Recap: ‘Top Chef’ – ‘Fire and Ice’

02.22.12 6 years ago 9 Comments


We’re down to the final three, and at this point I can only root for one chef: Paul. I have my reasons. One, he seems to be a very talented chef (hey, we can’t taste the food, but judging by the comments he’s gotten and his ingredients, I’ve been impressed). Two, he’s really shown the most creativity in his dishes thus far. While he does use a lot of Asian influences, he seems able to look well beyond them and construct dishes that are truly modern (Sarah, on the other hand, has only recently seemed interested in cooking anything but straight Italian food). And three, he’s not a mean girl. So, go Paul!

Even though underdog Bev got the boot last week, Sarah’s STILL talking about her. Sarah is SO happy Bev is gone! The final three are the final three as they are SUPPOSED to be. And when the chefs are called to Chinatown in Vancouver, she’s even happier. Bev would have nailed this! Why does Sarah’s giddiness so make me want to throw something at my television? 

Padma and Emeril await the chefs. Plus, they are joined by “Top Chef” master Anita Lo, “Top Chef Masters” season 3 winner Floyd Cardoz, and “Top Chef” master Takashi Yagahashi. Sarah has a squealing fit. She’s, like, BFFs with Takashi! This is THE BEST! He’s SUPER! Does she realize no one else is acting like a total idiot? 

Each chef is paired with one of the masters by drawing knives. We have Anita and Lindsay, Sarah and Floyd, and Paul and Takashi. Sarah tells Paul he’s SUPER lucky to be paired with Takashi! Someone really needs to cut off this woman’s access to caffeine. 

Each team will prepare an Asian-influenced dish. They will have forty minutes total, and every ten minutes they’ll tag their teammate out. The winner of the Quickfire will receive $20,000. Oh, and I guess they can’t talk to one another about what they’re trying to make, so it’s more of a party game than an actual challenge. How cute. 

Lindsay – Scallop two ways: bok choy & chili, fried roe with sausage & water chestnut

Anita was going to do scallop in three parts, so Lindsay was close. Anita points out that Padma ate it all, so she has high hopes. 

Sarah – Pan-seared cod with coconut curry, crab salad with clementine & amaranth

Emeril declares it really interesting. Interesting? Floyd points out that Sarah totally got his vision. He’s never won a Quickfire, but he’s clearly an encouraging teammate. 

Paul – Mirugai sashimi with yuzu dash. fried white fish, scallions & chili

Padma tells Paul she and Emeril like a lot of chili, but that’s a lot of chili. Oh, Paul, I think you just overseasoned yourself out of 20 grand. 

Time for critiques. Emeril loved what Lindsay did with the roe, but found the Chinese sausages a little overwhelming. Padma loved Sarah’s amaranth, though Emeril felt it could have used more acid. Emeril loved how Paul fried the fish, but it was too spicy. 

The winner is… Sarah’s. DAMMIT! Floyd’s thrilled to have won a Quickfire, even if it goes to the charity of one annoying mean girl instead of a good cause. Sarah’s so excited that she’s won $30,000 in Canada, though she’d won nothing in Texas. She’s on a roll. Too bad it’s not a roll downhill in a car with bad brakes. I mean, a Toyota with bad brakes. Don’t forget our sponsors! 

Next up, our chefs will be cooking for a fire and ice cocktail party, for which they’ll have to make one dish and one cocktail. Each dish must contain a hot element and a cold element. Egads, that doesn’t even sound appetizing — hold on to your plate longer than a minute and you’ll be diving into a big pile of lukewarm, if you ask me. Oh, and they’ll be serving 150 foodies, chefs and other experts. The winner gets a trip for two to Costa Rica. And, of course, the loser goes home. 

Lindsay knows it’s going to be tough to cook halibut for 150, but this isn’t Restaurant Wars. SHE knows how to cook fish, even if Bev screwed it up. For crying out loud, Bev is GONE. Can we stop digging at her?

Time for the chefs to relax with a glass of wine. Sarah dropped out of high school to go to culinary school. Well, that explains why she still acts like a squealing, bratty teenager so much of the time. 

It’s prep time, which requires that Paul kill many, many lobsters in a somewhat horrifying way, but thankfully we don’t spend too much time on the slaughter. Sarah is making pasta from scratch. Lindsay doesn’t care if she loses a finger as she grates tomatoes, she’ll keep going. Okay, that’s fine, but I’m really glad I don’t have to eat anything she’s making. 

Interesting — Sarah and Lindsay commiserate over the fact this will be the last time they’re cooking together. Does that mean they assume Paul is going to the finals? Not that I disagree, but it’s a surprising admission to make before the competition has even started. 

Everyone cooks their hearts out as the judges and the guests pile into the venue. Our judges will be Gail, Tom, Padma and Emeril. 

Paul isn’t feeling his game. He’s seemed really, really nervous throughout the episode, so I’m not sure what to think. 

Paul – Dish: King crab with lobster broth & lemon snow

Cocktail: The Pan Am – Kaffir lime, Thai chilies & rum

Tom thinks the broth has tons of lobster flavor, but he doesn’t like the arugula as a garnish. But he thinks the drink goes well with the food. Emeril tastes some heat, though Padma would like more. Emeril does point out that she creamed him for too much heat in the Quickfire, so that’s her own damn fault, really. 

Sarah – Dish: Five greens filled pasta with garlic, chili & spiced sformato

Cocktail: Agrumi – gin, kumquats and mango

Gail thinks the mousse is frozen, but Tom gives her points for flavor. Emeril says she nailed the pasta. Gail doesn’t think the cocktail goes with the dish, which is seconded by Tom. Once again, Gail does not seem to be a big fan of Sarah’s cooking. 

Lindsay – Dish: Halibut with fiery celery root salad

Cocktail: Encendido – vodka, tomato & horseradish

Gail thinks she got a lot of fire in one bite, but Tom didn’t get any. Tom doesn’t know why his kale is raw. Gail likes the tomato nage. Emeril thinks the cocktail is flat on its own. 

The judges chat. It seems like everyone did very well, but no one was flawless. Tom is undecided as to whom he’d like to send home. I hope he can just get over Paul’s arugula. It’s just a leafy green, man!

Finally, it’s time for judges’ table. Emeril thought Paul’s dish was conceptually there. Tom thought the broth was delicious, but again, he was hung up on the arugula. It’s Padma’s turn to ask each chef why they should win the “Top Chef” title. Paul wants to win so that he doesn’t get tossed out of Texas. He’s joking. Kind of. 

Sarah talks about her icky-looking frozen mousse. Gail thought the mousse was hard to eat. Tom thought her dish was brave, but it may have been too cold. Emeril thought her cocktail was yummy. Padma asks her question, and Sarah says she wants to tell a story in the finale. Just once I’d like someone to just admit they want the money. I mean, isn’t that part of the reason you go on a reality TV show in the first place? 

Tom thought Lindsay’s tomato element overpowered the fish. Emeril said he had separation in his drink. Padma asks her question, and Lindsay thinks she has more to show, so she wants to make it to the finale. Yet again, no one mentions the cash. Chickens! 

The judges toss around who should stay and who should go. It seems to me that Gail makes it clear she does not want Sarah in the finale, but I don’t think Tom will be easily swayed. 

Sarah… is moving on to the finale. Yay, great. And Lindsay… is packing her knives. Well, one mean girl down, I guess. Oh, and Paul wins the trip to Costa Rica. Well, that’s good news!

Lindsay is sad to go, but knows this is the beginning of something great. At least she didn’t sign off with “At least I lasted longer than Bev,” but unfortunately, you kind of suspect she’s thinking it. 

Did you think it was Lindsay’s turn to go? Who had the most interesting food in the elimination challenge? And what did you think of Tom’s anti-arugula campaign? 

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