I can’t even begin to try and contain my excitement over the last episode of Top Chef. So many amazing developments!!! Restaurant Wars! The diners choose the winner! Marcelverine is still a total twat! It was just far too fantastic of a night for me to even try and compose myself. You’re all just going to have to accept the fact that I am about to totally spaz out. Or at least spaz out even more than normal…
Instead of going to the kitchen the chef’s go immediately to Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin for their Quickfire Challenge – they have ten minutes to cut and scale as many fish as they possibly can and judge Anthony Bourdain will be ensuring that each piece is up to Le Bernardin’s standards.
Carla and Fabio have a difficult time with the challenge – Fabio slices his thumb open but says he’s not going to pull a Jaime and continues to prepare his fish. Bourdain declares that he and Carla are at the bottom with Tiffany and Antonia, and that Dale, Richard, Mike and Marcel are at the top. These 4 are then told they’ll be moving on to the next phase of the Quickfire challenge – each of them will have 45 minutes to make a dish out of everyone’s scraps – so they have to cook with the heads, tails, ribs – the stuff that most people throw out.
Marcel takes this moment to let us into his soul of darkness and tells us that he believes every single part of an animal should be used and not wasted because they gave their lives up to feed you. Um. Yeah okay Marcel, you have fun with your fish ribs I’ll be over here with the fillets. Each one of the chef’s that have moved on are excited about the chance to cook with scraps and are able to apply experiences they’ve had growing up to excel at the challenge but its Dale’s peasant upbringing that ends up winning it for him and obtaining immunity (his family used to go to street markets and get discounts for buying the heads and tails of animals – fun!).
After everyone congratulates Dale, guest judge chef Ludo Lefebvre (you’ll remember him from Top Chef Masters) arrives to tell the chef’s what a pop-up restaurant is. You arrive at a place – it can be anywhere, and within 24 hours you have a kitchen, table & décor set up and ready for service. They can run from one night to several months but the overall idea is that they should be spontaneous, whimsical, and an overall fun experience for diners. With that, Padma announces what every Top Chef fan waits for – Restaurant Wars!!
For the first time in Top Chef history the winner is going to be determined by the diners – each person will rotate and eat at both restaurants then submit a comment card voting for the best. The judges will then choose the winner from the audience’s chosen restaurant. As the winner of the Quickfire, Dale gets to be the first team captain and is allowed to choose the second captain. In a brilliant move he picks Marcel to ensure he won’t have to be on the same team with him. Marcel gets first pick and has Angelo, Mike, Antonia and Tiffany on his team with Dale choosing Richard, Tre, Fabio and Carla for his. The two teams will have 24 hours to plan a menu, cook, and then set up their pop-up restaurants at The Foundry.
From the very beginning its obvious which team is going to win. As soon as the cheftestant’s return to their house they jump into planning and Marcel is quickly reduced to squeaking like a tiny clamoring child, shooting down everyone else’s suggestions until finally they all ignore him and start planning amongst themselves. Missing the point entirely, they decide on a Mediterranean theme and want to bring fine dining to the pop-up concept. They start planning their meals and come up with what might be the dumbest name for a restaurant ever:
Dale’s team just immediately falls into an amazing cohesion. Richard comes up with the brilliant idea to go with the whimsical side of pop-up’s: he wants to call their restaurant “Bodega” with a menu of fine dining interpretations of some bodega standards. He and Dale both begin to plan some amazing meals with the team:
Check out Richard’s incredible interpretation of canned tuna:
And Dale’s crazy version of a bag of chips that he served to everyone as they walked in:
The whole team worked so well together and they couldn’t lose with Fabio at the front of the house. He managed to make a delicious desert the judges loved before he ran out and began speaking with the wait staff – coaching them on how he wanted them to plate the food, what he wanted them to say to the diners, everything – even stepping up and defending them when Dale began to lose his temper with them for being in the way. He can correct me anytime. He reminds me so much of my first love, my Italian tennis instructor… I don’t remember his name – who cares, not important – the man could melt butter with a well phrased cooing – how I love you Fabio…
Tiffany meanwhile struggled with her front of house position. She waited until the very last minute to get out to the servers and had no time to tell them how she wanted service to run. She had no idea what the front of house at a restaurant is supposed to do and basically just walked around laughing like a hyena at everything the diners said, totally oblivious to anyone that was having problems with their meal and for the most part ignoring the judges – Colichio was NOT happy – utter fail.
As everyone could predict from the very beginning, Richard walked away with the win and $10,000 for his awesome dish and his fantastic leadership.
It was also very obvious who was going home – he flailed about unable to lead his team, made the rest of them resent him by dismissing their opinions to the point that he lost all control and delivered subpar food and worse service…
And so it was, that the skies parted, and the judges handed down the verdict that I have been waiting for all season… yes, I finally got to hear “Marcel, please pack your knives and go.”
(Damn you Turner Enterprises for holding fast to that copyright, but this will do, nothing’s going to piss on this joyous occasion, not even the best amateur theatre interpretation I could find!)
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