(NOTE: Please remember *not* to give any Last Chance Kitchen actual spoilers in this thread other than the little description set-up about this week's LCK that I wrote at the bottom...please just discuss the actual Top Chef episode.)
"Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?"
Nope - it's not Indiana Jones.
It's Top Chef. And they're in Texas. And there are those slithery, rattley, bitey-bite type of snaky snakes in Texas. So of course what are they going to be asked to use as a menu item? Snake meat.
The cheftestants all leave the house....Beverly Kim has typed up a "Congratulations, Beverly Kim, you've won Top Chef Season 9" and put it on her mirror to look at every day. Is that going to portend her leaving in this episode, as the Elves like to hint? Or is it a head fake because we're expecting them to do that to us?
For their first Quickfire Challenge, they all head into the TC Kitchen. Padma is there with Johnny Hernandez, a San Antonio chef who is well known for cooking wild game meats. Hernandez gives them a bit of background on cooking the creatures - it's a delicate meat, and can take some spice.
Each chef has a box in front of the cheftestants - oh geez...do they have to kill live snakes and skin them? Immunity and $5,000 is up for grabs...Padma says she wants to see some mo-fo snake on some mo-fo plates! They all open their boxes, and luckily, the snakes are dead - skinned snake meat is in each box.
They have 1 hour to cook and plate their dishes. Snake fritters, BBQ snake with an Asian slaw, flash-fried snake, rattlesnake nigiri, snake nicoise, beer-battered tempura snake, griddle cake, braised in tequila, adobo seasoned, grilled with jerk seasoning....they all came up with lots of great ideas!
In the bottom group - Paul, Richie, and Nyesha
In the top group - Beverly, Dakota, and Sara
And the winner? No WAY are they going to tell us now - it's time for a commercial, silly viewers! And we're back - the winner is Dakota with her Beer-Battered Tempura Snake.
On to Elimination Challenge - they all draw knives with either Pink or Green on the blades. Teams will be winner and loser, and someone from the losing team will go.
Blanca Flores is the guest of honor - it is her quinceañera - her 15th birthday. They are to cater a big dinner for 150 people, as well as bake a big cake. Heather has pastry experience, so she'll probably take the lead for the Green Team on dessert. Blanca tells them and the other team some of the food she likes: goat, cotilla cheese (I know there was something else mentioned with the cotilla), and ceviche. She also likes steamed and stuffed cabbage leaves.
And each team splits to go shopping. In Whole Foods, I say What? Purchasing pre-cooked shrimp, Keith? Yeah, that doesn't portend well for you, does it? Why buy pre-cooked shrimp for a *cooking competition*? And whoa - Beverly gets all pushy-pushy at the Whole Foods butchery and pretty much puts herself in front of other customers. Back in the kitchen, Lindsay freaks at the pre-cooked frozen shrimp and says they can't use them....and now she doesn't have a dish to cook. And Chris Crary, you jerk - you TOLD Keith to go ahead and get the shrimp, and now you're saying you didn't see Keith getting the shrimp. Bleah on you!
On the Green Team, Chuy takes the lead, as he's Mexican, so his team is constantly going back to him to check flavors. Their dishes all seem very good choices.
Back at the house, Keith is looking for buy-in from his team, and they all seem to be just yes'ing him without really giving him feedback on his ideas. Is his team throwing him under the bus already?
Sara and Lindsay are pretty much playing overseers for the Pink team, and there's definite tension with them and Keith. On the Green team, the Tres Leche Cake is starting to lean, so Heather puts a dowel through the center to hopefully keep it upright.
The cheftestants get out front, and Blanca meets all of the judges - Johnny, Tom, Padma, and Hugh. They start tasting the appetizers - Blanca is eating with the judges, and she's giving pretty darn good feedback on each dish!
The judges try the Pink Team's main dishes first - ceviche, corn with cotilla, carne asada, cochinita pibil, tacos. The tortillas were store-bought, and that is not liked by the judges.
And they're off to the Green Team's buffet - tomatilo gazpacho, chicharron with dried plantains, green chile and poblano empanadas, goat birria, steamed cabbage leaves, short rib asada with piña kimchi, and a pulled chicken mole. The mole didn't go over well - too cinnamony.
Now it's time for cake, and Tom seemed happy to have cake with a handclap! The Pink Team gave her strawberry and pineapple fillings in their cake in the colors Blanca wanted. The Green Team's Tres Leche Cake is the Leaning Tower of Tres Leche Cake. The Pink Team cake has an awful lot of frosting, with even Blanca saying while it was good, perhaps too much frosting. The Tres Leche cake was enjoyed more by Blanca, as it was less sweet, but Hugh pointed out that the cake just really didn't look all that good.
Padma and the judges agree that one team did stand out. The team that wins is the Green Team! Chuy done good. :-) The Pink Team will need to show up at Judges Table. Keith is already expecting to be thrown under the bus...previews show Keith telling Sara that she loves throwing people under the bus and driving over people! What a surprise - a fractious JT! LOL
The Pink Team is shown in the Stew Room in the in-between bit between commercials - Sara realizes that taking a leadership role means she could be more on the block. She asks if anyone worked harder than others, and Nyesha said she didn't think so.
Ty-Lor, Sara, Lindsay and Keith are called in to the Judges Table. They had the least favorite dishes on the Pink Team. Sara said that their 30 minute menu planning wasn't utilized well. Lindsay said that a group leader should have been named then. Hugh called her out for none of them being able to take charge and lead their team.
Sara told the Judges about the pre-cooked shrimp. Keith admits buying the pre-cooked shrimp, and said he *did* have a team helping him do the purchasing, although he didn't name Chris. Padma asked Sara if, being a Texas chef, if they usually use corn tortillas, why didn't she mention it? Keith said that no one told him that corn tortillas are usually used for enchiladas in Texas - he was just going with flour, as it is what is usually used in his area of the country. The judges mention that Dakota would have been on the chopping block for the overly frosted cake if she didn't already have immunity. She was shocked to hear when the 4 on the block came back into the Stew Room and she was told that tidbit from the judges.
During deliberation, the judges were pretty amazed at how poorly these chefs did. Hugh is pretty blunt with why Keith was up there, having bought pre-cooked shrimp and not knowing what an enchilada is. Sara and Lindsay's cochinita dish wasn't well received; Lindsay having lived and cooked in Mexico for 4 years, should have been more authentic in her flavors, per Johnny Hernandez.
Back at JT, Keith is the one who is told to PYKAG. Not surprising, unfortunately. I'm still rather ticked at Chris for not owning up to the other chefs that he gave the go-ahead to Keith to buy the frozen pre-cooked shrimp. He was up first in the Stew Room to give Keith a hug goodbye. :-/
The preview for next week? Oh GEEZ - Chris is still all goobery over Padma. Get OVER it, Chris! That's going to get really old REALLY fast. For their main challenge, they'll be making chili - and there is no time clock! And what does that mean, boys and girls? Yup, they'll be up all night making a proper chili. Tiredy, Cranky, Sleepy, and Yawny - I do believe all four of these dwarfs will be featured on next week's episode! :-)
And that's all for this episode, folks!
For Last Chance Kitchen, the challenge is: Mise en Place Race, and then make a dish incorporating the ingredients. An interesting challenge with them prepping 6 ingredients and 10 minutes to prep them, with them cooking a dish using all of the ingredients. Interesting result!