February 23rd, 2012
01:48 PM ET
We've got one more week after this to go, because Bravo’s squeezing every last drop out of “Top Chef: Texas,” Daniel Plainview-style.
Though three chefs remained, Sarah mentioned departed fourth chef Beverly 16 times, give or take, before the Quickfire. She’s like a scorned guy who insists he’s over Brenda by constantly bringing up how over Brenda he is.
Once Padma and Emeril greeted our cheftestants in Vancouver, they laid out the Quickfire: pair up with an Asian Top Chef Master to cook an Asian-influenced dish.
Of course, the producers couldn’t just leave it at that. They’d cook blind tag-team style, so the Masters cooked for ten minutes unobserved, then the contestants jumped in. Repeat twice.
The Masters got a few clams shucked and a few measly eggs cracked before tagging out (Top Chef Masters? More like Top Chef Mosey Around-ers!). Paul’s partner, Takashi Yagihashi, started off with geoduck, and there are few things grosser-looking than geoduck. It’s like something out of H.R. Giger’s nightmares.
Anyway, Takashi felt mushrooms would go perfectly with the mollusk, and what do you know, Paul beelined for the mushrooms. Sorry Sarah and Lindsay, but this guy’s on another level.
Paul and Takashi finished with geoduck sashimi with fried white fish and chiles. Team Lindsay made scallops with bok choy and fried roe with Chinese sausage. Team Sarah made cod with coconut curry and crab salad.
Paul’s dish was too spicy even for well-known asbestos mouths Padma and Emeril, so Sarah won the $20,000 Quickfire.
The Elimination Challenge theme was “fire and ice.” A taste of vintage “Top Chef,” it called for a cocktail paired with one dish, and the dish had to have a hot and a cold element. The winner would get a trip to Costa Rica.
Lindsay chose to cook halibut to prove that it really was Bev who screwed up the halibut during Restaurant Wars eons ago. Because, again, the women on this show are strangely obsessed with Bev.
Also, presented without comment: at one point, Sarah told Lindsay, “I love that technique.” That is all.
Dishin’ time! Paul’s cocktail of rum, kaffir lime and Thai chiles was called the Pan Am (like the show, it was on the BUBBLE. Zing!). He paired that with king crab with lobster broth and lemon snow. The dish showcased an impressive depth of flavor, highlighted by the broth. But Tom just could not get over the leaf of arugula on top, ranting like it was some affront to the senses.
It’s also worth noting that after going too spicy in the Quickfire, Paul reined in the Scoville units, only to be told this dish wasn’t spicy enough.
As for Sarah, she made an Agrumi with gin, kumquat and mango. She also served pasta stuffed with five greens, with frozen sformato on top. Hers was the best drink of the night and her dish was the most creative, but the frozen custard was too hard.
Lindsay made what she called an Encendido (but what we all know was just a fancy Bloody Mary) with vodka, tomato and horseradish. She paired it with her redemption halibut with fiery celery root. Though the Encendido wasn’t the best cocktail of the night, it was the best pairing. Very nuanced metrics we’re exploring here, people.
The halibut was cooked perfectly (take that, Bev!) and the tomato remoulade had a nice roasted flavor, but it overpowered the fish. Like Paul, Lindsay - *gasp* - threw in some extraneous greens.
Conceptually, Sarah’s dish was the boldest, while Paul’s was the most cohesive. Lindsay’s vision was the flimsiest; throw in a couple mistakes with her flavors, and that was enough to send Lindsay home. So much for showing Bev who’s hali-best.
Not surprisingly, the Costa Rica prize went to Paul. Did you really think he would lose because of a stray leaf? Get real, Tom.
So it’s Paul vs. Sarah in the final challenge next week. And I think we all know who Top Chef Nation is pulling for.
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