Top Chef Texas

Just a few early observations on Top Chef Texas. The first episode was chaos for the contestants who thought they were already in. Everyone knows one lousy chef will pack his bags at the outset, but not a scramble in which 29 cooks compete for 16 spots (in effect making the season opener a qualifying round).

Some viewers were rightfully concerned about the process and the challenge not only for the contestants but for the judges: “Was it really structured so that the judges made their decisions on each group of chefs as they came in?” asked a reader of Tom Colicchio’s blog. “That seems very risky to me in terms of not having enough spaces for deserving chefs who competed last. It seems like a big boost to chefs who went early when the judges might have given the coats more ‘freely’ instead of knowing there were a limited number of spaces left.” Another fan also wondered about “the possibility of a more deserving chef in group 3 not getting a spot because they were in the last group. Ten more chefs are yet to cook, and there are four chefs on the bubble, so you now have only 5 places for ten or fourteen chefs.” Of course the sequence could have been carefully edited and the judging process conducted in a more sane (but perhaps more tedious) way.

And finally, there was the awkward moment when Chef Colicchio unilaterally eliminated a contestant before he was even done cooking. Tyler Stone was in the midst of butchering (both literally and figuratively) pork chops when Colicchio came over, gave it a once-over, and told him to pack up his knives. At first Stone refused to take the host seriously (this had never been done in eight seasons). The California personal chef looked at Colicchio with a tight, frozen smile, but his eyes were filled with horror. “I won’t even address the young guy who couldn’t even butcher a simple piece of meat,” wrote Colicchio.

But if you watch Stone’s audition tape, the poor guy clearly had it coming.

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