‘Top Chef: Texas’: Fixin’ to get interesting

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It’s only the second real episode of ‘Top Chef: Texas,’ with the first two installments cutting the herd of cooks from 29 to 16, yet even at this early juncture a number of storylines are emerging.

Although it’s far too soon to identify safely who might last well into the competition, it’s safe to say who we will be rooting for and against. At the same time, the remaining 14 contestants after this week’s cut might remember some potential lessons based not only on what’s happened in this ninth season but in previous “Top Chef” seasons.


Who and what stands out?

1. Even with so many chilies, enough with the “Padma is hot” remarks. There’s been only one episode so far in which a chef hasn’t commented on host Padma Lakshmi’s pulchritude. Last season, “Top Chef” wrapped things up with lingering shots of her in a bikini. On Wednesday, she rode a horse like Lady Godiva in chaps, as if she were sauntering down a fashion show runway in the middle of a rodeo. It’s a show about cooking, not curves, and anyone with eyes already gets that she’s attractive.

2. Chris C. has the most reality show smarts. He noted of the duplicitous Sarah over some grocery store ploy, “There’s just something about Sarah that’s rubbing me the wrong way.” Us, too. Chuy’s self-aggrandizing act, which started funny and is getting tiresome, was spotted early by Chris C., who remarked of Chuy ironically, “I’ve dubbed him the most interesting man in the world.”

3. Go big or go home. Paul won the Quickfire Challenge as the only chef willing to cook with the ghost chili, which is so hot you can degrease most Caterpillar tractors with three of them chopped with a teaspoon of warm water. In the elimination challenge, which called for teams to make chili, the white team almost went home for plating chili that wasn’t spicy.

4. There’s no crying in cooking. Nyesha made this remark when Beverly started crying a gully washer of tears at the rodeo, not over the cruelty to the animals but because she missed her husband. We’re not sure Nyesha’s right -- anyone who’s slaved over a soufflé only to have it come out of the oven the height and density of a Frisbee, is allowed to weep -- but it’s probably good reality show advice.

5. Chris J. is now our new favorite. We like Heather’s personality, and are intrigued by Ty-Lor’s sense of humor, but Chris J. might have the biggest heart. Although the double glasses seems more affected than practical -- outside of flash fires, when do you really need sunglasses in the kitchen? -- it was impossible not to be touched by the compassion and concern he showed for Richie, with whom he works alongside in Chicago’s Moto restaurant. We didn’t get that much affection in a whole season from the brothers Voltaggio.


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

--John Horn