For the elimination challenge, the three remaining cheftestants, Sarah, Paul and Lindsay, have to team up with a Top Chef
Master especially flown in for the occasion to create an Asian dish. The twist? They have to take turns cooking without being able to confer about what they are doing.
So every 10 minutes they change and have to guess what the chef before them just did. It is kind of a fun concept but this late in the game it is another unnecessary gimmick designed to make the chef's lives miserable when at this point it should be all about their cooking abilities. As Lindsay puts it: "it's disorienting."
But the chefs do mostly well and our contestants can guess what the Masters had envisioned. Padma mildly asks them what their feelings were about the challenge. You could almost hear the crickets chirp, but finally Paul mustered up some phrases about what an honor it was to cook with the Masters.
So Lindsay's scallop with bok choy and chestnuts, Sara's cod with coconut curry crab salad, and Paul's lam sachimi with Japanese cucumber were all pretty good, but Sara wins it, which is her second quickfire win since in Canada.
Hot and Cold
The elimination challenge finally does what we have been waiting for. The magical elves give them a theme and they have to create their best dishes based on that theme. So the cheftestants had to play with the notions of fire and ice. Which can literally mean hot and cold, but also spicy and mild, or even be interpreted at the textural level.
They have to create one dish and one corresponding cocktail. They have to serve 150 people and have the biggest budget yet at Whole Foods to do their shopping.Impressive Prep Work
Lindsay seems the only one who tries to play it safe and who still has serious gripes about past challenges. Remember Restaurant Wars, when Lindsay worked front of the house and let Beverly cook her halibut? Well, she's cooking halibut again in this challenge because she wants to do it right this time and not how Beverly did it.
Sara, on the other hand, goes all out and cranks out fresh pasta for 150 people. Which means cracking 80 eggs and dishing up god knows how much flour. That's impressive. Paul makes lobster stock from scratch, which means killing and roasting 30 pounds of lobster. Pretty impressive too. Impressive Dishes
In the end, all of the dishes and the cocktails seem really good. Paul makes a king-crab dish with lemon snow. The corresponding cocktail is a "Pan Am" which consists of kaffir lime, thai chiles and rum. Sara makes five-greens-filled cannelloni topped with a mousse that should melt and serve as a sauce with garlic, chili and spices formato. Her cocktail mixes gin, kumquats and mango. Lindsay makes her halibut with fiery celery root. Her cocktail is a play on the classic Bloody Mary.
Errors and Elimination
Everyone makes small technical mistakes. Sara's mousse is too frozen and doesn't melt on the pasta. Paul incorporated arugula into his dish, which seems like an afterthought to Tom, and Lindsay generally played it too safe although her dish and cocktail combination was the most successful.
Sara is the first one to learn that she'll compete in the finale. And based on tonight's performance, I can't really argue with it. She went out there, she took a risk and came up with a creative dish. Paul joins her in the finale, which means that Lindsay goes home.
Paul obviously deserves it more than anyone else and, frankly, should win the competition. But other than my personal preference for Paul, Lindsay just wasn't as edgy as her competitors and deserves to go home.
What do you think? Are you happy with the pair for the finale, or are you sad to see Lindsay go?
Jan CeeContributing Writer
(Image courtesy of Bravo)