Quickfire: Guest judges are Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, owners of the Border Grill (and I believe they just sold a sitcom based on their early years). The challenge is to create a dish highlighting a chili pepper. The hotter the pepper they use, the more money they can win if their dish is the best. The top three are Heather, Grayson, and Paul, who chose some of the hotter peppers. And the winner is Paul, who chose the hottest chili (a ghost chili) to make a coconut soup, so he gets money and immunity.
Elimination Challenge: The cheftestants are divided into four teams and have to create a pot of chili for a cookoff. The twist is that there is no clock, so they'll be cooking at home, and they will be competing at a rodeo.
There's a disaster at the meat counter as the store quickly runs out of brisket and some teams have to scramble. Once they get home, equipment is at a premium, especially in the outdoor fireplace. The cooking goes on through the night, and some people sleep for a few hours and some don't.
At the rodeo, the teams have to serve their chili to the cowboys and their families. Some of them like a more traditional Texas chili (no beans) and others like the nontraditional versions.
The judges are Padma, Tom, Gail (yay!), and Mary Sue and Susan. The food breaks down as follows:
Green Team (Sarah, Chuy, Chris Hollywood): chili con carne (no beans, beef chuck, Shiner Bock beer, and roasted corn garnish). The judges feel that the flavor grows on you, but it's a little thin and needed something like a chip to soak up the sauce.
Red Team (Dakota, Whitney, Chris Moto): braised brisket and short rib chili. The judges like the smokiness and the heat, but think the meat texture is stringy.
Blue Team (Heather, Edward, Paul): smoked brisket chili with summer pickles (peaches, radishes, and haricots vert). Heather is the queen of pickles. She's pickled something in every challenge. The judges like the garnish more than the chili itself.
Black Team (Nyesha, Beverly, Richie): Mole inspired chili with cornbread. The judges like the cornbread, but don't feel the chili is focused, because it's overly sweet.
White Team: (Lindsay, Grayson, Ty-Lor): Three bean and beef chili with poblano cornbread. The judges disagree over the use of pickled vegetables in the chili itself.
The Green Team wins and the Black Team made the least favorite chili so someone from their team is going home. To help determine who's going home, Nyesha, Beverly, and Richie have to try to transform the losing chili into something better. Beverly makes seared tuna with habanero creamed corn. Nyesha makes Frito-encrusted black tiger shrimp with roasted corn salsa. Richie made a Frito-encrusted pork tenderloin, potato hash, and ricotta cheese chili puree. So basically, they all used the chili as a sauce.
The judges like Beverly's dish the most, so she's immediately told she is safe. They felt like Nyesha's dish was too safe and she didn't use enough sauce. Richie's dish was imaginative but lacked seasoning. So ultimately, Richie is told to pack his knives and go to Last Chance Kitchen. Aw, it's really sad. He's devastated. There's something really little-kidding about Richie and when he cries, it's like seeing one of my kids cry. I mean, I won't miss him or anything, but it's still kind of sad.
After Keith's elimination, the cheftestants sit around outside their house and debrief. Lindsay talks about how they did bring up the shrimp issue (where Keith bought pre-cooked shrimp). Sarah adds that Keith didn't go home because he bought the wrong shrimp; he went home for using a flour tortilla which resulted in soggy enchiladas. Nyesha thinks that people's true colors are coming out and the competition has become cut throat.
The cheftestants arrive at the kitchen for the Quickfire. Padma welcomes them and introduces the guest judges: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Susan was one of my favorite people on Top Chef: Masters. [Note: Fun fact: A comedy pilot based on their lives as chefs/besties is currently in the works. -- RS.] Padma explains the challenge: next to her is a table full of baskets of chilis, and each chili has been assigned a score on the Scoville scale, some high and some low, which indicates their degree of heat. The cheftestants have to create a dish highlighting one type of chili, but the twist is that the higher the score on the Scoville scale, the more money the cheftestant gets if he or she wins the challenge. So they can choose the mild poblano and potentially win $0 (but get immunity) or use the ghost chili and win $20,000 (and immunity). Mary Sue explains that it takes a lot of skill and talent to balance heat and flavor, and Susan reminds them that the judges have to eat all of their dishes, so please don't burn their taste buds off. They have thirty minutes.
Some rush to the pantry while others head right to the peppers. Beverly just starts chomping hunks of peppers to figure out which one she wants to sue, and she explains that she's going to try to make the best dish she can with a pepper she likes, and not worry about how much money is involved. Richie picked a pepper that is one higher than a jalapeno, because he's not experienced in cooking or eating spicy food and doesn't want to screw it up. Chris Moto explains that the ghost chili (the hottest one) is like swallowing fire, and while he's usually into going big, his stomach can't handle spicy foods, so he's going medium.
Heather chooses a Thai chili, which is fairly hot, but she's going to pickle it to highlight the flavor over the heat. Heather likes to pickle things. If this Top Chef thing doesn't work out, maybe she could get a gig as Snooki's personal chef. Chuy chooses the habanero because, I don't know if you've heard, but he is Mexican and he likes spicy food. He mentions that he needs the money to pay back the IRS which doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'd want to talk about on a nationally televised show. It raises questions. Did he not file one year? Underpay? Nyesha is half-Korean, so she grew up eating spicy food. She explains that she's going to triple-blanch her peppers to remove some of the spice and keep the flavor. Wow, an actual cooking tip I could use on this show? Will wonders never cease?