Top Chef; Resturaunt Wars…Let the Games Begin!
Last night was the episode all die hard Top Chef fans have been waiting for…Restaurant Wars! I can’t even put into words how much I love Restaurant Wars. They’re like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re going to get…good food/bad food, calm kitchen/crazy kitchen, front of the house suckiness/Fabio charm. Plus both Dale and Tre went home for Restaurant Wars during their season. I was like a kid on Christmas sitting on the edge of my seat when I clicked the “play” button on my DVR. Here goes Top Chef ALL STARS Restaurant Wars!
But, before we get to the good stuff, the chefs arrive at Eric Ripert’s Le Bernadin for the Quickfire. For some reason the producers thought that driving the chefs to Le Bernadin “the most famous American seafood restaurant” and having them do their Quickfire right there in the famous kitchen, didn’t warrant Ripert actually being there. Instead, they get to meet his “fish guy”. (I’m sure there is some much fancier French term for “fish guy” but that’s what he does and I never took French). Justo “fish guy” challenges the chef to portion one Cod and one Fluke in 10 minutes. Carla is so not impressed with this challenge. She even says, “Wohoo” sarcastically. I didn’t know Carla could be sarcastic. She must really hate fish.
The top fish carvers are Dale, Richard, Mike, and Marcel. They then get 45 minutes to make a dish using the leftover fish parts like the heads, collars, fins, and racks. Richard can hardly contain himself because he gets to be creative and Mike really doesn’t seem to care about winning as long as he beats Marcel. In the end Dale get immunity for his delicious Fluke back fin sashimi with cucumber and Fluke liver sauce and bacon dashi with salt roasted Cod broth.
Back at the Top Chef kitchen the chefs are greeted by Padma and Chef Ludo (from Top Chef Masters). Padma (in a relatively normal dress) explains that Ludo just opened a Pop Up restaurant and SURPRISE the chefs must do the same! It’s Restaurant Wars! Dale gets to be a team caption because he won the Quickfire and he gets to pick the other caption. He picks the one person he really, really doesn’t want to work with… Marcel! Thus taking all the suspense out of Restaurant Wars because we all know that any team led by Marcel is going to fail. Sorry Marcel’s teammates Angelo, Mike, Antonia, and Tiffany, but team Dale, Richard, Tre, Fabio, and Carla practically have this in the bag and they haven’t even worked out a menu yet.
Marcel quickly lets us know that, “Restaurant Wars is about assembling a mother fucking team.” Then he proceeds to try and be a leader and it’s almost too awkward for me to watch. You can see that he wants to be a great leader, but really he just ends up looking like the freshman in the dumb bandana trying to lead the group of seniors. Angelo wants him to succeed which at first I thought was sweet but you know he just doesn’t want to be the “crazy chef” which he will be if Marcel leaves. Oh, and Medi is a stupid name Marcel.
No product placement scenes at the grocery store this week. Instead we go straight from menu planning to the beautiful outdoor space that will serve as the two restaurants. As the chef’s prep we learn that the winner of this challenge will get $10,000. Then Tom calls Marcel’s energy “weird.” Understatement of the season Tom. Fabio is practically floating he’s so excited to do the “hot Italian in the front of the house thing.” Dale was right, picking Fabio in the 3rd round of picking his teammates was the greatest draft pick ever. As Fabio once said, “We could serve monkey ass and empty clam shells and still win.” Truer words have never been spoken on this show.
Dale’s team creates a fun menu around the idea of a Bodega. The menu starts with a bag of potato chips with fine herbs and sea salt (Richard). Then for the 1st course they serve raw tuna belly and fried chicken skin with chilies and lime (Richard) and Bacon, egg, and cheese with homemade Focaccia (Dale). 2nd course is Chicken fried Cod and brussel kraut (Richard) and pork shoulder, grits with cheddar cheese with Corona and lime sauce (Tre – OMG this looks amazing). For dessert they serve Amaretto cake with candied lemon peel and cappuccino mousse (Fabio) and Blueberry pie with dry milk ice cream (Carla).
Marcel’s team wisely decided not to call their Mediterranean restaurant Medi but Etch instead. Etch’s first course was frisee shaved asparagus salad with egg and chorizo (Tiffany) and crudo of Fluke, grapes, pink peppercorns and lemon zest (Angelo). 2nd course consisted of Roasted Monkfish with Kalamata olives peperonota and parsley (Marcel) and Braised pork belly and octopus with cannelli beans (Mike). The 3rd course was Ricotta gnudi, braised oxtail ragout, arugula and lemon zest (Antonia) and slow cooked lamb chops, cauliflower puree, with turmeric and honey (Mike and Angelo). For dessert they made a duo of peaches, unripened peach and sweet peach with coconut foam and powder (Marcel).
Throughout the night numerous dishes were sent back to Etch’s kitchen for being cold. Dale yelled at the wait staff for being too close to him while he was plating. Mike had to tell Marcel to back off every five minutes. Antonia looked like she wanted to kill herself in the Etch kitchen. And at the end of the night Fabio was kissing ladies hands while they were leaving his restaurant. Could that guy be any more Italian?
Big surprise the guests like Bodega better. In fact only 17 out of 76 diners didn’t pick Team Dale as the winners. The judges thought the potato chips to start the meal were very smart and of course the service was fantastic. Anthony called Dale’s bacon, egg, and cheese dish “stoner food at its finest” and coming from Bourdain there is no better compliment. But the bigger winner of $10,000 was Richard!
Just like the diners the judges didn’t really like anything about Etch, well except maybe for the lamb. They thought Tiffany was fake and uncomfortable at the front of the house. When Tom asked Angelo what exactly made his crudo dish Mediterranean he answered the pink peppercorns. What? Mike’s octopus should have charred. AND WHY MUST MARCEL MAKE A FOAM FOR EVERYTHING??? Anthony brings up a point when he asks, “Is parsley foam the best way to get parsley in a dish?” Why not just use parsley Marcel? And then everyone just starts fighting and yelling at each other. In the end, Marcel bites the big one and is sent to pack his knives and go.
Next Time on Top Chef ALL STARS: Dudes in fancy suits, stealing meatball stories, something’s on fire, and someone’s not getting laid…
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