Top Chef: Texas Recap

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

February 28, 2012

The agony of's even worse when you lose to Sarah.

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When the chefs head to the kitchen, it’s really wonderful to watch the three of them work together, coordinate and cooperate even though they are fighting for the chance to win their way to the finale. They joke and chat, and even talk through their processes.

Tom Colicchio comes around to visit each of the contestants, and while he seems impressed with Paul’s plan for the cocktail party, he also wants to know what went wrong at the Quickfire. Paul credits the competition, and Tom respects this answer. When he asks Lindsay about the fact that she’s repeating the halibut dish, he seems consternated by the fact that she’s determined to complete the dish using the same technique. He watches Sarah at work making pasta and seems pretty impressed with her activity.

“It’d be nice if it would be one of those competitions where someone pops up and they’re like oh, by the way, these are your sous chefs,” says Paul. Right on cue…no one shows up to help. Sarah and Paul claim that they feel like they’re in the weeds, but Lindsay’s silence at this point seems more telling. Sarah does use an anti-griddle to freeze her ginger mousse, and it freezes it a little too much, but it sure is a great idea.


Paul is first to serve his dish and cocktail to the judges. The dish is king crab with lobster broth and lemon snow, while his cocktail is the “Pan Am,” with Kaffir lime, Thai chilies and rum. He’s certainly not running away from the fact that he had trouble with those chilies in the Quickfire. The broth is complimented for its lobster flavor, but Tom is bothered by the arugula. He feels it has no purpose. He does think that the cocktail goes very well with the meal, though Padma says she could have used more heat. Emeril reminds her that just a day earlier, she slammed Paul for using too much chili, and she laughs.

After worrying a little over her mousse, Sarah’s dish goes out. The diners are having five greens filled pasta with garlic, chili and spiced sformato, while her cocktail is an “Agrumi,” made with gin, kumquats and mango. Gail Simmons asks whether the sformato is supposed to be so frozen, but Emeril notes that the pasta is prepared perfectly. They all agree that the cocktail is tasty and fresh, but wonder whether it’s a good match with the dish.

Lindsay’s dish is tomato heavy, and she gets worried that she didn’t take the fire and ice element as literally as she should have. Thus, she adds some tomato ice to the service, and it’s very pretty indeed. She serves halibut with fiery celery root salad, and her cocktail is called the “Encendido,” a play on the Bloody Mary with vodka, tomato and horseradish. Emeril says his dish is hot, but Tom says his has no heat. He also doesn’t like the kale. There are kudos all around for her tomato ice. While the judges like her cocktail in combination with the dish, they also say that on its own, it’s flat. Some of the diners are saying they don’t taste much “fire” in her dish. There are a lot of comments that the fish is perfectly cooked.

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