Last night part two of the Top Chef Texas premiere aired, and Eater Austin has a recap for you, spoilers included. From here on out perhaps it should be referred to as Top Chef Austin or Top Chef Qui.
Eater Austin could go blow by blow of the episode, but Austin readers care most about our two local competitors, Paul Qui of Uchiko and Andrew Curren of 24 Diner. There will be no mention of one chef almost slicing his finger off (and gushing blood), a chef almost exploding a pressure cooker in her face, or of a chef told to leave because he didn't have time to plate his dish. However the Toyota commercial with Andrew Zimmern doing a sing-along with Chris Berman, James Lipton and Kelly Clarkson was quite entertaining.
Last week we began with 29 chefs, separated into three groups. 19 of them competed in the first episode, 11 made it to the next round, 4 were put on "the bubble" to compete for a spot later, and 4 were cut. In last night's episode the last 10 chefs competed, including Qui and Curren.
"Initially I thought it would be a huge advantage to be in my home state, but to see Paul I'm extra nervous now," says Curren on competing with Qui.
For the competition the chefs are presented with ten items, each chef having to chose one to cook with. The ingredients are on trays, but a secret hides under a cloche (a fancy word for a domed plate cover). Qui choses trout, while Curren goes all Ro-sham-bo with another chef, winning mushrooms. When the cloches are lifted, timers are revealed, showing how much time they have to cook that ingredient. Qui and Curren both have twenty minutes to prepare their trout and mushrooms respectively. Qui is confident, while Curren is nervous since he needs time to clean the mushrooms and then roast them.
Plating begins. "Knowing that this plate is going to move me forward in the competition, it's very nerve racking. I wouldn't even be able to face any of my guys in Austin if I go home today," says Qui. Curren starts showing his stress: "My eggs are not beautifully poached... Awh you bitch... At this point I'm literally throwing the stuff on the plate. I know I'm going to be in trouble."
Curren's dish: roasted mushrooms with brown butter vinaigrette, crispy spinach, and poached egg. Qui's dish: grilled trout with southeast Asian tomato salad.
Judgment time. Judge Tom Colicchio calls Qui's dish his favorite of the group. Hugh-nibrow Acheson agrees with Tom, and Qui advances to the next round. Curren ends up with a messy plate and is put on the bubble, being sent to the Stew Room. At least there are cases of Shiner beer on the shelves, but no one drinks them though.
For "the bubble" round, Curren competes against five other chefs for two spots. They are given 45 minutes to use any ingredients in the kitchen to make one dish. "I see mussels, and I immediately know I want to do mussels with a Spanish flair." Curren's final dish: mussels with sherry, fregula, charred corn panna cotta, and shrimp. Judges Emeril Lagasse and Tom Colicchio love the mussels, but don't like the rest of the dish. "It was a great plate but you had to go and mess it up... I wish you had stopped with the mussels," Colicchio says, and Curren is cut.
But he's not out. He will now compete in "Last Chance Kitchen", a web series where the defeated chefs get to cook one more time to try and earn a spot.
The episode ends with a preview of the season, shots of ranches and rodeos included. Of course.
· All Top Chef Texas Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]