leave your inhibitions at the door
This is my fifth season watching the Top Chef, thus it’s my fifth time watching Restaurant Wars. And I still go back to what I thought the first time I saw it – I don’t get it.
In every episode they’re coming up with dishes, planning budget, shopping, prepping, and cooking. And many of the challenges have them coming up with a menu and cooking for the cast of Ben Hur. Here the only added challenges are picking out décor and training servers. But the thing is, these guys DO THIS FOR A LIVING. They’ve all been through restaurant openings and cooked for said restaurants. It shouldn’t be that big a deal for them.
It would be like me being on a show where they ask me to put together a spreadsheet in Excel. You wouldn’t see me stressed out over column headers and pivot tables. I’d be like “Ok, where’s my mouse?”
Except, try as I might to make it sexy, it’d come across more like this –
OK, never mind what I said about it being easy as they’ve added some twists this year. First, the restaurants had to serve both lunch and dinner. So coming up with two different menus and all those different dishes in the same time period does make things tougher. The other twist is that everyone on the team must take a turn at being executive chef or front-of-the-house manager. Both of those positions are high-visibility and have often led to a contestant’s dismissal. This means that no one can hide in the kitchen or coast.
They drew knives to determine who’s picking the teams. Amar and Karen got honors.
District LA – Amar, Kwame, Jeremy, Phillip
Jeremy (Exec Chef) – Asparagus salad with crispy egg & truffle vinaigrette
Kwame (Front) – corn and sage veloute
Amar – Roasted chicken breast with polenta
Phillip – roasted salmon with ratatouille
Kwame – beet-cured hamachi with avocado mousse
Amar (Exec Chef) – Avocado gazpacho with king crab salad
Phillip (Front)– strawberry salad
Jeremy – artichoke and lemon risotto
Kwame – Roasted chicken thighs with cauliflower
Amar – Slow-braised pork belly with BBQ sauce consommé
Jeremy – dry-age ribeye with celery root miso puree
Palate – Karen, Marjorie, Carl, Isaac
Marjorie (Front) -Marinated beets w baby greens, pepitas, garrotxa
Carl – pork and bacon terrine
Karen – steak salad with peanuts, herbs, and shallots
Isaac (Exec Chef) – seafood stew with braised fennel
Marjorie – Parmesan parsley garlic bread
Karen and Carl – oxtail consommé with tripe & tortellini
Carl (Exec chef) – snapper crudo with cucumber, ginger, & grapes
Isaac – Braised lamb with couscous
Karen (front) – Coconut rice stuffed trout
Marjorie – panna cotta with berry soup and cheese plate w compressed dates and pickled plums
Winning team: Palate
Winner: Isaac – because he was the anchor and they couldn’t find any fault with any of his food.
Losing team: District LA. The judges said the teams were about even after lunch, but dinner made it a no-brainer. District LA’s amateurish service, awful strawberry salad, “the worst risotto in Top Chef history,” and general lack of cohesiveness made it an easy decision.
– Finally he’s gone. I thought he had some good ideas, but his cockiness and unwillingness to take any blame rubbed people the wrong way. You can tell the judges were sick and tired of the guy’s schtick and would’ve booted him based on the bad service alone. That strawberry salad made it a no-brainer. As bad as Jeremy’s risotto was, the strawberry salad was a questionable concept that was poorly executed.
– Really happy for Isaac because he was picked last and all his ideas were shot down during planning. Classic underdog.
– I’m not sure I would’ve liked either restaurant. There wasn’t anything on any of the menus that sounded exciting to me except the oxtail consommé with tripe & tortellini. That’s something I couldn’t make it home. Mainly because tripe makes the kitchen smell nasty and I’ve been instructed to never make it again.
– Having them serve both lunch and dinner added a lot of intrigue because there were so many opportunities for a person to mess up. With all of those variables as inputs to the equation …. OK, I’m still in Excel mode.
– Jeremy made a strategic error during lunch service. He was so concerned with making sure the judges’ dishes were perfect that he decided that they needed to work on making the judges’ meals perfect and not work on other patrons’. This resulted in lunch service was still going on when they should’ve been prepping for dinner.
– Surprised District LA wasn’t called out on not having a dessert
– Over at Last Chance Kitchen, Phillip was called out on how had a tendency to blame others for mistakes. Amen. So in that challenge, he got to dictate what ingredients and time allotment to take away any excuses. And they made SWEETBREADS! If I haven’t mentioned that LCK rocks, consider it said now. Phillip messed up his sauce and tried to say he meant to do it that way. Jason wins easily.