Quickfire: Create a dish using rattlesnake, and it's judged by Johnny Hernandez, local restaurant owner. Dakota wins with beer-battered tempura rattlesnake and a zucchini-almond gazpacho and gets immunity. Beverly and Sarah are also named as having good dishes.
The cheftestants are split up into teams Pink and Green and have to cook for a young girl's quinceanera. Someone from the losing team will go home.
The Pink Team is Lindsay, Keith, Whitney, Chris Hollywood, Sarah, Nyesha, Ty-Lor. Keith makes the big mistake of buying pre-cooked shrimp (though no one argues with him in the store), which means that Lindsay can't do her ceviche, since the whole point of that dish is to let the acids in the citrus cook the shrimp. Lindsay and Sarah seem to take over the boss roles, and some of the others (Keith) aren't really happy about it.
The Green Team is Chris Moto, Richie, Paul, Grayson, Edward, Beverly, and Chuy. Chuy is the token Mexican (by his own admission) so he tastes everything and adjusts to his palate, since presumably most of the party guests will also be Mexican.
The judges are Padma, Tom, Hugh, and Johnny Hernandez.
Pink Team Food:
Ty-Lor: fire roasted summer fritter with avocado mousse, which Hugh dismisses as a hush puppy.
Keith and Lindsay: pork tenderloin huarache with pineapple salsa, and while the flavors are good, the judges found it difficult to eat due to presentation.
Nyesha: tilapia ceviche with crispy plantain chips and spiced popcorn. The judges like the flavors but not the texture of the fish.
Chris Hollywood: Choclo con chile, which is the judges' favorite.
Keith: chicken enchilada with salsa verde, and for some unknown reason he used a flour tortilla instead of a corn tortilla, although his flavors are good.
Ty-Lor: carne asada with pinto beans gets positive remarks.
Sarah and Lindsay: cochinita pibil, which doesn't get high marks from the judges, and is judged even worse for using store-bought tortillas.
Dakota: strawberry and pineapple layer cake, which has too much frosting.
Green Team Food:
Richie: tapioca chicharron with pork carnitas, which tasted authentic but wasn't crispy enough.
Paul: shrimp yuzu ceviche with corn salsa and yucca chips, which was Tom's favorite out of all the appetizers.
Edward: tomatillo gazpacho with watermelon, jicama, and pork rinds, which Hugh says was great.
Chris Moto: green chile, mushroom, and Oaxaca cheese empanadas and the judges like his seasoning and his dough.
Chuy: braised goat birria, cabbage, red peanut salsa and handmade queso fresco which the judges like, except for the stewed cabbage he added.
Beverly: beef short rib asada with pina kimchi, which the judges like.
Grayson: chicken in ancho pepita mole with pickled red onion, crema, and lime which gets the worst comments, because the sauce isn't quite right.
Heather: vanilla tres leches cake, which is all lopsided and sloppy but tastes good.
The Green Team wins. From the Pink Team, the judges ask to see Ty, Sarah, Lindsay, and Keith, who made the least favorite dishes. It comes out immediately that Keith bought the pre-cooked shrimp, and that Ty had to throw together the fritter appetizer to replace Lindsay's shrimp. The judges hated the execution on the fritter, and Ty admits that was his failure. The big problem with Sarah and Lindsay's dish was the store-bought tortilla. The judges wonder why Keith used flour tortillas for his enchilada, and Keith claims that is how he's always had them in his part of the country. He and Sarah get into it because she claims he should have used corn but she never spoke up about that during prep.
Ultimately, they eliminate Keith because even if he had used a corn tortilla for his enchilada, it was still soggy and not well-done. Aw. I liked that dude.
Finally, the play-in round is over and the real competition can begin. The play-in round was a good idea in terms of getting rid of some of the obvious dead weight; chefs that may have done good audition tapes but couldn't hack it in the time-pressured environment of the show. At least now we don't have to waste that first few rounds knowing who is obviously going home because they didn't plate their food or whatever. That said, I don't know that it needed to be two weeks. It wasn't enough time to get to know everyone anyway, so they might as well have zipped through it in one week and not even try to let us get to know anyone. That's my take, but when I'm not recapping a show, it always takes me like half the season to even start remembering people's names, so maybe I'm off track.
The cheftestants are living in their house in San Antonio, which looks really beautiful and pleasant. I've been to Dallas and Austin, but that's it for me and Texas, and I'd like to try San Antonio sometime. Anyway, enough of my travel career. Beverly has printed out a sheet of paper that says, "Congratulations Beverly Kim Clark!!!!! You have won Top Chef Season 9 and $125,000!!!!!" Even if I believed in that crap, she gets points deducted for excessive exclamation points. When I was trying to get pregnant, my doctor was all into vision boards and positive thinking and visualization. I wanted to get knocked up just so I didn't have to talk about it anymore. I also wanted to ask him if his vision board is what got him his amazing lake house and new boat, but I thought that would be crass, so I kept it to myself. Anyway, Beverly is already bugging me for that reason alone.
Keith is wearing shades indoors this morning, which is interesting. In case you forgot, Keith is an ex-con, so that's his storyline. Chris Moto (who's actually named Chris Jones but there are two guys named Chris and it's easier for me to remember Chris Moto) says that he's happy to have his buddy Richie Moto there with him, because he's realizing that his competition is really impressive.
Time for the Quickfire! The cheftestants enter the kitchen and find Padma and some dude standing next to a giant aquarium full of snakes. No, thank you. There is also a small wooden box at each of their stations. And then a snake pops out! Not really, but they should have done at least one of them with the fake snakes in a can thing. Maybe at Beverly's station. Padma congratulates them for making it on the show, and Grayson interviews that she was the last person to make it past the bubble round, so winning the first Quickfire would redeem her, she feels.