Prime Chef Houston Energy Rankings, Week 5: The Inevitability Of Brisket

All of us knew a barbecue problem could be coming finally — that is Prime Chef HOUSTON, in spite of everything. 5 episodes in feels… tasteful. It’s just like the producers didn’t need to appear too keen, however they didn’t need to drag it out too lengthy and make it a complete factor both. This was the themed problem equal of arriving fashionably late to a celebration. Good.

So yeah, it was barbecue week on Prime Chef, and in Texas, what barbecue means: brisket. Brisket makes an awesome topic for a barbecue problem as a result of it has most likely the bottom ground and the very best ceiling of any barbecue meat. Unhealthy brisket, which is simple to search out, sucks. I’d relatively eat a median hamburger than dangerous brisket. If I’m at a barbecue joint I’ve by no means been earlier than with an unknown repute, I’m ordering pork ribs over brisket each time. They’re simply method tougher to screw up. Right here in Central California, I’m going for tri-tip, which takes about 20 minutes on a grill relatively than a full day in a smoker and tastes constantly fairly rattling good.

However a good brisket, long-cooked, completely seasoned, and juicier than my thighs after a brisk jog, is tough to beat. For this week’s elimination problem, visitor choose Brooke Williamson took the contestants on over to J-Bar-M to decide on, trim, and season their meat. Which might then go in a J-Bar-M smoker for 12 hours. Their problem could be to then incorporate that brisket right into a dish, one thing that “flips the script on what barbecue will be,” to be judged by Greg Gatlin and 20 of Houston’s prime pitmasters.

There have been a pair attention-grabbing selections right here. Chief amongst them being to standardize and outsource all the smoking course of. On the one hand, that made it rather a lot simpler for the contestants. On the opposite, this most likely isn’t “true barbecue,” since all they needed to do was trim, rub, and wait, letting another person deal with the fireplace. However true barbecue or not, it did save us on a regular basis that might’ve inevitably been spent watching the contestants sweat over their coals and making an attempt to maintain the smoker going and blah blah blah. There are no less than 10 barbecue exhibits protecting this already, and actually, zzzzzzzz.

Ditto having them make a brisket dish, relatively than simply serve a brisket. Barbecue judging is sort of painfully codified and inflexible as of late, and in the event that they’d made us sit by way of 25 minutes of sweaty guys in plaid shirts pontificating about smoke rings and tenderness assessments I might’ve put a gun in my mouth and blown my brains everywhere in the again wall of my TV room (too far? High-quality, I could also be exaggerating, SLIGHTLY).

But simply when the contestants thought they may take a deep breath and settle in for a pleasant lengthy chill sesh whereas the smoke did its factor, Brooke blew the Prime Chef shofar, saying a SURPRISE QUICKFIRE! This one was devoted to Texas Toast. Texas Toast, as we have been knowledgeable in Brooke’s essential historic anecdote, is a Texas delicacy that, legend has it, was born when somebody in Texas by accident purchased some large toast. “However… this toast is TOO BIG!” whined the small-minded.

That was when well-known free spirit Augustus Toast piped up and stated “Nay, the large toast is good. Grill and serve it with Arby’s new Texas Beef and Cheddar with additional horsey sauce.”

Thus a legend was born, or one thing like that. Truthfully, I spiced it up a little bit, as a result of in any other case it was the world’s most banal origin story. “Somebody purchased some large toast one time and the remaining is historical past.” Anyway, the cooks have been tasked with serving up a bread-based appetizer. Was Carrie Baird not obtainable to visitor choose? It virtually felt like they have been going out of their method to not use the phrases “Fancy Toast.”

Anyway, for those who’ve ever had bruschetta, pan con tomate, any form of pintxo, or most likely 20 different regional specialties (shrimp toast!), that bread-based appetizers have been a factor for a very long time. Which is nice. I watched this week’s episode proper earlier than mealtime and virtually every part in it, from the bread-based apps to the brisket-ensconced mains, had me feeling hungry as hell. Simply one of the best meals porn episode of the season.

The producers confirmed the briskets moving into! Effectively finished.


  • Quickfire Prime: Nick*, Jo, Jackson.
  • Quickfire Backside: Luke, Monique.
  • Elimination Prime: Buddha, Evelyn*, Jackson.
  • Elimination Backside: Monique, Ashleigh**, Jo.



10. (-3) ((Eradicated)) Ashleigh Shanti

Ashleigh Shanti Top Chef Houston 19
NBC Common

AKA: Moon Juice.

This week, Ashleigh stated she was anxious to lastly “put myself on a plate.” DING DING DING! (That’s me ringing the “Prime Chef cliché” bell).

For the Quickfire, Chef Ashleigh ready a “Texas Toast pizza roll-up,” which seemed prefer it concerned toast that was rolled out with a rolling pin, rolled up like a taquito with some cheese, then deep fried and served over tomato sauce. Truthfully, pure genius. The judges ought to’ve carried her out on their shoulders after that.

For her brisket, Chef Ashleigh dreamed up a “kitchen pepper” spiced brisket (kitchen pepper apparently being a Caribbean-influenced combination of allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and perhaps another stuff too) influenced by “rooster and slicks,” a wide range of rooster and dumplings. Hers would come with brisket and candy potato slicks, served in a cream of collard soup. I’m an absolute piggy for rooster and dumplings and actually dumplings typically (I even have a unified principle of meals that claims that for those who’re making an attempt a brand new and unfamiliar delicacies, all the time order the dumplings, which nearly all the time mix one of the best of that delicacies’s inventory spices and are usually ready lovingly by the elders of the kitchen), so every part about that sounded fairly good.

“Laborious to eat,” raved the judges. “I can really feel my arteries clogging,” stated one of many pitmasters.

It’s usually a foul signal when knowledgeable barbecue man with elaborately styled facial hair worries concerning the well being of his arteries. Seems Ashleigh compounded her mistake of underseasoning her brisket by serving stated brisket in large meaty chunks immersed in a creamy soup. No one desires to eat soup with a knife and fork. Is it soup? Is it sauce? Are you making an attempt to choke Tom Colicchio? It is a dish match for pelicans! Ashleigh’s UX designer is fired.

Placing your self on a plate is all nicely and good, however perhaps smaller chunks subsequent time? It’s exhausting to not really feel for Ashleigh right here, spending a full day smoking brisket, getting ready dumplings, creaming collards, and so on. solely to go dwelling for the very simple-yet-obvious sin of not reducing the meat sufficiently small.

9. (+1) Jo Chan

Jo Chan Top Chef Houston
NBC Common

AKA: Sarge. Smiles.

Sarge opened this episode lamenting “I haven’t been capable of actually prepare dinner my meals since I’ve been right here.”

Chug your drink! Sheesh, the Prime Chef cliché bell is basically getting a exercise this episode.

Sarge was truly sitting fairly after the quickfire, serving up a mushroom toast that landed her within the prime three. She tends to thrive when she retains it easy. Which is strictly what she didn’t do within the elimination problem, serving up a complicated pappardelle in brisket melange. Did I see corn kernels in there? What the fuck, man.

I are inclined to suppose Sarge most likely ought to’ve gone dwelling as an alternative of Ashleigh this week. Ashleigh’s mistake was arguably extra fundamental, however it will’ve taken much more to unfuck no matter was taking place with Jo’s.

8. (even) Luke Kolpin

Luke Kolpin Top Chef Houston Season 18
NBC Common

AKA: Liddell. Die Laborious. Meekus. Eurotrip. Noma… Noma… Noma gonna be on this competitors for much longer, anyway.

EMTs virtually needed to come to my home and revive me with the defibrillator paddles after Meekus managed to go a whole episode with out as soon as mentioning that he lives in Europe. Unbelievable! And there have been so many openings for it! “Texas Toast? Attention-grabbing, in Denmark we name it an Aalborg flatty.” “People who smoke? Curious. At Noma we wrap the briskets with foraged seaweed and go away it to steep within the trunk of a Volkswagon.”

In any other case, Luke was again to his outdated methods, which is to say wanting like a man who was about to go dwelling, when he served up a ciabatta coated in a crawfish-pancetta emulsion (three phrases I’ve by no means mixed earlier than) that was so salty that Tom deserted his regular poker face. “It is a salt lick,” he stated to Brooke.

But he went on to completely redeem himself within the elimination problem, along with his brisket in onion-based barbecue sauce served with a coriander and lime stem salad that everybody appeared to largely get pleasure from. How does he preserve doing this? Luke has change into the darkest of darkish horses.

7. (-1) Monique Feybesse

Monique Feybesse Top Chef Houston 19
NBC Common

AKA: Pebbles Flintstone. Henrietta Hawk. Stretch.

Each episode this season has included no less than one shot of Miniscule Monique having to climb atop a procuring cart or stand on prime of Jo’s head to achieve one thing on a excessive shelf. It’s like she solely retailers from the excessive cabinets. Monique and Jo ought to should compete as one chef, with Monique on prime of Jo’s shoulders inside a giant chef’s coat.

For the quickfire, Monique informed us that she’d be cooking one thing that upon first utterance sounded rather a lot like “MILF loin.” Mmm, love a MILF loin. I solely eat the tenderest MILF loin, pounded flat and stuffed.

Seems she was truly saying “mille feuille,” a french dessert with layers of pastry and custard. Monique’s mixed untoasted bread, buttercream, and mushrooms, which apparently tasted as bizarre because it sounded. Tom questioned the untoasted bread, however Monique identified that she didn’t need her buttercream to soften, and certain, you undoubtedly don’t need to serve mushrooms with melted buttercream. You need the buttercream good and congealed to actually maintain all that mushroom taste.

Monique went trés Fronch once more within the elimination problem, with an onion soubise, beef fats potatoes, and a bone-marrow honey glaze, which had the judges raving “bland potatoes,” “a correct minimize goes a great distance,” and “this felt like a culinary faculty dishes, the place the scholar presents a random mixture of methods they’re making an attempt to grasp.”

What did we be taught? It appears we discovered {that a} dice is just not one of the best ways to current a brisket.

6. (+3) Jae Jung

Jae Jung Top Chef Houston season 18
NBC Common

AKA: Noodles. Jae West. Hilaria.

Jae continues to be a little bit of an enigma. This episode didn’t function any interviews of Jae getting weirdly sexy about meals or laughing her ass off at her personal jokes, which was a little bit of a disappointment, if we’re being trustworthy. As a substitute she delivered first rate meals and strong puns. Her shrimp-lobster toast and “Okay-jun-style brisket” (a play on Korean and Cajun, get it?) had “a ton of taste” although neither landed her within the prime nor the underside of both problem, leaving me no nearer to realizing the place the hell to place Jae in these rankings.

5. (-2) Buddha Lo

Buddha Lo Top Chef Houston Season 19
NBC Common

AKA: Mr. Worldwide. Huge Pun. Asian Ben Mendolsohn.

Buddha appeared to cement his fan-favorite standing throughout the quickfire, when he stated that he hoped he would win the $10,000 prize in order that he may afford eye surgical procedure for his pug. “They’re shit, he’s gone blind,” Buddha stated of his canine’s eyes, in one of the crucial Australian descriptions of all time.

Has there ever been a pug with out eye issues? Truthfully, if it’s functioning physique elements you’re after, it is best to most likely think about a unique canine breed. Pugs are largely animated loaves of bread that wheeze. Very cute although! Aw, poor pugs. Are you able to consider these items was once wolves? We turned them into malformed furry jesters. Mankind is unimaginable.

Anyway, the editors would’ve had us consider that Buddha was style-biting Monique for many of this episode, copying her concept for a MILF loin within the quickfire after which going equally French within the elimination problem. Buddha did her one higher in each cases, nevertheless, staying out of the underside within the quickfire after which touchdown within the prime three within the elimination problem.

Buddha’s “play” on beef bourguignon had onion jam, a beef fats potato croquette, and plating so unabashedly inventive that it almost single-handedly rehabilitated all the idea of serving brisket within the type of a dice. Fairly spectacular when you may get a gaggle of grizzled dudes in leather-based vests raving about your culinary Mondrian.

“Effectively I’ll be dipped in shit, I ain’t by no means seen a sumbitch make such a tasty brisket Rothko afore.”

4. (+1) Evelyn Garcia

Evelyn Garcia Top Chef Houston 19
NBC Common

AKA: Cuddles.

The opposite prime contender for fan favourite, Evelyn, got here into her personal this week. Being the one native this season additionally meant that she risked embarrassing herself in entrance of all of the Houston Homeys from the BBQ scene. Not solely did she keep away from embarrassment, she rose to the problem with a “Texas brisket curry,” that included brisket over rice in a pool of curry topped by a “burnt ends crumble,” the garnish I by no means knew I wanted.

She did the pitmasters proud, had Tom calling it “vacation spot meals,” the form of signature dish individuals journey from far and broad to eat, and bought infamous curry queen Padma so excited that she known as it “the curry I’ve been on the lookout for.”

Rattling, Padma usually solely throws round compliments like that when she’s liquored up. Evelyn took dwelling the win, and for good cause. She managed to serve brisket to pitmasters and curry to Padma concurrently and please them each.

3. (-1) Jackson Kalb

Jackson Kalb on Top Chef
NBC Common

AKA: Magoo. Andrew Lunk. Leghorn. Lurch. Bateman. Huge Chicken. Napholeon Dynamite.

I preserve desirous to sandbag Huge Chicken on account of wanting like an ostrich and sounding like Napoleon Dynamite, however I can’t actually deny him at this level; the dude stays profitable. He made a shrimp toast within the quickfire. That landed him within the prime three.

The editors then did their damnedest to make us consider that the Huge Magoo was making a catastrophic error by planning to grind up his 12-hour-smoked brisket to stuff inside a pasta. Which, to be honest, completely did sound like a horrible concept. Nothing highlights the attractive texture of that meticulously smoked meat like simply grinding it up like so many discarded hog snouts and beef buttholes, proper??

The bottom brisket could be for his “scarpinocc,” which, for those who had as Spanglicized an upbringing as I did, sounds precisely like “scarred panoche.” Which I consider interprets to one thing like “scarred mangina” in California Spanglish slang. Who doesn’t love a scrumptious scarred mangina?? The scars actually enable the flavors to penetrate. The concern lets it’s scrumptious.

Sorry, I digressed a little bit there. In what turned out to be a wild misdirect, Huge Chicken’s brisket manginas in what he known as “beurre-BQ sauce” (credit score for one more fairly good pun) turned out to be an enormous hit. The outdated pitmaster salts, shockingly, completely pissed their Wranglers for Jackson’s floor brisket in buttery barbecue sauce. Who may’ve predicted this?? Effectively, Jackson, apparently. He didn’t fairly win, due to Evelyn’s dwelling run curry, however he landed within the prime three. Giving the man-sized rooster yet one more feather in his cap and one other factor to crow about (too many chicken puns? No matter, f*ck you).

2. (+2) Nick Wallace

Nick Wallace Top Chef 19 Houston
NBC Common

AKA: Domingo. Chocolate Mormon. The Rely.

The Chocolate Mormon had me questioning my excessive rating of him these previous few episodes, however he actually introduced it dwelling this week, profitable the quickfire along with his tackle a BLT. That take included pancetta, roasted tomatoes, and a cheese unfold comprised of melted cheese and pancetta fats. Are you able to see why I like this man?

In fact, this week was for brisket challenges, and Nick simply looks as if form of man you take a look at and picture that he most likely is aware of how one can smoke a brisket. He made a rub that he described as “12-14 totally different spices.” To not be confused with “Nick’s 26,” his proprietary mix of seasonings invoked a number of episodes in the past. Does this man all the time rely his seasonings? Thank God somebody on this competitors is definitely giving me helpful nickname fodder.

Apart from Nick’s 12-14, his brisket included a pork neck and collard greens gremolata. Gremolata is simply an Italian model of a chimichurri, however something this man makes with pork necks sounds good as hell. I do know he didn’t make the highest three, however the extra assured Nick will get along with his pork necks, the upper his inventory goes, in my thoughts.

1. (even) Damarr Brown

Damarr Brown Top Chef Houston
NBC Common

AKA: Catchphrase. James Beard. Screech.

I’m calling Damarr “Screech” as an ironic nickname as a result of he may be essentially the most low-key, soft-spoken man on Earth. Damarr didn’t land within the prime three in both problem this week, however… didn’t it appear to be he ought to’ve been? It looks like when individuals like Olivia Colman or JK Simmons don’t win Oscars, as a result of at a sure level you simply count on them to hit dwelling runs after which they do, and it doesn’t really feel that noteworthy. This was Damarr’s quickfire dish, a bomb-ass pizza toast:

Top Chef Pizza Toast

Then he made a brisket with giardiniera, braised cabbage, and Worchester consommé that had Tom raving “That is unbelievable.”

I can solely conclude that the one cause they left him out of the highest three was as a result of Damarr being a finalist is mainly assumed at this level and so they’re making an attempt to maintain issues attention-grabbing.



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