Here is folks…the answer to everyone’s burning question…will Bev make it back into the competition via Last Chance Kitchen, or will Grayson squeak out a win?  I have to say, based on their respective performances over the season, I would prefer Grayson’s return although doing that would result in essentially the same episode that aired last week.  Hopefully with less Pee-Wee.  No, I think Bev is kitchen-bound and the looks on Sarah and Lindsay’s face when she walks in should be enough to warm my heart for a good week.

The four remaining chefs file into the Top Chef kitchen and await the news of their returning compatriot.  Surprise, surprise, it’s Bev!  Sarah looks like she just swallowed a garden slug.  Quickfire time!  Each chef is presented with a blindfold; they have to raid the pantry blind, and then cook a meal in 30 minutes.  Considerably more difficult and interesting than “make a pancake.”  Also, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled to see if Sarah tries to body-block Bev and claim that she didn’t see her there.  The winner of the challenge gets a new Prius or immunity.  I can’t wait to hear the chefs recite facts about the Prius off the top of their heads in confessionals as if information about the product placement wasn’t being fed to them by producers.  The chefs slink into the kitchen, desperately trying to avoid the accidental titty-grab.  I don’t know if Bev really is this clumsy, but her trip to the pantry is all but scored by bouncy calliope music; Padma actually takes pity and gives her a gentle push towards the food after she winds up in a fridge populated only by bottles of water.  Tom gives all the chefs high marks for their efforts, but awards the win to Sarah.  I imagine that’s cold comfort for her in the face of the return of her nemesis; Bev, it’s nice to note, actually gives Sarah a hug and doesn’t knee her in the taco like she deserves.  Sarah takes the immunity and is guaranteed a spot in the finale.

Elimination time.  Tom and Padma bring in the chef’s individual mentors and all of them have reactions akin to when reality show producers call in contestant’s mothers; despite my saying that, it’s actually extremely touching to watch the chefs talk about the people who gave them a chance to get into the business.  The chefs are challenged to prepare a dish to impress their mentors, which should probably lead to a great deal more tears.  Seriously, seeing Paul tear up so much is getting to me.  I’m so Team Paul right now that if he doesn’t win this I might start crying.  The chefs pile into the Prius which they’re competing for, and the product placement blather I was expecting earlier starts right up.  “So much headroom!”

The chefs blow through prep with what appears to be a minimum of drama.  Lindsay doesn’t even have time to note what a horrible person/chef/competitor Bev is, which means she really must be pressed for time.  The judges arrive, and both Hugh and Gail join Padma, Tom and the mentors for the meal.  Bev goes first and serves gulf shrimp and barbecue pork Singapore noodles.  I must say, that sounds delicious.  The judges feel she cooked from the heart, so good for her.  Lindsay is up next, and she is not at all confident in her seafood stew over toasted cous-cous and emulsified cream.  The judges all think that she did a good job preparing all of her ingredients, but question the inclusion of the cream.

Paul serves next, and offers up his usual insecurities along with his chilled sunchoke and dashi soup with summer vegetables.  Normally when contestants constantly second guess themselves in the face of success it’s irritating, but Paul has mastered the art of being humble without appearing like he’s dissembling.  The judges love the balance of the flavors in his dish.  Finally, Ed brings out his braised pork belly and oyster crema with pickled vegetables.  The judges think the dish has excellent flavor though their is some questioning of the oyster crema.  Between Lindsay and Ed’s missteps it’s been a bad night for cream-based sauces.

Padma calls all the chefs into Judge’s Table, and the good news comes first.  Tom congratulates Paul on his restraint and courage in preparing a soup, while Gail is amazed by the flavor.  He congratulates Bev on her successful use of the woks, and Gail compliments the clarity of her dish.  Padma then awards Paul the win and the new Prius; is anyone keeping track of the number of wins and amount of money Paul has won at this point?  Wikipedia probably.  Bev is also moving on into the finals, leaving Lindsay and Ed left to battle it out for the bottom spot.

The grilling of the bottom two begins, and Lindsay quickly diagnoses the problem with her own dish and admits the cream was a mistake.  Hugh nails Ed immediately on his use of canned oysters in his sauce and I’m guessing that that’s probably going to be the final nail in his coffin.  We’ve come full circle from the frozen shrimp debacle of the first episode.  Ed seems to think so as well, and is taking his impending doom with a great deal of humor.  The judges agree with me, and send Ed off to the kitchen in the sky.  I’m left with an overwhelming feeling of “Now Paul HAS to win.”

And some final thoughts:

-Seriously, do all of these people smoke?

-“Watch out for my basket.”  If I had a nickel.

-Gail Moment of the Night: “We need to EXPLOIT THAT.” Cuts right to the point, she does.

-Apparently the finale is taking place in British Columbia.  And Sarah will have Justin Bieber hair.

Food Top Chef Recap-"Mentors"