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Top Chef S9-15: Culinary Games
Top Chef Texas is on its 15th episode and we have 4 cheftestants battling it out for the title of Top Chef.
The Last Chance Kitchen is over with Bev coming back as the Champion. Her arrival and stellar performance got Ed to PYKAG and the final four is set with three women and one man.
Don’t forget, if you don’t want to be spoiled about this episode, get out of the kitchen now!
The chefs have gone of a hiatus and are no longer in Texas. They’re in Whistler, BC, Canada. Talk about going from crazy 110 degree weather to the single digit cold.
Sarah is the first there. She says that she has learned a lot about herself. She must stay calm and be a really nice person. It seems she saw herself on TV and didn’t like how she came across. If Tiffany from Season One can be the original Top Chef bitch, then come back and rock it out like the all star she is, then anyone can.
Paul and Lindsay arrive and both are more driven than ever. Lindsay says that there’s a special bond between Paul, Sarah and herself, but with Bev there’s a real personality clash. It looks that unlike Sarah, Lindsay saw herself on TV and thought bitch was a good look on her.
Bev arrives and the cheftestants are off to meet Tom and Padma. While in the car, Paul asks Bev how Last Chance Kitchen was. Bev begins to answer, but is interrupted by Sarah who exclaims, “Look at that tree!” I guess that redemption was short lived.
The cheftestants meet Padma and Tom who are getting their asses kicked by Canada’s weather. Padma looks like she a moment away from being whisked away like a plastic grocery bag in the wind.
Padma explains that there will be another elimination; with only 3 moving on. This will be three rounds with three events. The winner of each event will move into the final as well as win $10,000.
The First Round
The first challenge is to cook on a moving gondola. Not being a ski person, I immediately thought of Venice and wondered how the hell…oh the ski lifts are called gondolas. Well, color me silly for thinking a guy in a striped shirt and an ascot would be rowing the group in half frozen river in Canada.
The extra challenge is that when the cheftestants meet the ending point, they must choose an ingredient, jump back on the gondola, finish their meal and present it to the judges.
The judges for this is Tom, Padma, Gail and Olympic silver medalist Gretchen Beiler.
Paul starts the whole thing having issues with motion sickness. He has issues with his protein. When the gondola slows down, he gets out and grabs wasabi paste.
Paul serves seared lamb loin with curried mushrooms and wasabi crème fraiche. Tom thinks the dish has good flavor, but the meat is under seasoned. Gail feels the meat was unevenly cooked, but loved the seasoning on the mushrooms.
Sarah can’t decide what direction she wants to go with her meal since the gondola had a lot more choices than she expected. At the midway, she picks prune juice.
Sarah serves chorizo sausage with onions, prune juice gooseberry and picked mushrooms. Tom thinks the dish is good, but wished he tasted more of the prune juice. Padma thinks the gooseberry gives the acid needed and is key to the dish.
Beverly is afraid of heights, but focuses on the food to keep from getting scared. She thinks that cold and raw is the way to go because it’s so cold. Wha? At the halfway mark, she gets out and grabs horseradish.
Bev serves salmon tar tare with anchovy horseradish crème fraiche and crispy capers. Gretchen wasn’t expecting a cold dish, but liked the crunch. Tom feels the flavors were great. Gail is impressed with Bev’s knife work, considering the excessive movement on the gondola.
Lindsay is worried about cooking in high altitude. During the midway, she grabs the horseradish.
Lindsay serves seared salmon with red quinoa risotto, chorizo and horseradish vinaigrette. Tom says that food is perfectly cooked. Gretchen thinks that Lindsay did a great job.
The winner will take home $10,000 and wont’ have to cook the next two events. Paul is in last place. Sarah is in 3rd place. Between Bev and Lindsay, the winner is Lindsay.
Who should have won this round?
Sarah and Paul are talking about who will have to duel it out in the final two. Paul thinks it will be a real battle and if it’s against Bev, her Last Chance Kitchen experience shows that she’s really tough.
Unlike previous episodes, Sarah has finally learned her lesson that underestimating Bev isn’t a good thing. She’s concerned and feels she must win the next challenge.
The Second Round
Joining Tom, Padma and Gail to judge is Canadian Olympic gold medalist Jon Montgomery. This challenge is to make a dish using ingredients that are frozen in a block of ice.
Paul and Bev go after king crab with Paul winning out in the end. He gets to his ingredients pretty quickly, which is the opposite of what Bev and Sarah are going through. Both women are beating and ice picking their blocks of ice so brutally Sharon Stone’s character from Basic Instinct is being brought up.
The women are having such huge issues that Paul ends up helping them by picking up blocks of ice and slamming them on the ground. Paul says he wants them to be judged on their food, not how well they can break open a block of ice. He even goes that extra step by giving Bev the rest of his wine, which he eventually needed, but lack and Sarah some king crab.
Paul serves poached king crab, toasted almonds, mango chutney with orange marmalade. Gail loves the crab and mango combination, even though the mango was still a little frozen. Jon says the almonds and crab was exceptional.
Bev serves seared scallop with a red wine reduction, buttered peas, corn and couscous. Gail is impressed with the sear on the scallops, though the sauce was a little heavy and made the dish unbalanced. Padma likes that Bev got the couscous right.
Sarah serves pea and spinach soup with turmeric, almonds and king crab. Tom thinks the flavor is good, though it is predominately spinach. Gail feels the almonds were heavy and the soup is too thin. Tom chimes in that the crab was a good choice and that Paul really helped her out with that.
The winner of this challenge gets $10,000 and a trip to Vancouver. Paul takes the win and the last round is between Bev and Sarah.
Who should have won the second round?
The Third and Last Round
Cammi Granato, who is in the hockey hall of fame, joins Tom, Padma and Gail at the judging panel. This challenge is a culinary biathlon. The cheftestants must ski around a path, come back to the beginning then shoot their ingredients. Once the ingredient has been shot, it is no longer available. Each cheftestant has 10 bullets.
The skiing is what should be expected. Bev gets out in the lead, but both find themselves on their butts more often than not.
Bev gets to shoot first and she immediately gets arctic char. She goes for celery root next and wastes four shots, finally getting it on her sixth shot.
Sarah explains that everyone in her Texan family has guns. So, when she misses her first four shots, she wonders if her dad is going to kill her. On her fifth shot, she gets rabbit and the following shot she gets cabbage. She goes for hazelnut, but misses twice before getting it.
Bev misses her seventh shot, but gets black truffle, fennel and beets in quick succession. Sarah wants beets, but sees that Bev is already there. She gets upset because she only has one shot left and thinks that Bev had more shots than she does. She takes her last shot at cherries and gets it.
While cooking at their stations, Bev asks to use Sarah’s outlet at her station. Sarah agrees, but notices Bev has an outlet at her station. Bev continues to use the outlet at Sarah and continues to take up space in Sarah’s section.
Bev serves the judges arctic char, onion and beet compote, celery root truffle puree and fennel salad.
Tom likes the celery root and thinks the flavors worked, unfortunately, the arctic char is slightly overcooked. Gail likes the earthy flavors with the arctic char. Tom feels that overall, the char disappeared and wasn’t seasoned enough.
Sarah serves braised rabbit and heart with cherries, hazelnuts and sauerkraut puree.
Tom thinks it’s a risky but nice approach. Gail notices the rabbit was a little tough and didn’t really like the choice to braise the meat. Cammi likes the simplicity of the dish and the flavors were all there.
It was a tough choice, but in the end Tom tells the pair that only one can continue on. Padma tells Beverly to PYKAG. The final three are Lindsay, Paul and Sarah and the next stop is in Vancouver, Canada.