Top Chef Texas episode 15 recap | "If I can't win this, what is there?"
“My goal is to stay calm and be a really nice person,” Sarah announces at the top of the show. Good luck with that, Sar. Sarah’s partner-in-nastiness, Lindsay, starts right in on the Bev bashing. Then it’s Paul’s turn for the Top Chef back-story montage: We see his family photos as Paul tells us his great-grandfather left China for the Philippines to start a new life for his family, so as the eldest grandson, Paul feels extra-responsible. Because we needed another reason to love Paul.
And here the final four are in Vancouver, with snow-topped mountains, biting wind— “the opposite of Texas,” Paul says. The first challenge is like Top Chef had a baby with James Bond: Each chef prepares a dish while inside a moving gondola lift riding up the mountainside. As in: The chefs are cooking while inside a moving lift. When they reach the first stop, they have to pick an ingredient. Bev and Lindsay both take horseradish, Paul gets wasabi, and Sarah goes for prune juice. Lindsay wins for her (according to Tom) “perfectly cooked” seared salmon with red quinoa risotto and chorizo; she also secures herself a place in the top three. Lindsay’s smitten lapdog, Sarah, looks happier at her BFF’s win than Lindsay herself does. And here we go again: Sarah gets in a couple of jabs at Bev: “She wants to be meek and timid and people don’t see her, and then she likes to attack like a tiger.” As opposed to attacking like a viper, Sarah? Surprisingly, Paul comes in last for his seared lamb with curried mushrooms and wasabi crème fraiche.
All of which means Paul, Sarah and Bev have to cook again. On a snowy hillside, the chefs face big blocks of ice with ingredients frozen inside them. Thus commences a batshit-crazy ice-picking sequence, with ice flying and picks stabbing. Now’s your chance, Bev; Sarah’s standing right there! Alas, Bev focuses on the food, cutting out scallops from her ice. The winner, not surprisingly, is Paul for his poached king crab with toasted almonds, mango chutney and orange marmalade. And he’s got the second slot in the final three.
Yes, it’s come to this: a final showdown between Sarah and Bev. How terribly beautiful, the sight of the two of them standing shoulder to shoulder. “I cannot believe I have to go head-to-head with Beverly,” Sarah says. We then see (thank you, TC editors) a shot of Bev shooting Sarah.
That’s right, shooting: The final round involves Bev and Sarah sliding (and, more often, falling) on their skis and then shooting at targets that represent various ingredients; a good shot means getting that item. “If Beverly moves forward instead of me,” Sarah says, “I would never forgive myself.” Bev gets the Top Chef wackadoodle music as she constantly crashes onto the snow, but then—wait—Bev is ahead of Sarah! Then the shooting begins: Bev successfully hits the arctic char target, Sarah gets rabbit, Bev nabs winter truffle, Sarah lands cabbage. And bang-bang it goes. Both race to the kitchen. Sarah utters a sadly revealing statement: “If I can’t win this, what is there?” I don’t know, maybe, you know, life?
They serve the judges. Bev’s prepared arctic char with onion and beet compote, celery root truffle puree and fennel salad, while Sarah presents braised rabbit leg and heart with cherries, hazelnuts and sauerkraut puree. Both get praised but, as always, look to Tom, viewers. Look to Tom. “Two very good dishes,” he says, but…he clearly, slightly favors Sarah’s dish. Alas, Bev packs her knives. (Who else noticed Padma’s teary eyes? I know, Padma. I know.) Suddenly, preposterously, Sarah is nice to Bev: “I’m so glad we got to cook together and have this experience together,” she tells Bev. “You’re amazing. You’re amazing.” Holy what?! Before heading out the door, Bev tells her fellow Chicagoan, Sarah, “Go, Chicago.” Sorry not to root for the hometown, but at the final I’m pulling for Austin, Texas, (i.e., Paul) all the way.