Thursday, February 4, 2016

Top Chef 2/4/16--"Restaurant Wars Part 1" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: everyone had to make pretty food for the Quickfire, and no one ate any, they just took pictures and saw how many likes they could get. What was nice about the challenge is that no one knew who won until Judges' Table. The Elimination challenge involved cooking for Beefsteak, which is a big charity event where everyone dresses up and then eats with their hands. Apparently also you were supposed to make beef, which people whined about. Everyone complained, but first of all they didn't tell the contestants beef, they just said meat, and second, they let Phillip win because he made lamb chops on the bone which was the kind of eating-with-our-hands thing they wanted. Kwame still was struggling, but since he had a good idea/poor execution, he was viewed a little better than the other two fish dishes which were poor ideas. Chad's fish dish was too fussy and had microgreens so he was sent home. Oh and Karen won the Quickfire, not that it mattered since she was never in danger of going home. (click for more)

Last Chance Kitchen: Chad and Jason had 25 minutes to make a beef dish that Tom was going to eat with his hands, and also you only have knives for five minutes. Chad undercooked his beef cheeks so Jason wins again.

You guys, how is this going to work? Are they going to get rid of someone tonight? Are we going to actually spend time in each restaurant and they wanted a two hour episode? Is it a situation where everyone did a terrible job so they don't eliminate anyone and then next week they just do it again? Also I am not happy they moved this show to Thursdays because now it's on at the same time as “Project Runway: All-Stars”. So...this recap might not go up until Fridays. Sadly until the show ends. I know. But I can't stay up that late. Stupid Lifetime.

Back in the Stew Room right after the elimination Isaac talks about how he didn't expect to be on the bottom. I mean, a huge pile of sausage totally works for the challenge. He's annoyed because what he calls “tweezerfied” food is winning. Phillip is insufferable of course because he won so now he's going to be himself all the time. Bleh.

The next morning Kwame calls his business partner about stuff for the restaurant they're opening. Amar knows it's Restaurant Wars and Phillip wants to do front-of-house. Fine. Everyone knows it's Restaurant Wars because there are eight of them left and that's how it works. It's like the unconventional materials challenge on Project Runway except for you always know the timing of this one.

Padma greets the contestants with Bill Chait. They know it's Restaurant Wars...and there is a terrible song. Don't do that, you guys. Padma tries to psych them out but it fails. Anyway, you know the drill. Two teams, build your own restaurant, blah blah. They draw knives but they're all blank except for Amar and Karen. So you get to pick your teams this season. Amar picks Kwame, and Karen picks Marjorie. Yeah those make sense. Amar's team adds Jeremy and Phillip, and Karen picks Carl and then is stuck with Isaac. Amar's logic is that Phillip really wants to do FOH so he can stick Phillip over there where he won't bother everyone. Padma then says each team will serve BOTH lunch and dinner, but you still only get 24 hours to get ready. They have until midnight tonight, and three hours before lunch tomorrow. Oh and one more thing: everyone on the team must take a turn being either the executive chef or the front-of-house for a service. Interesting. I like this twist.

Amar's team immediately says they're doing “modern American” and they all agree. Phillip takes over and tries to make everyone agree on a name and whatever. Kwame is pissed because he doesn't want to deal with Phillip. Same, Kwame, same. They eventually decide on “District LA” which is kind of dumb but not the dumbest name they've ever had on this show. Jeremy wants a crudo. They aren't arguing about the menu yet.

Karen's team appears to agree on California/Mediterranean, or at least Marjorie and Carl think so. Isaac makes a comment about Cajun, but I can't understand him. I think he's bitching that he doesn't do that type of food. Carl stares at him. Then Marjorie wants to pour soup tableside because that's “prettier”. Somehow this shows off technique. Isaac doesn't have enough refinement, apparently. Who pours soup tableside? Whatever. Carl points out they can do something for dinner entrees that takes a long time. Isaac throws out ideas and they might be good or bad, I can't tell, but Marjorie especially is really bitchy about telling him they're all dumb. Also their name is “Palate”. “District LA” is better.

District LA decides on who is doing what and when, and Kwame speaks up last and is FOH at lunch. He's waited tables and thinks he can do it. Palate somehow has Isaac as executive chef at lunch. You all bitched about him not being refined but you didn't stick him in FOH? I'm suspicious. Now that we have two hours we have to waste time on shopping for tables and glasses and shit. Phillip has too many ideas but he says he doesn't mind getting shot down all the time because he'd rather get shot down than regret not saying anything. Thankfully Kwame vetos mason jars for glassware. Palate spends $2900 of their $5000 on tables and chairs. Why so much? Whatever. No one ever cares about design.

I think they have more for food? You know, I don't care about budgets. They do the usual splitting of two people to Restaurant Depot and two to Whole Foods. Marjorie gets Carl's list over the phone and she's pissed because he's not giving it in the order she wants. Why didn't you do this in the car? This is not Carl's fault. That was all the shopping that happened so there doesn't seem to be drama about how no one has enough proteins or something. Oh, Kwame asked Amar for some good bacon.

Everyone moves the kitchen equipment around to set up how they like. District LA did not buy Kwame any bacon. Amar, come on. Kwame bitches at Jeremy for some reason, even though I can't imagine he forgot who he spoke to on the phone. Jeremy is not having it. There's pancetta for backup anyway. Palate is making a bread course in addition to the total of ten courses for the two services. Carl has to cook a terrine and his meat isn't cold enough so that might not work. Jeremy is making risotto ahead of time, and he says cooking it a la minute is ridiculous and impossible, so I'm expecting the judges to complain about it. Phillip brags about his strawberry and champagne salad and how much everyone loves it so that will probably also be terrible. Oh, plus that's his dish for dinner when he'll be FOH so someone else will have to assemble.

As everyone goes home to relax Isaac interviews about how he's glad to have the two women on his team. He then says they're ego-less and attitude-less which is hilarious. Phillip's salad is of course stupidly elaborate and has a million components. It needs to be simpler. The arugula is dressed with just olive oil and lemon juice, so Kwame asks if they can do that ahead of time. Or at least mix those two things ahead of time. Phillip says if one of his chefs asked him that he'd just say to fucking work harder. I get that he wants his dish to be perfect but you also have to adjust to the fact that someone else is going to be executing it. The more shit you put in there the harder it will be for someone else to do it exactly the way you want. I wonder if wait times at Phillip's restaurant are annoyingly long.

In the morning Isaac gets a phone call home. His wife tells him if he comes home with a douchey LA accent she will divorce him. Hee. Also Jeremy and Kwame say they should do well if egos don't get in the way. Uh huh.

District LA has Kwame on FOH and Jeremy as executive chef. Phillip is out helping Kwame set up the dining room since he seems to have experience. Marjorie is FOH for Palate and Isaac on executive chef. Isaac is an executive chef and he says in confessional that you will like him and fear him. Palate's lunch menu: marinated beets with baby greens, pepitas and garrotxa (Marjorie), pork and bacon terrine (Carl), steak salad with peanuts, herbs and shallots (Karen), and seafood stew with braised fennel (Isaac). Garrotxa is goat cheese. Carl's terrine didn't come out exactly the way he wanted. District LA's menu: asparagus salad with crispy egg and truffle vinaigrette (Jeremy), corn and sage veloute (Kwame), roasted chicken breast with polenta (Amar), and roasted salmon with ratatouille (Phillip).

Waiters show up and get put to work. Marjorie tells her servers the plan is for people to be in and out in 45 minutes. Karen is worried because she's picking up Isaac's dish? I guess because he's expediting? So she's completely blaming him for all of that. I mean rather than asking she's just like “You didn't tell me anything” and then just standing there.

So maybe the two parts is for the two services? So after lunch service is over the episode ends tonight? Hmm. Marjorie wants to be in charge and she hopes to set the tone for the day. Karen and Isaac have a painful conversation about when to pick up stuff, and I'm not sure who is at fault because I have never worked in a kitchen, but Karen seems to ask a general question about times (I guess “how long should I spend fixing my dish”), which Isaac answers, but then Karen thinks he means specifically right now, which is not what she asked. The problem is Isaac's response sounds like he doesn't know what he wants. Marjorie interviews that she thinks Isaac is going to fail. District LA's kitchen looks good? Seems to be smooth.

The judges show up and seem happy. When Kwame goes back and puts in the judges' order, Jeremy announces they're jumping the line and everything stops for everyone else. Phillip interviews that this is terrible because the judges care about the service for everyone else and Jeremy is making a horrible mistake that Phillip himself would never make. I'm pretty sure they don't care about other tables but fine. It's a weird clusterfuck in terms of getting waiters to take the plates out but they arrive safely. Kwame's soup is good (guest judge wants more salt but is a loner on that) and they love Jeremy's salad. Karen says in confessional she's surprised about how well things are going, clearly because she thought Isaac would screw up. Yeah, so much for the female chefs being attitude-less, Isaac. Marjorie is complaining that no one is leaving the tables when they're done eating. That is annoying but what are you going to do?

OK so I know I rolled my eyes at Phillip being superior about concentrating on the judges, but it turns out there are two courses and Jeremy shut down everything for the judges. As in, while they are doing the second courses for the judges, no other food is leaving the kitchen for any other table. Yeah...I think you could have continued to put out salads and soup while you cooked mains for the judges. Of course Tom has noticed this also. Also that there are no utensils. Oops. Phillip's vegetables are not cooked properly. Amar's dish is chicken breast, which he's made several times and it's not that great. Overall District LA seems maybe uncreative but tasty and well-seasoned. Jeremy is getting grumpy.

Marjorie is so desperate to get people to leave the restaurant she's offering them free champagne if they move their asses. See this is why I hate camping at tables. I have friends who do it and I always imagine the servers are thinking about how I should fucking go home and it makes me uncomfortable. She is flailing so when the judges show up no one is at the hostess stand. Of course not. Tom hates the terrine because it's chewy and Spam-like. Not good. The beets are good but maybe they're underwhelming? District LA has a really long line. Jeremy is blaming Phillip, but Phillip says he's doing what Jeremy tells him. I think Jeremy is slowly going insane. Karen's dish gets rave reviews. Katsuji! What's up, Katsuji. He's a diner. Isaac's dish is fine if not earth-shattering. Tom says District LA's appetizers were better but Palate's entrees are much stronger. Too much emphasis on expediting. Palate finishes serving their food so they're cleaning and I think looking towards dinner service. District LA has tables that were just now seated. How did they get so far behind? Was stopping to do all the judges' dishes that time-consuming? Apparently so. Jeremy says they have four minutes left so I think they had a time limit to the service. And they still have five or ten tables that don't have food.

Next week: dinner service, Karen isn't doing what she's supposed to, Phillip is Phillip, Tom is sick of crudo. Apparently dinner service is terrible.

No Last Chance Kitchen because no one was eliminated!

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