Top Chef: Texas Recap
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
February 22, 2012
The contestants arrive at their new destination, British Columbia. This feels like some sort of weird prank from the producers. All of the participants were asked to handle the brutal Texas heat, so brutal that it almost felled Texas native Sarah at one point. Now, they are sent to the location of the 2010 Winter Olympics. I guess this made sense to someone somewhere but this is an asymmetrical choice of locations for the finale.
Sarah and Lindsay quickly hug and maintain that they have a special bond. This is a bit surprising in that the relationship always felt a bit one-sided. Sarah has had a girl crush on Lindsay most of the season, even offering up the notion that Lindsay deserved to win a challenge where the editing indicated she was the worst overall performer. For her part, Lindsay acted like people do when they know someone likes them an unhealthy amount. Their relationship seemed like a variation of the friend zone where one party didn’t really view the other as a friend. Watching some of the episodes on television and some communications during the months of downtime must have altered Lindsay’s point of view.
Paul is greeted as the conquering hero, which he is. The only hope the other contestants have is that he forgot how to cook during the sabbatical. Conversely, an awkward moment occurs when Beverly arrives. The other women put on their fake smiles and deliver fake hugs. For just a moment, Top Chef morphs into Real Bachelorettes of British Columbia.
The chefs receive word that they are headed to Whistler Mountain. Another patented awkward car ride occurs where the other women gang up on Beverly. This is by our count the fourth time this season this has transpired. Paul, a genuinely nice man, asks her about her experiences on Last Chance Kitchen. Beverly prepares her speech but before she can relay the events, Sarah rudely shouts, “Look at this tree!” If ever anyone deserved a frying pan to the face, it’s Sarah.
The discomfort displayed during the conversation brings us to an important aspect of the final four competitions. While the participants were sandbagged by the announcement that Beverly would be returning and that clearly impacted their performances in the most recent elimination challenge, that was in the past. Fast forwarding to now encompasses several weeks wherein they have had time to make their peace with this turn of events. Whether anybody likes it or not (and we concisely stated above that we do not), there are no excuses from this moment forward. If Beverly beats the other players, she will be the champion of Top Chef. As such, she deserves the respect of her opponents. The fact that Sarah is too immature to display such behavior speaks poorly of her, not Beverly. And Lindsay isn’t much better since she clearly condones the catty actions.
The Quickfire Challenge begins soon after the contestants arrive at the top of the mountain. Padma and Tom are dressed as if they are climbing Mount Everest and even with this much weather protection, the whipping wind is still capable of blowing them around. This is not an exaggeration. The camera catches Padma almost knocked over by a gust of wind. Already, we question the sanity of hosting the Top Chef finale at this location.