'Top Chef: Texas' recap: Episode 7: 'Tribute Dinner'

Hello, Top Cheffers! Is it just me, or does last week feel like ages ago?
Poor Dakota and Nyesha got sent home, Heather took another step toward becoming the least-liked female contestant in “Top Chef” history, and Ty-Lör got his groove back.  
With all that drama, I am happy to see the cheftestants move on to Austin this week. It brings a clean slate in a new city and, of course, a hysterical carpool montage. The chefs' driving montage is pretty filled with standard silly banter but also gives us the gift of Handsome Chris’ in-house nickname, Malibu. Dayum, that man is just too pretty.
As the chefs arrive in Austin, Paul returns to his hometown and announces he actually is the guest judge this challenge. Considering his performance this season, I would not be surprised if one day that actually comes to fruition.
Quickfire challenge
The chefs arrive at the kitchen and see Padma and Tom Colicchio before them. Usually, when Tom is in the kitchen for a Quickfire, it means that the challenge will contain at least one twist. 
This Quickfire turns out to be a first in the “Top Chef” kitchen. Tom and Padma let the cheftestants know that at that moment @BravoTopChef tweeted out to its thousands of followers for a Quickfire suggestion. (Side note to basically my mother and any +50 year old reading this: I am not about to explain how Twitter works. Ask the nearest preteen or Kelly Kapoor-esque girl.)
Since I clearly am a “Top Chef” addict, I actually remember this tweet. I might have tweeted something ridiculous, then scoffed that they chose a tweet with the brilliant and original idea to cook bacon. Whatever, I’m over it.
The chefs love that they get to cook with bacon because bacon makes everything and everyone better. So with the chefs happily running about the kitchen deciding the best way to make us viewers at home salivate with their use of bacon, Tom tweets his followers to suggest a twist for this challenge.
A clever Twitter account suggests the chefs make it a #hashtag challenge and cook a side of hash. Hash and bacon go hand in hand, so this doesn’t throw too much of a wrench in the chefs' game, and only makes me drool more. I cannot think of anything I love more than bacon and potatoes. Seriously, I actually think I feel my cholesterol going up by watching this challenge.
The final Twitter twist in this challenge is for each chef to pick an ingredient from the pantry that his neighboring chef must use in her dish. Some chefs go cruel, like Handsome Chris (or should I say Malibu) and Lindsay, who exchange maple syrup and Srirache hot sauce, while others played it easy such as Bev and Chris J exchanging lemon and oil.
In the end of this cyber challenge, hometown hero Paul came through with a big W with his bacon three ways, making his total “Top Chef” winnings $30,000. That could buy him a lot of Healthy Choice products.
Elimination Challenge
As the chef go to the Hotel bar to, what else, throw back some cocktails, Heather and Grasyon hit on Handsome Chris, because they’re only human. The chefs are trying to relax, but you can tell that they know at any moment their elimination challenge will be announced. 
And announced it is by the lovely and talented power house, Ms. Patti LaBelle.  Now Patti LaBelle can cook! Seriously I remember watching an episode of MTV’s “Cribs” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWafe2CjqnI) and she brought the crew into the kitchen to show them all this food she cooked just for them.
So Ms. LaBelle and Padma tell the chefs that they must cook dishes in tribute to someone who was important to them as children and helped inspire their love for food and cooking.
Basically this turned into 20 minutes of each chef saying, “I remember my grandma/grandpa/mom/dad/aunt/uncle used to cook _____ and it inspired me.” Their plans to cook from the heart are sincere, but hearing 10 inspiration stories takes up a lot of time.
Most of the chefs have fun with this challenge and really go all out because they want to make someone proud. Everyone seems to be doing well except for Heather. Her food looks like Puppy Chow, and according to Patti LaBelle, it tastes like Bigfoot.
Yes, everyone, Patti LaBelle compared Heather’s dish to a mythical creature. She also flirts with Tom, rubs his shoulders and invites him over for her “macaroni and cheese,” and we all know what that means. Voullez vous couchez avec moi, Tom.
Judges Table
As the judges praise most of the chef meals and call out Ty-Lör for the best inspiration story about his old Japanese nanny, picking a winner for Judge’s Table seems difficult. So you can understand my shock when Padma asks Grayson, Heather and Handsome Chris to see the judges first. Heather’s meal was inedible, and Grayson and Handsome Chris had a few setbacks in the kitchen that made their dishes at best middle of the road.
Then, BOOM, switcharoo, it turns out the bottom three were called first.
The chefs know why they are there, yet Heather still has a smug, “I can talk my way out of this,” look in her eyes. 
Grayson admits her proportions were too big, but says, “That’s how we do it in Wisconsin!” In turn she does nothing to help nullify Midwestern stereotypes.
Handsome Chris cooked his salmon too quickly, and in turn white oozy fat (yep, that’s a technical term for you all) seeped out, making it look unappizitizing.
Heather’s food looks and tastes bad. It was stringy and tough, and Patti LaBelle, bless her heart, again compares it to Bigfoot.
Before the judges send one of them home they ask to see the actual top three: Ed, Sarah and Bev. That’s right, Bev is in the top three, and Heather is about to start eating crow.
The judges praise all three dishes, but in the end Sarah’s home-made sausage stuffed with cabbage in ode to her grandparents wins. She jumps and cries and truly beams at the fact that her first win was for her grandparents. Fine, everyone let’s say it together, “Awwwwww.”
Now back to the bottom three. The judges call them back in, and announce that, wait for it, HEATHER IS GOING HOME! YES YES YES! Nana Nana Nana. Boom Roasted! Get out of the “Top Chef” Kitchen! Pack your knives and leave, sucka!
In the words of Bev, “Heather reaped her own Karma. No one else told her what to do, and she is going home for what she did.”
So who else was happy to see Heather go, especially on an individual challenge? Am I being too harsh on Heather? Would this episode have been sweeter if Bev won the Elimination Challenge? Who are we going to love to hate/just hate now? Leave your comments below!
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