It didn’t take long for remaining Chicago chef Sarah Grueneberg to point out the irony in the second-to-last episode of “Top Chef: Texas.” Now that Beverly Kim, berated for sticking to Asian cuisine throughout the run of the show, was sent home for the second time, the cast headed to Chinatown in Vancouver for a collaborative challenge
“Thank God Beverly went home, because she would have nailed it,” Sarah said. Other nods to departed Kim include a stay at the Fairmont in Vancouver (Kim works for Aria in the Fairmont Chicago) and the judges joking that she was going to pop out from under a table to come back into competition for the third time.
Sarah can hardly contain herself when famous Chicago chef Takashi Yagihashi appears as one of three experts in Asian cuisine to participate in a relay-style quickfire challenge with the cheftestants. Though she ends up paired with Floyd Cardoz and repeatedly expresses her nervousness about the challenge (“My comfort level with a curry is about a zero.”), they end up taking the win. If you’re keeping track, that’s $30K in the bank for Sarah, just in Canada alone—and the first quickfire win for Floyd, who competed on “Top Chef: Masters.” If you see Takashi around Chicago, buy him a scotch on the rocks. That’s what he requested when Floyd wanted to buy him a drink.
PHOTOS: CHICAGO CHEFS REPRESENT ON 'TOP CHEF,' 'IRON CHEF'
For the elimination challenge, the chefs are tasked with creating a fire-and-ice themed dish honoring their time spent in Texas and Canada. While we watch Sarah make pasta from scratch for 150 people, her voiced-over commentary reveals she dropped out of high school to study cooking. She also goes all Moto on everyone (Chris and Richie, hope you were watching!) and uses an anti-griddle to cool her spicy ginger sformato, a frozen mousse. Paul cooks his take on a lobster bouillabaisse. Lindsay cooks halibut, again—only this time she does it herself and she does it right.
In the end, the judges find something to criticize about all three of their dishes. Tom liked Sarah’s better than Lindsay’s. Gail liked Lindsay’s dish better than Sarah’s. The only bad thing anyone seems to say about Paul’s dish is that the arugula on top didn’t serve a purpose.
“Whoever stays needs to f---ing whoop some ass,” says Sarah in the stew room, right before she finds out that she’s safe. Paul wins and Lindsay is sent packing.
And so we’re in for a Texas-style showdown between Paul, who works in Texas, and Sarah, who is from Texas. “I knew that it would always be me versus Paul,” says Sarah, for whom hindsight is apparently 20/20. Does this remind anyone else of the season when Stephanie Izard was up against Richard Blais, who was a favorite to win from the beginning, not unlike Paul?
In the flash-forwards, we see Sarah reunite with her fiancé, who warns her that she left a bone in her fish she’s about to serve the judges. Perhaps more importantly, past cheftestants return to assist, including Heather Terhune with a big fake flower in her hair!