Dude, that’s cold! The Top Chef Texas recap


I’m not saying that the final 3 are a little dull, I’m just saying that they showed them playing a word association game in the car ride to Vancouver. (And did anyone catch the rules to this game? Steven Seagal leads to Sammy Hagar which leads to Q-Tip which leads to Barbara Bush? Was it the “washed up celebrities of the 80s” name game? Or perhaps just the “blurt out any celebrity’s name you can think of” game?)
Anyway, they go to a kitchen in Chinatown and there are three master chefs—Takashi Yagihashi, Floyd Cardoz, and my girl Anita Lo (love her for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on—she has what can best be described as an endearing logyness.)
Sarah is tearing up because apparently whenever she is encountered with master chefs, she gets weepy (also, she and Takashi are bowling buddies, or somethin).
Paul is feeling what I like to call the “Reverse Lin”—namely, there’s an extra expectation that he’ll do well in this challenge because he’s Asian.
They’ll be making a tag-team dish in 40 minutes, with no communication between partners.
They draw knives:
Anita is teamed with Lindsay
Paul is teamed with Takashi
Sarah is teamed with Floyd
And away they go.
I actually love a challenge like this, precisely because of the lack of communication. The masters simply have to prep and leave some clues and hope for best. (Now if I was playing, my “clue” would be a napkin with the words “I’m making scallops 3 ways” written on it, but that’s just me.)
In the end, Sarah and Floyd achieve a perfect mind meld on their seared cod with coconut curry and win.
“I’ve won $30,000 in Canada alone,” says Sarah. “I won nothing in Texas.”

In sports we call this “peaking at the right time.” (Worked out pretty well for a little team I like to call the New York Football Giants!)

Padma now lays out the rules for the Elimination challenge:
They will be serving at a Fire and Ice cocktail party, where they have to make one dish and one cocktail.
“Your dish must contain both a hot and cold element,” Padma says.
“That is so wide open to interpretation,” Lindsay reports.
(Actually, Lindz, “a hot and a cold element” seems pretty narrowly open to interpretation to me.)
At Whole Foods, Paul orders 1,000 grams of King Crab and I’m thinking, get a hold of yourself man, you’re going to need some sort of giant truck to carry that much—but then I remember that 1,000 grams = about 2 pounds. #Metricsarehard
Paul and Sarah both have very high concepts, involving melting mousse and snow foam but Lindsay thinks they’re being too “gimmicky.” Hmmmm.
Meanwhile, she’s making halibut, because one of the burning questions of this season is: Can Lindsay make halibut or what? (Sadly, that’s not an exaggeration. That actually is one of the burning questions this season. Especially now that Malibu Chris and his magically shape-shifting sexuality is gone.)
Tom comes into the kitchen to check on their progress and proceeds to really mess with Paul’s head.
“What happened in the last Quickfire?” he asks. “Did the pressure get to you? Don’t you know that you’re Asian!” (Okay, he didn’t really ask that last part.)

But Paul, in classic Paul fashion, keeps his cool: “These two ladies are bad ass,” he says.
“So they just made better dishes than you?” Tom asks. (Dude, lay off.)
“Yeah,” says Paul. He is unflappable Tom. Stop trying to flap him.
It’s service time.
“I wish I had another hour,” sighs Paul. But when the curtain rises, the curtain rises.
As the judges wait for their food, they bemoan the fact that someone is going to have to go home.
“There’s no Last Last Chance Kitchen,” says Tom.
“Bev’s coming back!” cracks Padma.
“She’s actually under the table right now,” says Emeril. Hey, an actual joke. By Emeril Lagasse. On purpose. Welcome to Season 9, Emeril!
Paul’s up first with his king crab with sunchoke chips and lobster broth, plus the “Pan Am” cocktail (kaffir lime, Thai chilies, rum—followed by a quickie in the airport bathroom).
Everyone likes the dish a lot, but they wish Paul’s Pan Am had more kick. (Ironic, since they were blasting his Quickfire dish for being too hot. Dude can’t win.)
Tom becomes enraged by Paul’s arugula, which he has basically used as a garnish. Tom is apparently a member of the lesser known PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arugula.) He is not a happy camper.
Next up, Sarah’s five greens-filled pasta with garlic and chili spiced sformato (mousse) and “Agrumi” cocktail (gin, kumquat and mango).
The pasta is delicioso, but the mousse got overly frozen on her fancy freezing plate and isn’t quite creating the melting sauce effect she was hoping for.
Still, high marks for degree of difficulty and flavor.
Suddenly, Lindsay begins to second guess her second guessing. Maybe she should add a more gimmicky element to her dish. So, at the last minute, she adds a spoonful of tomato ice to her halibut with fiery celery root salad and roasted tomato with an ‘Encendido” (vodka, tomato, and horseradish).
And it’s a good thing, too.
“I’ve never eaten a piece of ice so well seasoned,” says Gail, of Lindsay’s ice spoon.
Also, for the record, the halibut is perfectly cooked. Can we all just finally move on with our lives?!?
Then the judges deliberate.
It gets a little contentious, especially this exchange about Lindsay, between Gail and Tom.
“I didn’t think she made any mistakes,” says Gail.
“The drink was a mistake,” says Tom.
“But it definitely went with the food,” says Gail.
(Okay, so not exactly contentious, but that qualifies as high drama on this particular episode.)
The cheftestants are called back in.
“Sarah,” says Padma, pausing for effect and making a sad face. “You are moving on to the finale!” (Oh, the patented Padma fakeout. When. Will. I. Learn?)
Once Sarah retrieves her heart from her mouth, she’s able to celebrate in the holding room.
Sort of strange order for the show, huh?
Arugula abuse notwithstanding, Paul was pretty much a foregone conclusion, so the suspense between Lindsay and Paul isn’t that extreme.
(I guess they thought the original Sarah fakeout was more compelling than a Sarah v. Lindsay final two.)
Anyway, yeah, Lindsay is going home.
A shame because her womance with Sarah was a lovely thing to behold.
But it seems fitting that in a season more defined by its constantly self-mythologizing homebase state than anything else, we’d have two Texans as the final two.
Saddle up. Giddy-up. Hook em horns. Etc. etc. etc. . .

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