Top Chef Texas Episode 14: Chef Ed ‘Blade Runner’ Hardy Goes Batty

"Sarah, we're not sure how we feel about your soup yet, but we all agree that your hat is terrible."

I’m wishing some of the chefs were replicants of former competitors, but thanks to Blade Runners like Chef Ed Hardy, they’ve all been terminated. I’m dressing up like Pris as we tackle the latest episode of Top Chef: Texas with Ed Hardy of Red Rooster Harlem.

First off, I am really not over Ed’s departure. Ugh. What a loss. He definitely should’ve been in the final four. 🙁

The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long — and Ed’s burned so very, very brightly. He was by far the most quotable chef and easily the most fun. What can I say? Once you’ve experienced an “Ed” you just keep wanting more….

Except, of course, in your case, Ed. The gondola challenge is really…dumb. It’s way too stunty. This season is wearing thinner than Harrison Ford’s hair.

Would you say it’s on thin ice?  I agree completely. What if one of the contestants really had motion sickness? What then? I’m kind of a ski lift geek though. I think the peak-to-peak gondola is kinda cool.

Beverly cooks furiously, hoping that Rutger Hauer doesn't make a surprise appearance.

Well, I’m also terrified of heights, so I wouldn’t do too well on such a gondola. You should see me on the Roosevelt Island tram. *Shudder* Although, that fear is actually borne out of watching Nighthawks (a movie that also featured a malevolent Rutger Hauer,by the by) as a child. Anyway, I actually thought Bev’s strategy was good. Do something cold because nothing is going to stay hot atop Whistler!

I guess it wasn’t bad; she came in second. But, I have to complain a bit about shifting judges’ standards. Bev’s salmon tartar with horseradish and fried capers is like a tired replicant that should be taken out and terminated for being lame. So, Grayson gets picked on for chicken salad, but no negative points awarded here? Consistency is important, in cooking and judging.

Can we talk about the guest judges? All the amazing chefs in Vancouver — and they are trotting out some tired old Olympians? WHAT?

I’m appalled. It may be cold up there, but the Vancouver food scene is Hot! Host to home-grown talent and recent high-profile imports like Jean-Georges, there’s no excuse for having Olympians from the 51st state as guest judges.

We're pretty sure that Rick Deckard booked this table on OpenTable.

The ingredients in the ice is, like Padma’s wardrobe, incredibly ridiculous. And, it is also incredibly skewed to strength. Not to be a traitor to my own sex, but most fit men are stronger than I am. Bev is like 1/10th of Paul’s size! What they heck?

It’s a common joke around restaurant folks to freeze personal items in blocks of ice, so this isn’t too surprising. But, yes, more than a bit unfair. Again, poor planning on the producers part. What if big ole’ Keith were still in contention? He could have broken the blocks over his knee….

If Paul was all like, “I’m glad to help because this challenge isn’t about the ice blocks, it’s about cooking,” why did he make a beeline for the King Crab? And, let’s be honest, King Crab is like the easiest, most flavorful thing you could make. Add butter. Enjoy. I’m not saying what he did wasn’t elegant, but that ingredient shouldn’t have been there. I also loved how the judges were all, “This is still a little frozen.” After being entombed in ice like less than 40 minutes ago? Wow, you think?!

Hey, take it easy on Paul. He saw something identifiable in the ice and he went for it. Later, he helped the ladies break the ice and even gave them some of his ingredients. (Did you notice the crab in Sarah’s soup?) I think his comment was more in agreement with your complaint about the ice than it was about culinary purity.

Also, Sarah with the soup again? ENOUGH SOUP!

The idea wasn’t bad; the execution wasn’t good. Cream does weird things when you freeze it. It sometimes “breaks it’s own emulsification” with the ice crystals, leaving you with tiny bits of cream cheese. I’ve been making a lot of soup lately, and made some superlative beer and cheese soup yesterday. Sadly, I eyeball everything, even when I’m making 20 gallons of the stuff. I’ve made things you people wouldn’t believe. Because I don’t write them down, all those recipes will be lost in time… like tears in rain…

Thankfully, that’s true. :p So, this next challenge…I would own this. I’m a good skier, and I am a terrific shot, even at skeet. I’ve shot a mini-14 semi-automatic, which was pretty neat, though pistols are my favorite, in particular the .40 Smith & Wesson. Anyway, I digress. I think it’s bunk that they got to lay down on all the shots. The standing shots are harder to take in the biathlon! Regardless, Sarah should be ashamed. She’s an awful shot for someone with any experience whatsoever.

If they were standing up, they wouldn’t have hit anything. Their trembling arms and rapid heart rates would have guaranteed it. Hard to cook with no ingredients. I wouldn’t do too badly either. Heck, my family publishes The Virginian Sportsman. So, I’m really not bad at trap shooting. One of my ski instructors was a James Bond baddie with a sub-machine gun in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (true!)  Wanna re-stage this between you and me? That would be some serious fun!

Fakest. Hug. Ever.

You’re so on. So Bev is lost without her coconut milk and lemongrass. I didn’t realize how one-note she was until just this scene.

Thanks god you’ve come around. The postmortum report on Bev read “Routine retirement of a replicant.” That didn’t make me feel any better about shooting a woman in the back on this blog. I spotted her a couple episodes in.

Caroline: I’m impressed. How many dishes does it usually take to spot them?
Ed:  I don’t get it, Caroline.
Caroline: How many different plates?
Ed: Twenty, thirty, cross-referenced.
Caroline: It took less than a ten for Bev, didn’t it?
Ed: [realizing Bev believes she’s human] She didn’t know!
Caroline: She’s beginning to suspect, I think.
Ed: Suspect? How can it not know what it is?

Oh, boy. Poor Bev! Of the dishes — I loved Sarah’s ingredients (cherries, kraut), but, yet, I feel like she barely bested Bev, if at all. Thoughts?

I’m stealing her cherry and sauerkraut puree idea. I think that could be something special. I think the judges finally gave credit where credit was due and assigned an “Olympic Degree of Difficulty” to the dishes. No matter how nice Bev’s dish tasted, most culinary athletes can pull off that move with one hand tied behind their back.

Now we’re down to three. And, it seems like someone would have to sic Rick Deckard on him for him not to be the last cheftestant standing. Thoughts?

Paul is like Roy Batty with no expiration date. He holds the culinary fates of Lindsay and Sarah in his hands.

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