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'Top Chef: Texas' entrances and exits

Looking back at the Chicago chefs' memorable moments

February 29, 2012|By Lisa Arnett, RedEye

Episodes 1 and 2: All hail Chicago!

Because everything's bigger in Texas, the season kicks off with 29 hopefuls vying for 16 spots in the cast. It's impressive that there are more hopefuls from Chicago than any other city, and even more impressive when all six of them make it onto the show.

Episode 4: Richie's ouster

Tasked with the late-night challenge creating a new dish out of his team's failed chili, Richie Farina from West Loop restaurant Moto is sent packing, spurring the season's most emotional goodbye between him and colleague Chris Jones. We'll fondly remember him for donning a paper butcher's hat with "Yee-ha!" scrawled on the side and later trading it to a rodeo attendee for a cowboy hat.

Episode 5: Ciao, Chuy

Overcooked salmon sends home the life of the party, Chuy Valencia from Lakeview restaurant Chilam Balam. His most entertaining moments include tipsily riding a toy rocking horse, calling judge Tom Colicchio the "Puff Daddy of steak" and confessing that he has "enough cans of habanero in my apartment to last through the next nuclear fallout."

Episode 8: See ya, Heather

Heather Terhune from Sable Kitchen & Bar in River North was eliminated after serving too-tough steak out of a misused pressure cooker. Host Padma Lakshmi dubbed her the "Queen of Mean" for her abrasive antics, which included berating fellow Chicago chef Beverly Kim for taking too long to de-vein 400 shrimp for a group challenge. She was also known for wearing fake flowers in her hair and baking excellent cakes.

Episode 12: Farewell, Chris

Throughout the season, Chris Jones showcased the offbeat creativity and cutting-edge techniques that Moto is known for to various degrees of success, but it was the dry bread on a chicken salad sandwich during a block party challenge that did him in. He'll be remembered for his samurai man-bun hairstyle, repeated citations of both "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" and deliriously serenading his beer-can chicken through an overnight barbecue challenge.

Episode 13: Bye bye, Beverly

Though Aria chef Beverly Kim was constantly criticized by the other chefs for being too slow/meek/Asian-centric in her cooking, the judges consistently liked her food and seemed to be splitting hairs when they sent her home for a too-sticky sauce. She was known for crying, running into people/things with her grocery cart and accidentally shooting curry whipped cream at host Padma Lakshmi.

Episode 14: Bev's back!

After getting a free pass to rejoin the remaining four chefs by beating other eliminated chefs in Bravo's "Last Chance Kitchen" webisode series, Bev is officially Chicago's comeback kid.

Episode 15: Bev gets the boot—again.

Bev was sent packing for the second time after a series of chilly challenges in Whistler, British Columbia, including retrieving frozen ingredients from giant blocks of ice by hacking away at them "like She-Ra or something."

Episode 16: We'll see ...

Tune in tonight at 9 p.m. to see Spiaggia chef Sarah Grueneberg face Austin-based chef Paul Qui.

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