Houston Season 19 Episode 5 Recap

Excellent chef

Don’t mess with the BBQ

Season 19

Episode 5

Editor’s note

3 stars

Photo: Well done

It’s never a good sign when Padma violates the sanctity of the Stew Room. His presence here is inherently ominous and usually signifies that someone Excellent chef trip ends. After last week’s double elimination, our bosses are totally nervous when she arrives immediately after the judges’ table to inform them that they will be meeting Brooke Williamson on site for their next challenge. With an out-of-this-world visit from Padma, speculation ensues. All signs point to an elimination challenge, and everyone is theorizing what it could be.

When the chefs arrive, it’s clear what’s happening: it’s time for the barbecue challenge we all knew was coming. Brooke is waiting at J-Bar-M Barbecue to present tonight’s elimination challenge. Everyone is patiently waiting to have a barbecue in Houston, and the pressure is mounting. Tonight, chefs will have to put a unique spin on beef brisket. They will have 30 minutes to develop a spice blend for their meat before Brooke and Willow Villarreal take over for the 12 hours the breasts will smoke. The next day, they will present their meals to Brooke, the judging panel and 20 of Houston’s top pitmasters.

Different chefs have different strengths that come into play during these specific challenges, but Evelyn’s hometown advantage and Nick’s experience with the barbecue pay off tonight. Beyond their knowledge, the confidence that goes with it is essential. Right from the start, Monique was one of the most nervous chefs facing the challenge. His background in food and baking can come in handy in other challenges, but barbecue in Texas is a nerve-wracking business.

When the chefs return from their trip to Whole Foods, they are surprised when Tom joins them at J-Bar-M. Although the elimination challenge has already started, he argues that they never said there would be no Quickfire. Ah, Excellent chef, always keeping everyone on their toes. For the Quickfire, it’s another decadent day as the chefs face off in a Texas toast battle. With the chest on the brain, it’s a test to see who can shift gears at noon. Immunity is back to winning, but you know what they say, everything is bigger in Texas: The winner of tonight’s Quickfire will also take home $10,000.

We’re up to ten top chefs, and given the consistent quality of the food so far this season, it’s no surprise that we have yet another solid display in this Quickfire. But perhaps this challenge was too simple, and the chiefs below came up with contrived interpretations that missed the mark. Luke’s pancetta toast is too salty, while Monique’s buttercream and mushroom toast doesn’t work from concept to execution. On the other hand, the winning dishes are thoughtful and classic, like Nick’s winning BLT. Although Nick is confident in his chest abilities, I’m sure it’s more than a relief to gain immunity. And hey, that $10,000 probably settles the nerves pretty well.

At midnight, the chefs pack their breasts until the next day’s prep time. They’ll have no way of knowing if the seasoning or tenderness of their meat is up to par until they get back to the kitchen the next day. This air of uncertainty hovers around the chefs as they begin preparation. Some are disappointed, like Ashleigh, who lacks the salt, and Monique, who doesn’t feel like her spices are going through the smoky flavor. But there’s nothing to do except hope the rest of your dish compensates. But in a challenge of chest, chest East ideally the star of the dish.

Curry isn’t necessarily what you think of for a brisket dish, but tonight Evelyn’s brisket curry is the undisputed star of the show. For the most part, Evelyn has spent this entire season leading the pack. I’m so happy to see her flourish with the chance to cook for the barbecue masters of her hometown. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and pride radiates from her as she presents her meal and earns a round of applause from a room full of her supporters. That hometown vibe is probably an advantage over other chefs, but Evelyn is so humble, and seeing how loved she is in Houston is a real treat. And with a killer dish to boot, it’s no surprise that Evelyn takes a well-deserved win here.

Getting perhaps the highest praise I’ve heard from Padma, the dish perfectly balances the classic brisket and curry flavors. “Where have you been, all my life?!” exclaims Padma. Gail, always adorable but not without a keen ability to make the sharpest remarks, describes how proud she is to have been able to eat such an amazing dish. I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t beam with Evelyn. A few familiar faces join her at the top: Buddha and Jackson. Buddha’s high concept beef bourguignon is just as beautiful as it is delicious. Always willing to take risks, Jackson decided to grind his brisket and make stuffed pasta. Since he has most of the season, his risks pay off and he manages to not offend any of the pitmasters by pulverizing such a nice cut of meat.

On the other side of the spectrum, Jo, Ashleigh and Monique are downstairs. As noted in other recaps, the heart and soul are amply rewarded this season. Monique, not confident in her barbecue abilities, played it safe. Without passion driving his flat, he fell flat. Although Jackson succeeded, Jo failed; its stuffed pasta is disappointing. It doesn’t have to be bad, and the judges don’t have much to say that she doesn’t already know. She and Ashleigh both miscalculated the longest cooking and prep time of the season by biting off far more than they could chew and adding too much to their dishes. Jo’s is the least offensive of this trio. Unfortunately, Ashleigh’s tough meat and mismatched flavors force her to pack her knives. It’s sad to see Ashleigh go after finally making it out of the bottom last week. She never seemed to have enough confidence in her work to stand out to the judges, and I’m sure it’s not due to a lack of talent and skill. Maybe Last Chance Kitchen will be where it finally finds its place.

• I rated Buddha as a favorite in Episode 1, and he’s clearly gifted, but something about his confidence rubs me fair slightly in the wrong direction. Her comment about using Quickfire money to pay for her pug eye surgery was pretty adorable, though. Plus, a point for wanting to put your dog’s needs above your own, now and forever.

• If you didn’t follow LCK, Leia absolutely killed it! She is 3-0 so far and hopefully her streak continues. Anyone who gets eliminated in the first episode and still wins out of spite is a favorite in my eyes.

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