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Tesar Tries to Make a Whimsical Octopus Dish in Episode 10 of Top Chef

Tesar’s very whimsical octopus hash and kimchi scramble with chorizo and hollandaise.
Tesar’s very whimsical octopus hash and kimchi scramble with chorizo and hollandaise. Courtesy of Top Chef
The mimosa. Chicken and waffles. An omelet. All of these things were not conceived in 10 minutes at Whole Foods. I’m not fact checking any of that, but I can assume the people who invented these things put some thought into it or possibly, they accidentally screwed something up and then their groundbreaking dish was created.

But in Model Host Woman’s world, where denim jumpsuits are a thing you wear on national television, brunch items can and should be thought up in a few minutes.

This episode of Top Chef begins with the usual quickfire challenge, where the chefs must make a dish honoring shrimp. But there are too many chefs left in the kitchen. Model Host Woman makes it a sudden death quickfire challenge and even though none of the chefs actually die, one does go home.

Dallas chef John Tesar makes a seafood salad in the style of ceviche and makes it a point to add heat. Model Host Woman asks, “Did you mean for it to be that spicy?” I don’t know, did you mean to wear a denim jumpsuit in 2017? Tesar doesn’t say this. He responds with, “Yes, ma’am.” Good Tesar has manners.

Tesar does what he does best and scrapes by. His dish isn’t the best and it’s not the worst and C’s always get degrees. Never forget that, kids.

Casey Thompson, Shirley Chung and Sylva Senat had the worst dishes, and Thompson was sent home for being too something. Model Host Woman can’t put her finger on it, but she doesn’t like it. It’s either too little or too much. Too bad.

For the elimination challenge, Model Host Woman declares that “It’s time to have some fun with your food.” She says this with a straight face. Then the inventor of the cronut tells the chefs that brunch is his favorite meal. He also says that with a straight face.

The chefs must invent an entirely new mashup dish combining breakfast and lunch foods. Something as good as the cronut but not the cronut because that’s taken. They have a few minutes to think and $400 to shop at Whole Foods. This isn’t Tesar’s speciality. He says he likes simple things — like octopus hash.

Octopus. Hash. That sounds like a bad horror movie, not a brunch dish.

While the chefs are preparing their dishes, Tesar and the sweat dripping from his nose declare that this challenge is “one tough m-f.” He doesn’t even have the time to cuss properly.

Once the meals are prepared, the chefs serve them to a room of old Charleston white woman wearing obnoxious old lady church hats. There is one black man in the entire room and I have no idea what he did in his lifetime to end up in that room, but I imagine he’s in hell.

Tesar serves his dish to the table of judges. He says he thought his octopus and scrambled eggs would be whimsical. Model Host Woman looks at him confused while she takes small bites of the dish. Tesar can sense the judges don’t love his dish, so he exits the firing squad with a quick, “Thank you, have a great brunch, I love your hats!” His sweat drips from his nose like a poor slave in front of his hat-wearing masters. It is enough to make Model Host Woman slightly grin and consider not spitting out her octopus hash.

The hat compliment wasn’t enough, though. Tesar, along with Brooke Williamson and Senat, had the worst dish. The Food & Wine Magazine editor declares that there was no real inspiration behind Tesar’s dish. She says this with a straight face. Tesar nods his head like he understands that comment and admits it wasn’t his best. Luckily, Williamson and Senat’s dishes were so much worse that Tesar was safe once again. Senat was sent home and Tesar makes the top four of Top Chef.
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Paige Skinner has written for the Dallas Observer since 2014.
Contact: Paige Skinner

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