'Top Chef: Texas' Recap: Chili Is an All-Nighter

Padma LakshmiThings started out on a spicy note on Top Chef: Texas tonight. The quickfire challenge dared chefs to see how hot they could go with a variety of chili peppers. The hotter the pepper they chose to create a dish around, the more potential for winning more money.

Paul Qui was brave enough to face the ghost pepper, and rewarded when the coconut soup he served it up in snagged him $20,000. Lesson: Sometimes it pays to play with fire.

The chili theme then continued as the chefs were given a true Texas challenge -- to cook chili for a bunch of cowboys at a rodeo.

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The contestants were broken up into five teams and produced an array of incredibly diverse chilis. It took all night -- literally in many cases -- but from mole-flavored (the black team) to one that used brisket and short ribs (red team), there were no commonplace chilis to be found. For the most part it was just bowls full of chili goodness that the cowboys and cowgirls devoured with relish ... and cornbread in some cases. Yeehaw!

If there's one cooking lesson to take away from this episode, it's this: "Anyone who knows beans about chili knows there ain't no beans in chili," as one chili-eating guest declared. I happen to love beans in chili, but good to know if you ever find yourself cooking chili for Texans.

Of course, not everyone could win. So in rode Padma Lakshmi on a horse, causing the heart of at least one contestant to go pitter patter. Chris Crary compared her to Fabio and called her a "thing of beauty." Somebody may have a crush.

It was the black team that was crushed in the competition, and each of the three team members had one last chance to save themselves. They were each asked to cook up a dish that re-purposed their chili. And off they went ...

The judges loved Beverly Kim's shrimp, and Neyesha Arrington made it, even though the judges didn't think her Frito-crusted shrimp went far enough. It was the Frito-crusted pork tenderloin of Richie Farina, however, that disappointed chefs the most for being one noted and just never coming together. So Richie packed his knives and left ... and I hope Chris Jones is going to be okay without his buddy.

What did you think of tonight's episode of Top Chef?


Image via Bravo

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