Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio
Top Chef wraps up Season 9 on Wednesday with its reunion episode (9/8c, Bravo), and if you ask us, it couldn't come a moment sooner.
That's not because we want to see Heather and Beverly square off, but we want to move on as quickly as possible from this underwhelming season. The series proudly boasted about its biggest season ever — 29 contestants! three cities! — in the state with the biggest motto of all, Texas, but it turns out bigger is not necessarily better. Between the new twists and the umpteenth team challenge, Season 9 was but a shadow of its former Emmy-winning self — and that's not even counting the overwrought drama between Beverly and Heather, Sarah and Lindsay. (Let's be real — there'll be drama every season.) Here are six reasons Top Chef: Texas has been a big letdown.
Sarah Grueneberg came up short to Paul on the Top Chef finale, but if you ask her, she did win. "I feel like I won too," she tells TVGuide.com. "I truly believe that. I woke up [the day after the finale aired] with this great calm. There is no more nervousness and nothing to be ashamed about. I'm really excited for my career now. It was overall a positive experience. I can't be more proud of how I did. If I'm going to be second, I couldn't think of a better way and a better place to be." But what part of her final meal cost her the title and $125,000? See what she thinks below. Plus: What's up with her and Beverly?
What was going through Paul Qui's head when Padma Lakshmi named him Top Chef? "I was honestly so tired that I think I missed it and I had a really delayed reaction," he tells TVGuide.com. "But then I realized she [said my name] and I was super excited." In addition to his big win over Sarah, the Austin-based chef set a record this season for most elimination challenges wins (eight) and won another $60,000 on top of his $125,000 grand prize. How does he plan on using the money? And why is he so calm, cool and collected? Find out below.
Top Chef's Lindsay: I didn't take enough risks
Congratulations! The judges kept reiterating that it was really close. Did it feel that way to you?
Paul: Thanks! Yeah. I didn't have any idea. I wanted to win, but it could've gone either way. You never know what's going to make or break it and sometimes you still don't.
Your dad was adorable crying on the side after you won.
Paul: Oh yeah! I've never seen my dad cry like that. It was pretty...
When does frozen mousse trump perfectly cooked halibut? When you're on Top Chef! Despite her nearly inedible, ice-hard confection, Sarah — with some major backing from Tom Colicchio — made it to the finale with Paul over her pal Lindsay Autry, whose error-free, albeit less creative, dish sent her packing. "I think they were really nitpicking at that point and it came down to doing something risky like what she did against me being great, but not risky enough," Lindsay tells TVGuide.com. "I know I didn't make any mistakes, but I guess they wanted to see more." Was she surprised that her well-made dish lost to such shoddy execution? Find out below.
After re-entering the competition following her Last Chance Kitchen victory and earning a spot in the final four, Beverly Kim's second Top Chef stint came to a quick end when she lost all three rounds in the Olympics-inspired tasks. "I was eliminated twice! How many people can say that? I think it was easier to watch this time, but it was still very heartbreaking for me," she tells TVGuide.com. "I really did want to win and I definitely wanted to go all the way. I wasn't ready to go so early the first time. I think this time was OK. I hoped for more, but given the circumstances, I gave my best. I'm really glad that I made it far enough to show my cooking, so now people can see who I am." But the Chicago-based chef couldn't show off her culinary style completely in the challenges that were more Top Athlete than Top Chef. Does she think the challenges were unfair? And does she hold any grudges toward Sarah, Lindsay and Heather? Find out below.
Edward Lee would like to point out that he technically was in the final four of Top Chef — for a few hours. But then Beverly, having won Last Chance Kitchen, returned to the game and out-cooked him for a spot in the actual final four. "It is what it is. I don't hold a grudge. She won fair and square," Ed tells TVGuide.com. "I shouldn't have used the smoked oysters, so it was all on me." Still, the Louisville-based chef is none too pleased with the second-chance secret competition for eliminated cheftestants. Find out why.
Grayson Schmitz's big Top Chef adventure came to an end when her stuffed chicken dish for guest judge Pee Wee Herman was deemed... well, we don't really know what. It was big and featured multiple seasonal flavors, but it wasn't under-seasoned or undercooked, like Sarah's or Ed's. "The whole thing is so subjective and I think it was really close, but ultimately they liked mine the least for whatever reason," she tells TVGuide.com. "And that's fine. Someone had to go home and it was me." But the New York-based chef didn't go directly home: She faced off with Beverly on Last Chance Kitchen to win a spot back on the show (the winner will be revealed and will re-enter the competition on next week's episode), which didn't exactly thrill her. Find out why below.
Beverly Kim's dish on Top Chef was fit for a queen — but not an evil queen. The Chicago-based chef — and target of Heather's, Sarah's and Lindsay's insults — was eliminated for her halibut that was not symbolic enough of the challenge's evil theme, in honor of guest judge and Snow White and the Huntsman's Evil Queen, Charlize Theron. Adding salt to the wound: She would have won the Quickfire and immunity along with it had she plated her Rice Krispies in time. Still, Beverly says she feels "really good" about leaving. Find out why. Plus: Did she feel bullied by Heather?
Overseasoning a dish is pretty unforgiveable on Top Chef, but "Malibu" Chris Crary didn't think his ultra-salty rub for his team's barbeque meat would doom him. "I knew I made a mistake, but I didn't think it was going to be me at all," he tells TVGuide.com. "I was pretty surprised. It seemed pretty close between the five of us." Alas, the resident eye candy got eliminated — but not before we got an eyeful of his favorite non-cooking pastime: painting naked women. See what "Malibu" Chris has to say about his hobby, Beverly's RV fire and more.
Bill Clinton and Mindy Kaling, The Today Show
Our top moments of the week:
10. Best Silent Killer: When it came time for the jury to have at the final three Survivor: South Pacific contestants, the most vicious commentary of all comes from an unexpected source —Whitney — the sweet Southern belle. "Albert, you're sleazy," she says. "Coach, you used Christianity to manipulate your whole tribe. And Sophie? You're the most condescending person I've ever met." Are you sure about that, Whitney? Because that condescending person managed to snare enough votes to win.
9. Most Biting Remark: Top Chef delivers a Christmas miracle, or perhaps just a case of...