BBQ Brawl Flay vs. Symon episode 2 review: Go big or go home


In this episode of BBQ Brawl Flay vs. Symon, Texas barbecue was the theme. And, just like the Texas saying, everything is bigger in Texas.

BBQ Brawl Flay vs. Symon is back on the Food Network. Many fans turned into this week’s episode to see not only delicious barbecue but also the quick witted banter between the two celebrity chefs. This episode did not disappoint.

Since this Food Network show is a cooking competition, it is interesting how this show involves both those vying to be “Master of Q” as well as Bobby Flay and Michael Symon. While the challenges are very different, those dishes show the breadth, depth and diversity that is barbecue.

The theme of this week’s episode was Texas barbecue. In this style of barbecue, the beef speaks for its self. For example, there aren’t a lot of sauces in Texas barbecue. It is all about the beef.

This week’s first challenge was a Bobby versus Michael face off. Given that Michael lost last week’s challenge, he didn’t want to lose two in a row. For winning this challenge, the captain could choose to steal another chef from the other team. This challenge could change the competition.

For this challenge, the chefs had to cook three inch tomahawk chops. The two chefs’ approaches were very different. Michael did a reverse seer where Bobby charred the meat first. While both methods create delicious steaks, the flavors were very different.

Michael’s steak was described as a blend of Texas and Cleveland. Although Cleveland isn’t necessarily known for its barbecue, the flavors were inspired by that area. The judges loved the pickled mustard seeds, which offered that Cleveland twist.

Bobby’s steak drew inspiration from Texas chilis. The condiments really lifted the steak and the green chili sauce was delicious.

The biggest debate in this challenge was Bobby’s method of finishing his steak. Before the steak was fully cooked, he pulled it off the grill and sliced it. Then, he covered it in butter and let the melted butter finish cooking the steak.

Of course, this choice brought some commentary from Michael. He referred to the steak as tasty but more New York than Texas.

In the end, the judges chose Michael’s steak as the winner. While he received the advantage, he chose not to use it. He wanted to keep his team intact. Truthfully, that choice was smart.

For the competitors’ challenge, the six chefs had five hours to make one cut of Texas beef and one side dish. Given some cuts of Texas beef, the time frame was rather short. Low and slow barbecue needs much longer than five hours to get those cuts super tender.

Contestants Phil Johnson being mentored by Chef Bobby Flay during Main Cook Challenge Texas Beef, as seen on BBQ BRAWL Flay V Symon, Season 1. photo provided by Food Network

For the most part, the chefs chose their beef cuts wisely. This challenge looked to see how the chefs adapt. Sure, these chefs can make amazing dishes when there are no constraints, but BBQ Brawl Flay vs. Symon is a different competition.

While a leisurely five hour cook might be nice, that scenario isn’t good for television nor does it push the chefs. A twist was added to the challenge.

Mid-way, the chefs had to create a taco within 30 minutes. While this twist may not seem like a lot, again it was a test of adaptability.

Although winning the taco challenge didn’t come with an advantage, it was considered in the final decision. Looking at the dishes, a few chefs made smart choices.

Lynnae’s shrimp taco had good ancho flavor. Plus, the shrimp cook quickly, which made the dish easy to complete. Lastly, the use of crispy taco gave a lot of texture.

The other top tacos really brought the flavor. Lee Ann’s salsa was tasty and Phil’s taco was impressive. Still, having a top taco doesn’t mean that this chef will be safe.

Overall, this challenge needed to show more than just a well-cooked piece of Texas beef. Of course, tough meat will be met with criticism, but there is more. Great barbecue should always be a little personal.

While that statement is key, the stories behind these dishes weren’t explored. It would have been nice to understand why pickled onions are served on a BBQ platter. While people might recognize the plain, white bread, those other garnishes deserve some explanation.

For the most part, the chefs executed good dishes. Due to the time constraints, these dishes will never be the same as something that took them 10+ hours to perfect. Plus, with so few chefs in the competition, there is really no place to hide.

On Michael’s team, the bottom two chefs were Carey and Lynnae. Lynnae received criticism about an under seasoned dish. While she thought that the beef cut had a punch of flavor, the judges disagreed.

Carey made a cardinal cooking competition mistake, the dual dish. Having three different styles on one plate is never a good choice. There is always a comparison and one flavor that someone will not like.

Unfortunately, Carey had two of the three pieces that were misses. From the doneness of the meat to the over-seasoning, the mistakes were too many to overlook. Carey was sent home from Michael’s team.

The bottom two chefs on Bobby’s team were Tuffy and Lee Anne. Truthfully, Lee Anne wasn’t going to go home. Since two chefs had to be chosen, her dish was the second best dish on the team.

Watching the show, it was pretty clear that Tuffy was going to be the winner or the chef sent home. Choosing to smoke brisket was a huge risk. He cooked it at a higher temperature, which he would never do outside of this show.

Unfortunately, Tuffy’s brisket was over-cooked. But, this situation is the nature of this competition. Tuffy swung for the fences and came up short. He was sent home.

Next week’s BBQ Brawl Flay vs. Symon determines which two chefs make the finale. It will be curious to see if the chefs choose a dish that they can execute well or choose something that is a risk.

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What did you think of this week’s BBQ Brawl Flay vs. Symon? Which team do you think will earn the title Master of Q?