Before you get all excited, let me get the first big SPOILER out of the way: This is NOT the finale.
Despite the fact that we are now down to the final three, the traditional lineup for the finale, Bravo wants to stretch the season out just a little longer.
Paul, Sarah, and Lindsay are all the remain, and the girls couldn’t be more sure that this is how it was meant to be: The sourpuss twins and the favorite battling it out, with nary a Beverly in sight.
Anyone else notice how Lindsay and Sarah talk about how tight the three of them are a LOT more than Paul does?
The chefs head to the exotic destination for the “finals”: Vancouver. They head into Chinatown, to Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, where they find Padma and Emeril waiting for them. For the Quickfire, in honor of Vancouver’s huge Asian population, the chefs will pair up with three Top Chef Masters Asian maestros. In walk Anita Lo, Floyd Cardoz, and Takashi Yagihashi. If you cock your head to the side and listen carefully, you can just barely hear Beverly destroying a Canadian hotel room in a fit of rage.
Like she does whenever a famous chef from Chicago comes on screen, Sarah launches in to her best Will Ferrell circa Elf impression: “TAKASHI!!!!! I KNOW HIM!! I KNOW HIM!!” You can see the insulting fake smile she throws on when she pulls Cardoz’s knife from the block.
Lindsay teams up with Anita Lo, and Paul ruins Sarah’s day by pulling Yagihashi. This is a tag-team challenge, where the chefs have 40 minutes to cook, swapping out every ten minutes. This means that with each swap, the incoming chef has to take cues/guess on what direction their partner was going with their dish, and try to make a cohesive final product. The winner takes home $20K.
The always self-doubti….
I’m sorry, I have the episode playing in the background as I’m writing, and I can’t keep up this line of thought without pausing to say this: Sarah sucks. That is all.
Where was I? Oh yes…
The always self-doubting Paul doesn’t like that his Asian background makes him the clear favorite. Sorry to pump up your ego Paul, but you are the clear favorite because you are better than Lindsay and Sarah. The Asian thing is more of a coincidence.
The Masters get first crack at the kitchen, so the ingredients they choose will set the course for the dishes. Cardoz, who had a poor Quickfire record in his Masters season, is more concerned with pulling out a win for Sarah now that another chef is relying on him. Takashi must have missed that memo, as he reaches for the geoduck (the ginormously phallic giant clam) and hopes that Paul’s background will allow him to put it to good use.
All of the cheftestants seem to follow their Master’s leads, except for Lindsay. Chef Lo lays out a scallops-three-ways prep, but Lindsay cuts that down to only two ways, serving it with bok choy, chili, fried roe, Chinese sausage, and water chestnuts. Paul stays in step with Takashi’s vision for the geoduck, serving it sashimi style with yuzu dashi, Japanese cucumber, scallions, and fried white fish. Oh, and a fistful of Thai chili seeds, because “Padma likes heat.” That last minute tinkering just cost you $20K Paul.
Aside from the fact that she irks me six ways to Sunday, I hated how Sarah won this Quickfire. She did the best job of following her Master’s lead, and brought nothing to the dish herself. She didn’t even know what kind of greens were in her coconut curry pan-seared cod (amaranth), and those greens got the biggest compliment from Padma. Ugh.
The chefs will throw a “Fire and Ice” cocktail party, creating one dish and a cocktail for 150 guests. In keeping with the theme, their dish must incorporate a hot element and a cold one. The winner gets to sip free trade coffee in Costa Rica for a week.
Commercial break: Dear Bravo – One of two things needs to happen: Either fire Prilosec OTC as a sponsor, or make them fire Larry The Cable Guy. I didn’t think anything would make me long for Real Housewives commercials, but somehow you pulled it off.
The chefs are all by their lonesome to feed 150 people, so of course everyone is in the weeds. Sarah makes the ballsy decision to make fresh pasta for a group that size, and Paul slaughters about 30 lobsters to make a lobster broth for his King Crab dish that sounds so good I want to bathe in it. His “Ice” element is lemon snow foam, Lindsay makes a tomato ice to pair with her halibut, and Sarah tops her cannelloni with a frozen spiced mousse.
Sarah uses an anti-griddle – a hyper-chilled griddle that freezes rather than grills food – to chill her mousse, which is supposed to melt over the pasta, acting as a sauce. And the fancy contraption works too well, freezing her sauce solid.
It looks like Tom brought his cranky-panties with him to Canada, because he is in full nit-pick mode. Even though he admits that Paul’s broth has tons of flavor, he can’t look past the sparse, seemingly thoughtless inclusion of arugula. And then he says that he isn’t normally a fan of pairing alcohol with food. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t know you at all Tom.
Much to my surprise, someone actually packs their knives tonight. Too bad it was the wrong one. We get a Sarah elimination fake-out, only to find out that she is safe and will compete in the finale. This leaves Lindsay and Paul, and I was just waiting for the inevitable “You will BOTH compete in the finale” reveal, but instead Lindsay gets the axe and Paul wins a trip to Costa Rica.
Then there were two. Good versus evil. Paul and Sarah will duke it out next week for the Top Chef Texas crown. Three guesses who I’m rooting for….
- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog