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Top Chef Texas Episode 2: A Cloche Call

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To thoroughly enjoy the glory that is Top Chef Texas, we welcome comedian Max Silvestri, who will be here every week to take us through the season.


Has this season started yet? Not at all! There are still hundreds of chefs remaining. This week's episode continues the process of whittling the field down to a manageable 16. How fun to be behind the scenes of casting this show. Perhaps on next week's episode, we'll get to watch as Bravo's legal team silently reviews the insurance forms for the entire cast and crew before commencing production. "Does a gust of wind blowing off Padma's dress constitute an act of God? I think we all agree He moves in mysterious and erotic ways, so let's say yes." In the meantime, Group 3 files in for their qualifying challenge.

The ten chefs meet Tom, Padma, and Hugh Acheson, the chef/owner of Empire State South. There are introductions. Everyone says two truths and a lie, then they do trust falls. "On belay. Belay on. I was nominated for a James Beard Rising Star Award." Chaz says, "In middle school I had a picture of Padma in my locker." Padma must be delighted to hear that this adult grown man used to heavy breathe on her photos when he was 11, dozens of years ago.

What is with all the confident boners this season? Between Chaz and Chris Crary, these professionals are not ashamed of saying on camera that their appearance on Top Chef is less about money and professional advancement and more about trying to sneak glances at a pretty female. Ladies, if you dine in their restaurants, keep an eye out for toilet cams. "Our special tonight is upskirt steak in a chimichubby sauce. Oh, the bathrooms are located at the top of the glass staircase above the open kitchen. Watch your step."


One thing that stands out from the introductions is that Beverly has an awesome baby. Why can't this baby be on the show? Put that baby on the bubble and then let it bounce up and down and stuff.


There are ten different ingredients on the table. The ten chefs must each pick a ingredient and then "make it sing." Tom, I do not like that phrase. But if those were my instructions, I'd take the octopus and stick my hand up its butt to make it sing.


Next to each ingredient is a cloche. Don't lift the cloche yet! The cloche is a surprise. Are you tired of hearing the word "cloche" yet? I am trying to recreate how many times we had to hear it last night. "You know, a cloche? We all love that word. We use it all the time. It's been on the bubble a long time, but now it's really ready to blow up."

After the chefs make their selections, they are instructed to lift the cloches. There are clocks! Is that the secret ingredient? Is this a stupid riddle about "thyme?" No, each ingredient gives the chefs either 20, 40, or 60 minutes. For some of them, that is a disappointing amount of time. If only they were Clockstoppers, like in the movie Clockstoppers, where Jesse Bradford can stop time. I have never seen that movie, but I have always liked to imagine that what it's about is him freezing time, stealing poop out of the high school bathroom, putting it down the principal's pants, hiding, then unfreezing time. The principal will think he made in his pants! FIN. That is the only possible use I can imagine for the ability to "clockstop." Please don't correct me if I'm wrong.


Everybody cooks. Laurent is the oldest chef, by far, and he is also French. "Bonjour." I am just trying to make him feel at home! He says that in France, you either become a cook, a priest, or an army guy. What? That does not sound like a very sustainable way to structure an economy, France. I guess the army guys go to church and tithe money to the priests, the priests eat at restaurants, and the cooks pay the taxes that fund the army? OK, cool, I figured it out. A+. And this whole time I thought that in France you were either a cook, a thief, his wife, or her lover?

The 20 minute group is up first. Paul's grilled trout earns him a chef's coat, while Kim's greasy, overcooked lamb earns her a trip to the knife-packing bench. Andrew's mushrooms were a little gritty and he gets placed on the bubble.

Meanwhile, Chaz is furiously trying to finish his risotto in 40 minutes. He's got an Italian-American wife, so he knows what he's doing when it comes to impressing Padma and making her want to smooch him. Chaz is determined. "Am I a NAVY Seal or a GI Joe?" Hmm, that is a tough one. I guess I'd have to say you are a GI Joe because GI Joes are imaginary, just like the risotto on your plate. BOOM. Chaz didn't get any food plated, and he goes home.


Jonathan Balthazar and Berenice, despite having names that sound like restaurants and sauces respectively, both get sent home. Laurent is placed en Bublé. "Merci beaucoup." Is he French? Who can know!


Over in the 60 minute group, Beverly is proving herself to be my early favorite. Besides having a super cool baby, she's got a super janky inspirational quote she keeps with her, written on lined paper in pencil: I can't, I must, I will.


Also, she says as she works that her brain is in "hyperdrive." Not overdrive, hyperdrive. Does she love sci-fi? I bet she does. Overdrive's for dinks, because her brain travels faster than LIGHT. Her Korean-style octopus "sings" and she earns a chef's coat.

Ashley, who struggled with her oxtail and pressure cooker, goes home. Lindsay, who has got an Ellen Barkin vibe which I like a lot, made braised veal shank and impressed the heck out of Tom. She earns a chef's coat. Earlier during the challenge, she says that when she saw Tom walking toward her, she straight up ran away, because she didn't have the time to talk to him. Perfect! I love it. That's how you have to deal with this kind of situation. If you need to, just runnnnnn. Ask Kirstie Alley.


Back in the Stew Room, we rejoin the bubblers. When Edward asks Molly about where she cooks, she says "I cook on the Allure of the Seas, for Royal Carribean Cruise Lines." Edward laughs, and Molly gets defensive. Look Molly, I get that you are skittish about not being respected for cooking on a cruise ship, but maybe don't say "Allure of the Seas." It's not doing you any favors. No one is going to say, "Oh wow, you cook on the Allure of the Seas? Man, I've heard that's the fanciest floating buffet table on the whole wide ocean."

Edward, who has been in this stew room for weeks now, is losing patience. He says he's gonna kill the other chefs if they don't let him out soon. Normally I would take that as hyperbole, except that Edward has crazy coke jaw. It's probably just a tic and I shouldn't make jokes about it, but he seems like he's on exactly enough Adderall to say he's going to kill everyone and mean it.


The six bubble chefs learn they are competing for two remaining slots. Using any ingredients in the kitchen, the chefs have 45 minutes to make one dish. That sounds ideal! To everyone except Molly, that is. She complains that it's actually more difficult to cook when you have no limitations, rather than specific guidelines. No. The opposite is true. The whole point of Top Chef is you have unreasonable guidelines for weeks until you make it to the final three and finally get to cook the way you want. This is a golden opportunity, you lunatic! "I am used to cooking with limitations on the Allure of the Sea, like how I can only use canned clams and evaporated milk and my dishes need to hold up under a steam tray and satisfy couples in their 50's who like to make breakfast sandwiches using Danishes as bread."

As the chefs choose their proteins, Andrew says, apropos of nothing, "I see muscles and I immediately know I want to do muscles with a Spanish flair." What?


Grayson says, "My mother sat me down when I was 15 and asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up. Are you kidding me? I'm 15. All I want to do is DRINK." Grayson, are YOU kidding me? That is pretty early to be a full-blown alcoholic. I don't know about you guys, but at 15 I wasn't yet pounding handles of rotgut vodka. I was more of a cider guy still.


Janine explains that her partner told her two months after their commitment ceremony that she didn't like her vows, then ended their nine-year relationship over the phone. Yikes! What were your vows, Janine? "I vow to play it by ear, and to stand by you in sickness or in health, but depending on the sickness I will keep my eye on what's out there because what is true love anyway am I right? I have a lot of love to give and it seems like a shame to waste it one person especially if that person is sick." Never say "am I right" in your vows.

Edward slices his hand bad, and even gloving it up doesn't stop the blood from pouring out. He gets some first aid while still struggling to cook. I learned yesterday that Axe makes a spray called "Recovery." I don't know what it does, but it's probably for spraying on wounds. Try that. He says, "He can cut off my arm and take it. I'll cook one-handed. He can cut off my torso and I'll cook with my feet." No you won't. Also, unless you are making peanut butter or wine, I don't want your foot-food, and even if you are I still don't.

We get a glimpse of the other chefs settling into the house. Upon seeing the room full of beds, Chris says, "This is like the Seven Dwarves! This bed's too hard, this bed's too soft." Cool mixed metaphables, dude. I hope a bear eats you.

The six bubblers serve up their food. Molly overcooked her prawn, and she is sent back to her houseboat. One of the ways of Laurent's scallops two ways is not a good way and he goes back en Les 'Angeles. Ed may have overcooked his duck, but he still earns a chef's coat. Andrew made some good muscles, but his shrimp and panna cotta made no sense and the judges send him packing.

It's down to Grayson and Janine. Both received high marks from the judges, but the two Southern judges, Emeril and Hugh, were especially impressed by Grayson's spin on shrimp and grits. Grayson gets the final coat and immediately gets so fucking wasted.


The episode ends with a teaser for the rest of the season. We learn that at one point Padma will say, "I better see some motherfucking snakes on some motherfucking plates." Jesus. Was this season filmed five years ago? "You ARE the weakest cook. Goodbye!"

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