This is it. The end of the TC9 season. Paul vs. Sarah...with help from previous cheftestants competing to help as sous chef. As Paul said - there have been a lot of battles won; but it's all about winning the war.
They are to create a four-course tasting menu at the restaurant of their dreams, per Tom, and will cook at Black and Blue, and Coast - with "outstanding sous chefs", per Padma.
Paul and Sarah talk about who they'd like to see as potential sous chefs. Meanwhile a large group files into the TC kitchen to compete - some of them were actual cheftestants, and some just missed the Final 16. They are joined by two great chefs - Barbara Lynch - No. 9 Park, Boston and Marco Canora of Hearth in NYC. ALL will be competing to be sous chefs for the two finalist. They have 45 minutes to create a dish.
The horrible butcher who was cut by Tom, Tyler Stone, is there as well. Heather and Chris Crary are getting all gushy in the kitchen. Ick. Barbara Lynch and Marco Canora just buckle down and get their dishes done.
Paul and Sarah show up, and they are to taste 11 dishes. They are to each pick their favorite 4 dishes, and those dish creators will be their sous chefs.
Paul picks first: Dishes from Barbara Lynch, Ty-Lor, Chris Crary, and Keith.
Sarah's picks: Dishes made by Nyesha, Tyler Stone (Baaa haa haa!!! Even Sarah said "I'm not letting you butcher!" LOL), Heather, and Grayson.
Turns out Marco will be joining the judges for dinner. Paul and Sarah have 6 hours to prep and cook in their restaurants, and then have 3 hours to finish cooking and plating tomorrow before serving for ONE HUNDRED guests and judges arrive. Sheesh.
Paul and Sarah both work with their sous chefs to describe their menus. Barbara Lynch offers suggestions to Paul, and while Paul's honored to cook with her, he won't let her take over. Meanwhile, Sarah's concerned with Tyler suggesting things that Sarah's not done before. She says that Tyler has a LOT of balls when he didn't even make it past the first cut.
They head off to Granville Market to shop. Sarah's trying to direct Tyler with very specific tasks; making sure he feels like he's part of the group, but not letting him know she doesn't really give a shit. (her words!) Barbara Lynch tells Paul's group to "stick to the plan! Now's not the time to change your menu!" Then off to Whole Foods to finish shopping.
Sarah gets the Black and Blue restaurant, and Paul gets Coast. All of Paul's sous chefs don't really know his style of cooking, so he'll have to make sure he watches them closely. Sarah deals with Tyler constantly asking questions when she just wants him to "chop the celery!"
Paul and Sarah then go to meet Emeril and Tom Colicchio to pair their dishes with various wines. Tom asks if they've had any experience in pairing wines, and Sarah said she likes to drink, and Paul has less experience than Sarah. Paul chooses a Chardonnay, and Sarah takes a Cabernet. Sarah asks for advice for them, and Emeril suggests they "take a snapshot of Restaurant Wars." Paul realizes he didn't lead as he should have done at RW.
Sarah is shown speaking to her fiancé on the phone later that night.
They all show up at their restaurants the next morning. Sarah notes that Tyler is in dress pants and dress shoes - WHY? Heather said about Sarah that she runs a great restaurant at home, and she thinks they'll pull this out for her. Meanwhile, Paul assigns stations to his sous chefs. Barbara Lynch is impressed with him and she's glad to be working with him. Unfortunately the crab that Paul was going to use got a bit funky, so Keith says to the camera that they'll have to change the game plan.
Paul was smart to have picked up spot prawns at the market "just in case" so he puts Keith on peeling them as his backup dish.
Meanwhile, Tyler argues with Sarah about how to prep something, and she lets him do it his way. Grayson said Tyler's working at his own pace, so the rest of them will "jam out" with what they have to do, and let Tyler do what he's doing.
Guests show up at Coast first. Paul's restaurant is called Qi. Tom Colicchio looks really cool in his striped suit and dark-framed glasses. :-) The judges are Marco Canora, chef of Hearth in NYC; Mark McEwan, head judge of Top Chef Canada, Cat Cora, new co-host of "Around the World in 80 Plates" on Bravo, along with Gail and Tom.
PAUL'S FIRST COURSE: Chawanmushi, Edamame, Pea Shoots and Spot Prawns. It gets rave reviews.
Paul is called out front before his second course, and his Mom and Dad and his girlfriend are there! He starts crying, but also puts him at ease. :-)
PAUL'S SECOND COURSE: Grilled Sea Bass with Clam Dashi, Pickled Radishes & Mushrooms. Gail said "Beautiful" when the plate is put down in front of him. Everyone loved it.
PAUL'S THIRD COURSE: Congee with Scrambled Eggs, Uni, Kale & Smoked Albacore - Tom wasn't as thrilled with this dish, and Cat Cora said while it was good, it didn't seem to fit with the rest of the menu.
PAUL'S FOURTH COURSE: Coconut Ice Cream, Puffed Rice, Kumquats, Mangosteen, Thai Chili Foam and Jasmin Gelée - the first mouthful is a "power punch", but well liked. Tom said that Paul knocked it out of the park.
Meanwhile while Paul's serving his judges, Sarah is serving Padma, Emeril, Hugh and Bill Terlato, and David Meyers, Chef of Comme Ca, show up at Monte Verde, Sarah's restaurant.
SARAH'S FIRST COURSE: Squid Ink Tagliatelle, Spot Prawns & Coconut - also well liked by the judges.
SARAH'S SECOND COURSE: Rye-Crusted Steelhead Trout with Fennel Sauce, Pickled Beets and Gras Pista - the beets seem almost raw.
SARAH'S THIRD COURSE: Braised Veel Cheek with Crispy Veal Sweetbreads - Padma loves the veal cheeks; Hugh loves the polenta underneath.
SARAH'S FOURTH COURSE: Hazelnut Cake with Candied Kumquat and Roasted White Chocolate Ganache - the "roasted white chocolate" was well liked, as she had turned it into a caramel. Emeril seems to think the dessert was the best dish from Sarah.
Meanwhile, Sarah doesn't like the texture of the polenta and buckwheat, so she tweaks the chunky persimmon, and adds a touch of cream to smooth it out. She seems happy.
Annnnd.......Verizon Fios has decided to screw up on me again! I can't use the mini fast-forward, so I'm trying to get to a point where I last dropped off by full-fast forwarding to watch the rest of the show straight through without stopping it and try and get stuff down in writing here. DAMN THIS REMOTE!
(Can't see this portion yet because of recording issues - will re-fill when I can)
OK, I think I'm back.....
The judges switch restaurants. Sarah is asked to go upstairs. She sees *her* family - fiancé, his mother, Sarah's mother and her best friend. Each set of judges go through the dishes; Sarah's fiancé quietly notes to her that his salmon had a bone in it - she rushes back to see if she can pick it out.
Meanwhile, Paul realizes the second batch of Chawanmushi was overcooked, but had to serve it because he didn't have any more eggs to make new dishes. (Thanks ghg for catching that during my DVR'ing mishaps!)
Sarah serves her first course. The judges like it a lot. Paul serves *his* first course, but the judges don't like it at all, due to it being overcooked.
Sarah's 2nd course is enjoyed, and her veal cheeks was *very* well received. Meanwhile, Paul's 2nd dish is loved - deep flavor of the broth, the fish is perfect, the skin is crispy. His 3rd course is highly praised by Bill Terlato, saying he's never tasted anything like it before. Sarah's dessert is well received, as is Paul's.
The judges head back to Judges Table and Sarah and Paul show up. Tom said it's the best finale food in 9 seasons of Top Chef. Gail said there are moments when you're eating a meal and come across a dish that you can't believe it wasn't thought of before, and Sarah's pasta dish was that dish for her. The veal cheeks were perfect, per Tom, but the sweetbreads were too dry. Hugh said Sarah's dessert was the dish of the night. Padma said she hates white chocolate.....but said it was probably the best dessert she's had throughout her experience on Top Chef.
Paul's Chawanmushi was loved with the first round of first courses, but roundly disliked by the 2nd set of judges. His fish was perfect, Hugh said everything sung on that dish, and Emeril loved the broth. Padma liked the congee for the 3rd course. Tom liked his dessert, since he doesn't like sweet desserts, so he enjoyed this savory dessert and said it was *his* favorite dish of the night.
Sarah and Paul leave so judges can deliberate. Tom said they both peaked at the right time. They continue to discuss each dish via each course. Gail said what they saw from Paul was what he does every day, but Sarah took risks. (THAT'S scary to hear, even now, so I'm *glad* I wasn't writing this without knowing what I already know, as I'm writing this a half hour after the show actually aired and I saw the ending first and I'm just filling this part in! LOL)
[ WHOA! Preview of the Top Chef Reunion for next week shows Heather shaking her head and saying "I do not owe Bev an apology." Really, Heather? REALLY? That'll be an interesting reunion show to watch! ]
We're back. Both chefs are in front of family and other cheftestants. All of the judges are there. Padma tells them that one of them will take home the title of Top Chef. Tom tells Sarah that she took a lot of risks and it paid off tonight. Paul was consistent throughout the competition, and he said it was as close as it could get for their final decision..
And Paul is TOP CHEF!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woo hoo!!!!!! Yay, Paul - MOST deserving!
Annnnd another season of Top Chef recapping is DONE. Hope everyone enjoyed. I get tired of doing this by the end of the season, so I do have to say I'm *really* glad the season is done. :-)