Top Chef Final Three: “Fire and Ice”

February 23, 2012

Watching chefs who innovate a dish, work within challenge parameters, and win or lose based on execution.  Yay!  We are back to what Top Chef is all about, after last week’s detour into game show/Survivor hell.   There were even kind of boring points, which is fine.  Do I need to get every piece of minutae about the instructions to the waiters headed out to serve the 150 plates of food to Vancouver’s food elite?  Well, the show’s editors think so.   And the j.v. theme “fire and ice” was a call back to Season 2, when it was considered cool beans just to have a theme for what amounted to a cook off.

So Texas in the summer was fire and Vancouver in winter, the Final Three location, was ice.   Get it?  For the Quick Fire, and to win $20,000, furnished by the new wine label Top Chef is putting out, Lindsay, Paul and Sarah were paired with Top Chef Masters (super successful name brand chefs who are all Asian) to cook an Asian dish in ten minute increments.  Meaning, whoever stepped in as chef would not know what the prior ten minutes was prep for. Okay, a little gimmicky, but designed to show us whether the Final Three could make a dish out of various assembled chopped and partially poached food items.    There was a curry dish (Sarah), a raw giant clam dish (Paul) and a scallop dish (Lindsay).  Side note:  scallop dishes are the go-to quick dish on Top Chef episodes and almost never win. Get a clue, chefs!

Note the arm scar on Padma Lakshmi, co host.

And Sarah won the $20,000.  Aramanth was the yummy secret flavor which put it all over the edge, according to co-host Padma, who hinted she’d be stealing this.  What?  Padma cooks?  Who knew?  She’s slim, she shows her odd, unexplained arm scar proudly in short sleeved shirts.   She cooks? Seriously?   Flush from that, Sarah et. al. were off to cook a fire and ice small plate dish, plus an accompanying fresh-made cocktail, for 150 Vancouver foodies, plus the judges, with no sous chefs.  No prior contestants would be coming back to help for the traditional “sous chef from hell” segment.  If you had me make 150 fussy small plates I’d faint, go nuts or take a hostage.  The Final Three were chummy and calm.  Damn them.

Sarah sent out hand made pasta for 150, covered by a ginger-laced frozen “sauce” meant to melt over the pasta.  Which didn’t melt.  Paul did an intense poached lobster in a lobster broth (killed the poor squirming buggers on camera to make the sauce extra fresh), then he pulled a cooking class 101 move and threw arugula garnish over it all.  Arugula is for pikers, Paul!   And that’s what Tom Colicchio said in the evaluation.  Lindsay did poached halibut and carefully rendered tomato soup and  a tomato-y ice.    Poached fish, girl?  Last season we would have seen one of the  Voltaggio brothers smoking, rendering and molecuralizing that fish in some way.  Duuuude!  The game is to be raised!  Don’t tell me you were true to yourself (as Lindsay explained in the post mortem)  when being true to yourself conveniently meant you were poaching fish rather than hand-cranking mountains of pasta or making lobsters scream on camera.

And so.  Lindsay was out.  The extra slaving done by Paul and Sarah means they are heading to the Final Two.

Get to cooking!

Not you, Padma.  But please explain that scar at some point?