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Top Chef: Texas recap

A wicked feast challenge--finally something interesting.

Top Chef this week finally offered some interesting challenges, some serious cooking and Charlize Theron as an evil queen. Plus, they laid off the Texas, so that’s always good.

The episode starting out with last week’s ladies’ team of Lindsey, Sarah, Grayson and Beverly pouting on the way back to San Antonio because of Beverly’s win. They’ve got to give this poor girl a break—she can’t possibly be as pathetic as she’s been cast on this show.

Back in San Antonio, the chefs are introduced to their guest judge for the week, French chef Eric Ripart. He isn’t wearing a cowboy hat, so that’s a good sign that his challenge won't require them to lasso buffaloes first. The challenge assigned is to cook a fine dish in 30 minutes using the ingredients that are provided on a conveyor belt in the back of the kitchen. As time ticks down, ingredients will get more refined, but the chefs will have less time with which to work with them. Ingredients like goldfish crackers, pop rocks and canned beans tick by, meaning that the contestants are in for a rocky ride.

After the thirty minutes have finished, Eric Ripart picks Chris J. for his butter poached lobster with foie gras, Grayson with her butter poached sole with goldfish and rosemary and Paul with his Wonderbread, bitter melon and mussel stew as the weakest dishes. Lindsey, with her shrimp bouillabaisse, Sarah for her soft-shelled crab with cottage-cheese and tarragon sauce and Beverly with her tofu and salmon dishes are called out for being the best. Ripart says that Beverly would have won if she hadn’t forgotten to add her final ingredient—rice crispies. Lindsey wins immunity by default.

Next, Charlize Theron arrives, and tells the contestants that they need to cook a wicked feast inspired by her new role as the wicked queen. Finally a really interesting challenge. The contestants are happy, too, and make an entirely successful meal. At the end of the meal, the judges and Charlize enjoy all of the dishes—making the loser completely unpredictable.

In the end, Paul takes home the win for his enchanted forest plate with a salad of foie gras, bacon, pickled cherries and beets, completed with a bloody, beat juice handprint. Grayson for her “mutilated” plate of a black chicken leg, Beverly for her halibut, red cury and forbidden rice dish, and Sarah for an amarone risotto with heart are the bottom three dishes. For the single mistake of a slighty-gummy sauce, poor Beverly is sent home. Too bad she didn’t win—it would have been nice if we didn’t have to think of her as “poor Beverly” anymore.