Top Chef Recap: I Have a Spicy Personality

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No beans allowed! Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

No, there was not a new episode of Top Chef last night. Instead, we're recapping last week's episode today, since the show aired the night before Thanksgiving, and we like days off as much as everyone else. So: “Either have something really good to put on the plate, or shut up” remarked one of the cheftestants to kick off an episode that no one watched live because they were prepping for Thanksgiving by drinking with their high-school buddies. (Did you have a good feast, by the way?) Rather than the usual Thanksgiving-themed Quickfire that occurs this time of year, Padma presented the chefs with chile peppers that ranged from mild to, oh, the hottest pepper in the world — and instructed them to create a dish highlighting one pepper, with the hotter peppers giving the chefs a chance to win more money should they emerge victorious in this Quickfire. This seems like a generally great premise for Quickfires from now on — the chance for better prizes if you challenge yourself more. Let’s hope they return to this idea, since it spices up (heyo!) what is already proving to be a seemingly endless season (how are there still fifteen chefs left?!).

Beverly picked one of the most mild peppers, explaining that she chose it to make the best-tasting dish, and not for the money. Which is all well and good, except the point of the Quickfires is to win money. She also didn’t cook her chile at all, despite the very important lessons last week (see: shrimp, tortillas) that you must cook things to win on this show. Unsurprisingly, her chile crudite ended up in the bottom, along with Little Richie’s Fresno slaw with seared scallops and “spicy guy” Chuy’s sautéed scallop in achiote. The win went to Paul, who was brave enough to use the ghost chile, thus winning $20,000.

The elimination challenge had chefs do a different type of chili cook-off, focusing on the stew as opposed to the peppers. Apron colors separated the chefs into five teams of three, and everyone immediately started complaining. Nyesha didn’t want to be teamed up with Beverly and Little Richie, while Cute Chris didn’t want to be on the same team as Sarah after she was so mean to Black Hagrid, even though (as she reminded us 85 times throughout the episode) her dad was a bull rider and she is from Texas. Because every challenge must have a twist, the chefs were given all night to cook, and they had to cook in their fancy house. Fire up the fireplaces! (Seriously, they did.)

Creeper Chris wasn’t too happy about cooking outside, because it was hot out. It’s hot in Texas? No kidding! Some cheftestant named Whitney talked a lot during the prep period. Do you remember seeing her before? Because we most definitely did not. Has she been there the whole time? Or was she cleverly planted by the producers to ensure that this season does, in fact, never end? While we were busy being surprised by Whitney's mere existence, tattooed Dakota was very surprised when Tom showed up at the house. Apparently she has never seen an episode of this show before. Tom’s looking very tan, no? Makes sense: We hear it's hot in Texas.

Everyone started complaining about being tired and acting delirious around 11 p.m., which seemed a little odd, as chefs’ days are typically over later than that. Naturally, this meant we got a complementary scene in the morning of everyone being soooo tired, with Sarah proving she is the most not-a-morning-person at all. However, the lack of sleep meant a lot of people were a little funnier than usual in the morning. Ty-Lor Boring started threatening sad-faced Lindsay to smile more, while Chuy started doing a great Texas accent and Gail spoke of having a “weird bagel accident.”

This was another the-people-pick-the-winner challenge, but that didn’t stop the judges from talking extensively about their least favorites. Tom was especially not pleased with the black team’s (Beverly, Nyesha, and Little Richie) chili mole with cornbread and the red team’s (Creeper Chris, who-the-hell-are-you Whitney, and Dakota) braised brisket and short rib chili, while other judges thought the white team’s (Lindsay, Ty-lor Boring, and Greyson) three bean and beef chili had no heat.

In the meantime, all the chefs got to go to the rodeo and have a great time — well, all except Beverly, who spent the rodeo crying that her husband wasn’t there with her. “You can’t let your emotions show with the rest of the group because then they’ll perceive you as weak,” said Nyesha, because she seems to have confused Top Chef with The Hunger Games.

Cute Chris didn’t notice the crying, because he was too busy watching Padma ride around on a horse, reminding him of Fabio on the cover of a romance novel. How many of those has he read, exactly? Chris loved her even more when she announced that his team (with Sarah and Chuy) had won the cook-off with their chili con carne. She then proclaimed the black team as the losing team, but gave Nyesha, Beverly, and Little Richie 30 minutes to each transform their chili into something good for a chance to stay. This, plus a judges’ table of mostly joking about being assholes, was also a huge improvement over fifteen minutes of bottom chefs throwing each other under the bus and yelling. Beverly’s seared tuna with habanero creamed corn kept her safe through her tears, but Little Richie’s Frito-crusted pork tenderloin with ricotta and chile puree was bland enough to get him sent home. He and Creeper Chris had a very sad and tender good-bye, ruined by Richie telling Chris to go be the Jedi that he is.

Next week: Moving on to Dallas! Cops! Cooking in a field! Someone pulls their back! It smells like money!