“Top Chef: Texas” took its time getting to the finale Wednesday, and while we haven’t necessarily loved every second of this season we’ve still enjoyed the ride overall. After all, is there really a show on TV that really praises food to the extent that Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi do? We also love that this is one of the few shows on TV that actually does make us this hungry.
Going into the episode, our two finalists in Paul Qui and Sarah Grueneberg entered the night with varying public perceptions. In the cast of Paul, we had a fairly-popular chef who won more challenges during the season than anyone. Meanwhile, Sarah was someone who many viewers found grating over her treatment of Beverly during the season.
As for the challenge, it was a bit of a modified Restaurant Wars from earlier this season, with the major twist being that the two chefs picked their team members based on some of the food that they tried, and there were also a few “other contestants” thrown into the mix as potential helpers — from nationally-acclaimed chefs to Tyler, the wacky guy who was kicked off the show the first week for not knowing how to butcher meat properly. (Unfortunately for Sarah, she ended up with him.) We don’t actually love Restaurant Wars as much as many “Top Chef” fans, but we did very much enjoy seeing two individual chefs making a menu and balancing out different personalities in the kitchen. Paul made a menu inspired by his Asian influences, while Sarah went with some surf-and-turf that was near and dear to her heart.
As is always the case when you have a final two, the editing carefully made it seem as though either one of these chefs could win. There were some subtle mistakes made on both parties, and the judges seemed to say that while Sarah took herself out of her element more, Paul excelled when it came to the details. Even with this editing job, though, we still had a bit of a feeling somewhere in us that Sarah was going to end up winning this thanks largely to one patch of Paul’s first dish that came out overcooked. (Padma also called Sarah’s dessert the best she has ever had on this show.)
At the end of the day, we have to say that we are happy when our intuition is wrong sometimes — Paul is the champion! Paul was not only our favorite to win going into the finale, but 88% of the Bravo audience (as per the episode) was also pulling for him. He was so consistent throughout the entire season, and in some ways his deserving win does manage to take away some of the disappointment that came courtesy of a few episodes this season.
What did you think about the winner, and about this season as a whole?