Top Chef Texas Finale
This was the season finale of Top Chef Texas, where Kundun went up against Sarah for the title. There’s a reunion show next week and I’ll probably write a post on it, assuming theres anything worth
ripping commenting on.
It’s been fun doing these recaps, but my my biggest regret is that it wasn’t until now I have a good nickname for Sarah. Unfortunately, I can’t claim ownership of these but they’re spot on. In reading comments on avclub.com recap, someone named Tristiac called her “Picnic Ham with Eyes”. Hot coffee blew through my nose when I read that.
Then Hyacinth came up with THE BEST nickname – “The Mouth of Sauron”.
As she mentioned in last week’s comments – “That’s the person at the end of Return of the King who comes out of the gates of Mordor to trick Aragorn and friends into thinking Frodo was dead and then loses his head for his troubles.” Don’t let the geekdom fool you, Hyacinth’s site is well worth the visit. It’s definitely restored my faith in humanity.
It’s pretty clear that Kundun was the favorite going into the competition. He won a ton of challenges and money already, probably altogether more than the value of the overall prize. He completely blew away the competition in terms of range, creativity, complexity, and technical expertise. However, he was pretty focused and humble to a fault, so his personality didn’t make for good television. He definitely let his food speak for himself – as it should be.
Foodwise, The Mouth of Sauron showed glimpses of promise. It’s not a surprise as she’s the executive chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant. She showed creativity, although well within a very limited range of Italian or German cuisine. It was all cooked perfectly, but you could find similar stuff on the menu of the fucking Olive Garden.
Quickfire – Create a dish to become of the sous chefs
They brought back several of the contestants along with a couple ringers to compete for a chance to be sous chefs for Kundun and the Picnic Ham with Eyes. The two sampled all the dishes and chose four of the dishes they liked best.
- Barbara Lynch (ringer) – butter soup with shellfish, caviar.
- Ty-lor – buckwheat noodles with local shellfish
- Malibu Chris – lamb with blueberry mustard and crispy parsnip
- Suge Knight – Dungeness crab
Mouth of Sauron’s:
- Nyesha – Halibut, green lentils and pomegranate
- Tyler Stone – Scallops, with raisin citrus curry. She thought she was picking Heather. He was the hapless guy who referred to himself in the third person and got booted halfway through the first episode because he couldn’t butcher meat.
- Jabba – chicken with black pepper and buttermilk dumplings
- Grayson – pasta carbonara with fried brussel sprouts. Consistent with how she cooked in the competition, the portion was monstrous.
With their sous chefs, they took over two Vancouver restaurants to cook a four-course meal for 100 guests and judges.
- 1st course – Chawanmushi, edamame, pea shoots & spot prawns.
- 2nd – Grilled sea bass with clam dashi, pickled radishes, and mushrooms
- 3rd - Congee with scrambled eggs, uni, kale, & smoked albacore
- 4th – Coconut ice cream, puffed wild rice, kumquats, mangosteen, thai chili foam & Jasmin gelee
The Mouth of Sauron’s Monte Verde
- 1st – Squid ink tagliatelle with spot prawns and coconut
- 2nd – Rye crusted steelhead trout with fennel sauce, pickled beets, and gras pista (whipped lardo)
- 3 rd - Braised veal cheeks, crispy sweetbreads and polenta. I don’t know, these looked tasty but I’ve made all of these before so they couldn’t be that innovative.
- 4th – Hazelnut cake with candied kumquat and roasted white chocolate ganache
And the winner of the $125K and the title of Top Chef is - Kundun! There were was lavish praise given to both dishes. Despite the second batch of his first course being messed up, the rest must have made up for it. One thing I’ve learned through out the whole competition is that 90% of the compliments and criticisms at the judges table can be tossed out. However there were two things that did jump out – Kundun’s dashi broth seemed to have haunted (in a good way) the judges. They were so completely awestruck by it that they were almost shaking. And, despite Padma declaring Picnic Ham with Eyes’ dessert the best she’s had in all the seasons, it didn’t sound like it was a runaway winner over Kundun’s.
- What do you think? Did the right person win?
- During the shopping scenes, there were hints at their strategies. Paul opted for getting prawns as he thought extra ingredients would give him more options to put out the best possible dishes. It turned out to be a good strategy as the crab went bad. The Mouth of Sauron wanted to try to do things that the judges haven’t seen before – persimmons with the veal cheek. Which, by the way, didn’t make it into any course. It’s a small distinction, but I’ve always thought it’s better to out out the best meal, not try to impress judges.
- Of course, Grayson had the line of the evening “We’re going to jam out with out clams out.” Maybe the best line of the whole season.
- After the initial prep, they did wine tastings to see what would be paired. Neither of them knew much about wine, though. Paul went with the Terlato Chardonnay and Sarah went with the Chimney Rock Cab. The Chard, even though it’s probably oaked and buttery, would go really well with the seabass, clams, and eggs. I think in principal the Pinot Noir or the Bordeaux blend would’ve been better choices for Sarah’s menu, but I haven’t had those. I have a few bottles of the Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon and it rocks. So maybe the others just weren’t that good.
- They definitely made Tyler look like a schleprock, but let’s not forget that he put out the dessert, described as the best dessert in the history of the show.
- Sarah Grueneberg Drinking Game – The only OMG moments were when her family was there, so I guess that’s not overblown. Drinks are optional. For the record she said omg at least 5 times.
- They should’ve had a side competition of “Who’d you rather?” Kundun’s girlfriend vs The Mouth of Sauron’s fiancée.
- Yeah, Kundun’s girl would win hands down, even amongst women. She looked like an Asian Paris Hilton and he looked like Pyle from Full metal Jacket.
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for my thoughts on the reunion show and my recap of my recaps!