'Top Chef' recap: Season finale, Battle of the Texans

March 01, 2012|By Anne Marie Turner

Well, we've come to the end of the road for this season of “Top Chef.” The finale is not only a battle of the sexes, but a battle of the Texans. Sarah is a native daughter who fled to Chicago and Paul is a transplant representing his new home. Since Texas was the real star of this season, it seems poignant that the two finalists from the Lone Star state cook their final meal in ... Canada.

Quickfire Challenge

Though Paul and Sarah do not have to take part in a Quickfire Challenge, their potential sous chefs do. The souses are made up of a mix of cheftestants, master chefs and a few chefs that didn’t even make it into the top 16. They have to cook a tasting dish for the two finalists.

Basically, we are reminded that Chris is still as handsome as ever, Nyesha was robbed and sent home way too soonn, Tyler Stone is pompous and annoying and Ty-Lör’s beards remains fantastic.
Paul and Sarah taste each dish and try to figure out who made what. In the end, Paul picks Master Chef Barbara Lynch, Handsome Chris, Keith and Ty-Lör; Sarah chooses Heather, Grayson, Nyesha, and ouch, first-cheftestant-out, 22-year-old Tyler.

Elimination Challenge

The final elimination challenge, like every season before it, calls for the chefs to cook the meala of their lives. Tom informs Paul and Sarah that the have to cook a four-course tasting menu at the restaurant of their dreams.

They all get cookin’ after Paul shockingly decides to cook (Gasp!) Asian and Sarah decides to cook (Gasp!) (Gasp!) a German/Italian-inspired meal.

During the prep, two extremely dissimilar problems face Paul and Sarah. Paul has MC Babs, as she’s known on the streets, as a sous chef and he is uncomfortable giving her orders or saying "no" to any of her suggestions. She is so good, but he doesn’t want to second guess his meal just to appease her. Sarah, on the other hand, is stuck with Tyler. He is like that one annoying kid in second grade that volunteers to be the teacher’s helper for the day, but never really gets anything done.

MC Babs admits that working with Paul is a pleasure and that he is in complete control of his kitchen. Tyler, well, he works really hard peeling shrimp and making ice cream.
The final dinner has the judges and guest judges split into two seatings, enabling them to visit both restaurants without overwhelming each chef.

Paul makes a red-meat-free feast that the first group absolutely loves. Each course mixed seafood and eggs in ways that even Tom, Gail and Chef Mark McEwan (host of “Top Chef: Canada”) have never tried. He falters a bit in the second seating because his chawanmushi — relax, dudes, it just means egg custard — is overcooked. Other than that slight misstep, the golden boy can do no wrong in the eyes of the judges.

Sarah’s food goes off without a hitch. The judges love her dishes as a whole, but there are tiny things wrong with some of her courses. She herself is a bit of a wreck. She isn’t completely happy with a few of the components in her dishes.  She tweaks her dishes and definitely improves her menu. Still the two sets of judges now have different impressions of her meal because they are served different dishes.
In the mix of all this, we get to meet Paul and Sarah’s families. Paul’s family is adorable. His dad cried the tears of a proud father. Also, Paul's girlfriend is hot. Score one for the men with receding hairlines! Sarah is very open about the fact that she loves her fiancé. She's also clearly proud that her mother raised her on her own. To see her mom, fiancé and his mom all crying and congratulating her as a little family unit melted this ice queen’s heart.
Judges’ Table

Tom reiterates that this season produced the best food ever seen on “Top Chef.” He tells Paul and Sarah that this finale meal beat out every other season including “Top Chef: All Stars” for its creativity, execution and all-around yumminess. That is a technical term by the way.

Per usual, the judges ask the chefs one last time why they deserve to be Top Chef. Paul nervously mumbles. Sarah gets emotional and feminist. She even manages to have a single tear stream down her face. Seriously, it is like she's, well, trying to win a reality show.

And drum-roll please ... the winner of “Top Chef: Texas” and ninth chef to receive this title is ... Paul!

Shy, little Paul dominated this season. During the finale he had one hiccup with his overcooked chawanmushi. Sarah just happened to have two or three little hiccups. In reality she would receive praise for such a phenomenal meal, but this isn’t reality. This. Is. Top. Chef. The judges had to split some hairs in order to decisively pick between two exceptional chefs.

Pop champagne for Paul! He was the front runner, and I do feel bad for Sarah because she cooked her ass off, but sometimes the underdog just stays below the top dog.

So Top Cheffers another season passes up by? What was your favorite moment this season? Do you agree that Paul should win? Is there anything about this season that you can’t get over? Where do you think this season ranks in the grand scheme of the show? Leave your comments below!

Follow me on Twitter — @AwesomeAMT

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.