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'Top Chef: Texas': Finalists look to cook some winning vittles

February 9, 2012 |  7:45 am

Edward, Sarah, Lindsay and Paul in "Top Chef: Texas"
Now the fun can finally start.

With the once-massive “Top Chef: Texas” field pared down to its four remaining contestants, what has been an otherwise pitiful season of cooking at last has a chance to become a little more interesting.

We’ve known for a long time that Paul was the favorite not only to reach the finals but also to win the whole thing, and even if Lindsay barely squeaked into the championship Wednesday night, her presence at the end is not that unexpected.

What is bit surprising, though, is that Beverly managed to stay alive in the “Last Chance Kitchen” spinoff, and that Sarah’s typically cautious work has been rewarded so favorably.

Beverly has been one of the season’s most fascinating characters, in the way that Charlie Sheen’s sobriety has been -- you have a slight passing interest in everything working out, but you’re more captivated by the unvarnished personal drama.

That Beverly, who often is as close to cracking as an egg tossed from a skyscraper, has managed to get past Nyesha, Chris J. and Grayson in the Web-only spin-off series is significant.

The challenges often are particularly stressful, requiring good instincts and steady nerves. Even if Beverly’s cooking tends to be ethnically one-dimensional -- typically, Asian twists on pretty much everything -- she has shown exceptional technique.

There was something especially delicious about the anguished look on Sarah’s face when she found out that Beverly was back. In her usually generous manner, Sarah remarked, "I’m not happy to see Bev."

The dig was inspired by Sarah’s personal and petulant dislike of Beverly, but it might more accurately describe the very real threat Beverly presents.

Sarah hasn’t won an elimination challenge since the eighth week (with her pork sausage-stuffed cabbage), and every one of the remaining chefs, including Beverly, has a more recent triumph.

As for Lindsay, she’s amazingly consistent: Not counting Wednesday night, she has faced elimination only once -- in the very first episode in which it was possible.

That’s right, she has not been on the bottom. Even though she has only two wins, it’s steadiness -- or the lack thereof -- that almost always determines who wins it all, and who doesn’t.

And in that regard, no one touches Paul. We wish he had a bigger personality, but we can’t complain about how generally lackluster the cooking has been this year and obsess about something that has nothing to do with gastronomy. With Wednesday’s top finish, Paul has six elimination wins -- as many as all of the other three remaining chefs combined.

We will miss Edward’s dry wit (and the fact that he doesn’t like Sarah), but his expulsion now opens the doors wider for Paul. He’s the chef to beat, but we also can't help but root for Beverly, or at least hope that somehow she can be the one to send Sarah home, where she can stew in her own resentments and anger.

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'Top Chef: Texas': Fixin' to get interesting

'Top Chef: Texas': Diners are all hat, no cattle

-- John Horn

Photo: Edward, Sarah, Lindsay and Paul in "Top Chef: Texas."

Credit: Victoria Sherwood / Bravo

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