Top Chef Texas: Culinary Games

E: Mimicking the Vancouver Olympics?  Cool.  Getting 10k per challenge?  Cool.  The results?  Well, what do you think?

M: I thought all the challenges were great, and Paul didn’t get eliminated, so I was ok with it. Outside that, I would have rather seen Bev stay.

E: When Sarah arrived in Vancouver, she told us that she was going to concentrate on being calm and being nice.  Clearly this is code for “damn, I looked like a terrible person on tv!”  Now, this could be a good thing – epiphany! – or merely  a shallow understanding that it won’t do any good for her career if she looks appalling.

M: Given our likeable impressions of her before she joined the bully clique, I was hoping it was for real.

E: Of course, then she immediately and rather ruthlessly interrupts Bev’s explanation of what it was like to be on Last Chance Kitchen.  Okay, sure, she’ll never see that tree again, but really?  Not a promising start to the Niceness campaign.

M: Yeah, it didn’t even seem like the particular tree was important, just that she wanted to change the topic. Not good. To me, though, she made up for it later.

E: I’m sure you noticed Lindsay made no such concession about her past behavior.

M: Yep, and she followed up that lack of concession by making no attempts to be any kinder to Bev or show her any respect. Way to double down on being a bitch, Lindsey.

E: Up at the top of Whistler peak (which reminds me how much I want to go the Vancouver area!), Padma and Tom get the stuffing blown out of them by a fierce wind.

M: That was really funny. Seriously, what did they expect setting up shop at the peak of a ski mountain? But having them create a dish on a gondola ride to a neighboring peak and back, while picking up a mystery ingredient in the middle? Awesome, yet brutal, challenge.

E: Totally hard core, especially if you get panicked around heights and/or motion sick.  Like me.  And more than one contestant.  Paul, for example, totally blows it.  That’s a little alarming.

M: I’m not putting too much credence into that one. First off, it was their first challenge in months, as there’s a break between the initial portion of the season and the finals (as clearly evidenced by Paul’s hair). Second, they were cooking at high altitude, which prevented Paul’s lamb from cooking properly. That won’t happen again.

E: Well, maybe.  The swaying gondola certainly won’t.  Kudos to Bev for impressive knife work in that situation!  But, ugh, the winner.

M: Who was it that said bitch is the new black? Apparently that worked for Lindsey.

E: Sigh.  So Lindsay wins 10 grand and a ride to the top three.  Then we have the ice block challenge, which turned out to really favor chefs with upper body strength (ie Paul). Poor pixie Bev looked like a maniac attacking that ice first with a pick and then with a frying pan.

M: Ok, maybe it’s because we’ve lived most of our lives outside Boston, or because I spent four years in the near artic wilds of central Maine, but how did Bev not know that a frying pan would be useless againt a huge block of ice? She was making hay with the ice pick, she needed to stick with that. As it turned out, however, not only did Paul help both Bev and Sarah with the ice, but he gave them each some of his own ingredients, too. I love seeing someone trust in their ability enough to legitimately assist their competitors like that.

E: Which was yes, pretty awesome.  Paul’s a true competitor and gentleman, both.  Then we have the biathalon!  I have to say, it was pretty fun.  One thing I love about Bev – she can laugh at herself (and boy does she) but it doesn’t make her any less driven to excel.

M: Nor does it make her any less likely to unintentionally mess up her competitors. All season they showed clips of her getting in people’s way, and on the biathalon she unintentionally trips Sarah as they pass each other.

E: Well, Sarah shouldn’t have tried to glide over Bev’s skis, then.  What I don’t like about Sarah; her whining to the shooting judge/instructor/safety dude that Bev must have gotten more bullets. What are you, 5?

M: That was pretty ridiculous. I do have to say, I expected them to have to get up and ski in between shots at least once, and expected them to hit less targets than they did.

E: It’s true – Sarah, whose Texas family shoots tin cans in the backyard, got 4 out or 10; Bev, who’d never touched a gun before, got 5 of 10.  Impressive!  Then they’re in to cook.  You know, I get Sarah’s annoyance that Bev couldn’t use the plug on her own station.  I concede that she’d be hard to work with.  But she’s also clearly a tremendously talented chef.  And while it was probably just an attempt to rehab their public images, I was glad that Sarah and Lindsay at least went so far as to really take Bev aside and say how much they respect her.  Thank you.  Granted, when Paul said it, we believed him – but I hope that Sarah and Lindsay meant what they said, too.

M: Hmm, I didn’t catch Lindsey doing that.

E: She said something to Paul and when Bev first came off stage, I think.

M: Sarah came across as truly afraid of going head to head with Bev, and truly repecting her in the end, which pulls her up to “palatable” in my book now.

E: Well, I don’t know.  I’m sold that she’s at least more aware she’s on camera than she was – but at least she really did make the effort.  In the end, Bev comes in second every single time.  Which really makes her the most consistent chef there.  But still, crap.  I’m so bummed.  Sarah gets 10k and slot in next week’s penultimate challenge.  Only 2 will make the meal of their lives to fight for the title!  Hopefully Paul will take down one of the Bully Twin.  Next week, we’ll find out who.

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