Image credit: Vivian Zink
TEAM PLAYER? As if there were any doubts before, Heather revealed herself to be a relentless bully in this pairs challenge. Poor, Asian Beverly received the brunt of Heather's nastiness, but Beverly managed to tough it out in a hot, hot kitchen nevertheless.
Will Heather go down as one of the most reviled contestants in Top Chef history?| Published Dec 15, 2011
Let me start off by acknowledging that these team double-eliminations are complete B.S. I'm all for whittling down the herd faster, especially in this already prolonged season, but the eliminations should be based on individual performance. There's only so much you can do to control what your teammate does.
Having said that, the pairings really heightened the drama — this was the first truly riveting episode of this season. But first, a very quick rundown of the Quickfire Challenge co-presided by Tim Love, a Fort Worth-based Top Chef Master, and Padma, who made a couple of styling and fashion missteps (that Southwestern-themed blouse and Pocahontas hair was all a bit literal). The chefs had to prepare a dish to compliment a tequila of their choosing. Tim explained that a good tequila is meant to be sipped like a fine wine. Clearly, I'm drinking the wrong kind, 'cause whenever I'm sipping tequila, it's never fine and I hardly taste the nachos I'm eating.
Once again, it was important for everyone to remember that Quickfires usually go to a chef-testant who hews closely to the theme of the challenge. In this case, your dish better make Padma and Tim tequila-drunk, which is the worst/best kind of drunk there is. Heather broke this rule by not pairing her rock shrimp with the reposado literally enough and landed in the bottom. Tim compared it to a "new special at a chain restaurant." Ouch! Chris Jones' chicken was too dry, and Tim thought Sarah undercooked her risotto. Upon hearing that, a defiant Sarah, who trained with risotto experts in Italy, refused to change her methods based on "somebody's palate." Whether reminding us that she's from Texas or asserting her Italian training, much of what Sarah says comes across braggy.
In the top group, Chris Crary created a visually fascinating raw oyster dish with a tequila lime tapioca pearl and a bit of sea air. It looked like something a chic alien from a cosmopolitan, technologically advanced planet would eat. Tim liked that Lindsay really soaked her salmon and caramelized fennel puree in añejo. But the $5,000 win (no immunity) went to Ty-lör — who's been on the bottom all too often lately — for his Thai-style steamed clams. Yay! Ty-lör's growing on me. With his perfectly oval head and curiously mobile eyebrows and mustache, he reminds me so strongly of a Muppet, like a cross between Bert and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew.
NEXT: Heather vs. "Bev": The rivalry continues, and my loyalties are fluctuating