Top Chef Texas Episode 3: Chef Ed ‘Honey Badger’ Hardy on Snakes on a Plate

"Obviously, Padma is totally Carrie, and Hugh is Charlotte. But Johnny and I can't decide if he's more Samantha than I am!"

Is it just me or is Top Chef: Texas getting off to a less-than-stellar start? Either way, I’m making Ed Hardy of Red Rooster Harlem tune in along with me!

Hey Ed! Welcome back for another week! Have you ever had rattlesnake (or even seen one)? I have not, but I really admire the Don’t Tread on Me Gadsden flag. Makes me respect snakes and like. Could you kill a live rattlesnake?

Never had rattlesnake. Never really needed to chow down on it, anyway. I imagine it’s fairly chewy. Can I just say that there are reasons we eat certain animals? Consider the ole’ rattler. It’s tough. It’s hard to break down. It doesn’t yield much meat. And, occasionally it kills you. Mother Nature puts a “Don’t Eat” label on certain things; rattlesnake is one of them. Could I kill one? Absolutely. Quick cleaver through the neck. A lot easier than killing cute cows and pigs. Plus, if given the chance, it could kill me.

Not you! You’re like the honey badger! Moving on, of all the dishes, I was kinda fouled up watching this, as I thought the more complex, pretty plates would take the QFC…but simplicity won. Can you speak to that notion and a few of the more notable entries put forth?

Yeah, I think we’re done with the era of artistic plating meaning something. Everybody now knows how to use white space and a bit of color to make something look better. And, everybody (generally) does. But we, as American foodies AND chefs, have been discovering a lot about flavors. That is the most important consideration. A good chef uses flavor to transport you to your mom’s kitchen or to a cafe in Morocco or wherever. I even have a personal mantra I repeat in my head (and sometimes out loud): “Make it taste like something.” Take Nyesha Arrington’s plate. Swoosh? Yup. Meticulous boned out snake ribs? yup. Time spent on making a beautiful looking plate? Absolutely. Time spent on making it taste good? Not so much.

Before we jump into the EC, I love the Moto guys, AND I wear my sunglasses almost all the time, including at night, BUT…what up with Chris Jones’s double glasses? It is killing me.

It’s bothering me, too. I hope one of his chef competitors freezes them in a huge block of ice or something. He was quirky enough without having to prove it with a prop. “Look at me! I’ve got a second pair of glasses on my head! I’m out of control!”

If you want to look twice as cool in the kitchen, wear twice as many glasses. It works for Chris Jones!

I hate the word slaughter. One step closer to a vegan over here.

You and me are going to have to have a sit-down. What’s the dealio? The Chief Dining Officer Caroline that I knew used to love lots of different critters. As long as its humanely raised and treated respectfully I say: “Let’s eat!”

The big Q is what would you do for this celebration to wow the crowd out of their comfort zone but also to honor tradition (Please don’t say that you will slaughter a goat…or any animal. Lie to me, if necessary!)?

I’d take what I know I can do well. Something like grilled corn. Then I’d cut the corn off the cob, purée some, leave some for garnish, then make a queso fresco fritter to dip in the purée. Oops! I just made myself hungry. I might go make that right now.

Why would you ever buy pre-cooked shrimp?!?! Or, use flour tortillas in enchiladas?!? Oy.

I’m going to surprise you with both answers.

Precooked shrimp? Maybe. Not in this situation. Certainly not normally, as shrimp are easy to cook. But I don’t think the problem was that the shrimp were precooked. I think they had gone bad. Look at all that sniffing at the bag they were doing. And no tasting. The problem was that no one in that entire shopping group thought to smell the shrimp.

OK. Here’s what I don’t get about naming. Apparently you can put whatever you want inside corn tortillas — duck, moose, antelope raspberries, mousse, etc. — and still call it an enchilada and not get called on it, according to Top Chef Judge Logic. But use a different tortilla and it’s all, “What were you thinking?” This is ridiculous to me. When is a hamburger not a hamburger? Is it the bun or the beef? Tom said he liked it.

In the same vein, the criticism of “purchased” tortillas is ridiculous. Hey Tom and Padma! You’re in Texas! There’s three or four local tortilla factories that make them fresh each day! Lighten up!

"I'll just tell Padma there's something she's gotta see in the walk in, and then I'll make my big move."

Ed, we haven’t been in the same kitchen in a while, but can you talk about why it might be so hard for these chefs to co-cook with one another as opposed to working alongside their colleagues in a kitchen every day? What is the problem here?

Normally, folks have a system in place to vet or edit their ideas. Marcus and Nils Noren edit mine. Without those in place, you have to learn to “self-edit” rand evert to a time when you assumed that you weren’t as smart as you thought you were. The Pink team was in love with their ideas, and, boy, did they have a lot of them. Theirs was an “aspirational” menu. When they finally got their head out of the clouds, they realized that they had a mess on their hands.

Unbeknownst to even Keith himself, he wasn't sent home for his food, but, rather, for violating the Mario Batali Orange Clog clause in his Top Chef contract.

What did the Green team do right that they ran away with it so handily?

Enough people thought: “Ok, let’s make sure the basics are covered. Do we have different meats covered? Check. Do we have a creative appetizer? Check.  Do we have someone with experience in pastry? Check. Do we have a native Mexican on our team to run stuff past? Ok. Check!”

I can’t believe they sent Keith home. TyFlo was ready to go! WTH?!

Keith was robbed. Tom said his dish had flavor. Plus, I just found this photo of Ty-Lör Boring Don’t worry, though! Keith beat Andrew in the online video in the Last Chance Kitchen!


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