Top Chef Texas Episode 8: Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Chef Ed Hardy Ce Soir?

"Whoa! @MarioBatali just retweeted one of my tweets!"

We’re still stuffed from lots of Christmas-time dining and talking about the latest episode of Top Chef: Texas with Ed Hardy of Red Rooster Harlem.

Have you been to Austin?

No, but its on my short list of places I need to go. I hear the food scene is great!

This is probably something every chef should have up her or his sleeve: What’s your ultimate bacon dish?

This is an easy question. For the holidays I always make a Bacon Tree. Merry $%&#ing Christmas! When I need a lighter bacon snack, I love the classic BLT, but put together with a little homemade lemon aioli and some Nueske’s bacon.

I just ordered some life-changing bacon from Flying Pigs Farm. Holy cow! Or, rather holy pig! Speaking of pork, also, I just had this amazing sausage hash at Locanda Verde. You have to eat there. Unreal!

I’ve heard about the hash at Locande Verde. I’m not important enough to be able to score a table. Maybe if I keep writing stuff like this they’ll allow me in. Hash, in any form, is a good thing. Whether you’re at a Waffle House and get it scattered, smothered, covered and chunked or if you’re on the slopes in Switzerland and you order a Rösti avec du fromage, de l’oignon et jambon it’ll be delicious. Because, oddly enough, you just ordered the exact same thing.

"Raise your hand if you think I'm prettier than Padma!"

I’m always struck how neat and compactly these competitors seem to work. I imagine NYC kitchens dont have much room.

At this point all of these folks have developed cute little tricks for how to stack things up on their prep tables. All kitchens (not just NYC ones) have size challenges. Some of them are too big which presents another problem. Forget to grab an ingredient? You’ve got a ten-minute walk ahead of you. Some of the smallest kitchens I’ve worked in were in Richmond, Virginia. I’ve heard of horror stories from some guys over at Union Square Cafe Tokyo, where there is an allotted one inch of space between each chef’s hips.

Chris J. is constantly a letdown. I think his time is almost up.

I tried defending him. But it’s obvious that he just doesn’t get “it.” He can’t divorce himself from his crazy ideas and now he’s starting to put together plates that don’t really make any sense.

Ed laughs as he pretends to squeeze Heather's head.

I love Sarah. She’s a good egg. And Paul wins it! That dish looked pretty damned impressive.

Most of the chefs that come out of Spiaggia in Chicago are good eggs. I had the pleasure of working with her immediate predecessor Missy Robbins who recently won a James Beard award at A Voce. Paul’s dish is wonderful. It looks great and even surprised Tom! Kids, don’t try the pairing Paul pulled off here at home. I honestly don’t know how he did it.

I don’t think I’d be this excited for Patti LaBelle.

Patti who?

Who inspired your culinary journey, Ed? What dish evokes your memory of that person?

My entire culinary journey was inspired by an intense desire to impress girls. When I was in college cooking it was cool to experiment with unknown Asian ingredients. Back then, fish sauce and sriracha were new and different. Lime leaf was the big surprise though. The first time I steeped lime leaf in coconut milk takes me back to my college days. If I recall, I overdid it on the sriracha, and the date ran back to her dorm never to be seen again.

We don't have anything snarky to say about sweet Sarah.

It looks like Ed, Paul, Sarah and TyLor nailed it. And Sarah deserved that win.

Ed and Paul are certainly shaping up to be tough competitors. Both of them are currently working in the Culinary Boondocks, which might reflect a new trend in American dining, where some of the most interesting cuisine is happening outside of the traditional hotspots. Sarah deserved the win and has really shown that she can cook with her heart.

Heather goes home, but is it because of this week’s episode or last week’s?

This week’s surprisingly enough. She was using the wrong meat for her braise. You could have braised it forever and it would have come out wrong. Some of the best meats for braising are also the cheapest and have lots of fat and connective tissue that break down. Hers didn’t. Anyway, ding dong the witch is dead!

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