Top Chef – Paul Wins!

Top Chef - Paul Qui smiles as he leans against the judges table

TV Review

Top Chef - Season 9, Episode 16: “Finale.”

Down to two chefs-estants. Paul and Queen of Mean Mini-Me Sarah. Finale can make or break the chef. Much hinges on the members they choose for their team.

Past chefs returned with the exclusion of Lindsay and Beverly. (Yes, the Queen of Mean Heather was there.) There was a bonus of two well-regarded James Beard winners.

Everyone had 45 minutes to create a dish. Paul and Sarah then tasted each dish and determined their team according to the quality of the dish.

Paul’s team: Barbara Lynch (James Beard winner), Ty, Cute Chris, and Keith.
Sarah’s team: Nyesha, Tyler, Heather, and Grayson.

Paul scored big with the James Beard winner chef Barbara. Sarah took a guess at which dish Heather prepared and picked Tyler. Tom booted him on first show because Tyler didn’t know how to butcher meat.

That was stupid move Sarah! You picked the dish not the person. She missed the opportunity to have the other James Beard chef on her team.

Elimination Challenge

Paul and Sarah had six hours to prep and cook that day plus three hours next day to make enough food for 100 guests. No pressure.

Paul took control of his kitchen. He allowed for ideas but he had a set menu in mind. He also had a backup plan of protein, just in case. Sarah had a love fest with the girls and Tyler was just in the way. She had Tyler cut celery and work on desserts.

Nothing chaotic happened except that Paul’s crab meat didn’t smell right the next day. His backup plan of prawns was a smart move.

Paul’s menu:
  • Chawanmushi (custard), edamame, pea shoots, and spot prawns.
  • Grilled sea bass with clam dashi, pickled radishes and mushrooms.
  • Congee (rice porridge) with scrambled eggs, uni, kale, and smoked albacore.
  • Dessert: Coconut ice cream, puffed rice, kumquats, mangosteen, Thai chile foam, and jasmin gelee.
Sarah’s menu:
  • Squid ink tagliatelle (dark pasta), spot prawns, and coconut.
  •  Rye-crusted steelhead trout with fennel sauce, pickled beets, and gras pista.
  • Braised veal cheek with crispy veal sweetbreads.
  • Dessert: Hazelnut cake with kumquat and roasted white chocolate ganache.
Tom stated that this was the best food served at a finale at Top Chef. Paul’s menu looked beautiful. Everything was colorful. His serving of his first course to the second set of judges came out liquidity from overcooking.

Sarah’s beets were hard. Mixed reviews on the sweetbreads. Everyone loved Sarah's dessert. Even Padma who hates white chocolate enjoyed her dessert (crap!).

Looking at the whole picture Paul’s dishes aesthetically beautifully created, tasteful and flavorful.

Paul won $125,000 and the title of Top Chef!

There is justice in the world after all!

Watch new season of Top Chef on Bravo.

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