Top Chef Texas, Episode 2: Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Before the DVR changed the way we watched TV, I could pretty much count on missing the second half of anything that ended with “To Be Continued…” This was probably around the same time that Chaz Brown—former Chef de Cuisine at Union Trust (not to mention stints at Le Bec Fin and Tinto) and current Chef de Cuisine at too-cool-for-school Fatty Crab in NYC—was resisting the urge to play with himself in the middle of a high school hallway as he gazed upon the picture of Padma Lakshmi hanging in his locker. Fast forward to present time, and we find our hometown(ish) hero still distracted, mistaking seconds for minutes, and failing to get his risotto on the plate–making for an elimination nearly as rapid and merciless as the loss of last week’s poor farm boy.

Before I continue, let me explain this final group’s challenge.  The cheftestants choose from a pile of ingredients on the “Insert Sponsor Here” table, and next to each is a cloche covering a clock with either 20, 40, or 60 minutes to cook them. Groups within the groups, how meta.

The first to go are the 20 minute people, and of the three, only Paul Qui advances with a very precise trout and tomato salad. That’s one less chef coat left for the bubble people, who are close to going all Lord of the Flies in the stew room. Edward Lee–earmarked as a cheftestant to watch by the Huffington Post–even threatens to kill someone.  And I thought it would be ex-convict Keith who would be doing the threatening and killing.  Silly me.

The next group is given 40 minutes to not fuck up, and they make a miserable showing. Two out of the three are eliminated unanimously, and I’m pretty sure the third—a 51 year-old French dude named Laurent—was only put on the bubble (I really hope they don’t keep using this bubble terminology) because he’s old as shit.

Finally, we’ve got three ladies competing in the 60 minute round, and the extra time is kind to two of them. Colicchio is in love with both the simplicity and complexity Lindsay Autry’s braised veal, as well as Beverly Kim’s  gojuchang octopus. Tom’s reasoning for the latter?  “It tastes of Korean food.” Note to the rest of the cheftestants: gojuchang will take you far in the competition.

With the groups done and out of the way, we go back to the bubble people, soapily floating in the reality limbo of the stew room. At this point, there are two coats left for six people, and unfortunately for them, the challenge isn’t one where they pass the coveted kitchenwear around until the music stops. Instead, they have to prove their worth in 45 minute anything-goes challenge.

The majority of the field opts for seafood. Edward Lee, the contrarian (and prime suspect if any of the cheftestants go missing), opts for duck. Then he filets his hand and does the badass chef thing, saying “Shit, I’ll cook with my feet if I have to.” With that, he becomes my favorite cheftestant, all stabby-ness forgiven.

As the clock winds down, cruise ship chef Molly overcooks her shrimp and seals her fate. Moving on to Judges’ Table, Hugh Acheson’s eyebrow doesn’t like newly single Janine’s seared scallop. The old-ass French guy, also a scallop cooker, makes a duo of scallop that should have been a solo. Andrew Curren’s mussels with fregola and corn panna cotta had too many ingredients on the plate. Of these four, two are swiftly eliminated (Molly and the Frenchman), and in order to really milk every last bit of cross-promotion and multimedia use, Janine and Andrew will cook to the death in the online show “Last Chance Kitchen.”

Enough already, Bravo. We get that you want this season to be mega-sized, but we just don’t have the time for all these extra goddamn shows.

Sorry, back to the final two coats.  Ed and his bloody stump gets one of them (probably because the Judges are scared of him), and Grayson Schmitz (who admits that she’s wanted to be a drunk since she was 15 and so she’s been cooking ever since) nabs the final blue coat. With that, we close out two episodes of not-so-great reality television. No worries, though, because the season previews tease us with mental breakdowns by the truckful and Padma saying, “I want some motherfuckin’ snakes on my motherfuckin’ plate.” And that’s definitely worth a few filler episodes.