Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Top Chef 12/3/14--"Restaurant Wars" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: cooking with cranberries, which resulted in a Quickfire win for Katie, and then a “traditional” Thanksgiving meal cooked outside in the summertime. Fun. Gregory stumbled, but survived. Katsuji won, and then Stacy lost and was sent home. It seems like so long ago. (click for more)

We start back in the Stew Room right after elimination. Gregory is relieved to still be around. Everyone seems sorry to see Stacy go, but she got dirt in her clams. They all know it’s Restaurant Wars time because there are eight of them left. The drawback to having a repeated challenge that has to have a certain number of people. Not that I mind because I do enjoy Restaurant Wars.

Padma leaves them a note to go on a field trip. She meets them in an empty event space with Barbara Lynch. Mei looks up to her. The usual challenge parameters: two teams of four, open in one day, serve 100 people including some product placement VIPs. I think they did that last year, using the credit card sponsor to get some random foodies who will taste all the dishes. Knives are drawn. Melissa has first pick, and Katie has second pick. Melissa takes Doug, Mei, and Adam. Katie picks Gregory, Katsuji, and Keriann. Melissa knows Adam likes to be in charge. Katie worries about Keriann. Someone has to be front of house (FOH) and someone has to be executive chef. Each chef has to be responsible for at least one dish.

Doug says he wants Adam to be FOH to be suave and charm the judges. Doug wants to be executive chef, which Adam almost tries to frighten him out of. It’s weird. He gets intimidating, but you’re already FOH so are you trying to trade spots? Anyway, executive chef is tricky because you so often go home if you have the worse restaurant. Mei says she wanted to do it, but “we all know women are better line cooks.” Meanwhile Keriann is FOH and Katie is executive chef. Gregory sort of tells Katie to do it while Katsuji looks irritated. I think Gregory is trying to fly under the radar. Katsuji is a dick about it in confessional, but I don’t know if she’s been in charge of a kitchen before. Doug wants family-style, but Adam says that is really hard to do from a serving perspective. Just in terms of having all the courses come out at once instead of one at a time. Gregory suggests they do “international” since they all specialize in different cuisines. He claims he’s in the background but he seems to be running the meeting. He gets some confessional time about his past.

Décor shopping. No one cares and this so rarely is relevant or affects the outcome. Melissa finds some piggy banks and they name the restaurant “4 Pigs”. Sure. See that’s all that happened there. Then more shopping for place settings and tables and stuff. Adam is bossy since he’s FOH and is claiming he should have more input than everyone else. Then Restaurant Depot and Whole Foods for food. Katsuji immediately runs away from Keriann and she’s hollering for him which is annoying. Mei calls Doug to tell him there’s no pork shoulder at Whole Foods so he has to look for it at the Depot. Doug thinks he can easily beat Katie.

Cooking and prep time. Keriann says their restaurant’s name is “Magellan” because of the international thing. She’s making dessert, because then no one has to do a bunch of cooking for her while she’s doing FOH. Katsuji says being an executive chef is hard and Doug is dumb. I guess. Adam is making clams and is planning on one clam per person. Doug is braising in PBR and Adam kind of rolls his eyes about it. Melissa is making both a savory dish and a cobbler for dessert. Keriann is making her crepes now. The day before? What? Katsuji says he would have had time to make them tomorrow (uh huh) but he’s not going to offer because he’s only looking out for himself. Everyone packs up all their stuff.

The next day everyone seems tired. Doug thinks if he and Adam get their shit together they’ll be fine. Katie thinks maybe their food isn’t cohesive, but the other team is “younger” and therefore inferior. Sure, Katie.

Kitchens seem to be up a flight of stairs. Ugh. 4 hours to do final prep and set up. Keriann gives orders to the servers and says she’s opened a restaurant before. She does seem competent. Adam runs around and does prep. He runs the empty clam shells through the dishwasher, so they can serve in them. He tells the dishwasher (in Spanish) to run the shells through two more times. Sure? My Spanish is rusty. He runs off to meet with servers. Mei and Melissa chill the butter for the biscuits with liquid nitrogen. Awesome. Doug says he’s going to start stuffing Adam’s clams, but he can’t find them. Well actually he can’t find the shells, I think? Someone wonders if they got thrown away. They bought extra clams, so Doug says they need to get going on shucking them. Frantic running around. Keriann asks Katie about runners and servers and things that make no sense to me but I gather are actually important. Somehow Adam gets it done.

Kristin is here! And Stephanie. They are here with the VIPs. Also Gail is here. The judges go to get into 4 Pigs, and I guess Adam was in the back because it’s some random guy at the podium. He acts ignorant until they tell him they’re the judges. Come on, Bravo, you want me to believe that guy had no idea and the producers didn’t tell him to do that for a laugh? Please. Adam says this “general manager” role is his bitch. Everything did end up being family style at 4 Pigs. Interesting. Adam: salt-baked clams, ramps, bacon, and sunflower seeds. Mei: chicken liver toast with plum puree. Clams are good if dense, chicken liver is tasty. Meanwhile Magellan is suffering from servers who don’t know which tables are which, and respond with “they screwed up already” and putting the blame on the contestants. Gregory says they’re backed up, but they’re also serving tables two and three times with the same dish. Katie has to come down out of the kitchen to talk to a server and then tell Keriann that there’s a problem. Katie is serving food, crossing it off, then the server comes back and asks for it again but the table is currently eating. She for sure blames Keriann. The judges notice the servers at 4 Pigs are happy. Doug: braised pork shoulder, baked beans, pickled red onions and mustard seeds. Melissa: seared scallops and radish salad with grapefruit. Mei: fried Brussel sprouts with anchovy-olive vinaigrette. The Brussel sprouts are maybe overdone. Pork is great, but scallops are way too salty. Doug is doing really well, says Mei. Melissa: buttermilk biscuit cobbler, apples, mixed berries, and cardamom cream. It’s in a cast iron skillet and it looks so good. I would love to just dig into that pan with forks. So good. Tom says there are some mistakes but conceptually well done.

Katie seems to be flailing and Katsuji is rolling his eyes about it. Dessert is taking a long time and there’s a backup of people waiting for tables at Magellan. In the kitchen Keriann’s dish is taking forever because it’s messed up. There’s supposed to be a spread but it’s too thick. They have no idea what to do with it, heat it or put in cream or what. And it’s taking time to deal with which puts them behind.

Commercial interlude: Adam talks a lot. A table asks if he’s a Yankee fan because they can smell it on him. Hee!

Keriann comes back to tell everyone the judges are here. There seems to be some disagreement on how many dishes to give them? And Katie is talking to everyone like they’re all equals instead of barking orders. Adam jokes around with Kristin and Stephanie about how far away the kitchen is. The judges at Magellan notice only one table seems to have food and they haven’t seen Keriann. Katie: roasted beets, Sri Lankan curry, toasted coconut, and pickled cauliflower. Katsuji: hamachi sashimi, roasted poblano, blistered tomato, citrus habanero salsa, and garlic chips. Katsuji: dry pozole, chili, Dungeness crab, and chicharrones. The beets are nice but nothing is related to anything. Back in the kitchen Katsuji is heating the crepes, as per Katie’s decision. He takes no responsibility. The sashimi is fine, and I guess Gail thinks the dry pozole is a cool idea. Gregory: seared haddock, spiced tomato, garam masala, and pickled mushrooms. The pickles are light and the fish is nicely cooked. Tom thinks he should have stopped after the tomato. Gregory: hoisin-glazed pork tenderloin, bay scallops, broccolini and XO sauce. Nicely cooked and the scallops are better than Melissa’s. 4 Pigs finishes service and celebrates. Keriann notices her dessert is hot. She didn’t notice before? I can’t imagine it looks exactly the same and hasn’t she been helping serve since they’re in the weeds? Or is she just standing around or what? Keriann: vanilla crepe, burnt vanilla mousse, macerated cherries with ginger and pistachio. It’s dry and no one likes it. Back in the kitchen she bitches at Katie about it, and Katie totally ignores her. Either that or she’s blaming Katsuji and Katie won’t own up to it. Too late, Katsuji throws her under the bus and says it was Katie’s decision. I don’t know why they can’t tell her the mousse or whatever was fucked up so they had to fix it.

Padma comes back to the kitchen and calls out 4 Pigs. Tom tells them the service was very good and then Adam and Doug specifically get praise for their dishes. It was cohesive. Melissa and Mei tell them Doug did a great job.

Magellan’s turn. When Gail says there were troubles, Keriann immediately says the kitchen kept screwing up and she has no idea what happened back there. She also promises the servers were educated on the system. Padma asks where she was, because she wasn’t on the floor ever. Keriann claims to have talked to each diner but didn’t stay on the floor after that, I guess. Gail asks about how the menu wasn’t cohesive, and then Keriann keeps talking about how she wanted everyone to be comfortable with their dishes like she was in charge. The beet dish was like two separate dishes. Keriann throws the kitchen under the bus again for her crepes, because she’s saying they were soggy because they got heated? I’m not sure that’s the case, but it is true that the dish didn’t turn out as she intended. So didn’t they ever tell her they had to change it? If she wasn’t out front, she was in the kitchen, right? So they could have asked her about it? If she wasn’t back there then where the fuck WAS she all night? Katsuji says it wasn’t his call but is suddenly reluctant to place blame on Katie. Finally he does, and she says when she pictures “mousse” she doesn’t picture the texture of the stuff Keriann gave her, and then admits she never asked Keriann about it, so that explains that question. On the flip side, Tom knows the judges weren’t the first table, to be served, so didn’t Keriann notice her dish was fucked up? She says something about not getting around to see every dessert.

Clearly 4 Pigs won. Adam did a great job with FOH, and Doug held the team together. Keriann didn’t train the staff well and had no urgency (Gail says when the dishes are not coming out fast enough it means the servers don’t know what they’re doing?). However, her dish was hijacked. Tom doesn’t think Katie sabotaged it on purpose, probably, but she was also in over her head as executive chef. Side note: Gail says on the blogs that Keriann didn't explain dishes either (and never plated a sample plate for Katie et al. to study).

Judges’ Table. As if we didn’t just have Judges’ Table. 4 Pigs wins, and then Doug wins. Nice. Magellan lost, clearly. Katie did an OK dish, and then had problems and should have told Keriann her dish was getting changed. I think as executive chef Katie has the right to change things to make them work, but seriously tell Keriann you’re doing it. Keriann didn’t know what she was doing in FOH and her dish was weak. This was not a team. Keriann is sent home. Wow. I thought it would be Katie. She looks pissed. Especially since Tom says her dish was the weakest and she blames Katie for that. She says she shouldn’t have left her dish with people that don’t respect her food. Whatever, it’s not like she was going to win.

Next time: sudden death Quickfire, eliminated chefs who can rejoin the show, Last Chance Kitchen (next week), judges shop for everyone. Mei says there is no middle, only top 3 or bottom 3. They’re down to 7 right now so someone goes home from the Quickfire?

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