Friday, January 26, 2018

Top Chef 1/25/18--"Restaurant Wars" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Padma and Brooke made everyone cook breakfast with nutella. Lots of crepes. Carrie won for making eggs Benedict that was savory somehow. Also Bruce is a dad! Everyone was very supportive of him, and they threw him a baby shower party thing, and it was nice to see everyone getting along briefly. Then the chefs worked in teams of three to showcase speed, precision, and creativity. The team of Bruce, Joseph, and Hipster Joe beat everyone handily, and then Hipster Joe won for making perfect pasta or whatever. He is now cocky. Tanya and Claudette had a bunch of drama, which mostly was Tanya being done with everyone's bullshit and Claudette getting bossy and not picking a dish she could execute in a short time frame by herself. Claudette then threw Tanya under the bus at Judges' Table, because that's what she does, and Tanya refused to explain herself when asked to by Gail. Then Tanya was sent home for not knowing what temperature to cook lamb to (the number, she can cook lamb perfectly without a thermometer). To be fair, she seemed pretty done with the whole competition. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen, Tanya and Brother Luck were going to have to make a dish of their choosing in 15 minutes. Brother Luck panicked and decided he needed to get Tanya off her game, so he said he could make something in 10 minutes. Tom promptly agreed and they had ten minutes. In the end Tanya had too many raw onions and was eliminated.

Adrienne says Judges' Table was a shitshow. There's a montage of Claudette, and then she says that she was just honest and didn't throw anyone under the bus. Sure. Carrie says that's the problem with Claudette, is the bus-throwing. Fatima diplomatically says it was a hard challenge and she'll miss Tanya.

Everyone knows it's time for Restaurant Wars. It's predictable but I don't mind people knowing challenges ahead of time, you know? Especially a challenge like this where you do whatever you want. Padma is there with the Bromberg brothers. Clearly it's Restaurant Wars. I wish Padma had faked them out but she doesn't. Random knife pull to select team captains this year. It ends up being Chris and Carrie. Interesting. Carrie gets first pick and she takes Bruce, because he can manage the back of the house better than anyone. Chris takes Hipster Joe for being creative. Carrie takes Joseph and Adrienne, and Chris takes Fatima and is stuck with Claudette, who was last. Carrie doesn't want Claudette to be throwing her under the bus. I wouldn't want to work with her either.

Each team must make a three course meal, with three options per course, so nine dishes. Usually it's only two options per course. Padma says this is a lot of work so here are the eliminated chefs to help. You can have one. Carrie immediately takes Tyler, to reunite the original Bear Den. They are annoying, but they do get along, and I feel like Carrie saw that as enough of an advantage to take Tyler. Chris takes Brother Luck. I feel like he might have taken Tanya, but hopefully he saw that she's not in the best place, probably, and also then he'd have Claudette and Tanya together again so that's a terrible idea. Padma tells Tyler and Brother Luck to get lost and come back after shopping. So they are just help and don't plan? OK. Also they have to keep the secret of how Brother Luck is still alive in LCK. The teams will also get designers.

One hour to plan. Chris's team decides on “Common Place”. Hipster Joe and Claudette reason that they're all very different, but they meet in a common place. Sure. Fatima is worried about being on a team with Claudette. Of course this theme doesn't say anything about what kind of food they're going to do, because Chris likes it because it lets everyone do their thing. Hipster Joe argues that they need something, because he doesn't want to do pasta all the time? Fatima suggests that they all have bold flavors, but that's not specific enough. “Bold flavors” is not a concept. Fatima asks if he wants to pick an ethnic background, and Hipster Joe says, yeah, actually, I do. It would be cohesive. Chris doesn't want to limit them. Hipster Joe knows the team that gets along the best will win, and they can't agree on a theme.

Carrie's team goes for Conifer, and I think Mediterranean. Joseph argues for a bunch of vegetable dishes. It looks like they would like to have a fish, a meat, and a vegetable option for each course, or at least the first two. Chris talks about chocolate and beets. Hipster Joe wants to do oysters. Fatima notices that they're doing “unexpected things”, which still isn't a theme but it's better than “bold flavors”. So I guess everyone at Common Ground is just going to do whatever they want, as long as there is unexpected ingredients or techniques happening.

Chris tells his team he'd like Fatima in front of house, and he puts Claudette in as executive chef. He doesn't want to be in the back and lose his mind, and he says something about “managing the whole”. Claudette interviews that he dodges responsibility, and that she knows the executive chef usually goes home. I don't get this logic. Is Claudette right, and he doesn't want to be executive chef because he doesn't want to get blamed? Does he want to put her there because any other place will cause Claudette to blame everyone else for her fuckups and everyone knows she won't follow orders? Or does he know what we all know, that executive chefs tend to go home so he's trying to get rid of her? Also, it's pretty rich for Claudette to snob that someone else “avoids responsibility”. Carrie assigns Joseph to front of house and Bruce to executive chef. Briefly Carrie talks about being willing to do FOH but Joseph says he can do it so he gets it. They establish Bruce absolutely has to expedite. He wants to cook, and I don't think anyone disagrees, but he's going to have to run the pass. Joseph is going to do something raw to make it easier on everyone, and Carrie hilariously thinks 2 + 2 + 2 + 1 = 9. Hee.

There are meetings with some design people. Are we going to pretend to care about this? Hipster Joe takes over the meeting, and the designers label Common Ground “hipster” but no one cares. He says some nonsense about being a “plant father”. It's dumb, but Hipster Joe is the good kind of villain: mildly annoying but generally harmless. As opposed to Claudette, who riles you up and sticks around when she should have gone home already. Bruce takes over his meeting. Maybe now that both team leaders declined to be executive chefs they are letting everyone else be in charge. While shopping Fatima says she's only doing one dish, because she's FOH, and it's tartare so it'll be easy. They're shopping for 100 people. Bruce's idea is to have dishes that are prep-intensive, so they can get all their work out of the way the day before. Then during service, they'll have less work and that'll help with service. Conifer talks about their menu, and I don't think the courses are evenly distributed in terms of people having roughly the same number of dishes, but at least they don't have one person doing all the dishes for course one or anything like that. I think everyone has two dishes except Bruce has three.

5 hours for prep. Brother Luck and Tyler are here. Hipster Joe promises to be nice to Claudette and help her out, while knowing how she is. He's making two of the three choices for the first course. Claudette is doing two desserts. The plan is to do whatever Claudette wants, because she's in charge. He's making a chicken “purse”, which looks like a big ravioli. It's not a dumpling because I think it's in pasta and not dough? Bruce usually makes his meatballs with smoked guancale, but the stuff he got isn't smoked so he's smoking it now. He's obsessing about polenta and meatballs because I think when he was on the bottom Tom mentioned he should have done polenta and meatballs so he's taking that literally. Carrie has beets three ways. Claudette shittalks everyone. No one else has said anything bad about any other chef, except Claudette who is currently interviewing how it's no surprise that Adrienne and Carrie are the line cooks, because a kale salad is just so pedestrian. See, while Hipster Joe is annoying, he's annoying because he is cocky about his own stuff. Claudette is annoying because she always looks down on everyone else for sucking. Adrienne filets fish without gutting it first. Brother Luck doesn't get a bunch of what they're doing, but as the sous chef he's just doing whatever he's told. Claudette claims that as executive chef, she just lets everyone stand on their own two feet with their dishes. That seems like code for “when they fuck up I won't have participated in the dish so it won't be my fault at all.” Also she says that she wants to “breed happiness” which is hilarious. Hipster Joe's pickles are mushy. Carrie's lemon curd isn't working right and she's not sure why.

Tom Time! He seems incredulous that Joseph is FOH. Then Tom gives Chris shit because Claudette says she's executive chef because Chris told her to be. Why didn't you give Carrie shit about telling Bruce to be executive chef? Is it because you think Carrie sucks but Chris doesn't? Maybe, but still. Also it implies that Claudette doesn't want to be executive chef, which she maybe doesn't, but I guess she should have said something, huh? She did say she was “appointed”, but she does have a plan for reservations and expediting and whatever. Then Chris says if there's a fuckup he'll take full responsibility. Oh, Chris. Carrie's second lemon curd batch works. She thinks the first time she cured the egg yolks with the lemon juice. Bruce's meatballs are taking forever, and he says he doesn't have time to check on anyone but he knows everyone is on point. Ominous.

The teams hang out at the house and trash talk each other. Bruce doesn't get Common Place's concept, saying it's confusing, while Claudette thinks Conifer is boring. I feel like anything that isn't Mexican is boring to Claudette. Joseph says something about spacing out the reservations. Or actually, only spacing them every 15 minutes. Bruce tries to argue to not overbook because they'll get behind, but it's not clear if Joseph listened or not. Bruce Facetimes with his son (aww!) and he's overwhelmed.

Day of service. Brother Luck and Tyler are back. We're back to the old-school ways of FOH having to set up the restaurant themselves. Joseph found a bison head somewhere. Chris says everything is coming together and Claudette is involved and embracing this challenge. Uh huh. Hipster Joe seems to have claimed Brother Luck for himself since he's doing three dishes. Joseph and Fatima meet with the servers. It's edited like Joseph has an easy time and Fatima has idiots. None of Fatima's servers have hosted. Fatima thinks everyone is doing what they need to do. Claudette has a plan. Listen, she's not a team player but she does appear to know what she's doing. Even Adrienne has noticed.

Service begins. Bruce tells the servers to write “MB” for meatballs, instead of “PM” which makes way more sense. He gets pretty bossy about the servers writing things down consistently. He interviews that he's the chef, and if shit goes down, he's going home. Claudette snobs that he's too controlling and she's not like that because everyone is professionals. It sounds great but I feel like she says that so that she can dodge responsibility. The judges arrive at Conifer. They love the décor. All the tickets are arriving at once, because the reservations weren't staggered like Bruce was talking about. They get the first course out without any comments from the judges about how slow service is or anything. Also I notice Bruce asks Joseph to taste something before it goes out. Joseph: hiramasa (yellowtail) crudo, diced cucumber, pickled green almonds and neonata oil. Neonata, I think, is a condiment made from salt-cured baby fish and and peppers. Carrie: local kale salad with beets three ways: raisined, roasted, and pickled. Bruce: braised pork meatball with polenta, amatriciana sauce, parmigiano reggiano and house giardiniera. The only problem is Joe's neonata oil, because it doesn't taste like anything. Tom says the menu is safe but also crowd-pleasing. I thought it was a dig but it looks like it was a compliment. This menu will attract people to your restaurant and keep them coming back. They notice Joseph doing a good job in FOH, and Padma mentions that it doesn't seem like it's the first day of this restaurant.

Fatima is struggling with servers making mistakes. Someone sends back cold food and Claudette doesn't react at all. Meanwhile Adrienne has her plates above the oven and they're too hot, so the sauce is sticking and it's not good. Joseph: roasted duck breast with corn puree, roasted apricots and duck jus. Bruce: red pepper orecchiette with lamb sausage, fava beans, pea and fava shoots. Adrienne: Colorado bass with wheat berries, port reduction, chive oil and pickled cauliflower. Joseph tells the kitchen everyone likes everything. Adrienne's plates were so hot the sauce is all dried out and Tom hates the pickled cauliflower.

Fatima brings wine for people waiting around in the lounge. She's trying to get rid of people so she can turn tables. Bruce: apple upside-down cake, apricot, and apple butter bourbon glaze. Carrie: lemon curd, sugar cookie and mint gelee. Adrienne: caramelized white chocolate buttermilk cake with crème fraiche ice cream. They love all the desserts, especially Adrienne's. The dishes aren't all perfect but Gail loves the service. The judges take off and Joseph is around to say good-bye.

Unfortunately there is still a wait at Common Place, and I think Fatima is actually asking people to leave, explaining how they have more people to seat. And the judges get stuck at a tall table. Fatima says it's going well and she's about to flip like five tables. Her explanation of the Common Place concept makes just as much sense as it did at the beginning of the episode. This restaurant feels more casual, with a more ambitious menu. Bruce notices Claudette isn't tasting as she goes. Fatima: top round tartare, three pepper aioli and sweet potato chips. Hipster Joe: Shigoku oysters, spring pea foam and kombucha pickled rhubarb. Also Hipster Joe: chicken purse with charred spring onion in chicken broth. Fatima explains that dishes and they imply that Gail had to drag out of her who did what. The knife work on the tartare is excellent but it doesn't taste like anything and the garlic chips are burnt. The oysters are flavorless and the pasta making up the purse is not cooked enough.

The judges discuss how Common Ground doesn't have a good cohesive set of dishes. Like they don't go together. Claudette: bone marrow with blue prawns, avocado puree, tomatillos, chili peppers and peanuts. Hipster Joe: ricotta dumplings with mushrooms, charred broccoli and broccoli flowers. Chris: braised pork shoulder and cheek with amaranth, quinoa, millet grain cake, and horseradish cream. The bone marrow looks beautiful but it's too hot so it just kind of dissolves. Hipster Joe's dumplings are rich and the mushrooms are burnt. Chris's dish is salty but at least the grain cake is good.

Fatima isn't interacting with the guests the way Joseph did, and I guess they're taking that as bad. I personally don't like people to bug me when I'm eating, but I think the logic is if she's not as involved maybe things fall by the wayside. Chris: beet donut, chocolate cream ganache, with beet fennel chutney. Claudette: sundae, financier, berry sauce, with smoked and toasted almonds. Also Claudette: skyr with miso chickpeas, white chocolate caramelized crumble, and pickled cherries. Skyr is a type of yogurt, but this is a panna cotta somehow. Girl. Panna cotta. The donuts are light but sadly don't taste like beets. Claudette's panna cotta is a weird temperature. Like, just above room temperature, so is it on purpose or not? Plus her ice cream in the sundae is grainy.

Conifer's dishes all complemented each other, but Common Ground clearly just let everyone do whatever they wanted. Fatima thinks the problem she had with no one leaving was that everyone knew the judges were on the way, so they were camping so they could see the judges. You know, I never thought about that. I wonder if every time someone was freaking out because no one was leaving their restaurant, it was because of that. It would mean whoever the judges went to second would automatically be at a disadvantage, because people would camp and they'd have trouble turning tables. Not necessarily because they can't get food out, but because people are famewhores.

In the Stew Room, everyone thinks it's too close to call. Well it wasn't edited that way but certainly no one was a major trainwreck. At Judges' Table Conifer wins, clearly. The concept was cohesive. Bruce was in control, Joseph greeted every table, and it didn't seem like it was their first day. The duck was cooked beautifully, and Carrie's kale salad and “beet raisins” were delicious. Claudette, because she said a kale salad was dumb, makes a stank face that clearly says “all you judges are idiots.” The one poor dish was Adrienne's fish. The winner was the person who made their visit and that was Joseph. His dishes were spectacular and the service really helped them win. Also they all just won $10,000 each. Wow! Everyone freaks out.

Time for Loser Gong. No one knew what Common Place's concept was. Tom accuses Fatima of not going to every table, and she says she did, and she's surprised they didn't see that. Tom just say “sure” and drops it. Hipster Joe was off on all his dishes. Tom lists a bunch of problems, mostly with flavors and things being burnt, that someone should have picked up. Claudette says she didn't taste everything, because she was just there to execute service. OK but she knows how executive chefs work. Tom calls her on that and asks why she didn't want to take responsibility. See, I told you her “everyone is adults here” was just her way of not being responsible for anything. Chris interrupts before she can explain herself and takes responsibility because it's his team and he should have looked at. No stop talking! Hipster Joe clearly wants to protest, because really. Why would you throw yourself on your sword for fucking Claudette?! Gail and Padma point out that those things were Claudette's responsibility, because Chris put her in that role as EC. And she didn't complain or protest, she agreed to be EC. Chris doesn't want to go home, but he wants to own up to mistakes. In the background Joseph is making faces and flapping his arms about, incredulous that Claudette is throwing people under the bus again. Well, technically Chris is throwing himself under the bus. But you know what I mean. Fatima pipes up and says Chris has incredible integrity and takes everything to heart. So she's managed to defend Chris without directly insulting Claudette. It's shady, though, because the implication is that Claudette doesn't have integrity. But damn if that wasn't skillful.

Carrie argues that Chris shouldn't go home just because he pulled the knife that let him pick a team. Claudette's dish tasted OK, although Tom disagrees. They at least can agree that the bone marrow was cooked poorly. Hipster Joe made three mediocre dishes. Fatima's FOH wasn't great, and she only made one dish (the tartare) and it had a problem (burnt garlic chips). The best dish was Chris's donuts, but his horseradish cream ruined the dish. Also what was Claudette's deal with thinking executive chef didn't need to taste anything? Tom tells everyone that she owned her role as EC when he had his walkthrough. Back in the Stew Room, Claudette is claiming she didn't want to be executive chef and have that responsibility, and Bruce just shrugs that she should have said so. EXACTLY. Also don't you fucking dare act superior about other people “dodging” responsibility if you're going to complain about it. Since Chris was taking responsibility, then Claudette didn't feel she needed to. That's Gail's argument anyway.

Tom thinks Common Place had a good idea somewhere, but the execution was off. Claudette is sent home. Again. GOOD. Padma says she can say her goodbyes, because she straight up just walks out of the room. She says the judges were wrong and she hopes they're kicking themselves in the ass for this. I doubt it. Then she claims that her flavors are “unique” and that if they want a “vanilla” Top Chef then fine but it's pathetic. Not a single person said anything negative about her at Judges' Table. Not one. So there's no reason for her to refuse to say goodbye, as if she is butthurt that everyone hates her. She can't even stop shittalking everyone when she's eliminated.

Next week: or this season? Not sure. A Sudden Death Quickfire, other parts of Colorado...I have no idea what is supposed to be happening right now. I'm sure you can Zapruder the preview to know who makes it to what episode but I don't care enough.

Last Chance Kitchen: Claudette is still salty about how great she is and she ran a “perfect” service and also she's bragging about she's not going to make friends with anyone. Clearly. When Brother Luck comes out Tom jokes that they blamed him for the loss. Claudette claims she acted exactly like she would have in her own restaurant. Really? You don't taste the dishes in your own restaurant? Remind me not to go there. They show a clip and I guess I missed it the first time, but Claudette says she didn't get to taste anything, but it was still Chris's team, she was just executing service. That's not how executive chef works. She just cannot take responsibility for anything, can she? Tom wheels out some old vegetables. They're pretty shitty looking. You have to rescue this food, and there's no protein in the pantry.

30 minutes. Brother Luck seems to have a plan. Claudette says when you're poor all vegetables are good vegetables. But Brother Luck was also broke when younger so they seem pretty even. Someone asks Claudette what she's making, and she says she doesn't know. The peanut gallery says knowingly that she totally knows. They discuss how she's pretty used to LCK at this point, which is a distinct advantage. Brother Luck is roasting eggplant. Claudette is roasting plantains to make molotes. Girl you know no one knows what that is. She talks about how these plantains are perfect, because you can't eat them until they turn black because they're terrible otherwise, so clearly these are perfect and Tom's twist backfired. OK first of all, Tom said those were bananas? And second, shut up Claudette. Brother Luck worries that he doesn't have time to cook his artichokes. Claudette has to add some flour to her dumplings or whatever. She tells Brother Luck and everyone that the winners got cash for winning Restaurant Wars, and Tyler (the winning sous chef) jokes that he's going to be contacting his lawyer. Heh.

Tom Time! Claudette greets Tom in Spanish (and he responds properly so get out of here with your attempt to make him look bad), and says she wants to prove to Tom that she can cook and she has a voice in her food, but she also wants to remind Tom that oh yeah, she deserves to be here. Brother Luck has a bunch of stuff. He announces he has Rocky going through his head, and Claudette fires back that Rocky got his ass beat. OK that was good. Brother Luck retorts that the movie was still about him. He adds miso paste to his eggplant so it will taste less raw.

Brother Luck: grilled artichoke, charred eggplant puree, miso, nutmeg, morels, confit of tomatoes and chive. Claudette: plantain molotes, heirloom tomato caldillo, cabbage avocado slaw with crema. Molotes are fritters, usually filled. Caldillo is some kind of stew? I know this is Claudette's point of view, and I don't care at all that she only makes Mexican food and flavors. I don't feel chefs need to branch out or be penalized for sticking to one cuisine all the time. But I do suspect that she refuses to use English words and descriptions at least partially because she feels superior to people when they don't know what she's talking about. You know? She could have called these fritters, or even empanadas. She's using the real name, so it's not like she's making it up, but part of why she'd never use any other name is because she can feel special. Does that make sense? She's still talking about “a little bit of cream” as Tom walks away in the middle of her sentence. I love it. Both dishes had a ton of flavor. Claudette's dumplings were light, and the cabbage was crispy. Brother Luck had perfectly cooked artichokes. Tom claims they were both delicious, and then Brother Luck wins. THANK GOD. Claudette claims that she's still the queen of the kitchen. Now suddenly she's OK with losing. Whatever, she lost. Also now that Tom is the only one making these decisions, I'm reminded that he can easily make shit up and get rid of people he doesn't like. She's still the queen, just the queen of her kitchen. Yeah, sure, you should be the queen of your own kitchen. Who wants to work for her though? Brother Luck is on a roll.

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