Top Chef Texas - Kindly Tom, Bigfoot, and other legendary creatures

Much like Jesus and his role in Tim Tebow's success, I feel like karma's got bigger shrimp to devein than delivering some humility upon Heather for her shitty treatment of Beverly.

But boy, that did feel good, seeing Heather brought low for stringy, greasy mystery meat and not doing the smart thing that Beverly did.

I know I put Heather at 5-1 odds to win last week, and I wasn't fading you all. I think she could have won the whole thing, but her flaws (giant ego, constant desire to get over on a perceived opponent) were definitely going to get her in trouble. This first episode set in Austin wasn't nearly as boring (not Ty-Lör) as I thought it'd be after all.

Beverly could do it.
The Elimination Challenge was finale-grade serious: cook a dish inspired by the person who inspired you to cook. The reason this kind of challenge is normally saved for the finale was elucidated by Tom Colicchio at Judges' Table; no one here wants to send a chef home for a dish with this much heart at its core. It was a thoughtful and kind moment from Tom, a week after he was as incisively critical as I've ever seen him.

Of course, he did mention to Heather that if she'd really wanted to tenderize the ribeye for her beef stroganoff, she could have used a pressure cooker like Beverly did. And the Last Chance Kitchen segment broke with the template and showed a montage of all of Heather's worst bullying moments. It was kind of awesome.


(As soon as Heather lost, my first comment to my wife was that I couldn't wait to see Nyesha crush her like an empty can of soda.)

The Quickfire Challenge was a bit of a throwaway; Twitter users who had no idea who was at the kitchen end of the conversation were tasked with offering suggestions for what ingredients to use, how to cook them, and what twist to throw in. One takeaway from the Quickfire: had any of you non-chef readers heard of hon shimeji mushrooms before this season of Top Chef? They've appeared in at least four dishes so far.

(Okay, Sarah's burrata-stuffed squash blossom was pretty appealing, and Paul's assemblage of blackberries, bacon, clams, and chorizo was at the very least striking and avant garde; he ended up with his second QF win of the season.)

Where the Quickfire was doomed to produce some Frankensteinian creations of minimal culinary worth, the Elimination was all soul--and not just because guest judge Patti LaBelle said so. Paul's adobo quail and Ty-Lör's duck fat-fried chicken tender a la Japanese nanny were both good enough to be in the top three, but fell just short. That's how good the top half of the competition was this week.

Edward's poor childhood resulted in a meatless bibimbap that you just hoped would be appreciated by the judges (it was); Beverly pressure-cooked beef short ribs (her second pressure-cooking of the evening) and turned them into a classy interpretation of classic mom food. But it was Sarah, who seemed to be on an emotional mission from the opening bell, who made pork sausage-stuffed cabbage not only tasty, but good enough to stand out visually opposite the bright colors and flavors of Paul's dish during service.

Grayson's giant and nasty steak didn't do right by Wisconsin, and Chris Crary's spoogy filet of salmon was almost bad enough to be worse than Heather's mess (that Patti called "Bigfoot" for its unidentifiability). I'm thinking it's a blip for Chris, but Grayson's been on the bottom two weeks in a row; that's not a good streak. Lindsay, meanwhile, toils in obscurity, which could be just the trick to last into the final five or six this season.

And in the secret fight club basement, looking cute and cooking smart, is Nyesha, whose work was never so bad on its own to merit dismissal. I've got a feeling about that girl.

Next week, Grayson finds out how meats really get grilled (at The Salt Lick, which I'm frankly proud to say I recognized by its pit alone), Sarah needs oxygen, and Heather's still gone! So it can't be that bad of an episode.