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Top Chef: Texas/Vancouver – Ep 16 – Quang Dang, the Anti-Gridle and a Whole Lot of Eggs

Like the Republican Presidential Primary season, the endless Top Chef season just keeps going and going and going. This week, the Final Three do battle in order to survive the final elimination. It featured a very fun Quickfire Challenge and a fairly mediocre Elimination Challenge, but I am going to give a spoiler right off the bat because that is really what I took from this episode.

Sarah has chosen to bring her A game to the finals, and as one of the Final Two, I wonder if she is poised to earn a somewhat unexpected win. Every season one chef shows up to the finals with a fire in their belly and makes an unexpected run at the title. Last year, it was Isabella. Season 2’s winner Ilan was not one of the favorites that year, but he had a great finale. Lisa almost stole Season 4 from Steph and Blais. This year, it may be Sarah.

Now, Sarah has not been under the radar or anything, she’s been a solid performer. However, I don’t think many fans of the show have put her forward as a potential winner. Near the end of the Texas run, well, she found herself near the bottom a few times and known more for sniping with Beverly. She was even borderline out last week after the wacky Olympics challenge. But this week? This was a Sarah that we hadn’t seen before.

Not only did she cook very well, but she had a spring in her step. A twinkle in her eye. She’s cracking jokes, she’s having fun. Is it all the Bev departure? I don’t know, but I wish was saw more of this Sarah this season. She was pretty bad ass this week, and did it with a joy that was actually rather infectious. I mean, she made pasta for 150 people by hand! And at one point she was rocking two pasta makers at one time!

I know a lot of other bloggers have taken Sarah to task this year for the Beverly nonsense. I won’t do that. I think she’s probably a bit embarrassed at how that came across on TV, but I think they were just two people who didn’t get along. Sometimes two warring people can both be cool people – one doesn’t have to be a villain. I am sure Sarah would like to go back and act in a better way, and I am sure Beverly would like to go back and react differently as well. But they cannot. All I know is that the two of them seem cool with each other now and chalk it up to show stress. So, perhaps we should do the same thing. We learned that Sarah dropped out of high school(!) to go to culinary school. This is a woman who is very serious about her trade. We should not forget that.

Meanwhile, we have a Final Three to recap here. The Quickfire Challenge featured Padma, Emeril and Chinatown. By the way, is anyone else incredibly disappointed in Emeril as a judge this year? Bring back Anthony Bourdain!! Heck, bring back Toby – at least he was interesting. Emeril has been monotone and has contributed very little for someone of his stature. Anyway, the chefs are paired with three former Top Chef: Masters contestants – making me really nervous that Bravo is about to spring another season of Masters on us right away, making me have another 200 episodes to recap.

Sarah is apparantly buddies iwth Takashi Yasihashi, but he winds up paired with Qui-Gon. Lindsay of the Corn gets Anita Lo, while Sarah is paired with last season’s Masters winner Floyd Cardon. You remember Floyd? The guy who never won a thing during the season (at least Quickfire-wise), and kind of stuck around until an outstanding burst at the end earned him the win. Sound familiar?

The task is great – 40 minutes to make a dish. The Masters cook for 10 minutes and tag out. Then the Final Three get 10 minutes to continue and tag out. The Masters go again for 10 and the Final Three anchor the culinary relay. I love the relay challenges and this one was no different. The winner earns twenty grand. Floyd sets up a curry, which is not Sarah’s cup of tea. She goes along with it, to the point where she doesn’t really know what the veggie was. Lindsay didn’t do exactly what Lo had set out for her to accomplish, but she came close. Meanwhile, Qui-Gon and Takashi were on the same wavelength, but a last minute dose of spice really turned out to be a wrong move for our Jedi.

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