From left: Linsday Autry, Sarah Grueneberg and Paul Qui
02/23/2012 at 11:00 AM EST
After toiling away in snowy Vancouver in a series of physical challenges – even, at one point, shooting for their ingredients last week – three contestants were left standing at the beginning of Wednesday's Top Chef
Warning: Spoiler Alert Ahead:
The trio – Linsday Autry, Paul Qui and Sarah Grueneberg – were vying for two spots in next week's finale, but first they had to compete in an Asian-inspired Quickfire. With Grueneberg taking an early lead, and scooping up $20,000 in prize money, she coasted into the elimination challenge, feeling confident about her abilities.
For their final challenge, the chefs had to cook for 150 diners in a fire and ice-themed dinner. In addition, they had to prepare a drink to accompany their meal.
Paul made a lobster broth, paired with crab and "lemon snow." Sarah made a pasta, stuffed with greens and chili, and topped with a spiced, frozen custard. And Lindsay created a tomato-inspired halibut dish, with a roasted tomato sauce and tomato ice.
In the end, the judges didn't find major fault with any of the chefs' work, quibbling instead over the details. (Tom Colicchio
was unhappy that Paul topped his dish with arugula, and Gail Simmons
argued that Sarah's mousse was too cold and didn't properly melt over her pasta as she intended.)
But someone had
Sarah was deemed safe – and passed along to the final two, neither the winner nor the loser of the challenge. So, it was down to Paul and Lindsay – one for the win, and the other for elimination.
Ultimately, the judges decided that Paul had the fire to move forward, and he was declared the winner, earning a trip to Costa Rica in addition to the privilege of moving on to the finale.
Next week, the Austin-based chef and Sarah, also originally from Texas
, will face off in the finale, but in the meantime, tell us: