The final battle of Top Chef found Paul and Sarah fighting through a four-course meal of a lifetime. The episode began with the contestants picking four sous chefs by tasting dishes made from past contestants and two master chefs and James Beard winners- Barbara Lynch and Marco Canora. Sarah chose dishes by Grayson, Heather, Nyesha and Tyler Stone- the infamous butcher who couldn’t cut meat on the first day. Paul chose Chris, Keith, Ty-Lor and master chef Barbara Lynch. Originally fearing Lynch to be overbearing for being so accomplished, both worked famously in the kitchen.
The menus Paul and Sarah chose were very different. Paul went meatless, with seafood and egg as the main proteins and used his classic Asian style. Sarah used a variety of proteins and styles, invoking her German and Italian heritage.
Sarah started her meal off with squid ink pasta, prawns, and coconut sauce. Second course was rye-crusted trout with flash-pickled beets and fennel. Main course was braised veal cheek with sweatbreads (cow brains) and polenta. Her final course, dessert, was hazelnut cake with a roasted white chocolate ganache. The judges’ criticisms were in the texture of the polenta, which was clumpy for one sitting, and the simplicity of the dishes. The judges loved the dessert, with the comment that “they would be figuring out how to replicate the white chocolate ganache” for themselves.
Paul’s meal began with a steamed egg custard with prawns. Second course was sea bass with crystal clear dashi and pickled vegetables. Main course was congee scrambled eggs with uni. Dessert was coconut ice cream with puffed black rice, chili foam and mangosteen. Criticisms were that one sitting had overcooked custard, but the judges generally appreciated the boldness of serving no meat protein.
After a tough, long judgment, Paul scraped by as the victor. This was met by a very tearful celebration with Paul’s father, who cried in pride at his son. Sarah was crushed, but she gave Paul a run for his money.
On March 7th is a special reunion episode with all contestants returning. Season 9 may have a winner, but the drama is not over yet.