“Top Chef: Houston” Recap: Episode 6

Grand Chief: Houston tackled barbecue, cookies, queso, Asian cuisine, Texas toast, and football-inspired high-carb dishes. Now, in what might be its most emotional episode yet, the competition pays tribute to some of the Lone Star State’s most influential female trailblazers, including Houston’s Barbara Jordan and music queen Tejano – Selena.

The excitement doesn’t end there. A leader returns after dominating Top Chef: last chance cuisinea Texan earns more bragging rights, and there’s enough girl power in this episode to inspire you.

Take tissues. This one is a teardrop. Warning: Spoilers ahead. Here is a summary of Grand Chief: Houston Episode 6.


Quick shot: The episode begins with an exciting twist. North Carolina chef Ashleigh Shanti returns after winning Top Chef: last chance cuisine and comes swinging.

Guest judges Nini Nguyen and Kelsey Barnard Clark of Top Chef: Kentucky require half of the remaining eight chefs to choose a sweet ingredient and the other half to choose a savory ingredient before teaming up to create a sweet and savory dessert inspired by Talenti gelato and sorbetto pairings. The winning team gets $10,000, immunity, and will inspire a new Talenti flavor.

In episode 6 of Grand Chief: Houston, The chefs first create sweet and savory desserts for the Quickfire Challenge, then dive into a challenge inspired by some of Texas’ most influential and historic female figures.
David Moire/Bravo

Mississippi’s Nick Wallace realizes his salty pick is far from stellar. “I have fucking pork rinds. Everybody’s not running away from me, shit! he says, but soon teams up with Shanti, who has chosen the ginger cookies. The two roll with it, making a ginger Bundt cake with lemon glaze, salty molasses buttermilk and blackberry crumble and brown butter pork rind that the judges immediately love.

The Texans — Evelyn García, who topped last week’s barbecue challenge, and Austin’s homesick Jo Chan — are planning salted almond bunuelos with candied peaches and basil cream. Although the bunuelo, a Mexican fried dough, initially sticks to its metal pan, García and Chan pull through to create a judge’s favorite.

Luke Kolpin and Buddha Lo stay true to their miso and honey ingredients, creating a miso cake crumble with miso-honey ice cream topped with miso-honey caramel with miso-honey leaves. Monique Feybesse and Damarr Brown team up again to create cornbread with corn ice cream, pumpkin seeds and parmesan crumble with pumpkin curd, while Jae Jung and Jackson Kalb combine their ingredients in a Asian pear poached in rosemary with a pistachio biscuit, pistachio cream and salted fresh cream.

In the end, Shanti and Wallace win, with the judges noting that their dessert was like cereal or a tres leches.

Nick Wallace and Ashleigh Shanti proud in the Quickfire Room.

Nick Wallace (middle) and Ashleigh Shanti (right) dominate the sweet and savory dessert challenge, making a Bundt Ginger Snaps cake with a pork rind crumble.
David Moire/Bravo

Elimination round: The pressure mounts when host Padma Lakshmi announces that the chefs will each have to create a dish inspired by a pioneering woman from Texas, then serve it at Brennan’s in Houston with modern inspirations, including: former Houston ballet principal dancer Lauren Anderson; Lori Choi, co-founder of I’ll Have What She’s Have, a women’s health advocacy and education group; Christine Ha, Executive Chef of Xin Chao and the Blind Goat; Cecile Richards, activist and daughter of Ann Richards; Suzette Quintanilla, Selena’s sister and drummer; and Sheryl Swoopes, WNBA All-Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist.

Nini Nguyen, Padma Lakshmi, Sheryl Swoopes, Lauren Anderson, Lori Choi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Christine Ha, Tiffany Derry, Kelsey Barnard Clark, Suzette Quintanilla pose for a photo.

Grand Chief: Houston invited an inspiring cast of Texas “trailblazers” to judge dishes from the tester chefs.
David Moire/Bravo

Wallace and Chan choose Ann Richards, the second female governor of Texas. Wallace makes a red snapper with beetroot risotto, kale romesco and pretty mushroom-shaped potatoes. Chan plays on Richards’ declared love of Thai fusion and channels it into Gulf shrimp tossed in a coconut-lime salsa verde with fresh corn polenta and salad. While Richards says her mother would have loved both dishes, Anderson says it’s too sweet and not as spicy, sassy or bold as Richards.

Brown and García get Selena — and it’s clear García is thrilled, noting that she’s dressed as Selena for Halloween at least five years in a row. Taking inspiration from her favorite Selena song “Como La Flor,” which means “like a flower,” García finds inspiration for her beautifully plated snapper dish with Asian pear, avocado, orange zest, and aguachile with salsa. olive oil with chipotle pepper. Brown decides to make tortillas for the first time with a comforting green pozole with cabbage, radish and cilantro. Selena’s sister, Quintanilla, loves both dishes – Ha saying García has a well-balanced texture, temperature and flavor. Quintanilla says Brown’s is a perfect dish for family gatherings.

Jung melts in a puddle, bringing tears to the room as she recounts how Leah Chase, an iconic New Orleans Creole chef who started restaurant Dooky Chase, was one of her greatest mentors and the inspiration behind its Seafood Gumbo and Kimchi Gumbo. She and Shanti, who make overly tough pork confit with salt and vinegar potatoes with wilted lettuce and herb yogurt, fail to truly honor their assigned pioneer Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest female athletes of all time.

Jackson Kalb pays tribute to Houston heavy hitter Barbara Jordan, the first African-American elected to the Texas House of Representatives, by using lots of heart and chicken guts in her creative dish of offal stew with tagliolini pasta which Swoopes called incredible. Feybesse did her best to incorporate ingredients true to the late Jordan’s hometown of Houston, opting for fried oysters with marinated okra and pancetta bean broth, but many judges say that fell short. “It didn’t impress me, and Barbara Jordan was great,” Anderson says.

Luke Kolpin and Buddha Lo note that Bessie Coleman, the first Native American and African American female licensed pilot, moved to Paris, France to learn to fly. In a nod to his Indigenous roots, Kolpin creates a salted salmon with oyster emulsion and chicken fudge that the judges say falls flat.

Biggest Oops

Feybesse cutting oysters seemed to be the judges’ least favorite decision of the night.

The best turnaround

With a little help from García, Damarr Brown adds more flour to his sticky tortillas and turns them into works of art to complete his pozole.

The winner

The judges voted for the winning dish, with Kalb, García and Lo all honored for their creativity. In the end, however, Houston’s García won, making it his second consecutive playoff victory. García is moved to tears and Houston applauds.

Houston chef Evelyn Garcia tries to get a bunuelo out of its mold.

Houston chief Evelyn Garcia wins her second round playoff on Grand Chief: Houston in its 6th episode.
David Moire/Bravo

The loser

Shanti looks disappointed and surprised to be in the bottom three, and Kolpin, who has been an inconsistent seasoner, is again criticized for her lack of salt. The judges ultimately eliminate Feybesse, with judge Tom Colicchio noting that his hesitation at this stage of the competition is less than ideal.

Chef Monique Feybesse mixes the ingredients in a bowl.

Chef Monique Feybesse created a successful corn ice cream in the Quickfire challenge, but failed to impress the judges with her fried oyster dish in the elimination.
David Moire/Bravo

Remarkable dishes

  • Lo chooses to take a risk with the chicken breast and simmers a “chicken in Bessie” with a Parisian mash in the shape of a figure eight (to pay homage to Coleman’s tricks) accompanied by a brown mustard sauce and a mousse chicken, plus a piece of popcorn, because if Bessie steals, he says, you’re going to want to watch the show, he says.
  • Whether or not organ meats are your thing, Kalb’s Organ Stew sounds heavenly.
  • Shanti and Wallace’s ginger bundt cake with pork rind sounds too intriguing not to try.

Favorite Moments

  • When Ashleigh Shanti bursts into Excellent chef-themed freestyle in her mirror. OK!
  • The heartwarming demonstration of teamwork. Jackson helps García pour chili oil on her dish when she begins to worry about not having time. García helps Brown evaluate his tortillas. Chan wipes Nick’s plate to make sure it’s perfect.
  • Cecile Richards says her mother Ann Richards and Barbara Jordan sat on the floor to watch Sheryl Swoopes play basketball, showing how these trailblazers inspired each other.

And after?

The next episode has a jurassic park theme, with glimpses of chefs handling a skinned alligator. Gator bites, anyone? Feybesse will also go to Last chance kitchen, where Detroit leader Sarah Welch hangs. Who will come back?

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