‘Top Chef: Texas’: Make your own tortillas, or else

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Ty-Lör said it best: “Nothing was great, and a lot of things sucked.”

The first real episode in “Top Chef: Texas,” after the initial field of 29 was trimmed to 16 finalists over the last two weeks, pitted two teams against each other in a quinceanera cook-off.

While the food wasn’t inspired, and some (like Ty-Lor’s golf-ball sized fritters) appeared inedible, most of the drama came down to tortillas.

First of all, in a misstep that called to mind John Somerville’s epic fail in season seven when he was immediately dispatched for using frozen, store-bought puff pastry in a dessert, neither the pink nor the green teams made their own tortillas, a critical misstep for a meal designed to showcase “elegant Mexican cuisine.” When you’re asked to do the same for Italian cooking, would you immediately run for Ronzoni, De Cecco or Barilla pasta?


But the real issue was that even when the cooks grabbed the ready-made kind, Keith chose flour over corn, turning his would-be enchilada into a soggy mess of a burrito. We can understand why the judges didn’t like his choice, but more confounding was that none of his teammates staged a culinary intervention. And we’re calling you out by name, Sarah.

After saying she didn’t “want to be that person” who throws a colleague under the bus, Sarah did just that to Keith, saying in front of the judges, “I never do enchiladas with flour tortillas.” But as the video replay in the web-only “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen” showed, she stood right by Keith when he grabbed the wrong kind of enchilada wrap, and did nothing to counsel him to make a better choice. Sarah threatens to be the kind of contestant no one likes, proclaiming her virtue with one hand, as the other stabs her rivals in the back. And she might have picked a better person to torpedo than Keith, who is not yet gone for good, having defeated Andrew in “Last Chance Kitchen,” wherein Tom Colicchio pronounced Keith’s clams nearly perfect.

Remember, Sarah, Keith taught himself how to cook in jail, where he probably ran across a fair number of snitches.


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-- John Horn