Top Chef Texas Finale: A Few Thoughts

It’s been a whole week, so I hope you have had a chance to catch up on those missed episodes and, of course, the finale. From Pee-Wee Herman, uber amounts of BBQ fare, to rifles, gondolas, and food encased in monstrous ice blocks, this season was packed with random twists. And who could forget the Snow White and the Huntsmen wicked cuisine themed episode; in my opinion, that episode, aside from the finale, showcased the best creative dishes of the season. Although I had my doubts at the beginning of the season (the countless amount of Texas BBQ’s was too typical to excite me) the season finally proved itself to live up to the slogan “everything’s bigger in Texas.”


Now, down to the nitty-gritty: The final showdown was between Chef Sarah Gruenberg and Chef Paul Qui. I liked how Top Chef returned to the idea of the final challenge being an individualized restaurant war.  Usually, the final two have to cook for an esteemed panel of master chefs and have full creative license over the menu. Both chefs had mouth watering bills of fare and gave their all. It was interesting that the judges dining with Top Chef’s Head Judge – Chef Tom Colicchio got the exceptional, faulty-free dishes at both restaurants where as Host, Padma Lakshmi’s group had the faulty entrées.  What can you say to that? ::shrugs shoulders:: Perhaps, the food gods just weren’t on Team Padma’s side.


I must say, I was introduced to a new dish – chawanmushi, featured by Chef Paul.  (Chawanmushi is a Japanese egg custard dish.) Paul was going to include crabmeat into the dish (yumm!) but the meat became sour overnight, so due to his resilient thinking, Paul used his ace-in-the-whole… shrimp! Although it was a hit in the first round, this dish was scorched in the second. In Chef Sarah’s kitchen, she also had some hits and misses: her salmon was served with small bones, and some of her other dishes had slight issues as well.

Counting all the successes and failures of the night, it was an obvious close call. (Definitely would not want to deliberate at judges table,… eek!)


Yet, in the end, a winner had to be declared. I was ecstatic when Chef Paul’s name was announced. I felt he totally deserved it, hands down. Sarah was a very talented competitor and also deserving. It just came down to emphasis on detail for Paul.  Ever since the final 5, I was on Team Paul and joined in his victory as well. Can I just say, even without the $125,000 prize money, Paul won the most money of the season, racking up $45,000 – $50,000 in Quick Fire and Elimination Challenge winnings. That is seriously epic, I don’t think any other “cheftestant” has walked away with that amount of $$$ in the history of Top Chef.


I look forward to tonight’s reunion. All the drama will be laid out on the table: Bev’s bully battles – don’t even get me started on that – last chance kitchen comments, and how the chefs really felt about the competition. Tune in to Bravo TV at 9 pm.

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