Top Chef Recap: Bad on Top of Bad on Top of Bad

Even the kitchens are bigger in Texas. Photo: Bravo

Peace out, San Antonio: After four episodes with you, our chefs are moving on to Dallas! No one seemed too pleased to be leaving, and Beverly wasn't quite sure what Dallas even was, remarking, "Dallas Cowboys rings a bell." While she busied herself figuring that out, everyone else piled into the product-placement mobiles and started talking about relationships (side note: did anyone else notice how all the tattooed people ended up in the same car?) and about how fat Cute Chris used to be.

If this episode of Top Chef proved anything, it's that these people are indeed chefs and not actors. Not a single one of them was good at acting surprised about getting "pulled over" on the tiny road through a cornfield that is apparently the only way from San Antonio to Dallas and not, say, one of the bazillion five-lane highways that run through the state. Sadly, the fake cop was not anyone fun or famous, but stunning-white-teethed (Chris's words) John Besh was waiting in the field with Padma in tiny shorts, so there was something for everyone. There was also a Quickfire that required the chefs to cook ingredients found in "survival kits" using Bunsen burners in the middle of the field. In other words, we've gotten the inevitable "ewww cooking with canned food!" challenge out of the way early.

Apparently, survival kits in Texas include ingredients like lemongrass, tofu, and chiles in addition to canned fish and rice. Ed quickly made it clear that he is not cut out for an outdoor cowboy life, pulling his back and grumping about having to make "Flintstones food." To be fair, most of the food looked pretty gross, including the winning dish from Lindsay, some sort of tuna "club" on saltines with Vienna sausages (we have been to Vienna; their sausages do not come in cans). However, her win marked the first time she stopped looking so sad, so maybe we need good news for her more often. She even WOOed!

In the first non-team challenge, the chefs then headed into fancy Dallas neighborhood Highland Park to cook for a progressive dinner party in three different houses. Rather than drawing color-coded cornstalks in the field, Padma simply split the group up based on where they were standing. Naturally, the group at the end who got desserts was pissed. Do the producers of this show get some sort of sadistic pleasure out of watching cheftestants whine about making dessert season after season? Just wondering.

Anyway, once in their respective groups, everyone went to the hosts' giant, beautiful houses to find out more about them, all six of whom could be summed up thusly: unadventurous and hates cilantro. The chefs were all easily able to do their cooking in the host couples' own kitchens, as the spaces were huge enough to fit five chefs cooking at once. See, that's not even a challenge. Let's get the chefs cooking in one of our one-foot-of-counter-space New York apartment kitchens and watch the real fun begin.

We took three things away from the service portion of this episode. No. 1: Ty-lor Boring and Heather are pals, which is nice. No. 2: One of the Dallas host couples had TWELVE HUNDRED PEOPLE at their wedding. Even Gail (who can really rock the red lipstick, we must say) didn't think she knew that many people. No. 3: The saying "everything's bigger in Texas" apparently applies to cleavage, too, because holy boobs, Padma and Gail. Are they trying to up the male demographic of this show?

The top dishes were Sarah's Roman artichoke with date puree, Paul's fried Brussels sprouts with prosciutto, Dakota's banana-bread pudding with banana mousse, and Grayson's chocolate sponge cake with caramelized bananas and pretzels. The win went to Paul, and Brussels sprouts and bacon went on our grocery list. The dubious honor of being the worst dishes went to Creeper Chris's roasted chicken cigar with collard greens; Chuy's goat-cheese-stuffed salmon filet; Ty-lor Boring's grilled pork tenderloin with summer slaw; and Cute Chris's strawberry cupcake with banana filling, chocolate frosting, and ice cream. Creeper Chris's dish was too gimmicky and not elegant enough, while Cute Chris's dish was like a kid made it, with too much going on. Ty-lor Boring's dish insulted the judges with its overlarge portion size (but this is Texas, no?), messiness, and lack of finesse. However, Chuy's overcooked salmon with mealy cheese incurred the bulk of Tom's wrath and was bad enough to send him home. Guess we'll never learn whether his dad invented cooking or not.

Next week: Grilling! Southfork Ranch, which apparently we should have heard of! Steak! Emergency rooms! Someone's too slow! Tom gets disappointed!