Top Chef: Friday Night Bites
March 15, 2022 12:43 PM - Season 19, Episode 2 - Subscribe

The chefs are challenged in the Quickfire to put their own spin on the Tex-Mex classic queso, judged by local legend Chef Irma Galvan. For the Elimination Challenge, the competition heads to the field of a high school football stadium. Working in two teams of seven coached by all-star alumni Sam Talbot and Dawn Burrell, they’ll create seven carb-loaded dishes that will be served in a head-to-head battle. The team that scores a touchdown first wins. Tom, Padma and Gail will be joined by award winning Chef Chris Shepherd and Top Chef Charleston winner Brooke Williamson at the judges' table.

Just FYI, I don't watch LCK and won't be making a post about it. Not sure what the rules are about discussing in here?
posted by Bunny Boneyology (6 comments total)
...Still waiting for Michigan to field a competitive contestant, 17 years in. Maybe send a black person from Detroit or an Arabic person from Dearborn rather than another bland white suburban dude or chick?
posted by praemunire at 12:59 PM on March 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

Why would you do crunchy queso? What makes you think that would be a good idea?
(Also, there are a host of Top Chef alums on Tournament of Champions, and Guy Fieri is happily announcing how well people did on Top Chef, which really surprised me.)
posted by Spike Glee at 8:18 AM on March 16, 2022

I couldn't understand why they sent in the dessert not at the end, just a real head scratcher.
posted by Carillon at 8:22 PM on March 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

Why would you do crunchy queso? What makes you think that would be a good idea?

I get the urge to do a change up, I think there was a reasonable entry that way. Frico (the thin kind) is a thing - it's a melting cheese fried in a pan into crisps. I make a version with old cheddar; it can be greasy but is fabulous with tomato soup. And I think that could be a good take, just paired with an actual dip. A salsa of corn, tomatoes and peppers would have evoked the rest of the concept of queso, and could have been a bright, cool, refreshing take.

The thing that got me was when Stephanie was eliminated she talked about how she hadn't been able to cook her (implicitly North Dakota meat-and-potatoes) food, which is standard for early exits. But she had two elimination challenges; the first one due to poor communication with her team she tried to so something Asian; but the stated challenge was "cook beef". The second challenge was "cook a starchy food". She literally couldn't have had two better challenges, she just made weird choices.

I was a little surprised that no one pushed back on the idea of chickpeas as carbs, when legumes are often considered a protein (yes, chickpeas are high in both). There was even a shot of a "keto chickpea" product that I thought was setting that up.
posted by Superilla at 11:03 PM on March 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

I like the idea of crunchy queso as some cheffy spin! A Frico-like thing, as Superilla says. But the dip is key. The trick is to complete the inversion. Normal queso is crunchy corn chips and unctuous cheese dip. So go with crunchy cheese and unctuous corn dip. I think a thick corn bisque would be the right texture. Only then the flavor of corn bisque is pretty sweet so you'd need a cheese to offset it. Not sure you could bring much chile or other tex-mex flavors to the party. Maybe there's a way to toast the corn first so it's more like corn meal and less like fresh sweet corn.

I was a little sad that the Houston competitor didn't just do a straight-up Tex-Mex queso and do it really well. Perhaps the weird old Felix's style of queso, I think a dish that's now lost in the general decline of Tex-Mex. That one's thickened with a roux and features a puddle of bright red grease floating on top. Or do the more recognizable Torchy's style. Does the Top Chef kitchen stock American cheese? Velveeta?
posted by Nelson at 8:21 AM on March 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

implicitly North Dakota meat-and-potatoes

She's not the first Midwesterner to go on Top Chef with this notion which I don't get AT ALL. "I'm from the midwest, we (the white people here that is) proudly don't season our food so for this challenge I'm gonna basically do that" OK?? Do you think that's a winning idea? That's what sucks about the food in the midwest! My local Mexican store closed down and everything else is a fucking bar and grill cooking burgers from the freezer so maybe I'm kind of emotional about this!!!

Justin from Minneapolis went on a few seasons ago and did fine because he doesn't think the midwest is made of boring steaks and potatoes from a box.
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:42 PM on April 3, 2022

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