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Feb 22, 2012 07:29 PM

Top Chef Texas Finale Part 1 - Ep. #16 - 02/22/12 (Spoilers)

We're coming up to the end of a pretty lackluster season. Sarah said she thought Paul and Lindsay would be in the top and she thinks she belongs there.

The cheftestants leave Whistler and head back to Vancouver for their final Quickfire. They play some type of word game in the car ride back; Paul notes that the three of them have become friends, except when they're in the kitchen. They arrive at the Fairmont Vancouver but immediately get ready for their next challenge. They meet Padma and Emeril at the Bao Bei Brasserie in Vancouver's Chinatown. Sarah's glad that Beverly is gone, as she would probably have rocked the challenge.

Three Asian Master Chefs join them - Anita Lo, Floyd Cardoz, and Takashi Yagihashi. Sarah's all excited to see Takashi, as they're friends back in Chicago. The cheftestants draw knives - the match-ups are:

Lindsay & Anita Lo
Sarah & Floyd Cardoz
Paul & Takashi Yagihashi

Each team will create an Asian-influenced dish, with 40 minutes to cook, taking turns. Every 10 minutes, they will tag their teammate out and the other team member will cook. The winner of this Quickfire will receive $20,000.

Masters start first; Sarah notes that the first 10 minutes is the organization part. The Masters all scramble for their proteins. Padma and Emeril all peek into the pass window to see how the Masters are doing.

They switch after the first 10 minutes, and Lindsay is a bit confused with what Anita has left. Takashi has chosen geoduck for Paul to work, and Sarah says her comfort level with curry is practically zero. They switch again, and Takashi notes that Paul was starting a dashi broth, so he'll use that as a sauce for the geoduck. Floyd said that Sarah got his vision for the curry, and Anita sees that Lindsay has made a sauté of Chinese sausage that will go great with the scallops.

They switch *again*, and the cheftestants are back for the final 10 minutes to finish cooking and plating. All of the Masters have set up the plates for their cheftestants to finish the dishes.

LINDSAY & ANITA - Scallop Two Ways: Crispy Bok Choy & Orange & Chili, Fried Roe with Sausage & Water Chestnut . Padma asked Anita what she had intended, and while Anita had thought of scallops three ways, the rest of the dish they collaborated on came out the way she envisioned.

SARAH & FLOYD - Pan-Seared Cod with Coconut Curry, Crab Salad with Clementine & Amaranth. Floyd said that Sarah did exactly what he wanted.

PAUL & TAKASHI - Mirugai Sashimi with Yuzu Dashi, Japanese Cucumber, Fried White Fish, Scallions & Chili. Takashi said Paul got exactly what he was hoping for. Padma said that Emeril and she like a lot of chili, but *that* was a lot of chili. (Paul was concerned about that as he finished plating his dish.)

Padma and Emeril reviewed Lindsay's dish - the Chinese sauces were just a bit overpowering. Padma told Sarah her dish was excellent, and she liked the amaranth. Emeril liked the crab salad with the fish, but it could have used more acid. Padma thought Paul's dish was great by letting the flavors stand out. Emeril noted that he was impressed using the protein, but too much chili.

I think it's going to be Sarah winning this...Emeril said that the dish that had all of the notes of Asian flavors is.....SARAH. And Floyd says he's finally won his first Quickfire (despite winning Top Chef Master Season 3, he had never won a Quickfire! LOL). The Master Chefs leave the kitchen.

And we're on to the Elimination Challenge, Padma said now that they've beaten the heat of Texas and survived the cold of Whistler, they thought it would be fun to bring the two together. Tomorrow night, they will be throwing a Fire and Ice cocktail party. Each chef will be responsible for one dish and one cocktail. Each dish is required to have both a hot and cold element. They will be serving 150 of Vancouver's "culinary elite at the Village on Falls Creek" (REALLY BAD voiceover by Padma!) The winner will win a trip for two to Costa Rica. And obviously a place in the Finale.

The cheftestants start thinking about what they can make, and head off to Whole Foods. Paul goes for the king crab, and Sarah's going with a baked pasta, and Lindsay's going with halibut. She knows it will be difficult to cook for 150 people, but says "luckily this isn't Restaurant Wars. I have control over it." She also notes that Sarah and Paul are going a bit gimmicky with a "snow" aspect to their dish, and she doesn't cook that way - she thinks staying true to yourself will bring you out on top.

They head over the next day to the Village on Falls Creek and begin prep. Paul goes to town on about 30 lbs. of lobster for his seafood stock. Sarah is cracking 80 eggs for homemade pasta for 150 people, and Lindsay is hand-grating lots of tomatoes for her tomato water for her take on a Bloody Mary. Sarah thinks she's playing it safe.

Tom Colicchio walks into the kitchen to ask each what they're working on. (won't bother going into the questions and answers). They continue prep and with 1 hours, each of them is saying they're all in the weeds. The bartenders and cocktail servers come in and learn about the drinks that the cheftestants are going to have made.

The guests arrive as final plating happens. The judges arrive - Gail, Emeril, Tom and Padma. They're in what seems to be an outdoor area to eat - everyone remains bundled in their coats.

PAUL - Cocktail: "The Pan Am" with Kaffir Lime, Thai Chilies and Rum
PAUL - Dish: King Crab with Lemon Snow and Seafood Broth

Tom didn't like that arugula was in Paul's dish with no purpose. But he *did* like Paul's drink paired with the dish. Padma noted that she could have used more heat, but Emeril said that yesterday they came down on Paul for too *much* heat.

SARAH - Cocktail: "Agrumi" with Gin, Kumquats and Mango
SARAH - Dish: Five Greens-Filled Pasta with Garlic, Chili and Spiced Sformato

Gail notes that the Sformato is very frozen, but Tom said the flavors are great. Emeril likes the pasta. Gail and Tom say that the cocktail is great, but doesn't go with the dish.

LINDSAY - Cocktail: "Encendido" with Vodka, Tomato & Horseradish
LINDSAY - Dish: Halibut with Fiery Celery Root Salad with Tomato Nage

Emeril and Gail both think their dishes are very hot/spicy. Tom doesn't seem to think it's spicy at all. Tom also notes that halibut is well cooked, the sauce is good, but the kale is raw. Gail like the Tomato Nage, saying she's never eaten a piece of ice "so well seasoned." Emeril likes the cocktail with the dish, but on its own, it was very flat.

The camera catches some of the Vancouver diners critiquing the dishes. Tom is uncertain where he's going with his choice, and Padma notes how difficult the challenge was. Lindsay says this is the first time they didn't go out to explain their dish to the judges. Padma asks them all to come into the Judges Table.

Emeril tells Paul the dish and cocktail was great. Padma notes it could have used a bit more spice. Tom liked the whole idea, the broth was delicious. He asked about the arugula, and Paul wanted a bit of peppery spice. Tom said the ingredient should be made part of the dish; it seemed to be added just because color was needed on the dish.

Gail asked Sarah about the idea of "fire or heat" was supposed to come from. Sarah said that the baked pasta was supposed to be the heat. Gail loved the pasta; but the frozen mousse was so difficult to eat with the pasta. Emeril said her cocktail would have been much appreciated on the hot days in Texas.

Gail told Lindsay that her dish worked well together. She loved the tomato soup, and Lindsay said when she thought about fire, she thought about warmth. And tomato soup means warmth to her. But Tom thought the tomato remoulade and tomato soup overpowered the halibut. Emeril said the fish was cooked perfectly, but the cocktail separated a bit. Tom said out of all of the dishes, Lindsay's cocktail worked best with her dish.

(NOTE: I just re-read my recap above - didn't both Gail and Tom said after tasting Lindsay's dish that her cocktail *didn't* work best with her dish? That's what I wrote above, and I *know* I stopped and rewound a couple of times to get specifics of their dish tastings. Anyone?)

The judges deliberate. They were good, but none were flawless, per Padma. Paul's dish was only warm - Padma didn't have the contrast of hot or cold. Emeril's favorite cocktail was Sarah's. Gail loved the pasta, but the spiced mousse, which was supposed to be a sauce on the canneloni, didn't work. Lindsay's dish didn't give Emeril any heat, and Tom didn't find her dish interesting.

And they're back in front of the judges. Tom reviews each dish again. He then looks to Padma who tells Sarah that she's moving on to the Finale. DAMMIT. And the other person moving on AND the WINNER? It's PAUL! Woo hoo!!!!

And Lindsay is asked to pack her knives and go! I'm *SO* glad that Paul has made it through! Sarah is upset Lindsay didn't make it, but Sarah said she always knew it would be her and Paul - the two Texans.

Previews for next week's Finale-Part 2 show many of the former cheftestants coming back to help as sous chefs, and it looks like family is there to dine on the Finale food.

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  1. Already turned off by this episode. In fact already turned off be next weeks episode too. everyone running around the kitchen calling Chris 'pretty'.

    And Big Tom seems on the verge of one of his OCD episodes.

    They're chefs not bartenders.

    Added: There was so many dumb contradictions in this episode it made my head spin.

    Note to Tom:Yes Paul used a piece of arugula...move on already. Seriously you could have had one heck of a drinking game is you took a shot every time Tom said 'arugula'.

    Sara made a pasta dish now there's a shock!

    From what I got Lindsay cooked her dish perfectly but was eliminated because Tom didn't think she grasped the concept.

    With Sara in the final we are dangerously close to another Ilan/Hossea lame/safe winner.

    PS. Thanks as always LW for your wonderful recaps!

    1. uggggg, why couldn't it have been bev, ed, and paul?????

      the sickly sweet love fest of we're all such good friends and the superficial hugggssss were so sacharin sweet gross. Paul looked uncomfortable with the whole fake bff thing.

      It seems clear that Sarah and Lindsey were coached to be super super super nice and friendly to make up for all the coverage they gave the cameras and editors earlier in the season.

      Some people say 'oh they're not so bad, blame the elves" I say the elves are only given the footage to work with and sarah is a &^%#(*^

      1. Phew. Paul is in. That is all that is important this episode.

        14 Replies
        1. re: debbiel

          I missed the first airing of the episode, so I IMMEDIATELY came on here to make sure that Paul was moving on. I couldn't bear the thought of watching Paul go home and the terrible two-some move on!

          1. re: kubasd

            I think I would have stopped TC altogether if Paul had been eliminated last night. Seeing Lindsay go home for her halibut was a little bit of redemption for Bev.

            1. re: KailuaGirl

              I know, right? Forget curse of the car, curse of the halibut!

          2. re: debbiel

            you said a fiery and icy mouthful.

            1. re: debbiel


              I'm still stunned that Sarah made it into the finale. But I guess she won when she needed to.

              Paul is definitely the most winningest TC cheftestant - EIGHT Elim Challenge wins (yes, that includes 2 team challenges, but doesn't matter - they count in my book!)


              1. re: debbiel

                I would not be watching the final had he not made it.

                1. re: mcf

                  <I would not be watching the final had he not made it.>


                          1. re: marcopolo

                            I would have been


                            if Paul hadn't won. :-)

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Oy, I hated that song the first time I heard it.

                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                You're welcome for the earworm, dear Phaedrus. ;-)

                2. Did anyone else notice that Sarah says she quit HS in her junior year to go to culinary school? damn that takes some balls, to be THAT sure of what you want to do!!

                  27 Replies
                  1. re: kubasd

                    Someone on another post said the Sara comes off as spoiled. I thought the same thing. When I heard the part about leaving high school. I thought it was an odd thing for her parents to allow and at the same time seemed like another example of Sara being appeased and getting what she wants.

                    1. re: Withnail42

                      Wow. That's an interesting take. I was impressed by it. Impressed that she was that determined and focused. Impressed that her parents were supportive of it.

                      1. re: debbiel

                        As a parent, no matter how supportive I am, my kids would finish high school - where do you go without a high school diploma?

                        1. re: jeanmarieok

                          Well, you become a chef at Spiaggia in one case.

                          For many kids who are struggling with high school, a vocational training program is the answer. Sometimes that is a program sponsored through the school and leading to a diploma, but sometimes it is not.

                          Obviously that path is not for everyone or even many people, and it is a decision that should not be taken lightly, but there are cases when it is the right decision. I think it is important to make a distinction between simply dropping out and dropping out with a career path and training in mind. That still would not have worked for everyone, but it works for a few.

                          1. re: debbiel

                            I agree, but that kid better show some steel to me before I would allow it. I knew kids in my high school who were clearly not cut out for schools. A few went the vocational route. One became a cosmetologist and became quite good at it and have a local reputation now as a creative expert in her profession. The others never finished their vocational school and they ended up not having a high school diploma either.

                            1. re: debbiel

                              I wish I had been given that option. Hell, I wish I had been given that option after high school. College was my only option and that didn't pan out so well...

                              1. re: debbiel

                                Hey, if my parents had let me leave HS after junior year for culinary school - I would have loved it. College was my only option, no 'trade school' was good enough - back then chef's were not everyday stars like now...
                                I had my first catering company when I was 14, and cooked proffessionally at 15; self taught tho, no school... learned coming up through kitchens.
                                I admire that Sarah did that! First time I really had some respect for her, cause she is really a beeOch so often.
                                I wonder if that 'tude she gives off is one of those things where she is still young enough she doesn't know what she doesn't know, and thinks she knows everything still.

                                Just glad PAUL WON!

                                1. re: gingershelley

                                  I, too, am glad Paul won.

                                  Didn't Sarah say something along the lines of "Now my parents will FINALLY be proud of me"? I thought that was telling...


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I missed that, but telling indeed. Which is why I suggested elsewhere that it is irresponsible to praise her courage for dropping out of HS. There is a lot more to the story then the disney quote.

                              2. re: jeanmarieok

                                Personality wise, Sarah reminds me of a woman I know who came from a very disadvantaged background. Her single, poor, alcoholic mother barely noticed her. This lady is also very driven and has basically always done as she's pleased. She's very successful but not very likeable. Not saying this is the case with Sarah, but it's another possibility. Or maybe she's very privileged and didn't need an education to fall back on should she ever chop off a hand or something. Or maybe her parents couldn't stand her anymore and just wanted her to leave.

                                1. re: silvergirl

                                  Apparently, she got her GED and then an Associates degree in Culinary Arts,
                                  She's not my favorite cheftestant, but it sounds as though she's been working hard since her teens.

                                  1. re: souvenir

                                    OK, I've gone from thinking she's a bit nasty to being seriously twisted. I just reviewed the above article and the show.

                                    "That's probably not my mother's favorite thing that I ever did," noted Grueneberg dryly, when I spoke with her by phone this week."

                                    She then praises her parents but then passive agressively with a smile on her face needs to win Top Chef, so that her parents can finally be proud of her???

                                    That is just too messed up. How would you feel as a parent to hear that on national tv? that you had never been proud of her even though she has a full career at the age of 30 is it? She is damaged.

                                    1. re: Bellachefa

                                      I don't know her. Neither do you. We can agree to disagree about what the words in this article mean about her or to her parents.

                                      1. re: souvenir

                                        Sorry, I was using the sum of the article and her words on Top Chef this past week. There is something sadly pathetic about a succesful woman telling people on national tv that her parents aren't proud of her.

                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                          Wow. You seem to be reading a LOT into that comment, that had who knows what context in that moment and who knows what back story. It could have been a reference to some running joke between her and her folks. It could have been a reference to some running joke between her and other TC folks. It could have been just a dumb statement without all of the meaning you're attributing to it. It could be a reference to parents who call her every morning and say, "If only you were a neurosurgeon, then we could be proud." It could, a million things. I am not sure how you pull "a bit nasty to seriously twisted" out of that line.

                                          1. re: Bellachefa

                                            Bella, I thought I posted this, but either I somehow didn't (there've been a lot of late nights with sick kids lately so who knows) or I got deleted for some reason, but in this article, it states that her mom is her proudest fan. Also that she feels she has been fairly portrayed. That was in January. I wonder if she still feels that way.

                                            1. re: silvergirl

                                              I think she came off well on the show until Heather left and then, for whatever reason, editing or her behavior, started coming off as the mean girl. But clearly, whatever quotes might have been pulled out of context, the article shows she and her mom have a good relationship:

                                              "The former Dulles High School student’s mother Trish Grueneberg — who still lives in Sugar Land — is easily the proudest fan of the reality show competitor."

                                              I think calling someone "damaged" is unfair, in any circumstance, let alone basing it on one statement. I think we went through this w/ Jen Carroll and her saying her father's attitude was "second place is first loser." I prefer to give someone the benefit of the doubt over jumping to conclusions about a person being "damaged".

                                  2. re: jeanmarieok

                                    I would bet a GED was part of the deal.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      Re GED: I was definitely hoping that was the case.

                                      I know my parents never would have allowed it, no matter how much I wanted to. It was college or college for me! But seriously, for a field in which it is SO hard to succeed, it is a monstrous risk.

                                      1. re: kubasd

                                        Apparently, Sarah is quite successful, but if it had not worked out, she could have then gotten a college degree. My father did not graduate high school, he got his GED in the army. He was a successful execturive for many years. All of his children and grandchildren who are old enough have university degrees. (My niece almost did not graduate fromj high school and was on her way to getting her doctorate in psychology when she dropped out to raise her children).

                              3. re: kubasd

                                Smart or dumb or lucky? I dropped out of HS to become a dog breeder. 35 years later I own cats.

                                Episode was alright. Glad Paul is moving on. I called Lindsay as going home when she said she new halibut wasn't the most exciting choice and in the foreground of the shot was a giant, glistening geoduck. Doomed right there.


                                1. re: kubasd

                                  ,Did anyone else notice that Sarah says she quit HS in her junior year to go to culinary school? damn that takes some balls, to be THAT sure of what you want to do!!>

                                  Or maybe she was flunking out so quitting to go to culinary school seemed like a good idea to her folks, who could use her "drive" as a foil for ahving to eplain the other to their friends...

                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                    This type of speculation about the contestants is exactly what drives Bravo to make the show less about cooking and more about personal drama. I thought we're here to talk about food?

                                    1. re: fame da lupo

                                      This thread is about food media and Top Chef, so discussion inevitably extends to the contestants themselves. No big deal.

                                      I'm pretty sure the producers aren't taking their cues about what kind of show to make from us, otherwise this season would have been a lot better. :-)

                                  2. re: kubasd

                                    Didn't Bev say she met her mentor at 16? I wonder if she was in high school when she started too.

                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                      hmm didn't remember her saying that. Curious....

                                  3. Oh, and Linda, Gail and Padma say that about SARAH's cocktail.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: kubasd

                                      that's what i thought. it was a great cocktail, just didn't go with the food at all. i didn't look that closely so i could be mistaken.

                                      i have no idea how they put sarah through. pasta with frozen crap on top? i don't really care if individually it was tasty but if you can't eat it together who cares? i do like she blames the anti griddle for it being too cold instead of her taking responsibility for trying a new technique and failing.

                                      all i hope for is paul wins.

                                      1. re: arjunsr

                                        Totally concur with Bellachefa: Ed, Bev and Paul would have been a really fun final 3.

                                        Bring it home, Paul.


                                        I can't even fathom Sarah ("Lindsay's my best friend but, I always knew it was going to be me and Paul in the final two.") ... being .. Top ... Che ... NO!

                                        1. re: Kris P Pata

                                          And then she said to Lindsay her best best best friend for life that she was sad that this was the last time they would be cooking together? Now that is some twisted sister shat.

                                          1. re: Bellachefa

                                            Huh? Sarah saying she was sad that it would be the last time that she and Lindsay would ever cook together is twisted? How do you explain that? They became friends on the show and Sarah expressed that she would miss LIndsay. That sounds extremely normal to me. I just don't get why so many people here seem to feel the need to play armchair psychiatrist with what is said and done on this program. It's a friggin' reality TV show. It ain't real life.

                                            1. re: John E.

                                              But isn't the whole purpose of the 'reality' to fool viewers into thinking (or at least feeling) that they are seeing real people and real interactions? The more the viewers become part of that 'reality' the more loyal they become, and the better the ratings. If a viewer maintains a distance between himself and the show's emotions, he is more likely to be a fickle viewer, flipping over to DDD or Dirty Jobs if Top Chef becomes boring.

                                              1. re: John E.

                                                I thought it was an odd comment mostly because it seemed to imply that she was pretty sure Paul would be moving on, but that either she or Lindsay would be going home.


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  I had the same thought. Unless the "we" was meant to include Paul as well. But it definitely caught my ear when she said it, thinking just as you did.

                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                    that's exactly what i took it to mean - last time that there would be 3 of them to cook together.

                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    I think DGresh has it right and that Sarah meant the three of them and I was wrong to not indicate that in my post.

                                                2. re: Bellachefa

                                                  Bella, I'm sure you mean well, but you are adding A LOT to casual remarks that happen to make it on screen or to the printed page.

                                              2. re: arjunsr

                                                I was thinking that w/ hot pasta and frozen topping. I'm thinking of their poor teeth.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  It just sounds like a gross combination to me, but then, I didn't' eat it. Why would you want a nice, hot, homemade pasta... with a ice/melting to cold sauce. Sensitive teefers aside (although that is a significant concern, ouch!!) her dish just did not appear appealing to me.

                                              3. re: kubasd

                                                OK, thanks - I'll see if the Mods can make the change for me.