Recap: ‘Top Chef’ – ‘Restaurant Wars’

We’re down to an even split of guys versus girls, which isn’t so surprising. What is surprising, however, is that Beverly hasn’t been beaten up, melted by the hateful, laser-like stares of her teammates or otherwise taken out of commission. While she seems to be a talented chef and a good-natured gal, for some reason there’s always someone around who loathes her with a white-hot passion. This week, that duty is shared by Lindsay and Sarah, who only succeed in making themselves look like the mean, ugly stepsisters in “Cinderella,” but without the big ball gowns. But let’s get to the food. 

The chefs walk into an empty restaurant and see Hugh and Padma staring at them. It can only mean one thing, at least to Grayson — Restaurant Wars! 

That means there will be no Quickfire Challenge, as our determined chefs will have plenty of work to tackle with this task alone. Padma rattles off information with the grim determination of the automated voice you get when you call your bank. This will be the first battle of the sexes in Restaurant Wars. Each team will dine in the other’s restaurant. Boys will go first. The chefs must serve up three courses (with two choices for each course) for 100 guests. Each team member must be responsible for at least one dish. They’ll get five hours to design and decorate the restaraunt. And for checking and savings, please press two. 

Sarah is worried about having to work with Beverly. I would argue that Beverly’s a big girl who can cook her own dish, so Sarah should just shut up and worry about her own performance. This is a thought I will have many times over the course of this episode, by the way. Anyway, the first order of business is to come up with a name and theme for each restaurant. The guys, who all seem to like one another, go with Canteen. It will be homey, deconstructed food. Simple! The girls, however, do not seem to like one another. Or more specifically, Sarah and Lindsay don’t like Beverly, and Grayson finds herself in the unenviable position of having to defend Beverly from the slings and arrows of the mean girls. This can’t be fun for Grayson, but it makes me like her more every time she does it. Fight the good fight, Grayson!

In planning the menu, Sarah shoots down everything that comes out of Beverly’s mouth. She wants to do lamb ribs. No. Beet? No. Short ribs? No. Grayson finally tells Sarah to shut up and let Beverly pick something. This scene is also repeated at the grocery store, when Sarah analyzes and criticizes everything Beverly has in her cart. Do you really NEED three bags of limes? Why do you have eggplant? I HAVE eggplant! Sarah has apparently taken on the role of Heather for tonight’s program. Sarah may want to remember that Heather, who spent so much time and energy bitching about Beverly, IS NO LONGER ON THE SHOW. 

Chris J., in talking about the challenge with his teammates, says this is their Kobayashi Maru. He explains that this is a “Star Trek” training exercise. He also explains, without having to open his mouth, that he is an even bigger geek than we suspected. 

The boys are up first. Edward is running the front of the house, and seems fairly well organized. The problem? No one is expediting in the back of the house. This is a problem, though the guys don’t fully realize it yet. 

Shortly after the restaurant opens, the judges arrive. Tom, Hugh and Emeril will be joining Padma.

First impressions of Canteen are positive. Tom likes the mood. Padma thinks the diners around them seem happy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s see how you like the food, guys.  

1st Course

Ty-lor – Thai style crab & shrimp salad, caramel fish sauce & peanuts

Hugh thinks it’s flat. Tom likes the sauce. It look nice on the plate, but the judges don’t seem wowed. 

Paul – Ham & pork pate with mushrooms, braised mustard seeds & duck fat crostini

Hugh likes it. Emeril thinks the brioche is greasy.  I guess that happens with duck fat. 

2nd Course

Ty-lor and Paul – Poached salmon in warm tomato water, clams, salmon skin & tomatillo jam

Whoops, someone forgot the mushrooms. Tom and Emeril like the skin and the salsa. Hugh thinks there’s nothing marrying the tastes. It’s a mess of stuff on the plate that doesn’t really go together. 

Paul – Crispy skin pork belly with green apple & sweet potato puree

Tom was expecting more in the flavor department from Paul. Ouch. I can’t say the judges seem overwhelmingly thrilled about what they’ve eaten thus far. 

3rd Course

Edward – Almond Joy cake with malted chocolate mousse & banana coconut puree

Tom and Emeril want coconut! Padma says he shouldn’t have called it Almond Joy, as they would have loved it without that expectation. I think the person working the front of the house usually has problems during “Restaurant Wars,” as they’re too reliant on other people to finish their dish. Though that didn’t seem to be the case here, let’s hope it doesn’t get Edward sent home. 

Chris J. – Homemade cracker jack, cherries & peanut butter ice cream

Emeril doesn’t like it, but Tom likes it. Padma likes the salty-sweetness of it. I don’t think anyone is giving Chris J. points for presentation, though. It looks like baby puke in a bowl, honestly. 

Tom thought overall it was great. Emeril thought some of the dishes were impressive. The consensus? Not bad. It seems like the girls have their work cut out for them. Still, the guys are depressed. Edward hopes the girls blow up at one another and screw up worse than the guys did. Given what we know about the girls, he just may get his wish.

Lindsay reveals that she was prom queen and college valedictorian. She wants to WIN. However, as she’ll be working the front of the house, Beverly will be expediting her halibut. Beverly really should have demanded a chance to do a second dish, because dealing with Lindsay is going to make her MISERABLE. Or at least as miserable as Lindsay, which is saying something.

During prep, Sarah treats Beverly like a 5-year-old. And a naughty one at that. Oh my Lord of the Rings, Sarah needs a good, hard smack. Sarah also tries this with Grayson, who tells her in no uncertain terms to change her tone and butt the hell out. Beverly should take notes. I feel for Beverly, but she needs to start standing up to herself. 

The judges show up and Lindsay, who is too busy bossing Beverly around, is nowhere to be found. The judges cool their heels and drink lemonade, waiting to be seated. 

When they are seated, they’re the lucky ones. Padma notes the piles of people stacking up at the front of the restaurant like they’re trying to stuff a phone booth. Padma complains that she’s hungry, sticking out her lower lip in a slightly pouty way. Still, the food isn’t coming and the judges are pissed. Or, as Lindsay likes to holler into the kitchen, “f—in’ pissed.” Yes, she’s a delicate little prom queen, isn’t she? 

At long last, food arrives. Better be good, girls!

1st Course

Grayson – Peach salad with pickled shallots, bacon vinaigrette & candied pistachios

Tom likes it. Hugh thought everything melded well together.

Sarah – Mozzarella filled arancino, sweet & sour eggplant & celery salad

Tom likes the caponeta, and Emeril was happy that his was hot. So far, so good. 

2nd Course

Beverly – Braised short rib with Thai basil potato puree, apple slaw & kimchi

Hugh thinks it’s the most flavorful thing he’s had all day. Tom thinks it was tasty. 

Lindsay – Grilled halibut with Spanish chorizo, fennel & sherry salad

Tom wants more flavor. Hugh thinks it was a little dry in the center. And we all know who’s going to hear about this — BEVERLY. 

3rd Course

Grayson – Schaum torte with vanilla merengue & champagne berries

Hugh thought the liquid on the bottom was too much, but Tom loved it. 

Sarah – Hazelnut cream Italian doughnuts with banana sugar glaze

Tom thinks they’re heavy. Hugh thinks they’re leaden. Tom didn’t taste banana, which disappoints him. 

Needless to say, during service Lindsay spends most of her time in the kitchen, poking at her fish and screaming while diners don’t get their food, Grayson ends up dumping her melted desserts because no one is picking them up, and everything basically falls apart. Lindsay may be the suckiest front of the house of the last few seasons, which is saying something. 

But Lindsay does not apologize. Lindsay doesn’t see any reason to. Why? Because everything that went wrong is somehow Beverly’s fault. The judges hated Lindsay’s fish because Beverly overcooked it! In a passive aggressive way, Lindsay attacks bitches to Grayson about Beverly — who is standing, oh, right there. Grayson tells Lindsay it wasn’t Beverly’s fault, because Lindsay chose the wrong cooking method. Lindsay stares at Grayson, her beady eyes blinking rapidly, shocked that she can’t recruit another member to the “Let’s Gang Up on Beverly” bullet train. 

Time for the judges to hash it out. They feel Half Bushel had better food, but the guys had better service. If the girls lose, I say it’s Lindsay’s fault, though I’m fairly sure I know who will get tossed under the bus. 

The chefs talk in the stew room, and Beverly feebly tries to defend herself.  Lindsay apologizes to Beverly if she attacked her, but without taking a breath Lindsay and Sarah gang up to attack Beverly some more. She overcooked the fish! She overcooked the fish! She ruined EVERYTHING! The guys look on in horror, and maybe Lindsay realizes she looks like a fire-breathing sociopath, because she suddenly doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. 

Padma calls the girls back. Initially she invites them to analyze their performance, but I suspect she realizes it’s going to become a finger pointing session in about two shakes of a rabbit’s tail, so she quickly tells them they won so no blood is drawn. Tom thought their food was better. He thought Grayson’s salad was perfect. So did Hugh. Emeril loved the camponata. Padma loved Beverly’s kimchi. Tom tells Lindsay the fish was only a little overcooked. So, all that bitching and whining? No reason for it. Lindsay should owe Beverly an apology, but you know that’s not forthcoming.

And the winner? BEVERLY. Lindsay’s mean little face actually shrinks into itself, as if she just swallowed a lemon followed by a battery acid chaser. She doesn’t care that they won. She doesn’t care that she isn’t going home. She’s just too stinking mad that Beverly won. 

Back in the stew room, Sarah makes a point of telling Lindsay in a VERY LOUD VOICE that she deserves as much praise or more, in her opinion. Grayson and Beverly give one another a look that says, “Please God, may we never have to cook with these delusional whack jobs again.”

Time for the losers to face their fates. Hugh tells the guys that their food didn’t have a wow factor. Padma adds that the diners didn’t love it, either. Tom tells Ty-lor he made a boring Thai dish. The judges pan the bland salmon. Tom says the ham & eggs was soaked in oil. Tom slams Chris J. for not contributing conceptually. I honestly think Chris J. is most deserving of a ticket home, but I suspect he won’t get it. But I will say that he’s been under-delivering for weeks now — he seemed like a shoe-in for the finals, but now I just don’t see it. Maybe someone needs to take away his liquid nitrogen and tell him to just cook something good. 

And it’s Ty-lor who is sent packing. He knows he’ll be a better chef from the experience. Aw, Ty. He did botch a few dishes (and had problems with meats), but he always seemed like such a nice guy. Heck, he even liked Sarah, which takes an iron will, a heart of gold, and one hell of a blind spot for bitchiness. 

But don’t count him out yet. Ty will face off against Nyesha in the Last Chance Kitchen. 

Next week, Charlize Theron. And apparently, they have to make gross stuff. Eww, why? Because Charlize requested icky food? Because she doesn’t like eating? 

Do you think Lindsay and Sarah ganged up on Beverly? Do you think Ty deserved to go home? And what did you think of Restaurant Wars?