Chiles and Chili: The Most Obvious Episode of Top Chef: Texas Yet
Above is is how I imagine the initial planning meetings for Top Chef: Texas went. I'm also imagining future episodes where the contestants will be forced to shoot their own horses and grill them over a fire of cactus paddles. Let's go, Top Chef: Texas! DO THIS SHIT RIGHT.
Until then, we'll have to deal with tonight's episode, in which we're dealing with -- what else? -- chiles and chili.
This episode's Quickfire Challenge is a table of chili peppers. Each basket of chili peppers is assigned a dollar value, which I think ranges from lowest amount/least hot to highest amount/hottest. Or not. The camera cuts from scene to scene so quickly it's like I just snorted eight cups of espresso.
Wait -- the prize money comes courtesy of Tabasco? That shit's from Louisiana. Way to showcase Texan foods and culture, Top Chef: Texas and Texas tourism dollars.
Anyway, Beverly heads straight to the table and starts biting huge chunks out of the peppers. I really like her, as do I like Greyson, who has the chutzpah to serve an entire fried habanero pepper to the judges, who include previous Top Chef: Masters contestants Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, along with Padma.
The GE product placement shots are incredibly distracting and not at all subtle. It's just insulting. I'm actively going to avoid purchasing GE products in the future, despite all the goodwill they built up with me by allowing 30 Rock to continuously and mercilessly mock their company.
Paul Qui goes whole hog and takes the ghost pepper in the Quickfire Challenge, which comes with a $20,000 bounty, and he's nervous until the judges start talking about the "wimpy" chiles that other contestants wussed out with. Meanwhile, Chuy gets called out for using canned tomatoes -- as well he should have been.
Paul takes his fingers away from his mouth long enough, where he's nervously nibbling at them the whole time, to hear the judges' compliments on his dish. And, unsurprisingly, he wins. Go, Paul. We hear you're in it to win it, dude.
Oh, and speaking of squandering goodwill earlier...Top Chef just squelched the goodwill that came with Paul's win by announcing that they're cooking CHILI AT A MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMNED RODEO WITH OVER 200 MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMNED COWBOYS.
Fig. A: Top Chef research material, Part I
Because, seriously, if the rest of the episode is going to be contestants screaming at hapless Whole Foods employees (DAKOTA) and the bitchiest straight guy ever hating on my girl Sarah and one shitty stereotype after another, I am going to lose what little interest I had in this show to begin with.
Granted, I just judged a chili cook-off a few weeks ago, and then a wine competition at the rodeo. And a few weeks before that, I was at a rodeo in Henderson with my family. Hell, my first job out of college...was at a rodeo.
But that doesn't mean I like a TV show picking and choosing small, out-of-context portions of our larger lives in Texas and broadly papering them into stereotypes that only serve to portray Texans as the one-dimensional characters the rest of America already thinks we are...it gets under my skin. I mean, I get that this is what America wants to see, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. If I were to watch a show about Russia, for example, I'd want to see more than just vodka, fur hats and the Kremlin.
Fig. B: Top Chef research material, Part 2
Anyway, I honestly can't understand why this cooking chili challenge is freaking out the contestants so much. It's not like Padma or Tom or Gail know what proper Texas chili should taste like anyway... The proper Texans on the show -- including the ones judging the chili at the rodeo -- at least point out that none of the chilis should have beans in them. Of all the chilis, the Black Team's mole-inspired chili sounds (and seems) the worst. But we'll have to see what the "cowboy judges" say.