Dallas Makes a Damn Fool of Itself on Top Chef: Texas

Categories: TV

Dolly_Parton_2.jpg
Hi, y'all! I'm country singer Dolly Parton and according to Top Chef contestants, I'm also from Texas!
​Thoughts: Is it really a "Healthy Choice" when so many of your frozen dinners are laden with preservatives and other chemicals?

With that, we're hitting the road to Dallas, better known these days as a "dining nowhereville." Great choice, Bravo! Enjoy that!

"When I think of Dallas, I think of the Dallas Cowboys...I think of country singers," gasps Beverly. "Dolly Parton, isn't she from Dallas?" See, even the chefs can't manage to come up with a single Dallas chef or restaurant and instead resort to cliched Texas stereotypes. (Oh, and for the record Beverly, DOLLY PARTON IS FROM TENNESSEE, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.) Meanwhile, Tylor is still insisting on wearing a cowboy hat and, as a result, looks like a poor man's Woody from a community theater production of Toy Story on Ice.

Suddenly, "on their way" to Dallas, the contestants inexplicably find themselves on a tiny, two-lane road that looks straight out of Kansas, not Texas. The DPS roadblock that's been created is so clearly a cheesy set-up that it's making my eye twitch. This is the beginning of the Quickfire Challenge, in which the gang has to make whatever they can from the camo-covered survival kits in the trunks of their Toyota! Siennas! while Once Fat Chris goes completely Single White Female on poor John Besh.

"John Besh is a handsome man," he gushes. "His beautiful white teeth and hair blowing in the wind..." No one talks that way, do they? I mean, outside of romance novels??

Wait, nori paper was in Chris's survival kit? Did I overlook that particular kit the last time I was at REI? I don't understand where they came up with some of these ingredients. The winner ends up being the most resourceful of the group, Lindsay, who made a surprisingly good sandwich with Saltine crackers.

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Photo illustration by Dallas Obsever
If Dallas intended to redeem itself with appearances on Top Chef, it's not working.
​"It feels like Dallas; it's big, it's opulent," says Chris upon their arrival in the Big D. They haven't said exactly in which neighborhood they're doing the progressive dinner, but it looks like Plano, judging from the tacky, new-money bullshit that's been vomited up in each of the three houses. It could also be Highland Park, though, because there are a lot of trees in the backyards (something which Plano doesn't have). Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because boring rich people are the same no matter what West Egg community they're from.

The first hostess of the progressive dinner doesn't like cilantro, bell peppers or anything that makes people "self-conscious" about their breath. "I'm not very adventurous about food," she mewls through tight lips while her castrato husband looks on, moon-eyed. The second hostess hates cilantro, too. And raspberries. Raspberries. "These people are high-maintenance," sighs Chuy. YEP. WELCOME TO DALLAS, ASSHOLES. The third hostess's husband wants Gummi Bears in his dessert, and also probably his mommy.

The one thing I can't complain about is the challenge this episode being annoyingly cliched. After all, this is how Dallas actively seeks to portray itself to the world: as a bastion of people who are not only willfully ignorant and materialistic, but excessively proud of it.

To wit, Ugly Chris's beautiful and creative twist on a cigar with cumin ash goes completely over the hostess's heads. It's clear from their vacant, rather rude expressions that they neither understand what any of the contestants are saying about the dishes, nor do they care. I wouldn't want to cook for these people either. Seriously, they're all horrendous. I'm frankly confused as to why these vapid socialites were chosen to appear as "judges" with the sole exception of the "party planner," who at least admits to enjoying and roasting Brussels sprouts on the regular.

I feel like just shaking my head and muttering, "Fucking Dallas" under my breath for the rest of this recap.

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A Picard facepalm is equalled in intensity only by a Colicchio eye roll.
​Example 1: "It almost looks like blood decorating the sides of the plate," ditzes one of the blonde hostesses about a completely normal plating. "That's a red wine reduction, I can assure you," whips back Besh, who's red-faced and clearly embarrassed on her behalf. WE'RE ALL EMBARRASSED, BESH.

Example 2: "The presentation looks like a little Elmo," ditzes another, about a dessert. Cut to a shot of Coliccho rolling his eyes that should immediately be immortalized in GIF form and used in the same manner as the ubiquitous Picard facepalm meme. At least the Top Chef panel is appropriately aggravated with the socialites at this point.

In the end, Paul Qui is once again named the winner of the competition for the night. "This is a Texas competition and I'm the only chef who cooks in Texas," he says, pride practically seeping from his pores. Good on ya, Paul.

The judges hated Ugly Chris's collard green and cumin ash cigar, however. Could the second Moto man in a row go home tonight? Nah, that'd be too easy. Instead, Chuy is sent packing -- still another Chicago chef to go home, however -- due to his overcooked salmon. I'm baffled that Once Fat Chris and his bizarre cupcakes made it through, but maybe Besh thought it best that his potential stalker be well-occupied while Besh gets a new alarm system for his house and perhaps a bodyguard or two.

Quotes of the night:

"Ugly Chris": The nickname bestowed upon Moto Chris, i.e., not Once Fat Chris (a.k.a. The guy who will eventually have a restraining order taken out against him by John Besh.)

"It's truly ironic that I would win the challenge with a can of Vienna sausages. Dad, I hope you're proud." Lindsay, on winning the Quickfire Challenge.

"I get stuck with dessert, again. I'm pissed. I didn't come here to make desserts." Dakota, who I really don't blame.

"Someone with that much elegance is telling me to cook Gummi Bears." Chris, increasingly aggravated with the idiot socialites he's being forced to cook for.

"Goddamned son of a whore," Tylor, showing off some exceptional swearing. I approve.

"I don't think there's any story I can make up that Chuy's dad hasn't done." Ugly Chris on Chuy's tall tales about his dad (which are sort of endearing in their way, really).

See our previous Top Chef recaps here:



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53 comments
Pjpm73
Pjpm73

Stopped watching Top Chef, but wanted to see this episode in HP since that's my hometown.  Pathetic, glad I didn't watch it.  Those were not exemplary folks that I grew up with there - they sound horrifically gauche.  Too bad, Dallas is a nice place with nice people.  Mostly.

Lmarie
Lmarie

I agree 100% on your review and deem this season top chef's worst. And now I would like to hear your impessions of big bully heather!

HenOfTheWoods
HenOfTheWoods

Thanks be to God for rendering my fair Houston invisible to the Magical Elves for Top Chef this season! Regarding its portrayal of Dallas's so-called elite: there's only one thing worse than poor trash and that's trash with money.

justabob
justabob

Uh...the "cigars" looked like fresh dog turds...I'm pretty open minded about food but I would have had trouble picking that up and taking a bite.  When they first announced that TC would be doing Texas and Houston got kicked to the curb (yet again) I was disappointed.  After watching these episodes I'm so glad we were not included.  The Dallas yups were the worst...I cringed through the entire thing just praying that they were not native Texans.

Anamaris Cousins
Anamaris Cousins

This was the saddest episode thus far. What the hell is wrong with Dallas peeps? Is that truly the best (or worst) they could do? Gummy bears? Seriously? Maybe Austin will represent better.

My curiousity was definitely peeked by the cigar appetizer, and I would love to try Paul's sprouts. Other than that, yawn!

PS: I did enjoy the Houston food scene ads, though.

Ed T.
Ed T.

OMG and one of the chefts tried to use the corn out of that cornfield! Dude, they feed that shit to CATTLE! Or make it into CORN SUGAR! Or GASOLINE!

The dried and processed crap in the "Survival Kits" are MUCH better!

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

I just finished watching and really must admit that the first thing that came to mind afterwards was "Thank Heaven for Hydrocodone". I had two wisdom teeth pulled yesterday and the happy pills actually made this episode bearable.

Quickfire: A withering corn field and a road that is generally only seen in movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre? What am I supposed to read into this? I'm very disappointed they didn't follow through with the stereotype and give the chefs buckets and shovels. Here ya go. Walk the road and bring back something to cook. Instead they wimp out and give us "survival kits." With only one beer? Fuck you! Beer first then - if room - food. And thank heaven vienna sausages and saltines won. I may have just started to develop an appreciation for John Besh similiar to Creepy Chris.

And by the way, what type of vehicle do they move from place to place in? I didn't quite catch it the 17th time they mentioned.

Looks like the new digs may be the W hotel. Good thing about open balconies - you can jump. I invite half of this crew to go now.

Competition Challenge: Based on the history of TC Texas, I wonder how much these brain dead Ken and Barbies had to pay Bravo to make the cut? I guarantee that event planner is two years removed from Hooters where Latin Romeo rescued her. My favorite was Dessert Couple. If Grandpa could see what they did with the trust fund, he would turn over in his grave.

Enough has been said about cigars. My favorite line of the evening was Dessert Barbie - OOOH The colors - when looking at her dish.

In the end poor Cantinflas was kicked off for not knowing how to marry fish with cheese. Good riddance.

Next week I predict they give them guns and make them kill their own animals for steak. Maybe a few of them will go all Dick Cheney and lessen the competition pool.TA

Wagordon
Wagordon

Braced myself by shotgunning a coupla cans of Pearl...and propped my eyelids open with toothpicks to watch the last half or so of the show....only  to see the previews for next week & one of the venues at which I they'll be cooking, apparently. I don't want to be an @sshat & spoil it for anyone, soooo,COLLICHIO EYE-ROLL EFFING FOLLOWED BY A PICARD FACE-PALM, YA'LL! 'Nuff said.  

Sammy
Sammy

Oh no apartheid-central narcissistic Highland Park embarrassing the cool people of Dallas in Lakewood, Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff again...

Asdf
Asdf

This sounds boring.

Elaine Poe
Elaine Poe

Katharine, you should rejoice in only seeing 44 or so minutes of Dallasites behaving normally, er, I mean, foolishly. It's the same vapid, willfully ignorant and materialistic numbskulls on display during each and every newscast on each and every station here. 

retiredchef
retiredchef

Totally hilarious! I don't watch the show but hear about it all the time. Being from Fort Worth I lmao at the Dallas bashing. Amon Carter would have loved it too. He used to say "Flush twich, Dallas needs the water!"

Jodie E
Jodie E

I so appreciate your clever coverage, Katharine. I am so annoyed by the show, I'm no longer watching! I think it is so classic that they dissed Houston and this is what they got in Dallas ... go figure ...

Bennett
Bennett

Not sure what the chief complaint of that article is: that the show chose to engage the worst part of Dallas (North of 635) or that the contestants effed up some challenges that were uninteresting to begin with? Sounds like the production itself was a bigger problem than the Dallas location.

I don't think anyone in the western hemisphere would argue that Dallas has a native, famous cuisine. Dallas has never invented anything cultural. What it does have is a lot of wealth and affluence which attracts trendy, fancy, high-end restauranteurs. Hell, Tom himself has a restaurant here, why didn't they shoot a scene there?

Sounds to me like the show wasn't really interested in showing off Dallas and they produced the episode on the cheap, otherwise they would have explored foodie venues in Oak Cliff or stuck to the ultra high-end staples in uptown.

Dallas has great restaurants, just no great cuisine, They probably shoulda gone to Fort Worth for that.

CameronByars
CameronByars

I was face palming the entire episode as well. Every episode I watch makes me more and more angry that they did not come to Houston but they went to god forsaken Dallas. Ugh!!

Micah
Micah

The progressive dinner was in Highland Park.

Wagordon
Wagordon

I watched last night and had to stop when the Dallasites were featured. I found myself squirminguncomfortably in my chair over these people. If they're not adventurous about food, why were theychosen as "hosts" for the progressive dinner party? What the fuck?! I'd have served them somethingtruly mind boggling....corn-battered deep fried calf brain perhaps....with a red wine reduction lookinglike "blood"...and called it the "Jackie UH-OH" plate. These people DESERVED it.

Ed T.
Ed T.

Damn! I wish I had the opportunity to read the recaps you and Kathleen Shellnutt put together before the episode aired! Because that was an incredible snoozer, but after reading your words (especially "Effing Dallas" - spoken like a true Houstonian!), now I want to go back and watch it again!

And just think, next week... the ULTIMATE DALLAS STEREOTYPE!

~EdT.

LuluRz
LuluRz

I've only been watching sporadically because all the episodes have been annoyingly cliched as far as I'm concerned. From the rattlesnake cook off to the rodeo chili cook off to the quincenera to the nouveau riche dumbass diners from Highland Park, each episode relies on a tired and boring Texas stereotype and cliche. Plus they bypassed Houston completely, which is a glaring omission.

Jill Carroll
Jill Carroll

Dolly Parton from Dallas??!!!!  What an insult to Dolly, one of our brightest national musical treasures.  Brush it off, Dolly.  You are far bigger than Big D will ever be  xox.

Kyle
Kyle

Elmo?! Did she mean emo? Maybe I should start watching this ridiculous show again.

MadMac
MadMac

I found an error.

"I'm not very adventurous about food," she mewls through BOTOX lips..."

Fixed that right up for you.

Meanwhile: "while her castrato husband looks on, moon-eyed."

That's money, right there.

Big fan of Mr. Besh, (not as big a fan as OFC) but I'm tired of seeing him now. The roadside cooking challenge looked late-afternoon instead of early-to-mid day. Can't take the heat, get out of Texas. Please. This is painful to watch and I've wanted TC to go to NOLA. Now, I'd settle for Watts, Charlestown, East Saint Louis, anywhere but here.

I understood the quincenanera challenge, (though that's the oldest looking 15-year-old I've ever seen) she was related to the SA chef and the SA chef knows somebody on the TC staff. Cool, I'm good with that.

Who knew these boobs in Dallas? Can they be fired? Yesterday? My PAT-born Mrs. now fully understands why I actively campaign for Dallas (the burbs that people are told is Dallas anyway) as the new carpet-bombing-training field for the Air Force.

I still can't believe UC put an ugly, collard-green cigar on a plate. I love cigars and collard greens and this gave me a case of the yucks. Chuy's plate looked like a canoe o' mess and he he should've gone home with UC, and OFC, (cupcakes, WTF?) and throw Ty-Lor Boring in for good measure. Chuy's daddy stories give me nose hemmorhoids and an uncomfortable bloated feeling.

Other observations: Your boy, Louisville Leghorn is more injury prone than Matt Schaub. I think they keep Nyesha around to tantalize me. I'm convinced they keep Beverly around to annoy me. At least she didn't cry over Gummi Bears or some such nonsense this time.

Seriously, I think the fix is in for Paul. Just saying.

Forgot to say, good article, Ms. Shilcutt and I thought the Picard face palm and Colicchio eye roll were excellent.

EdT.
EdT.

I'm glad we didn't pay $120,000 for the "honor"!

~EdT.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Well, see, that's the thing: It's not like Dallas doesn't have some notable claims to cuisine fame. Stephan Pyles and Dean Fearing, just to name two; i.e., the guys that -- along with Robert Del Grande -- invented modern Southwestern cuisine. It's surprising to me that none of these contestants have heard of those chefs, or that (perhaps just as likely) Bravo is editing that knowledge out.

Wagordon
Wagordon

Having watched all the previous Texas shows this season, you're exactly right about Top Chef not really wanting/trying to show off or feature anything about the state and/or these particularcities and their respective food scenes or cultures. It has the feel of an excuse for a road trip,and all they did for the individual cities was shoot some innocuous B-Roll footage/establishing shots to clue the viewers in to where they were, i.e. the Alamo, etc. etc.

As well, I understand these cities had to pony up a few hundred K each to be featured/"promoted"...I'm ELATED Houston chose not to take the bait based on what I've seen so far....

Jpippert
Jpippert

Everything goes to Dallas and skips Houston. In this case, I'm glad, but when it comes to Trader Joe's, I'm just spitting mad about it. lol

Wagordon
Wagordon

After further consideration and imagination, this idea/concept deserved more "fleshing out" so to speak. Keep the name for the plate overall, but don't tell the "hosts" of the dinner party what they're eating, exactly. Call the calf brain "Dealy Delight", the sauce/reduction should be "Ruby Jou". Serve it on a fresh bed of micro greens a.k.a. "Grassy Knoll Salad" and accompany this with some yukon gold potatatos carved into an all-too-obvious shape and christen them "Magic Bullets"....and VIOLA! a much more rounded and complete entree fit for these goobs. Seriously, though, the Dallasites did fit the perfect mold/stereotype of people from that city.Unctiously pretensious new-money dolts. Perhaps they were chosen for that very reason, asubversive F.U. from the Top Chef people. But probably not, that's giving the TC folks too much credit. After all, they're in FUCKING TEXAS and the guest judges have been Emeril and Besh?! PLEASE!!!

On a side note...the gay dude driving the TOYOTA PRIUS (gotta get your product plug in!)with the aviator shades on, rocking the cowboy hat....and the 70's porn-star moustache...my brain just started singing Y.M.C.A. at that point....  

MadMac
MadMac

Would you really like our fair city included in this dog-and-pony carney gimmick?

J.
J.

Twice as big in fact -- DD

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

No, she was referring to some raspberries atop a white cake that -- to her -- looked like Elmo. I guess in her world, Elmo is white and his eyes are red instead of vice versa...

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Ha! I'll probably be the only one who liked that cigar, but I thought it was just so damn creative. And like Colicchio said, Ugly Chris really took that cigar and fleshed the concept all the way out. I like some stick-to-it-iveness.

MadMac
MadMac

And never forget grievances, egos and grudges. Bordain doesn't have a monopoly on chef/restaurant biases.

cindy_in_tx
cindy_in_tx

Having watched several seasons of Top Chef, I can tell you that they do this in every town. Top Chef is about the chefs creating dishes, not about the towns in which they're filmed. That's why I wasn't as bummed about them not coming to Houston as others were since I realized it's not about the local food scene so much as about the contestants on the show and the sponsors (Whole Foods, Toyota, GE appliances).

RS
RS

Trader Joe's IS coming to Houston (The Woodlands actually) and I think it's set to open even before the Dallas area location.

There are a lot of things that have come to Houston and skipped other Texas cities. But if it's anything that's trying to stereotype Texas, of course they'll skip Houston (being the most international and least-Texan of the cities) and go elsewhere.

CameronByars
CameronByars

Yup, was going to say that. They said Highland Park.

Joanna O'Leary
Joanna O'Leary

Very much enjoyed reading this recap. And agree that that 15-year-old did not look her age...

Wagordon
Wagordon

Yeah, hubby #3 struck me as possibly stuck in the closet.

anon today
anon today

Oh honey.  Dolly's boobs eat DDs for breakfast. 

Wyatt
Wyatt

the winner, right here

Wagordon
Wagordon

A kinda photo-negative Elmo. I just loved that raspberry-hating-lady got "served". The dude who wanted gummy bears in his dessert got none, alas. The chef who made the cupcake with mint ice cream and fruit and whatever-else-he-could-come-up-with trainwreck/dessert should have thrown some in for good measure.

<pointless alert="" digression="">I was born in Germany and used to live on a military base there. An old farmer came everyday with a VW van full of fresh produce, and the moms would send us base-brats down to purchase what was needed and we used the change to buy candy which he sold as well. Developed a life- long love for the REAL gummy bears (HARIBO, dammit!) then. They must be eaten PAIRED in the right color/flavor combinations to be truly appreciated. They have also been featured as the "tripwire" ingredient on an episode of "Chopped" and one of the contestant chefs on this seasons "Next Iron Chef" also had to use them, BTW.</pointless>

Megan
Megan

An albino Elmo?  Gotta be a million times more annoying than the regular Elmo.

aliciadirago
aliciadirago

I had that cigar dish at Moto a few years ago. It was our favorite course of the night. I only wish he had served those people another Moto dish - roadkill. Complete with 'blood' and 'maggots.'  (See the third picture down in you are curious: http://www.dismountcreative.co...

Ed T.
Ed T.

I'll agree with you that UC finished the concept, and that is was really creative. However, I can't see any *real* socialite function at which the guests (outside of those who smoke cigars) would be comfortable with this - which is what Gail's criticism boiled down to IIRC. It may have been a good fit for some challenges - just not this one.

~EdT.

Megan
Megan

Hopefully not an albino kitten.

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

You do know a kitten just died because of that comment....TA

MadMac
MadMac

I smoke cigars (that doesn't mean I want to eat one) and I wasn't comfortable with this! I agree with you that this was a snooze fest. 

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