Recap: ‘Top Chef’ – ‘BBQ Pit Wars’

So, we’re down to just nine chefs, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to be low on tension, interpersonal conflict and really dumb moves in the kitchen. I would have hoped that at this point we wouldn’t be seeing the kind of mistakes usually associated with “Hell’s Kitchen” (Too salty! Overcooked! Undercooked!), but then, the chefs on “Hell’s Kitchen” never have to cook for hundreds of people in insane Texas heat. The fact that we haven’t had more chefs passing out, throwing up and/or getting speedy trips to the hospital is really a surprise, honestly.

But before we can get to who melted down and why, we have to deal with last week’s elimination of Heather. Edward points out that he let her borrow recipes on more than one occasion, and Beverly seems pretty thrilled that the Wicked Witch has gotten the boot. But Sarah is FURIOUS that Edward would speak ill of the dead, or at least the eliminated. That’s just proof that he is not to be trusted! Really? I thought this was the time to gossip a little, especially since the person who got sent home was such a raging bitch to everyone. But Sarah is standing by her Heather, which makes me suddenly like Sarah a whole lot less. 

A guy barges into the room with a note from Padma and all five volumes of Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold. The chefs must study the books that evening for the Quickfire the next day. This is some serious bedtime reading, sort of like casually cramming for the SAT or trying to memorize the entire Bible for kicks. 
When the chefs walk into the Quickfire Challenge the next day, there’s Nathan (and, of course, Padma). They must create a dish that best exemplifies modernist cuisine for a shot at immunity and a personal copy of Nathan’s books. Chris J. puffs up like a big blowfish, because he is all over this challenge. It’s what he does! He may have done some of these techniques before Nathan did! I wish I could slap the stupid topknot off of Chris J.’s head at this moment. He’ll be using a miracle berry for his dish, which changes your ability to taste sweet and sour. 
Chris C. is feeling pretty good about the challenge, as he thinks he’s a modern guy because he paints modern “art.” Which is just bad line drawings of nude women. I am almost betting that Chris C. goes to bars and invites women to come up to his apartment to see his artwork, and if he does I’m sure it works. 
After frantic preparation, and Chris going all Nutty Professor in clouds of steam, it’s time to eat. 
Beverly – flash steamed clams & mussels, curry whipped cream & mango chili
This probably would have been more impressive if Beverly didn’t splash foam all over Padma and Nathan. Nathan tries to joke that it’s very modernist to have the food served on them, but I’m pretty sure he’s not impressed. 
Edward likes Beverly, he respects Beverly, but even he admits she’s an oddball. I can see where that could be part of her charm and also part of the reason why you’d want to wring her neck. She’s like a Pomeranian with less yip but twice as nervous. 
Sarah – breakfast raviolo, pancetta & egg yolk
Nathan notes that pasta is a very high technique food. Unfortunately,  he doesn’t say whether or not he liked Sarah’s dish.
Edward – salmon belly sashimi, compressed watermelon & Brunoise radishes
The rice is actually radish. Man, way to ruin good sushi, Edward. 
Grayson – trout sashimi, dill caviar, pickled watermelon, cucumber & radish
Padma asks how she made the caviar, and Grayson admits she did it the only way she knows how. Grayson HAS to stop being self-deprecating in front of the judges!
Ty-lor – watermelon, vanilla bean honey, black pepper, salted olive oil powder
Boy, a lot of watermelon in this challenge. No comments from the judges. Maybe it was too simple? That, or it’s a perfect bite. 
Lindsay – marinated baby octopus, tempura sea beans & togarashi
Padma declares it refreshing, but Nathan says nothing.
Chris C. – risotto foam, scallops, raisins & fried capers
Nathan grins and calls it terrific. Whoa, that’s a big reaction from Nathan, who’s been playing it pretty close to the vest thus far. 
Paul – endive salad, egg yolk, parmesan & truffle powder
No big reactions here, but I will say that egg yolk looks mildly disgusting.
Chris J. – miracle berry, deconstructed cheesecake, sparkling water with lemon & lime
Chris J. probably had an in with Nathan — until he actually explained to him what a damn miracle berry is. Nathan points out HE GROWS THEM IN HIS BASEMENT. Chris J., what’s wrong with you?
Paul thinks there was no technique in Chris J’s dish, as it simply revolved around tasting the miracle berry and just marveling at how it changes the flavors of other foods. He calls it gimmicky, and I totally agree. Considering the big game he talked, I expected something more than a glass of water, a lemon and a blob of cheesecake, deconstructed or otherwise.
Time for results. Nathan didn’t like Paul’s dish (no flavor), Beverly’s (it wasn’t different enough) or Grayson’s (simple but the elements weren’t great). He liked Ty’s (maltodextrin was an interesting way to deliver the olive oil), Sarah’s (he thought it worked in the right context) and Chris J.’s (a hell of a dish — really?). 
The winner is… Ty. Whoot! Chris J. looks broken hearted. This is his style of cooking! It’s what he does! If that means he sneaks miracle berries into his food, I’d think twice before I went to moto. 
Moving on! For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs will be making barbecue for 300 guests at The Salt Lick, a restaurant in Texas known for having the best barbecue in the state. Nathan is also a BBQ expert, because he can do ANYTHING. The chefs must split into three teams of three. They must make chicken, beef brisket and pork spareribs with two sides. 
Sidebar – could Chris J. lose the STUPID topknot? Get a haircut! We know you have access to scissors in that kitchen!
Scott Roberts, the owner of The Salt Lick, welcomes everyone to his restaurant and shows them how he cooks. 
Then, they’re shown a Toyota Tundra full of wood! For no other reason than to work a Toyota Tundra into the storyline! Oh, and they’ll be grilling outdoors at individual pits, they’ll have access to a smoker and to a trailer and they’ll be cooking all night. Hope Beverly didn’t stay up too late studying for that last challenge, because she’s going to be burnt crispy.
And by that evening, she just might be, because Beverly starts a small fire in the trailer kitchen. Chris C. thinks she’s book smart but short on common sense, though I think she’s just short on sleep and, with her small dog temperament, being nervous 24/7 must wear her down a bit. 
Of course, no one’s sleeping, and as you’d might expect, other mistakes happen. Grayson, Paul and Lindsay’s brisket somehow drops onto the floor of the smoker. It’s not ruined, but it hasn’t been cooking for hours. Uh-oh!
Tom comes to visit the chefs the next day. Which, in theory, is his chance to check in but is really so that he knows who’s responsible for mucking up each individual element. Leave no room for finger pointing and back pedaling, Tom!
Paul cops to the fact his team is taking an Asian barbecue angle. Grayson tells Tom he’s going to love their food, as it’s going to be like sex in the mouth. Even she is mortified that she’s said this. She needs sleep, clearly.
Before he leaves, Tom reveals that the winning team will get $15,000. There’s some faint applause. I think he’d get a bigger reaction if he promised the winning team a nap. 
Well, there’s more than one way to get a little rest on this show, and Sarah choses the other one. She has to call a medic. She’s having chills and she’s freaking out. and she’s SO damn hot! Medics arrive, and an ambulance whisks her away for medical attention and some respite from the hot sun. Tom tells Ty and Edward they’re on their own. Ty is all compassion and concern for Sarah, but Edward thinks he would have pushed through it. Edward is further incensed that, in order to serve everyone in a timely fashion, he and Ty have to cut everything up and put it into steaming tables, which kills the meat. Stupid Sarah!
Blue Team – Grayson, Lindsay, Paul
Asian spare rib, chicken & briskey, Brussels sprouts & watermelon salad
 Gail loves the chicken. Nathan thinks it’s not very smokey but it’s tasty. Scott digs the ribs, but Tom thinks the brisket is underseasoned and the sprouts need to be cooked. 
White Team – Beverly, Chris J., Chris C.
Beer can chicken, brisket & Dr. Pepper glazed pork ribs
Nathan thinks it’s a really good roast chicken — but it’s not a barbecue chicken.Tom thinks it’s moist. Gail doesn’t think the beans are cooked. Tom thinks the ribs are way too salty. Gail thinks the brisket was really chewy. 
Just in the nick of time, Sarah returns! And she wants to make sure the judges get the best pieces of her chicken! Of COURSE she does! Edward’s pissed that she’s only worried about her damn chicken, while Ty fusses over her as if she’s had a mild coronary. I’m with Edward, honestly. She comes back JUST in time for the judges? Seriously? 
Red Team – Sarah, Ty-lor, Ed
Texas chicken, KC style pork ribs, smoked brisket, poppy seed cole slaw & pinto beans
Once the judges are fed, Sarah has to go sit down. Again. She’s not apologizing for it, either. She looks pretty damn healthy to me, honestly. 
Nathan likes the Red Team’s chicken. Scott likes their barbecue sauce. Gail likes the flavor of Ty’s ribs but finds them chewy. Padma thinks their brisket had the best flavor of all the teams. Nathan points out they didn’t carve to order, and that was a mistake. And that would be SARAH’S FAULT. 
As the exhausted chefs wait for the judges’ verdict, Sarah whines that she was getting a weird vibe after prep from her team. Ty wants to know what was wrong so he can make everything better. Man, Ty is nice but I really think he’s putting too much energy toward appeasing someone who screwed him over. Edward tells her not to get emotional. Oh, she’s not. She’s just being honest. I am beginning to see why Sarah and Heather were such good friends. 
Paul, Lindsay and Grayson are called back. They are… the winners! Tom wants the recipe for the chicken. Paul has now raked in $35,000 in winnings. These guys took a huge risk by cooking Asian barbecue at a Texas barbecue joint, and I love that it paid off. Paul really is emerging as the guy to beat this season. 
The two other teams are sent back. Sarah is first on the block. Tom points out that her chicken wasn’t barbecue. Gail tells Ty his meat was overseasoned. So much for Ty’s hope to redeem his bad meat from a previous challenge. Nathan thinks he would have been better off putting the sauce on boiled ribs, and he doesn’t even recommend that angle. Gail thought Edward’s pickles were too minty. Tom thought the brisket was gray and rubbery. Edward points out the steam table was a necessity. Tom thinks it wasn’t. If people had to wait in line, so be it! Of course, I suspect Tom would complain that people had to wait too long for their food if they had done that, but whatever. 
Gail wished that Beverly had made a more original cole slaw. Tom points out the White Team made grilled chicken, not barbecue. Nathan thought it was a French grandmother’s chicken, not a barbecue. Tom thought Chris C.’s ribs were almost inedible. Tom tells Beverly her beans were undercooked. 
Tom wishes he could send Ty home. But then, there were plenty of other people who screwed up — and Chris C.’s salty rub seems like a goner. 
Chris C. is ordered to pack his knives and go. Goodbye, Malibu!
Chris C. regrets playing it safe and not stepping forward in the group. Still, he thought it was a great experience. Malibu being Malibu, he’s fine with everything. He can now head back to his apartment and work on some bad nude paintings. I think Grayson might be willing to model for him. Just a thought. 
But before he heads home, Chris C. will be battling Nyesha in the Last Chance Kitchen.
Next week, Restaurant Wars! And it’s boys vs. girls! And Sarah vs. Grayson! Drama, drama, drama!
Do you think Chris C. should have gone home? Do you think Sarah should have toughed it out? Do you think Edward was too hard on her?