The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Top Chef Seattle Episode 11: Restaurant Wars

Episode 10          Episode 12

It was Restaurant Wars week again!  This is where the chefs are split into two teams then build and run a restaurant in a couple days time. I still stand by what I said last year:

Having never seen any of the previous seasons, this can only mean one thing for this viewer…  It’s Wednesday.

I really don’t see what the big deal is.  In previous weeks they’ve had to plan menus, cook, and serve to groups the size of the cast of Ben Hur.  It seems the only difference is having to pick out décor and train staff.  I’m no marine biologist, but I would think that this would be a no-brainer for people who spend their days doing this stuff.

But apparently it’s a big deal amongst regular followers of the show as there are usually some big surprises and kiss-of-death moments.  This season’s Restaurant Wars was no exception.

In last week’s episode, they had a pre-battle where the chefs pitched their concepts by preparing a signature dish.  The two winners – Sheldon and Kristen – would then lead their teams in this week’s episode.  Conceptually, I was really enthused by the two winners.

Kristen’s Atelier Kwan

Elegant, reinvented classic French. I really like this as I’m ready for the pendulum to swing away from rustic back towards refined.  She’s got a strong French background as does the rest of her team.  The only hitch is that she’s never opened up a restaurant before.

1st course (Lizzie) Charcuterie: pulled rabbit, pickled turnips, yellow beets in chicken & rabbit broth

2nd course (Josie)   – Bouillabaisse: Halibut, Dungeness crab, bay scallops with shellfish broth

3rd course (Kristen) – Beef Bourguignon: Braised short rib, garlic puree, mushrooms, and carrots.  No wine sauce

4th course (Brooke) – Cheese Course: Baked Gougeres, St. Agur bleu cheese, roasted radish & stone fruit compote, sticky sweet pine nuts

Dessert (Kristen) – Deconstructed macaron: Almond cake macaron with coconut custard & caramel buttercream

Sheldon’s URBANo

Modern Filipino.   I know I sound biased, but it’s really a crying shame that Filipino food isn’t that popular.  It’s not like there aren’t many Filipinos in the US.  In fact, if you were in Chicago over Christmas and were in the same restaurant as my family, you’d say there’s too damn many of us.  As I mentioned last week, I think Filipino food does suffer from some unappetizing concepts and presentations.  Prime example – Balut.

So if Sheldon does pull it off, he’s got an awesome concept.   The only problem here is that Filipino food is relatively unknown.  Will he be able to introduce it to the diners?  More importantly, will he be able to introduce it to his team – Josh and Stefan – who never made Filipino food before?

1st Course (Stefan) – Kilawen: Yellowtail with cilantro, spicy chili & white soy sauces

2nd Course (Josh) – Balut: Poached egg, duck confit, & foie gras mousse

3rd Course (Sheldon) – Miki: Prawns, tapioca roll with achiote

4th Course (Sheldon) – Adobo: Pork belly with mung bean puree & pea shoots salad

Dessert (Josh) – Halo-Halo: Coconut sorbet, avocado mousse, banana & shredded coconut

Extra (Stefan) – Ginger tea served with dark chocolate with macadamia nuts, ginger, and peppermint oil

So what is real Balut?  The judges where they said that Stefan could’ve done a better job explaining what it was, thus earning Josh’s dish more raves.  That’s sooooo true because it is probably the nastiest thing I’ve ever eaten.  They did actually talk about “the treat that tweets”  a couple times on the show – it’s a duck egg that’s been allowed to develop for 19 days so you get feathers and all that.   But those words are 1/10th of 1% of the nastiness of the smell and sight of “the snack that quacks”

Winning Restaurant – URBANo.  The concept and execution of the food was solid.   And let’s face it, any restaurant with the word “Balut” written down on its menu deserves a win.

Winner – Sheldon gets a Toyota Avalon.

Gone – KRISTEN!!  This is a huge surprise as she’s been kicking ass all season.  A lot of it had to do with the horrible Bouillabaise – the sauce was completely messed up due to Josie’s horrendous time management.  There was intense debate over who actually should go – Josie as it’s her dish or Kristen as it’s her concept.  Kristen, perhaps to a fault, took total responsibility for the dish and she was sent packing.

Random Thoughts

– What?  No Dinaguan?

– Is it really a surprise Kristen got booted?   Definitely if you consider that she did really well in past episodes and Josh and Josie are complete asshats.  But… that was the past and I don’t know how much a contestant’s successes carry over.   One key thing that they kinda glossed over was that the actual seafood in the dish was prepared by Kristen.  And while there were issues with the consistency and amount of sauce, there were clear problems with the proteins. And let’s no forget that her interpretation of Beef Bourguignon was missing a key element – the wine.

– This is classic lack of business acumen at hand here.  Kristen took too much on herself and didn’t trust her employees.  So that negated any kind of competitive advantage they had with their skill sets.  It was very admirable that she claimed full responsibility, but that’s only good when things go well.  When things fall apart, you’re too easy a target.

– Stefan was ripped for his poor service, especially since he didn’t introduce one of the dishes.  I think that’s a stretch.  He was clearly engaging and diners were having such a great time that they were causing problems because they didn’t want to leave.

– Last week, I gave y’all a ton of information about Filipino history and culture.  One item I left out – we are NOTORIOUS for not being punctual.  So Josie’s lack of time management skills is really no surprise.

– At the start of the show we see Kristen, Josie, and Stefan all smoking.  I’m surprised they show’d that in this day and age.  What’s Bravo thinking?  What about the kids!?!  I’m hoping they don’t show smoking on their other nice and wholesome shows – Anger Management with Charlie Sheen and Real Housewives of Atlanta.

– Stephan used one of my favorite terms – “Shitshow”.  I love the word so much that when it came time to give my niece a blog nickname, I chose it.  But I made it trendy by spelling it “Sh!tshow.”  That post is still one of my faves.

So which restaurant would you rather go to?  Do you think Kristen got hosed?

About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

5 comments on “Top Chef Seattle Episode 11: Restaurant Wars

  1. Anonymous
    January 17, 2013

    I hated to see Kristen go but she didn’t delegate. If she had left that fish dish entirely in Josie’s hands maybe she would have gone. I have been chanting for weeks “send Josie home, send Josie home.” I think she is a pain in the ass and like they said, she just seems to skate by. At least Kristen left with $35,000. big ones. More than anything Josie will make. That is some solace to me but I will miss here. She definitely added some class to this season.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 17, 2013

      She couldn’t delegate, because Josie was even less than useless. She would’ve been better telling Josie to be the bathroom attendant. So the dish sucked, it slowed down service, and probably impacted her own dish. Kristen’s biggest mistake was even choosing Josie in the first place.

  2. rachelocal
    January 21, 2013

    I just finished watching this episode, so I was finally able to read this post. I was sad to see Kristin go for sure. She made mistakes, but I believe her previous work spoke for her (which doesn’t count with the judges, obviously). Also, I thought Josie made the seafood, not Kristin.

    Either way, Josie is an asshat too. She deserved to go home long ago, just for annoying the sh!t out of me.

  3. Pingback: Top Chef Seattle Episode 12: Wolfgang Clucks « The Food and Wine Hedonist

  4. Pingback: Top Chef Seattle Episode 10: Battle before the War « The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on January 17, 2013 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , .
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