Top Chef Episode 8 – Finally! But I thought game meat was last week?

It’s about time!  They finally dispensed with all those team challenges and, not surprisingly, the overall quality jumped up a few notches.  The show also moved from Dallas to the third Texas city, Austin.  Been there, fun city.  I wonder if they’ll have a challenge at The Salt Lick?  That’d be cool.  The quickfire was really interesting and the elimination challenge was good too.  After all these weeks of watching what I felt were boring sub-par shows, this one reminded me why I watch Top Chef.  Suffice it to say, I really enjoyed this week’s episode! 

The quickfire was a “fan” challenge where they used Twitter to field suggestions about what the chefs would do.  At first I was a little pissed because the initial challenge was basically make a dish with bacon and I thought that was way too easy.  Then it got interesting.  Tom and Padma tweeted for a “curveball” from the show’s followers.  The one they picked said a “hash” had to be included in the dish.  It was a play on twitterspeak: hashtag (#) hash.  So that screwed up the chefs a little.  Pretty good so far.  The next curveball they received via Twitter was give another chef an ingredient they have to use.  Brilliant!  So the chefs have to make something with bacon in it, a hash, and use an ingredient someone gives them.  Some chefs were nice and gave butter or lemons, while two received sriracha.  Beverly, Paul, and Sarah were tops.  Paul’s winning dish had bacon, blackberries, and a chorizo and mushroom hash.  No immunity but he won some more cash.  All of the dishes looked really good, and it was nice to see Beverly on top after getting thrown under the bus last week.  A really good challenge which made the chefs work hard!

The elimination challenge was a tribute dinner.  The chefs had to make a dish honoring the person who influenced them in their cooking.  I liked this a lot.  As I’ve said before my own inspiration comes from three very important women in my life (grandmother, mother, step-mother) and there are certain things I make that reminds me of each of them.  For example, turkey stuffing is my grandmother, Christmas cookies are my mom, and beef stew is my step-mom.  Anyway, this was a good challenge.  It was individual and also one you’d think the chefs would take very seriously, which they did!  It’s nice to get some insight as to who influenced them.  Lots of mothers and grandmothers obviously, but there was a nanny and couple fathers thrown in there.  And the dishes were all very different.  Beverly, Sarah, and Ed were the favorites with variations of short ribs, stuffed cabbage, and bibimbap.  I was rooting for Sarah and her stuffed cabbage because that’s one of the things my grandmother used to make and I love it.  It was nice to see two Chicago chefs up there too since it seems they’ve been on the bottom a lot lately.  Sarah and her sausage stuffed cabbage wins, yay Chicago!

Now for the bottom three.  This week’s least favorites were Grayson, evil Heather, and Chris C. who is apparently nicknamed “Malibu” because he fusses over his hair.  Grayson served up a huge plate of food with steak and potatoes (’cause that’s how they do it in Wisconsin according to Grayson), Heather made a beef stew, and Malibu made some salmon.  Grayson’s steak was tough and the judges wanted more of an improv on the inspiration, not a literal translation like she did.  Malibu’s salmon was cooked too quickly and components of his dish didn’t work well together.  Heather’s dish…well, when Emeril wonders what kind of meat is in the stew and guest judge Patti LaBelle sings out “bigfoot” you just know that’s a go-home dish.  There was also the not so hidden clue about karma dropped in at the beginning referring to Heather’s verbal assault on Beverly last week.  It was really great when Heather said she didn’t want to use the pressure cooker to cook her meat and Tom zinged “Beverly used a pressure cooker and she’s not standing here.”  Yes!  This is why we love Tom.  I think Cheryl gave a small fist pump when Heather and her overcooked bigfoot meat is told to pack her knives and go.  For good measure the producers give us a clip of Beverly saying how happy she is about the outcome.  Good ole karma.  So, on what I found to be the most exciting episode to date, Chicago gets the win and Chicago gets sent home.  Please, please, please let the rest of the season be like tonight!

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