As we're reintroduced to the actual sixteen Top Chef contestants, after having taken two entire episodes just to get there, we see Beverly putting up an inspirational sign for herself: You see, if she believes she's already won the competition, then she will eventually win it. We're going to hang a sign up in our office that says, "This season will get going eventually," because maybe if we believe that, the editors at Magical Elves will make it so.
The chefs were greeted at their first Quickfire by a tank of snakes and Padma wearing a bandana, because you probably weren't aware that they're in Texas. Naturally, the cheftestants have to create a dish using rattlesnake for guest judge Johnny Hernandez, who explained that rattlesnake is traditional in Texas cuisine. We've eaten quite a few meals in Houston and never seen rattlesnake, so this was news to us. Not that it matters, because it was clear that the only purpose to this challenge was to allow Padma to say, "I better see some motherfucking snakes on some motherfucking plates."
Everyone was grossed out except Chuy, who mentioned yet again that he grew up slaughtering animals, so he's cool with everything. Dakota was the most freaked out by the snakes, but won despite her fear for her beer-battered tempura rattlesnake. We'd also like to give an honorary win to creeper Chris for making a Dazed and Confused joke.
Knife-drawing separated the chefs into Green Team and Pink Team for the elimination challenge: Cook elegant Mexican cuisine, and a great cake, for more than 100 guests at the lovely Blanca Flores's quinceañera. Chuy was very excited for the challenge, as he is the season's "resident Mexican" and also knows how to slaughter a goat. What are the odds that he brings up animal slaughter every week? We'll put them at even. The first shopping trip was the usual yelling mishmash, but with an extra side of hypocrisy from the pink team: When sad-faced Lindsey found out Black Hagrid bought precooked shrimp for a mystery dish, she made a speech about how baffled she was that someone thought buying something precooked was okay and then proceeded to buy store-bought tortillas, an equally egregious offense in our book. She and Sarah then decided to team up on Black Hagrid, making him feel very alone.
The green team sailed during their prep period, with Chuy falling into the leadership role for this challenge pretty naturally. Their dishes, even their leaning tower of flowery cake, impressed the judges and Blanca more, and they got the win. (It should be said that the real win goes to Blanca, who was a perfect hostess at 15, checking in on all her guests repeatedly. Go enjoy your party, girl!)
The entire pink team did not get called in to judges' table; only Ty-Lor Boring (fire-roasted summer fritter with avocado mousse), Black Hagrid (chicken enchiladas), and Sarah and Lindsey (chochinita pibil). "This is my first judges' table," Sarah informed us, which was weird, because the season just started, so, like, yeah. She quickly threw Hagrid under the bus about buying the precooked shrimp, but Hagrid fought back pretty well, pointing out that there were others that let him do that. He also gained some defense when the judges realized that Sarah and Lindsey never told him that enchiladas should be made with corn tortillas, not flour. Unfortunately, Hugh's concern about Hagrid's shopping skills (and he was quite concerned — he makes the most exaggerated facial expressions, is it the eyebrow?) was too great, and our gentle giant was the first to go home. We veto this. Look at those pants! We're pretty sure our mom has those as pajama pants! How can you send those pants home,
Next week: a chili cook-off! A rodeo! No sleeping! An A League of Their Own reference! And what's this? There's a chance to get Black Hagrid back? Go online and vote or whatever it is you have to do to get him back, loyal commentarati!
But of course, next week is also Thanksgiving, which means we'll have the recap up the following Monday, after everyone has had a chance to finish their turkey.