Top Chef: Texas Recap

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

February 22, 2012

deja vu all over again

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The chefs are informed of their first challenge; its difficulty is off the charts. They must enter a gondola and prepare a meal while the tram is moving. Even worse, they must make a stop at one point and pick a new ingredient. Tom Colicchio informs the players the elevation is 7,000 feet above sea level. He states that this will present rare cooking challenges since the food will cook irregularly at this altitude. The chefs are also informed that the winner of this challenge will earn a spot in the final three while the other players must compete in the next heat. ..heat being a disingenuous term to use given the sub-zero weather.

Poor Paul has motion sickness issues, and then his lamb does not caramelize correctly. His goal becomes to finish the dish more than to win the challenge. Since Paul is always expected to win the challenges, his struggles create an opportunity for the others. Beverly in particular impresses us as she boldly determines to create a cold dish to serve in Arctic conditions.

Lindsay has a moment of panic when she realizes she has not prepared enough of her protein. Oddly, this plays in her favor when the judges taste the dish. They believe her dish is the best balanced of the four, something that would not have happened if she had prepared the protein better. Lindsay wins the round and with the victory takes home $10,000 plus a spot in the final three. The order of finish is Lindsay in first, Beverly in second, Sarah in third and Paul in last place. If you had bet on Paul finishing last, you would be a very wealthy person right now.


The following morning, the other three chefs are informed of their next task. After being introduced to the gold medalist in Skeleton at the most recent Olympics, the chefs are informed that all they have to do to win is retrieve their ingredients and cook a winning dish. Of course, since Top Chef is in Huge Twist mode, there is a Huge Twist. The chefs must dig their ingredients out of massive blocks of ice. How this determines their cooking skills, we don’t know. Still, it does make for great television.

As the players sprint to the ice, they struggle to identify some of the ingredients. The only obvious one is crab legs, and Paul beats Beverly and gets that superior ingredient. Of course, using the item is another matter. The chefs use ice picks in a manner that would make Sharon Stone’s character in Basic Instinct uncomfortable. Paul starts dropping other blocks of ice from heights in hopes that the ice will chip. In this inclement weather, even this action is a coin flip to succeed. Several blocks require multiple attempts to break with none of them ever shattering. Getting to the ingredients is proving to be harder than any other previous challenge this season.

“I’m more than happy to help Beverly and Sarah because this challenge is about the food and not about how many ice blocks you can smash.” – Paul, demonstrating why he is one of the classiest players in the history of Top Chef

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