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Top Chef Texas recap, Episode 16: The Three Amigos

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

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.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE

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

14 comments Add your comment

carla roqs

February 23rd, 2012
3:59 am

could they have mentioned bev’s name more tonight? i hope that 20000 was a going away present for bev because if she wins……… paul is a sweetheart. i hated hearing that guy say that the fish was cooked perfectly, you know i wanted it to still have been overcooked. ooooh, they both are so arrogant!!! team paul all the way. you know they are going to have a kookie finale’, oh well. and i’d still like your thoughts on last week’s show, jon.

PapaDoc

February 23rd, 2012
8:03 am

At least there were no contrived races, or gondolas. They let the chefs cook which is supposedly the reason for this march. I really need to analyze why I have such a visceral reaction to Sarah. Maybe it’s just as simple as she is a royal pain. In any case, I am pulling for Paul and hope for a clear victory.

KA

February 23rd, 2012
8:49 am

PapaDoc, I think your visceral reaction to Sarah is a normal reaction to her personality disorder. Sarah is a classic sociopath, the bully kind. (read the ‘Sociopath Next Door’ by Martha Stout) Sarah has no empathy for others, and plays her game to isolate and destroy her victims. Sarah works to diminish others in order to make herself look good. Sarah bullied Bev mercilessly, bad-mouthing her to her face and behind her back, and even when Bev was gone, she continued her trash talking. It will be interesting to see how cold-hearted Sarah performs in the finale. I bet she will even try to bully Paul. Please God, let Paul win!

Janice

February 23rd, 2012
11:14 am

Please, please let Paul win. Even Padma thinks Sarah is caddy.

AP

February 23rd, 2012
12:02 pm

I have hated Sarah since the very start. I was not a fan of Lindsay, either, but now she is gone. I agree with KA 100%. There is something really wrong with someone that cannot stop bullying when on NATIONAL TV.

Maruka

February 23rd, 2012
12:45 pm

With all the bullying going on around the country, it was sad to see how Top Chefs (we all know the three female Chefs I’m talking about) took it upon themselves to bully Chef Bev on t.v. Women today need to stick together, especially in this industry. It’s tough enough. Thank You to Grayson, who was the only female Chef to stick up for Bev. Bravo should make it a point to stop this kind of nonsense. Do these people realize how many young people look up to them? Shame on them. Good luck Paul. Here in Texas, we’re all rooting for you. Make us proud!

Alex G.

February 23rd, 2012
9:20 pm

One bitch down, one to go! I agree with all that has been said about certain women on tihs show. The total lack of class,pettiness and childlessness that has been displayed by Sarah, Lindsey, Heather and others, makes me not want to eat at “first class” restaurants and just eat at McDonalds! I am pulling for Paul all the way. He is a classy dude who has tons more talent than Sarah. My fingers actually tremble when I type her name, because I despise her so much.I also want to make a point of showing my support for Beverly, a total picture of class and maturity. Please I hope Paul wins so much to bring this season to a fitting conclusion and allow Top Chef to rise above some of this seasons contestants. Go Paul!

GaPeachy

February 24th, 2012
9:42 am

Just watched the episode last night and I am soooo mad the big bully is still there, not that I was a fan of Linsey either but there is just something about Sara that drives me nuts. 20k and she didn’t even come up with the dish! UGH! The Master Chef should have gotten some of that, not all Master Chefs are rich I’m sure he could use that money too!Anyway i sure hope Paul pulls thru on top. He has been my fav since the get go. Go Paul!

Edward

February 24th, 2012
12:38 pm

I’ve been rooting for Paul from the beginning. My ultimate top 3 would have been Paul, Edward, and Beverly, but Paul should take this one. The ugly stepsisters (Sarah and Lindsay) have been separated, thankfully. I can’t wait for the “reunion” show to see the what old silverback Heather has to say.

Lisa

February 24th, 2012
2:48 pm

I’m on board for team Paul as well!!!

Diane Ross

February 24th, 2012
8:11 pm

I can’t believe Sarah is still there and the way they bullied Beverly should not be allowed on the show. I can’t even stand to watch the finale. I will just look online to see who wins. Beverly was bullied by an ex-partner and then to have to go on the show and endure that plus the producers should not have allowed it. It doesn’t put the show in a good light. I used to like watching Top Chef but I am really disappointed in the judges and the show itself. I agree with you all in hoping that Paul wins. If I do watch the reunion I would hope that Beverly receives an apology that is meant and not just said. Sarah is a first class bully.

Art

February 25th, 2012
9:44 am

This season the producers of Top Chef have made this contest more about personalities than about food and… I think we’ve fallen for it. I didn’t care much for those Voltaggio brothers from a few seasons back but they sure could cook. Next week is the finale and Paul could make oatmeal yet we’d still want him to win. We need to send a message to Top Chef producers that says while we like the personality “clashes” we’d much prefer the contest to be about the food. By the way, where’s Hugh?

Sandra

February 25th, 2012
11:01 am

I have occasionally disagreed when a contestant on the Top Shelf shows have been sent home, but never more so than on Top Chef Texas. I have decided that there is nothing really about food, but all about personality/drama. Otherwise why would they keep an egotistical name dropping wannabe just for the friction she brings to the program. They cut a competitor too soon and bring her back for more friction.

I hope Paul wins and at least they will have gotten one thing right. They didn’t even get the final three right. Two of the final three were insincere/arrogant whining twits and I am sure I don’t have to name them. Don’t you feel sorry for people who have to work with them? Bet Paul could write a book if he wasn’t too nice.

jennifer

February 28th, 2012
4:29 am

not to mention…..sarah didn’t even cook her way into the finale….i don’t think she even won a challenge….being there by default must be a little unsettleing to the big bully