Top Chef: Whistler, B.C.

Top Chef: Whistler, B.C.

Top Chef/Winter Games 2010

Top Chef decided to dilute its once highfalutin competition to resemble the 2010 Winter Games last night, requiring contestants to shoot, ski and ice-pick their way into the final three. It was fun to watch, but I certainly wouldn't care if my Top Chef could cook a lamb well while in a gondola.

The episode brings the final four to Whistler, British Columbia, which seems to be a welcome reprieve from the Texas-centric cooking of the season. I'm really invested in these final episodes because I'd be bummed if anyone but the single likeable remaining contestant won the whole thing. We have Sarah, the bully, Lindsey, the aloof ice queen, and Beverly, the pathetic. These are definitely identities used by the media to describe women, but I can't help the way Bravo has probably skewed my viewing. At this point, I think everyone is probably rooting for Paul, the sweet and adorable, Filipino Texan.

This week consists of three challenges that will determine the season's final three contestants. The winner of each challenge will win $10,000 as well as a spot in the finale.

The first challenge consists of cooking in a moving gondola flying over a huge valley in Whistler. The contestants two spans of the valley to cook their dishes. Lindsey ends up as the winner of the challenge and guarantees her spot in the finale.

The second challenge is even more bizarre. Food items are flash frozen in blocks of ice, and the contestants have to smash out the ingredients they want to cook from the block with an ice pick. Paul proves his niceness again by throwing the ladies' blocks of ice on the ground to help break them up. You sort of want to shake all of them for pretending to be weaklings and not looking out for themselves, but all is well when Paul takes the round anyway.

The final competition between Beverly and Sarah is the most comical. First, the contestants have to cross country ski around a track until they make it to a shooting range. There, they have to hit the bull's eye for the ingredients they want. Bev ends up making an arctic char with root vegetables, while Sarah creates a hazelnut, cherry and rabbit dish. In a tearful final elimination, Sarah ends up winning the final spot, and Bev is sent packing again.

For whom are you rooting to win the whole thing?