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Top Chef Texas Recap: Finale, Finally

By L. Stolpman in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 1, 2012 4:15PM

TOP CHEF -- "Reunion" -- Pictured: (l-r) Tylor Boring, Nyesha Arrington, Chris Crary, Richie Farina, Lindsay Autry, Chris Jones, Beverly Kim, Grayson Schmitz, Paul Qui, Keith Rhodes, Sarah Grueneberg, Chuy Valencia, Edward Lee, Heather Terhune, Dakota Weiss, Whitney Otawka -- Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

We start off the show with Sarah and Paul in front of the judges. They are told their final challenge: To create a four course meal in the restaurant of their dreams.

The next morning, we see past contestants from the season file into the kitchen along with two better known, established chefs: Barbara Lynch of No.9 Park in Boston and Marco Canora of Hearth in NYC. These chefs will be competing in a quick fire to be a sous chef for one of the final two chefs. We're particularly happy to see Grayson and Nyesha back in the kitchen. Heather is back... along with the arrogant jerk, Tyler, from the first show who didn't know how to butcher pork. Oh, goody.

Each sous chef competitor's dish is on a table when Sarah and Paul walk in. They are told to pick their four favorite dishes and the chef for each will become one of their sous chefs. Paul ends up with: Chef Lynch, Ty-lor, Chris C., Keith. Sarah gets: Nyesha, the awful butcher from the first episode (Tyler), Heather, and Grayson.

We see many shots of each chef's kitchen. Paul is concerned that none of his sous chef's know his food well. Sarah is concerned about the butcher who suggests many things but appears to know so very little. Three hours before service, we see Keith and Paul sniffing crab and deciding that it has a funk. Not good. He substitutes prawns.

Each chef does two services, each service with a different group of judges.

Paul - First course: Chawanmushi, edamame, pea shoots and spot prawns. Judges like the texture. Second course: grilled sea bass with clam dashi, pickled radishes and mushrooms. Third course: congee with scrambled eggs, uni, kale and smoked albacore. Dessert: coconut ice, puffed rice, kumquats, mangosteen, Thai chili foam and jasmin gelee.

Sarah - First course: Squid ink tagliatelle, spot prawns and coconut. Second course: Rye crusted steelhead trout with fennel sauce, pickled beets and gras pista. Third course: braised veal cheek with crispy veal sweetbreads. Dessert: hazelnut cake with kumquat and roasted white chocolate ganache.

Judges' Table. Sarah's pasta dish gets rave reviews from the judges. The beets with her second course were too raw. Tom thought the sweetbreads in course three were slightly dry. The dessert gets amazing reviews. Paul's first course gets mixed reviews as the second seating had slightly overcooked chawanmushi. Second course gets impressive comments. Nice comments for the third course and Tom really enjoyed the dessert.

The judges deliberate and it appears to be an extremely close match. Sarah and Paul are called back in front of the judges and Padma braces them for the announcement.

Winner is: PAUL!!!

We love that Paul took home the crown and really love that Chicago's own, Sarah, made him work extremely hard for it. Her food looked amazing, as did his. A big congratulations to Paul, this season's Top Chef.