Chicagoan Sarah Grueneberg of Spiaggia (far left) faces the judges with… (Virginia Sherwood/Bravo )
The competition began in earnest last night on "Top Chef: Texas." To keep things interesting this season, we're kicking off a point-based competition of our own for the six Chicago chefs in the cast.
Challenge summary: In the opening quickfire challenge, the 16 cheftestants have one hour to cook rattlesnake, judged by Johnny Hernandez, chef/owner of La Gloria, who is known for cooking game at his Mexican street-food restaurant in San Antonio. For the elimination challenge, the chefs are split into two teams, each tasked with preparing an upscale Mexican dinner for a Texan girl’s Quinceañera. Five of six Chicagoans (Heather Terhune, Chuy Valencia, Richie Farina, Beverly Kim and Chris Jones) are on the green team, while Sarah Grueneberg is on the pink team.
TOP CHEF TALLIES
(Applicable categories will continue all season.)
Times Padma dropped the f-bomb: 2. “I better see some mother-f---in’ snakes on some mother-f---in’ plates!”
Teams that made their own tortillas: 0
Hair accessories worn by Padma: 2
Words we didn’t know: 1. Pasilla, a kind of chili that Chuy used in his quickfire challenge dish.
Italy references not made by Sarah: 1. “Our cake is the leaning tower of tres leches cake.”
People spitting food into napkins: 1. That tiny girl in the huge dress was the cutest, right?
Instances Chuy talks about winning: 1. Two if you count the first episode where he said he thinks he can go all the way.
-He has already established his signature look: A colored bandana tied around his head with a pencil tucked into the side. First it’s orange, then purple. +2 points.
-During the quickfire, Johnny named his dish one of his least favorite, saying that the snake flavor was rendered “obsolete” by the citrus. Not a word you want anyone to use when describing your cooking, Rich. -1.
-He uses walkie talkie terms when talking to Heather. “Richie, can you grab me a scale?” “Copy, scale!” +1 point.
TOTAL: 1 point
-In the quickfire, her simple, deep-fried rattlesnake was deemed “perfection” by guest judge Johnny. +2 points.
-She made sure us viewers at home knew how seriously delusional Keith (a James Beard Award-nominated chef at a seafood restaurant in North Carolina) must have been to buy pre-cooked shrimp for the elimination challenge. “Who would buy pre-cooked shrimp in a cooking competition? The point is to cook the shrimp.” +1 point.
-She held Keith’s fellow shoppers accountable for his cooked shrimp decision ("Why didn't you guys stand up for the fricking shrimp? Oh my God.") but didn’t correct his decision to make their enchiladas with flour tortillas instead of corn. -1 point.
-The cochinita pibil she cooked with Lindsay was one of the judges' least favorite dishes, and she was one of four chefs on her losing team to be in jeopardy at judges’ table. -2 points.
-She was the subject of more than one bus reference—both driving it and throwing people under it. The gold standard of reality TV analogies will never get old. +1.
TOTAL: 1 point.
-He talks about slaughtering goats on two separate occasions, and also cooks goat for the elimination challenge. "The Quinceañera is a big Mexican party, just like a Sweet Sixteen,” he said. “Only the women have the Quinceañera; guys are just taught to kill a goat. We don't get a party." +2 points
-We get to see a photo of a toddler-aged Chuy sitting in a laundry basket with a cowboy hat in his lap. Awww. +1 point.
TOTAL: 3 points.
-She posts a print-out on her mirror in the cast house congratulating herself for winning “Top Chef,” complete with four exclamation marks. It’s clearly been folded up in her suitcase or pocket. Seeing is believing, Beverly! +1 point.
-She’s unsure whether she cooked the rattlesnake properly in the quickfire challenge, but ends up in the top three. +2 points.
-She knows what she wants when it comes to Korean condiments. “I'd like six cans of kimchee. Get the brand with the Korean lady on the front,” she said, gesturing to her face. +1 point.
-At the grocery store, she goes into a mini-tirade and bosses the butcher around. +2 points.
-She burst into tears when the birthday girl dances with her dad. (The producers certainly want us to think that Beverly will be crying us a river this season; a preview clip shows her crying again and another chef commenting, “There’s no crying in cooking!”) -1 point.
TOTAL: 5 points.
-Real men carry a pink knife case. +1 point.
-He references "Star Wars" while talking about himself and fellow cheftestant Richie, who both work for the same restaurant, Moto. “I want Richie to go very far in this competition,” he said. “If we can be number one and number two, so be it, Jedi.” +2 points.
-Cooking rattlesnake with bacon. +1 point.
TOTAL: 4 points.
-Her dish isn’t shown in the quickfire, which means she wasn’t at the top or the bottom of the pack. 0 points.
-She got to show off her pastry chef background on a show where most chefs whimper at dessert challenges. “I personally had pastry chef experience. That’s what I thought I wanted to do, but then I quickly realized how bored I was,” she said. “But it makes you really well-rounded.” +2 points.
-She lead the witness when it came to asking her about her dessert preferences. Do you like tres leches cake? (Yes.) Is it your favorite? (Yeah.) -1 point.
-Hot kitchen temps turned her cake into a lopsided mess. -1 point.
-It still tasted better than the other team's cake. +1 point.
TOTAL: 1 point.
In the end, all six Chicagoans live to see another episode.