Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Top Chef 1/16/13--"Restaurant Wars" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: The Quickfire was to make dishes with ginger. Exciting. Then it was Restaurant Wars, sort of. Everyone has to come up with a concept, and then make one dish that showcases your idea. Then the judges picked Sheldon and Kristen to be the executive chefs, based on their home-style Filipino and contemporary French, respectively. Micah decided to have a raw restaurant, which wasn’t that great, and he was sent home. Yes, that means the teams are uneven. They didn’t say if that would be addressed or if Sheldon is just screwed. (click for more)

In Last Chance Kitchen CJ and Micah had to make raw dishes and CJ was victorious again. He’s on a streak. Crazy.

Josh claims his goal was to make it to Restaurant Wars. Sure. Sheldon is excited but nervous. Stefan notes that his team is down a person and that is a problem. Brooke says that all the girls on Kristen’s team have been classically trained at some point, but Kristen isn’t used to running a kitchen. Josie says something about Korean influence, and manages to sound like she’s trying to give suggestions. Kristen shoots her down in a hurry. Sheldon has modern Filipino, in honor of his grandfather. Stefan and Josh are not familiar with it. Kristen has French which is good for all the classically trained people. Stefan is doing front-of-house, and they are glad he’s been on Restaurant Wars already.

Everyone piles in the car the winner will get and goes to the space. It’s pretty, but there are no tables or anything. Also there’s a patio which is sweet. Everyone wanders around because they can’t find the kitchens. Josh seems to have floor plans, which show the kitchen in the courtyard. The currently empty courtyard. Aww, a patio in Seattle in the summer would be awesome. Stefan curses because they’re going to have to build a kitchen. And a restaurant. They divide up what side each team will get, with some minor drama because Kristen wants to check everything out before she agrees. Josh acts like she was a horrible bitch about it, which she wasn’t, she only wanted to check it out before you steamrolled her into doing what you wanted. So shut up, Josh.

On the way to shopping, Kristen says she and Josie have different personalities, so she’s going with Lizzie to shop and Josie and Brooke are going to pick up the rental equipment. That means Josie and Brooke are picking out linens, tableware, all of that. Brooke tries to be nice, but in the end says that Josie isn’t classy enough for this restaurant. Oo, that’s true though. Stefan is going to the flower shop, riding on the carts and stuff. He says he’s not gay, Europeans just like flowers and vases. Sheldon and Josh go to the Asian market. Kristen runs around shopping. Lizzie tells her she only got six rabbits, which may not be enough. The boys all end up at the rental place together where Sheldon and Stefan sort of clash but not really. It consists of Stefan saying stuff and Sheldon interviewing that he’s picking his battles.

27 hours until opening. I wish they’d let them use a real kitchen. It’s just gimmicky. Kristen sets up the kitchen (with Josie’s help) so she can touch every dish. Sheldon starts browning chicken wings. The girls start cooking too. Lizzie is roasting so she can make stock first thing in the morning. Josie says she’s not doing anything today, she’s just going to set up? I thought she said she was going to roast today? Kristen is frustrated, while Josie says it doesn’t matter, she’ll get it done.

Brooke gets a letter from home and some drawings from her son. Aww. The girls number tables and discuss how to prevent long service times. Josie suggests pre-plating some things, and Kristen wants to cook to order. Josie goes outside and smokes with the boys and bitches about Kristen. She claims that she’s a line cook and she can get it done, because she’s not in charge. Whatever. I mean, I won’t pretend I’ve never been that person. I would assume everyone I complain to is rolling their eyes too. Josh thinks the girls are doomed.

6 hours until opening. Sheldon has his warrior face on. Josh knows they have to get everything done before service, because they won’t have time then. Lizzie is making charcuterie, sort of, with rabbit. Josie has bouillabaisse, Kristen has beef and Brooke is doing a cheese course. Also there are macarons. Stefan has a raw fish dish, Josh is making…balut? What? No. They’re not making balut. OK, it’s a soft-boiled egg and duck leg and stuff. Phew. Sheldon is making soup, which I think is maybe the soup he made last week. Last course is pork belly and mung beans. Josh is going to do halo halo. Brooke has front of house. Kristen watches everything. She says she will take responsibility for everything, but she doesn’t want others screwing it up. Josie tells her the bouillabaisse stock isn’t ready, and Kristen says it was supposed to be done hours ago. Stefan is short with the servers, and sends the two dishwashers to the kitchen where Sheldon puts them to work. Josie asks for gelatin, and Kristen just stands there. They’re half an hour away, and now she can’t use gelatin because the stock is too hot, so she tells Josie to use cream. Kristen is pissed, and I would be too. Stefan has to tell servers how to pronounce things and what every ingredient is.

Stefan briefly forgets the name of the restaurant, but he thinks the key is to make sure the customers are boozed up. Service seems smooth so far. The judges show up, Padma in a very short skirt and a backless dress. Emeril and Gail and guest judge Danny Meyer from last week. They’re pretty early, and Brooke kind of wishes they’d gotten into the groove first. Kristen’s restaurant is called Atelier Kwan. First course is Lizzie: rabbit, pickled turnips, and yellow beets in chicken and rabbit broth. They really like it, although they show some random guy making a weird face. Josie’s broth completely fails, because it won’t froth up, and she didn’t test it so there’s no time to fix it. Kristen interviews that she would rather have one of the dishwashers instead of Josie. Josie has the balls to complain she’s sensing “attitude”. The plating is taking forever and the customers are restless. Josie brags that she said it would be difficult. What happened to “I’m a line cook, I can bang it out”? Josie: halibut, Dungeness crab, bay scallops with shellfish broth. Emeril says his halibut is overcooked and his scallop is raw. Tom got some foam, but Gail didn’t, so of course she notices. The broth is lame, because there isn’t enough of it, because it was supposed to be a foam.

Over at Sheldon’s restaurant Urbano, the second group is waiting around. I guess service is taking too long. Stefan basically tells people to hurry up and leave because there are people waiting. Kristen has food coming back because she’s sent the same course twice to one of the tables. Kristen: braised short rib, garlic puree, mushrooms and carrots. It’s a take on beef bourguignon. It’s a great dish, but the name is coming back to haunt her because everyone wants red wine flavor and there isn’t any. I feel like if she’d just called it “short ribs” no one would care. Brooke: baked gougeres, St. Agur blue cheese, roasted radish, and stone fruit compote. Also pine nut brittle or something? No one likes the pine nuts. Kristen: almond cake macaron with coconut custard and caramel buttercream. It’s “deconstructed”, which means it’s a cake and not a cookie. Gail says it’s not a macaron and she says something about being a macaron. Kristen set high standards, and Lizzie’s dish was wonderful, but maybe some of the dishes didn’t quite make it.

Commercial interlude: the customers really want to see the kitchen so Brooke leads a parade of people to the patio to rubberneck. That…seems like it would be super annoying.

Over to the boys. Stefan makes sure the waiting people have wine, and I think basically tells some poor woman to leave. She says they still have dessert, and it seems pretty rude. Why are they having so many problems but Kristen isn’t having any? Stefan basically says he’s going to kiss up to the judges, and fuck everyone else. Nice. The judges notice the backup for tables and suggest that Stefan should be giving them drinks. Most of them do not have drinks. Stefan: kilawen, which is raw yellowtail with cilantro, spicy chili, and white soy sauces. They really like the sauces and the contrasts. Sheldon is still working the dishwashers. Josh: poached egg, duck confit, and foie gras mousse. It’s served in the eggshell, with the mousse underneath holding the egg upright, I think. Thank God it’s not real balut. Stefan says it was balut but didn’t explain what that is. Maybe that’s not a bad thing? The dish is delicious, but not really Filipino. The servers are kind of confused, but Sheldon is calm. Stefan drops off the next course but doesn’t seem to explain it. Oo. Not good. Sheldon: prawns, tapioca roll with achiote. It’s based on miki, which is a noodle. They love the tapioca roll. Stefan shows up finally, and Padma has to ask him about what the last dish was. Stefan says something that I can’t understand because he’s talking so quickly, and then leaves again. He’s not doing well. Gail says they were made to feel like idiots and that is not OK. Emeril says this is worse than the bouillabaisse.

Josh wants to know what the judges think but Stefan refuses to say anything. Because he has no idea. Sheldon: adobo pork belly with mung bean puree and pea shoots salad. Tom says it’s the best dish he’s had all day. They can’t stop eating it. Josh: coconut sorbet, avocado mousse, banana and shredded coconut. It’s a take on halo halo. Also Stefan brings ginger tea and some chocolates he made with dark chocolate, macadamia nuts, ginger, and peppermint oil. Josh’s dessert has a nice balance. They discuss Stefan’s crap hospitality. I see comment cards! Kristen blames Josie for their time management problems but thinks everything tasted good. Sheldon is just pleased, because he seems cool. Stefan had really terrible hospitality, and Padma argues that he should go home for that. Tom responds that Josie should go home for her dish. It almost sounds like they’ll pick the winner based on who they want to send home, because the person going home has to be from the losing team.

Judges’ Table. Kristen talks about her French idea. Gail tells her the beef should have had more wine braised flavor. Tom explains about naming dishes and then not following through. The dessert wasn’t delicate enough. Brooke gets praise for her front of house. Lizzie almost hesitates about standing behind her dish, but luckily she does because the judges like it a lot. Gail tells Josie she liked the bouillabaisse flavor but she barely got any, and immediately Josie throws Kristen under the bus and says Kristen did the plating. Wow. Josie tells them SHE would have put more sauce on, but it’s not her concept. Tom shoots her down and asks if she ever told Kristen there should be more sauce. No, of course not. They start talking about the gelatin, and I think Kristen is thinking of a diplomatic way to say “I didn’t put gelatin in it because Josie took too long to make it and it was a total fuck-up”. She pauses too long and Josie just jumps in with how she would have made it “brothier” or something, “but that’s not what today was about.” Huh? Gail comes right back and says yeah, it was, because you’re on the line. Ha! Tom and the judges quickly get in on the service for Sheldon’s restaurant. Stefan agrees that not explaining all the dishes is poor service, “because I’m a chef, I’m not a server.” Sigh. They loved Sheldon’s dishes, and Tom says they were the best all night. Josh’s dish was great, if not really Filipino. Sheldon is the winner! Woo! Well, Stefan won’t have any consequences, but whatever. He knows he’s lucky though. Tom says they can “head back to Stew” which is awesome because it means the judges call it The Stew Room too.

Tom quickly tells Lizzie and Brooke they’re safe. He says they really need to know what is up with the bouillabaisse and why there was no gelatin in it. Kristen admitted that they ran out of time, so couldn’t use it. Gail asks Josie, didn’t you know you were going to put gelatin in it? Josie said yes, that’s why she was asking for it because she didn’t know where anything was. What does that have to do with anything? Kristen just stands there and bites her tongue. Gail just won’t let up, so Josie just comes back with “everything tasted good and Kristen sauced the plates so…” Kristen says at the end of the day it’s her responsibility and FINALLY Josie says it’s her own fault. ABOUT DAMN TIME. She doesn’t mean it, but it’s true. Kristen says she conceived it, all the plates went through her, and she was in charge. She’s being terribly noble, but at least the judges seem to not be fooled. They know it was Josie.

Back in the Stew Room Josie complains that the judges attacked her and she’s “an easy target”. Yeah, because you screwed up. The best part is when she’s all “it’s probably me” and Kristen just stares at her, stone-faced. The judges discuss the dish, and Emeril reminds everyone that his seafood was not cooked properly, which has nothing to do with the broth. He does admit Kristen may have overcomplicated the dish. One person can’t do everything. Gail really wants Josie to go home, and she argues that Josie has to have responsibility. Actually Gail and Padma almost get into it. Why does Padma want Kristen to go home? Gail points out Josie’s been skating by, and Tom says that’s a good point. They’ve hated on Josie’s food for a while.

Tom says it was a tough decision, and then Padma sends Kristen home, WHICH IS BULLSHIT. Bullshit. Kristen says she was the leader so she takes responsibility. Poor Stefan, he’s upset his girl is gone. She says at least she’s going home with her integrity intact and without backstabbing anyone. Burn. After Kristen leaves, Josie cannot read the room and says she thought she was going home. She interviews that she knows everyone probably thinks she took the low road, but they’re all here to win. Back in the room she says something about pointing fingers. Not pointing fingers? She can’t go soon enough. Brooke is irritated.

Next time: sushi, Brooke has a crappy day, fried chicken. Raw chicken. Oo.

So I’m reading blogs, and both Gail and Tom say they didn’t know what was going on in the kitchens, specifically how Josie was asked to start the stock the day before and she kept pushing it off until it was too late to use gelatin. But Kristen was determined not to throw Josie under the bus so the judges didn’t know there was so much going on back in the kitchen.

Last Chance Kitchen: CJ is surprised to see Kristen, because he expected to see her again at the finals. Tom says he’s going to let them set the rules? They’ll take turns setting rules for the challenge. Weird. CJ says 30 minutes, Kristen wants snapper, then smoke, so Kristen goes for France. Everyone laughs. So: 30 minutes to make a French dish, using snapper, and smoke. CJ was hoping Kristen had never used the smoker, but he knows out of everyone left she’s the one who likely would have. Kristen is going to make the bouillabaisse again. Heh. CJ is kind of worried but is going to make some great mashed potatoes with smoked cream. Tom points out that Kristen has great dishes but doesn’t always do well in Quickfires. She tries to get the smoker working and says “I don’t even know how this motherfucker works!” The peanut gallery explains and she said “Oh, it’s just like lighting a bong” which is hilarious. Tom comes over to talk to Kristen and she’s like, gotta go, sorry! CJ bails too, and the peanut gallery laughs at Tom, who is just standing there. I do like how Last Chance Kitchen has jokes and laughing. Kristen can smell smoke but not see it. Maybe the bong analogy is not apt. CJ: brown butter snapper with creamed morels, smoked mashed potatoes, and ratatouille. Tyler has also obtained a “Big Ceej” T-shirt. Kristen: bouillabaisse of snapper, crème fraiche, smoked butter, fennel, and radish. Both dishes had good smoke. CJ’s potatoes were smooth, and the brown butter was good. Little overcooked. Kristen had a tasty dish but a lot of saffron. The winner is Kristen! Awww. CJ says he feels like shit. Good for Kristen though. I hope she kicks Josie’s ass. But here is the question: you can vote to save a chef, right? Like, I can go vote for CJ and he’ll get another shot at Last Chance Kitchen or something? So then there has to be some element of this whole thing that is current, because otherwise how can I vote and have any effect? Did Tom watch the episode and then make Kristen the winner because he (and apparently everyone) regrets eliminating her? I’m not sure of the timeline but it’s a possibility.

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