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Top Chef, Season 9, Episode 5: Don’t Be Tardy for the Dinner Party

An experiment. I am thinking of writing about Top Chef, since it’s the show that probably brings out my biggest fan freakiness. These won’t be long, detailed reviews and recaps. Just a collection of thoughts once I get around to watching the latest episode, and have ~10-15 minutes to write a thing. There will be spoilers.

This episode has our cheftestants moving from San Antonio to Dallas. The quickfire challenge was one of those I don’t like — “Given an impossible set of circumstances, make something we’ll like!” So, whatever.

The progressive dinner at the homes of moneyed Dallas people exposed us to one of those breeds of people/households that I’m happy I have little-to-know exposure to. Pretty(-ish) trophy wives and the insecure yet well-paid men who marry them. And, being Texas, the women get bonus points for being tall and blonde.

Years ago, on a research project for a client, we interviewed a number of women about their role as the person responsible for remembering the important occasions in their family’s lives (keepers of the calendars and address books). One woman was a stay-at-home-mom in Dallas (or Plano or something), and it was the most disturbing research interview I’ve seen (I didn’t go, but watched the video). This woman was so fearful of living up to her own mother’s expectations that she pretty much drove herself crazy trying to be a perfect mom. To the degree that when she forgot some “important” occasion for her smallest child (I forget what), she felt soooo badly about it that she woke that child up from his sleep and dragged him to an ice cream parlor. In the course of this interview, she increasingly treated it as a therapy session, at one point admitting that she felt like “a monkey in cage,” and frustrated that she subsumes her entire identity and personality to support her husband and children.

On this research trip, I got into the only major car accident I’ve ever been in. I don’t have any good associations with Dallas.

I’ve been a fan of the Texas-themed challenges so far (Chili! Quincenara!), but helping people with more money than sense was not one I brought any interest to.

In terms of the chefs, Paul is clearly a stone cold maestro in the kitchen. First the ghost chile, and now he rocked a plate of freakin’ BRUSSELS SPROUTS. I very much want to eat his food when I am next in Austin.

When, at the judges table after Chuy was sent home, guest judge John “Look At My Pearly Whites” Besh, said something like, “in the end, it was the overcooked salmon that finished him.” And all I could think of was death in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life pointing an accusatory finger downward and exclaiming, “It was the salmon mousse!” But then, I’m a super nerd.

Good for Chuy to redeem himself in the Last Chance Kitchen, even if he won on literally a technicality. Bummer to see Keith go, since he was such a pleasing presence.

Also, I have to say that I’m super-digging Padma’s outfits this season. Texas fashion suits her surprisingly well.

  1. Good times Peter. I’m looking forward to reading along as we make our way through this season.

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