Top Chef Texas: Fire and Ice

E: Padma is mean.  Very, very mean.

M: How so?

E: That fake out at the end of the show?  Miserable.

M: Ok, I didn’t see that as her being mean, I saw that as the producers and editors being jerks.  We’ll get to that, though.  Let’s start at the beginning this time.

E: The Quickfire relay challenge was absolute genius.  I loved it.  And of course I loved seeing Floyd Cardos and Anita Lo.

M: Ahhh yes.  Anita is quiet, but she showed on her season of Masters that she is such an inventive chef.  And Floyd is just so much fun, and clearly one hell of a chef.

E: Takahashi Yagahashi (?) is just the most awesome name.

M: I love that he went all ego trip and named his restaurant Takahashi, AND that it works because it sounds like a restaurant name.  I mean, it wouldn’t work if someone like Sarah tried to pull that.  Although, “Sarah” might work in the Far East, maybe it’s just a familiarity thing, but I don’t think so, I think Takahashi is just cool sounding no matter what.

E: Hmm.  I don’t know.  I certainly wouldn’t want to eat at Gruenberg’s Italian Restaurant, just based on the name.  Anyway. The masters get 10 minutes to start a dish; the finalists get another 10 to move it forward, 10 more for the masters, and then a final 10 for the finalists.

M: I always love the relays where the contestants have to pick up where one another left off without knowing what the intention was.  It creates such a great situation, either of them being on the same page and making something great together, or even better, of not being on the same page, but still coming out with something fun and exciting.

E: And oh, the irony of Sarah being forced to make Asian food!  It’s Bev’s revenge.  Poor Bev, too – can you imagine how she would have rocked this challenge?

M: Considering that all three Masters were Asian, Bev would have been in her wheel house, and Sarah definitely had to step outside of it.  It’s funny, some of the contestants ragged on Bev for only doing Asian food, but Sarah made pasta pretty much every time she had the choice.  Diverse, she was not.

E: And aware of her hypocrisy she wasn’t, either.  Somehow, Lindsay misunderstands Anita’s scallop three ways and does it two.  Paul adds too much chili pepper to Takahashi’s simple geoduck preparation (even though he immediately goes for the mushrooms Takahashi wanted without any instruction).  So Sarah wins 20k for carrying out Floyd’s curry.  Wow.

M: The worst part was that Paul knew as soon as he added the chilies that he put too much in, and said so in the kitchen.  I really think that a slightly lighter hand on them and he wins the quickfire hands down, and doesn’t doubt himself as much in the elimination challenge.  Speaking of which, it was the return of Top Caterer!

E: Argh.  They do usually do that during the finale, but ugh.  Cooking for 150 people alone?  Yarg.

M: Now, don’t get me wrong.  For the most part I liked the parameters of the challenge.  Fire and Ice is a good concept for them to run with, and provides enough leeway that you end up with one person serving a pasta dish that isn’t spicy and considering it “fire”.  If they had to do it for 50 people I would have loved it.  Serving 150, and making them pair their meal with a cocktail, just seemed like too much focus on quantity and not enough on quality and flavor for the second to last challenge of the season.  And yes, I sound like a broken record.

E: You do, but you’re not wrong.

M: As for the challenge itself, Paul decided to make king crab with a spicy lobster broth, using more of the Thai chilies that he overused in the Quickfire, and lemon “snow”.  In my opinion Lindsey played it waaaay too safe, not going for true “fire” or anything spectacular in flavor either in her “tomato in everything” meal.

E: Kind of hilarious, right, because tomatoes lend themselves to some serious spice.  On the other hand, I can see roasted as another way to interpret fire.

M: Sarah decided to make her own pasta…

E: Sarah made pasta?  Shocking!

M: …which I thought was both ballsy and dumb.  Ballsy, because of how little time they had, how many people they had to serve, and how much better home made pasta tastes.  Dumb, because of how little time they had, how many people they had to serve, how she ALWAYS does pasta, and how there was nothing “fire” about it.  Seriously, with the concept of fire and ice, how do two of the contestants not come up with something that’s particularly spice or is piping hot?  Oye.  At least Sarah went for it (and failed) on the ice concept, freezing the mousse sauce that she made for her pasta.  I really thought that was going to get her sent home.

E: I did too, to be honest.  Like Gail, I was surprised that no one actually set their food on fire, but opted for “warm” instead.

M: Now, to the two big issues we have with the producers/editors of the show.  First, when they showed the judging they made it look like the comments were fairly evenly negative.  Tom kept harping on the piece of arugula (it’s a veg-ah-table, for all the My Blue Heaven fans out there) that seemed extraneous in Paul’s dish.  However, in a tweet afterward Tom said that “Arugula is what happens when you really don’t have anything negative to say”.  The fact that they used this to make it seem like Paul had some major flaw in his dish was sooo not cool.  Note to the producers, knowing who did the best would not have diminished from the tension of who of the other two was going home.

E: Well, they always nit pick.  (Actually, usually they like the food while they’re eating it, then make the contestants feel like crap at Judges Table, and then back off.)  So it’s not shocking to me that they’ve been overstating things.  Now, I swooned with relief when Padma called Sarah’s name, forgetting that they had yet to name a winner, forgetting about the prize trip to Costa Rica, forgetting everything.  I just assumed Sarah would have to pack her knives and go.

M: I was thinking the same thing.  When she was safe, I was legitimately surprised, and started wondering how egregious a mistake the arugula was.

E: In the end, Paul wins and Lindsay goes home.  I think I’m sorry?  I think I like Lindsay more than Sarah?  No.  I don’t know.  I don’t think I care as long as Paul wins.

M: I’m in the same boat.  As for Sarah thinking, first the the three of them (and not Ed, Grayson or Bev) were clearly the final three all along was insane, and to think that this pairing has always been “inevitable”?  Get over yourself, pasta girl.

E: While it was clear from that beginning that she was good and could be a contender, I think that pairing was only inevitable in Sarah’s head.

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