Top Chef 9.8 Who Taught You To Cook?

Thanks for your patience, guys – we took a much needed holiday break here at HDJM and are getting back into the swing of things.  Let’s power ahead!

Last time saw the horribly unfair elimination of Neyesha and Dakota. Dakota, I got, but Nyesha! She was my Season 9 Jen! She’s kicking butt in the internet cook off, so I have high hopes she’ll make it back in. We also saw Heather being a bullying cow to Beverly, and I’m totally over her. 

Heather yawns in the stew room being mean and awful to everyone until Padma comes in, telling them that they’re going to Austin! HOORAY. Seriously, everything you have (wrongly) thought about Texas will be erased by the awesomeness that is the city of Austin. It’s the San Francisco of the South (and maybe better. And guys? I love San Fran.) This is where Paul is from, so he’s both excited and nervous about it.

They load up in their product placements (anyone surprised by Heather driving? Didn’t think so) and Grayson continues to flirt with Sgt. Handsome, who in turn flirts with Paul. Oh, does he now? He asks if they were matched on would they be compatible? And Grayson says Handsome would be the “girl” because he’s pretty. Hey, Wisconsin? Guys can be pretty and still be guys. Gay relationships don’t work like that; someone isn’t “the girl.” Unless they’re into that.

Anyhoo… They pull up to the old school Driskell Hotel and land the Cattle Baron suite. It’s old school Texas money décor with horns and hides everywhere. And we learn that Paul used to sell weed as a teen so he could earn enough money to trick out his red Prelude. He snapped out of it, came to Austin, and began his career as a chef. I like Paul more and more.

When they get to Cordon Bleu, Tom is there waiting for them. He yammers about how awesome SXSW is (which it is, even though it’s getting huge and less “indie”) and how Twitter was born there. So this Quickfire challenge will be them being told what to do as tweets roll in. The winner won’t get immunity, but they’ll earn $10,000. Damn!

Quickfire: Is everything better with bacon? Prove it! 45 minutes on the clock.

They all race to start playing with bacon (and the answer is yes, by the way) and Bev uses a pressure cooker for the first time. WHY. Why wouldn’t you learn how to do that, to sous vide, all of the various ways to cook before you enter a COOKING COMPETITION? Damn.

Tweet rolls in: Do a hash for this #hashtag challenge! So now everyone is trying to jam potaters up in their bacons, and I’m getting hungry. Another tweet rolls in: grab an ingredient and pass it to someone else to use. UH OH. Ed is handed Sriracha and is pissed, because it doesn’t really work. Grayson is given tomatillos and decides to just puree them and spread them out like a sauce. Um, that just can’t taste good. Those need help, and then they’re delicious. But…


  • Chris Corn Puree with Bacon, Potato Hash and Seared Scallop (Tom says it’s too salty)
  • Ed Potato Hash with Bacon and Soft Shell Crab deglazed in Sriracha (he burned the hash, Tom says it’s bitter as a result)
  • Beverly Crispy Pork Belly with Corn, Bell Pepper and Habanero Hash (yum! She makes beautiful food)
  • Sarah Burrata Stuffed Squash Blossom with Bacon and Zucchini Hash (looks so tasty – I love zucchini hash, too. The judges say it was very crispy and nice)
  • Sergeant Handsome Bacon-Wrapped Monkfish with Potato, Leek and Bacon Hash with Clams and Passionfruit-Glazed Bok Choy and Maple Syrup (and DUDE. Too much in the name. Tom liked it, though)
  • Lindsay Crispy Soft Shell Crab, Sweet Corn and Bacon Fat Hash, Pickled Okra (you had me until pickled okra)
  • Grayson Shrimp Puff with Crispy Bacon Hash Cake (They call her out for calling a shrimp mousse a puff.)
  • Ty-Lor Maple-Glazed Bacon with Bacon and Kale Hash (I would eat the hell out of this, and the judges seemed to like it, too)
  • Paul Bacon Fat, Crispy Bacon, Blackberries, Chorizo and Mushroom Hash (it looks amazing, and the judges think it’s very clever)

Least favorites: Grayson, Ed, and Chris for being too salty.

Most favorites: Beverly, Sarah, and Paul.

And the winner is: PAUL! He just pulled a cool $10K, making his total winnings $30,000. Tom says he needs to buy everyone drinks, but tonight, they’re on Tom. (But don’t go crazy.)

They hit the hotel bar and a dude comes out playing lounge music. Um. But hey, here’s the twist: Miss Patti LaBelle steps out and sings (what else is she going to sing?) Lady Marmalade in a jazzy rendition that makes me a little itchy. I like Miss LaBelle, but that is a small room, and she is blasting at 11 and it’s a lot to take in. But Miss LaBelle loves some foods, so she’s going to be a guest judge!

Padma explains their Elimination Challenge: Who taught them how to cook? Make a dish for the judges that honors their cooking inspiration. If your grandma didn’t teach you how to cook, don’t expect to make it to the top 3, I’m just saying. Sarah starts crying, thinking about her grandparents and how much she loves them (she’s a sweet girl.)

They race to Whole Foods, which, I know it was born in Austin, but HEB Central Market is the superior store. Anyway. (Any Austinites catch if that’s the original Whole Foods on Guadalupe?) Grayson is looking for some shitty wine and huge cuts of meat, and that tells us a lot about her family, doesn’t it? Beverly gets emotional about leaving her baby at home and how much she loves her mother.

Back at the hotel, we’re tortured by a shot of Sgt. Handsome next to Ugly Chris, who is still doing that damn samurai pony on his head. Buddy? That’s not a good look. Also, his pants are sagging and Handsome tells him to hike his britches up. Then Ed talks about his grandma and we see a picture of him as a young man, and he was so cute. He’s getting a little snippy, though, so I’m wanting him to chill a touch. Paul’s inspiration is his grandmother’s Filipino adobo, Handsome has his uncle, and Heather is only inspired by herself. And John Besch.

They have two hours start to finish, and Heather is doing beef short ribs, and woman, those need at least four hours to cook properly! Pressure cooker would have been your friend, here.

Elimination Challenge Results

  • Chris Lemon-Pepper Steak with Baked Potato and Vegetables. (But in miniature! Jeez, dude. They judges laugh at his A-1 glaze.)
  • Heather Beef Stroganoff with Herb Spaetzle and Roasted Wild Mushrooms (the beef is a disaster. Patti calls it “Bigfoot” meat. Not cooked well, the spaetzle is gummy… Uh oh.)
  • Paul Quail Adobo and Ginger Rice with Green Mango Salsa (The judges enjoyed this one, and oooh, do I love quail.)
  • Sarah Pork Sausage Stuffed Cabbage and Spinach with Browned Butter (I am going to make this dish over the weekend. Holy crow, did it look delicious.)
  • Beverly Korean Braised Short Rib with Edamama Scallion Puree and Hon Shimeji Mushrooms (I would eat this daily. DAILY. The judges and Patti love it.)
  • Sgt. Handsome Sockey Salmon with Confit Potato and Brown Sugar Carrot Puree (It was a disaster. Fish cooked to high, too fast, congealed fat – albumen – drooling out. YUCK.)
  • Ed Modern Bibimbap with Lemon-Chili Sauce (Another dish I want to make soon, so, so pretty. The judges responded really well to this, also. One of the guests is allergic to eggs and couldn’t eat this. Why did they have anyone with a food allergy here?)
  • Lindsay Trout Spanakopita with Crispy Leeks and Rainbow Trout Roe (this girl and her weird uses with fish. I don’t know. They liked it, but it just doesn’t sound appetizing)
  • Grayson Grilled Rib Eye Steak with German Potato Salad and Grilled Vegetables. (Um, she took it literally and made what her dad made for her as a girl. Honey… Bless. Also, the meat wasn’t cooked properly.)
  • Ty-Lor Duck Fat-Fried Chicken Tender with Pickled Peaches (he learned from his Japanese nanny, and they really loved it. It did look delicious and uncomplicated.)

Back in the stew room, everyone toasts their inspirations. Aww. And here comes Padma to tell them who should apologize to said inspiration.

Judges Table

Grayson, Heather, and Sgt. Handsome are called in. And they’re the worst dishes. Grayson slapped a poorly cut piece of steak on a plate and there was nothing elegant or inspired about it. Heather just had a crap piece of meat that wasn’t cooked properly at all, the dumplings were gross and Padma won’t even look her in the eye. Chris made fish that looked like it was weeping creamy tears and Patti had to take a walk just to deal with it. Tom almost backhands him. It gets intense, is what I’m saying.

They’re sent back and the top chefs are brought in:

Beverly – beautiful dish, everything in the dish was perfect. Tom says her mother would be proud. Aww.

Sarah – there was a lot of hidden technique in her dish and it happened to be utterly delicious.

Ed – his vegetarian dish was surprising for that alone, not to mention the flavors were wonderful.

The winner: SARAH! She starts crying and laughing and oh, that’s nice. She’s a nice person that makes good food. The losers are brought back in so Tom can glare at them all again until Padma says…Heather: please pack your knives. OH SNAP! The Queen of Mean is gone, y’all! And she nods, because she expected it. And when she gets back to the stew room she says to the group, “Don’t be upset!”

Um, I don’t think anyone (aside from Sarah) is. Beverly is sporting quite the wicked Grinch smile, getting larger and larger as she sits in the corner. Karma is a bitch.

Next! REAL TEXAS BBQ. As in: pit style with loads of smoke. The place they’re headed is legend. Also, Imma learn y’all the difference between BBQ and grilling. Um, they’re not the same thing.