The Road Goes On Forever, But Top Chef: Texas Definitely Does End

Categories: TV
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Photo courtesy of Bravo
Fun fact: Padma is the monster under your children's beds at night.
Here it is: the finale. It feels like it's been a longer time than it really has. Is that just me? But instead of drawing out the entire season in a long recap, as I thought the show would, we're instead plunged straight into the action.

The elimination challenge: cook a four-course meal and create the restaurant of their dreams at two of Vancouver's best restaurants. But, of course, there's a twist: Paul and Sarah each get four sous chefs. Sous chefs from a pool of their former competitors, James Beard-award winning chefs or one of the handful of losers who got cut from the first 29 and didn't even make it into the top 16 of the season.

All 12 of these chefs have to prepare a dish that will hopefully earn them a sous chef spot on either Paul or Sarah's teams. They waste no time in getting the dishes out - or at least the show wastes no time editing it all together snickety-snack. Paul and Sarah then taste the dishes blind, and choose their sous chefs based on only the dish itself.

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THIS fucking guy.
Sarah calls out her favorite dishes, and the chefs who cooked them step up to her team: She nets Nyesha, Grayson, Heather and...Tyler. Crazy fucking Tyler Stone. Who was one of the first 29 losers, in case you somehow didn't remember all of his crazy.

Paul fares much better, nabbing himself one of the Beard award winners - Barbara Lynch - as well as Keith, Crazy But Hot Chris and Ty-Lor. Oh, how I've missed you, Ty-Lor!

In the kitchens of the Vancouver restaurants, the teams get straight to work after a quick trip to the market. Sarah shows some actual growth compared to the rest of the season, by being determined to cook outside of her comfort zone and choosing unusual ingredients like persimmons with veal cheeks and sweetbreads. She also shows why Lindsey would have fallen apart in this round had she continued on from last week: Sarah is capable of giving up control of every single moving part in the kitchen and leading her team.

Also fully capable of leading a team is Paul, who is almost zen-like in his ability to delegate tasks and let his crew do their work uninterrupted. His kitchen already seems calmer, a sense that's further enhanced by the presence of Lynch and the absence of Crazy Tyler Stone. Who, by the way, has shown up to the kitchen in dress pants and dress shoes. Dress shoes. I hope to God that he slips and falls on his dumb ass.

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The dumbest thing I read today. People and baby animals, man...
Meanwhile, on Twitter, I just read the second-dumbest thing I've seen all day. (First-dumbest thing above.) "Veal cheek. They tortured and killed a baby cow for the cheeks? I can see for boots or a chop but for cheeks? #packyourknives #topchef" Can you count the number of things wrong with those sentences? I started counting, but my nose started bleeding and then I blacked out from the sheer agony of so much stupid in such a small, concentrated dose.

I have to focus on the show again now for my brain to clear. Paul has made a beautiful chawanmushi. Let's admire his egg custard for a while instead. Deep breaths.

Both he and Sarah have used spot prawns in their opening dishes, although Sarah has really stretched outside of her normal range here and made an Asian-inspired appetizer with dashi. Meanwhile, back at Paul's restaurant, the show surprises him with a table full of his favorite people: his parents and his girlfriend. If you guessed that Paul started bawling, you'd be correct. But so did his dad, which just made the cute in this scene exponentially cuter. I'm feeling better now.

At the end of the meal at Sarah's restaurant, her first service is done. The first panel of judges - which includes Padma and Emeril - say that there are "strokes of genius" in her food and that most of the menu was "spot on." Over at Paul's, Colicchio and crew are equally impressed, especially with his very Phillip Speer-like dessert, which has shades of Uchi in a spicy foam on the side.

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7 comments
FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

I started watching in Season 2 and still enjoy the show, although this season not including Houston meant me cancelling my cable (which has been a great decision.)  The show is great in finding really good chefs, but it is also a novelty.  I just braised short ribs for a day in a particularly odd broth and served it.  It ended up a good dish, but it could have fallen out of favor, as well.

I'd like to see competitions where the best meet the best; without Bobby Flay and his moronic throwdown.

MadMac
MadMac

"But what about you? What are your thoughts on the finale?"

Sarah still appears a wreched cow, even on the Andy Cohen after show. I really, really don't like this chick. Speaking (typing?) of Andy Cohen's after show, did we need another installment of Bev's low-self-esteem theatre? Still, I can tolerate both of them together more than Heather. Wuff, a little bit of that dog goes a long, long way.

Sarah's fish looked like a drink coaster. Paul's food looked inviting, even if the descriptions sounded daunting.

Side note, I enjoyed the TC Masters epi and would love to see another season of that spinoff. But my ardor for TC second chance show/rehash (and chance for Nyesha to win it) is tempered by the certainty that at least one of these two heifers would be involved, too.

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

Well done, Paul. We survived Top Chef: Texas and all of us feel stronger for it. The finale was signature TC. No surprises. No filler. Select your sous chefs, plan your menu and get down to cooking. I think both teams were balanced with the right elements to succeed. Even with Sarah receiving Beauty Pageant Tyler. The menu's still seemed safe to me and concentrated on the chef's strengths. In the end the right chef won and not just because Sarah has been portrayed as a complete bitch since Heather was doused with water and melted away. Incidentally, Sarah seems to be affected by this portrayal as recent twitter posts calling her out have been retweeted by her with disguised call outs for help from her followers.

Addressing Shilcutt's comment about the menu being the best the judges have ever had, think back to the Quickfire in the Pee Wee Herman episode for a clue to the truth. I compare the final episode of TC to the philosophy behind military boot camp. Break them down and build them back better. The final result will be only those who could take it and actually belong. Hence just as a drill instructor has nothing but praise for his troops at graduation, so goes the Top Chef judges at finale. They earned their top spot so no reason to nit pick now. Just respect and has been such in every final episode I have watched. Regardless of how they actually feel about the food.

On a completely unrelated note. I love how Padma is able to subtly disguise how shitted she gets at these finale's. More wine please, have the editors edit me later....

TA

mike
mike

The whole "best food in a finale ever" is the kind of thing they say every finale.  As a whole, this pool of chefs wasn't the most talented.  Paul, however, could definitely hold his own against any of the previous top chefs.  I'll say, too, that this show used to be so much better--so much more about the food and not product placement.

Eric S
Eric S

So, of course, I looked up the tweet about the veal cheeks. That guy has 7 followers, and he's related to 4 of them. That makes me believe he doesn't represent a huge group of people who think animals are being killed for their cheeks with the rest being thrown away. 

It's always hard to tell because of the editing, but I thought Sarah was going to win for a couple of reasons. First, she prepared a more consistent set of dishes; as in, both groups of judges got basically the same dishes, save the reworked polenta. Also, Sarah stretched more beyond what she had been showing throughout the competition, especially on the first course. I really thought that ambition was going to put her over the top. 

Hard to fault Paul's winning, but based on my interpretation of the judge's comments it seemed to me that Paul's previous successes had as much to do with his victory as the meal he cooked that night. Of course, it takes some courage to serve a meal centered around fish and eggs without any land animal as a main entree. If Dr. Ricky was watching, I suspect he approved. 

It's certainly possible that Paul's meal was really spectacular, and the producers held back on some of the judges' more effusive comments to raise the amount of drama heading to the final announcement. 

cindy_in_tx
cindy_in_tx

I'm a little late to this article (just watched epi on my dvr), so I'm pretty sure no one will read my comment.  But I've just got to say I've been so disappointed at how Sarah has been villainized throughout this show.  I wonder if she would be hated so much if she was thinner.  How many times have I seen comments like "wretched cow" and "heifers" when talking about Sarah and Heather.  And the comment below talks about how ugly Padma is going to be at 60.  WHY can't women be judged on anything besides their looks?  It's really starting to bother me, especially in the political arena.  From comments about Hillary Clinton's flabby arms and cankles, to Sarah Palin's "Caribou Barbie", I'm just sick of it!

MadMac
MadMac

"and all of us feel stronger for it."

Kinda like puking after a binge? I mean from what I've been told. Just saying. And, Padma, yikes. She pulled a face that showed what she'd look like at 60. I'm sure every man and woman that's been in her life would say, "whew, dodged a bullet on that one."

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