off her game. But Green Team (Chuy, Sarah-who-is-from-Texas-by-the-way, and Chris aka The Todd) took the collective win.

It was another week with no individual winner; this--combined with the relative cruelty of making the losing team cannibalize their leftovers to salvage their competitive lives that the judges themselves acknowledged--makes this very loss-heavy season a bit hard to manage. The "Last Chance Kitchen" is maybe the counterbalance to all the dismissal-happiness, but it still represents another kick to the teeth of a chef who's been eliminated at least once already.

And speaking of "elimination", who loves to hear chili being poured from one vessel into another one a foot below it? Anyone? Yum!

Next week, Dallas. No, really, it looks like they're visiting the TV show Dallas. Timely!

EDIT: From an anonymous commenter (so take it for what it's worth) at The AV Club's recap of this episode:
I spoke to Beverly's sister, who happens to run the San Diego Asian Film Foundation. She says that Beverly had a new baby, still in the breast-feeding phase, when she got the call from Top Chef to get on a plane within 24 hours. Apparently this batch of chefs weren't allowed to contact their families during the filming, so she was an emotional wreck.
If that's the case, the Top Chef producers should be a little ashamed for leaving so much crying and breakdown in the final edits. It's cheap and exploitative.