We've heard everything's bigger in Texas. That's a stereotype, and boy do those tend to piss off people. People like certain Dallas-based reporters who were on the Top Chef: Texas conference call with judges Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi. Irritated that the show is attempting to encompass all of Texas cuisine when it's been city-centric in previous seasons, the reporter quipped, “I guess [there's] not enough in any single Texas city because you said 'Oh, Miami' and then Texas as if it's a city.” (Translation: “Why not Top Chef: Dallas?”) Take that Tom and Padma, who have nothing to do with where these shows take place or how they're marketed.
We sat in on this media-frenzy mostly because we were curious what craft service is like with so many chefs around. But we learned many surprising things about the upcoming season, its new secret webisode component and what Padma keeps in her suitcase. Check out our 10 favorite Top Chef: Texas secrets after the jump.
10) Mass elimination
There are a whopping 29 chefs at the beginning of the competition this year, but don't expect that to last. There's a huge cut made in Episode One that brings that number down to about half. When asked why, Tom and Padma indicated the goal was to bring the audience behind the scenes of the casting process, showing what it's like in the final rounds.
9) Chefs have a chip on their shoulder.
When asked how this crop of chefs compares to seasons past, Padma remarked that they seem to “have something personal to prove to themselves or to an audience back home, rather than just those of us who are standing in the kitchen.”
8) Nathan Myhrvold is a paleontology expert.
7) Padma keeps a jump rope in her suitcase.
Padma's been asked many times how she keeps so trim despite a job that requires her to eat so much, and in addition to boxing and running up and down flights of stairs, she carries as jump rope in her suitcase wherever she goes. Why not two? Double dutch anyone?
6) Pee-Wee Herman is a guest judge as well.
Because there's no basement at the Alamo! Seriously, that's why.
5) Eliminated contestants get one more chance to win via webisode.
There's a new online component to the competition this year called “Last Chance Kitchen.” Hosted by Colicchio, eliminated chefs will get one more shot at redemption by cooking for their lives. The footage will only be shown online, and the when and where of shooting it are unclear, but a winner (or winners) will have fought their way back into the finale. Apparently, contestants weren't made aware of this second go-round until it was upon them, so we're looking forward to seeing the surprise/relief/stress on their faces.
4) Craft service is craft service.
Even on Top Chef, which is disappointing and disillusioning. Since Tom and Padma eat so much on set, their scheduled mealtimes are different, and they often miss craft service. It doesn't stop them, however, from grazing on, as Tom says, “the candy, the candy and the candy.”
3) The judges don't get offended when contestants defend themselves.
It's not going to change anything, though. Sayeth Tom, “Aside from getting personal, they can defend all they want. Someone says you don't know what you're talking about — great, okay. That's fine, you're still going home.”
2) Lots of Tex-Mex on set this year.
How's that for stereotypes?
And our number one favorite thing we learned?
1) Padma used to sneak over to her neighbor's house for meat.
When asked where to find her famous ribs, Padma indicated that her childhood neighbor Gary Dunn's baby backs were the best: “When I was in high school, he used to love to barbecue, and we never barbecued beef or pork because, you know, we just didn't eat that at my house.” But whenever that meaty smell wafted over the fence, Padma found herself over at Mr. Dunn's. We get it, Gary. If we had a way to lure Padma, we'd do it too.
Top Chef Texas premieres on Wednesday, Nov. 2nd at 10 p.m. on Bravo.
Follow Ali Trachta on Twitter @MySo_CalLife.