Top Chef: The Ghost Pepper

My usual Top Chef episode recap is coming a bit late due to gorging myself for Thanksgiving… but this one was a hot one! **Warning: Spoilers Ahead!!***

The hottest in the world is the Ghost pepper, or the Bhut Jolokia. It's just under the delicious U.S. Pepper Spray.

Episode 4 kicks off with a super obvious product placement quick fire, featuring a popular tabasco sauce brand offering up cash to see what kind of schweaty balls the cheftestants have.  The challenge was to make a dish highlighting the pepper.  The hotter the pepper the more cash a chef could win with the hottest being the Ghost Pepper.  Whomever cooked and won with the 1,000,000 scoville heat unit rated Ghost Pepper would win $20,000. What exactly is the Scoville scale?

The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, which was devised in 1912.  The Scoville scale is a measurement of the spicy heat (or piquance) of a chili pepper. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes.

There was only one cheftestant was brave enough to use this pepper, the others picking less hot peppers with a smaller cash reward to stay safe.  That chef was Paul, whipping up a chilled coconut soup with faffir lime and Ghost Pepper relish.  His go big attitude paid off when he won $20,000 plus immunity, though Heather and Grayson ended up in a close second with their less hot dishes. Beverly, Richie. and Chuy ended up in the bottom.  Beverly and Richie had seen the bottom before.  Again- no love for Chef Edward Lee, they didn’t even show his dish! The only real things you saw from him this episode was him opening a bottle of wine on the heel of a sneaker (impressive), playing rodeo with Chuy tossing him off of a tiny play horse, and calling himself a genius for properly reheating chili without scortching the bottom.  However each of these things were done impressively!

Keeping with the theme of the quickfire, the cheftestants participated in a chili cook-off.  Both sleep deprived and intoxicated they comically worked through the night whipping up their own unique chili, though I could have done without the sounds of dumping large amounts of chili into vats over and over, that was super gross.

Apparently, there’s a saying in Texas “if you know beans about chili you know that chili has no beans!” That came as news to one team who made a 3 bean chili.  WOOPS! Other fails included the cinnamon chocolate mole chili made by Richie, Beverly and Nyesha who seemed doomed from the start with Beverly and Richie on the same team.  And they were.  After many cowboys and cowgirls chowed down and voted they came in the bottom, with Chris C., Chuy and “did you know I’m from Texas” Sarah who made their version of chili con carne taking the first place blue ribbon.

By the end of the night most chefs looked completely sleep deprived having been cooking for nearly 24 hours.  But the judges weren’t going to put the losing team out of their misery so easily, instead they decided to have them change their losing chili into a winning dish.  Beverly, who had already been weeping most of the rodeo due to missing her boyfriend looked visibly rattled.  Nysesha looked downright pissed and Richie was off and running.

Beverly served up seared tuna with habañero creamed corn, which the judges loved. Nyesha retooled her chili into Frito-encrusted shrimp with roasted corn salsa. Richie went with Frito-encrusted pork tenderloin and potato hash with ricotta cheese chili puree, which the judges agreed was one note.

Richie, please pack up your knives and go.

But in the end, Padma asked Richie to pack his knives, in an emotional elimination that tugged at my heartstrings when Richie said to the other chefs “it’s me” and started crying.  But it was obvious it was his time.  People I liked this episode: Chef Lee (duh) and Chef Chuy.  Chef Chuy makes a hilarious drunk adding just as much beer in himself as he did his chili.  People I didn’t: Chef Sarah.  She’s pretty abrasive and said about a gazillion times she’s from Texas.  We get it girl, yeehaw.

Until next week!


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