Top Chef New Orleans (S11E9) “Restaurant Wars” by BB
No Quick Fire challenge tonight. It’s time for Restaurant Wars. The chefs draw knives to see which team is which. The Green Team is stacked with Justin, Nina, Shirley, Carlos and Sara. The Purple Team is comprised of Carrie, Brian, Stephanie, Nicholas and Travis. The guest judge will be Chef David Chang. He tells them to plan on everything going wrong in this challenge. They have 24 hours to create their dream pop-up restaurants. There will be an Executive Chef and someone to run the front of the house (chosen by the team members) for each team. There will be a VIP table of chase sapphire card members among the guests, who will be the only diners other than the judges who will get to eat at both restaurants. Danny Meyer will also be there to check in with the diners and report back to the judges. Nina refers to him as the godfather of the restaurant business.
The Green Team decides to do Modern American cuisine because they all have very different backgrounds. The Purple team is going in a Seafood direction. Travis volunteers to do the front of the house for Purple and Sara will do it for Green. Justin volunteers to take the role of the Executive Chef for the Green Team. Carlos thinks his team is getting too caught up in things other than the food and it doesn’t make sense to him. Nicholas will be the Executive Chef for the Purple Team because he has been one in real life.
They all check out their restaurant spaces (and notice there is no kitchen) and then go to the rental place to choose their china and other decor. Once they get there, the Green team argues about what dishes they will be making while the Purple team is looking on. The Purple team has already discussed their menu. Next they go food shopping and this part never really interests me so I’ll skip over it. The Green team cannot find any ring molds for Sara’s planned dessert. She doesn’t know how much effort they put into it though and is disappointed.
The Green Team has named their restaurant “Found” and they will be showcasing their diverse backgrounds. The Purple Team has named their restaurant “Fin,” which is self-explanatory. Travis will be making the dessert for this team, so both front of the house chefs are doing the desserts.
Sara and Justin are not getting along on the Green Team. Brian accidentally got a wrong ingredient for his dish which is going to throw the whole thing off. That night, Justin goes over what should be going on in the front of the house so it won’t throw things off in the back.
It’s d-day. Sara and Travis meet with the wait staff to make sure they know what’s to be expected. Justin gets upset about a mix-up in the dinner ware. He’s definitely a Type A personality. If the Green Team loses, he may have no friends on his team to back him up come elimination time.
Both restaurants are shown simultaneously. The judges are at Fin (Purple) and the VIP diners are at Found. At Fin, Brian made Scallop Crudo, Corn & Squash Relish with Purple Corn Gel (one of the judges calls it too snotty). Nicholas is very calm in the back. Over at Found, the VIP table talks about not getting to look at the menu and there seems to be a problem with the servers not filling out the tickets correctly. Over at Fin, the food is coming out of the kitchen at a good pace. Carrie made Sauteed Gulf Shrimp, Chickpea Puree, Oregano and Lemon and Stephanie made Linguini with Cariar, Oyster Cream and Fennel. They think Carrie’s shrimp is overcooked, but they like Stephanie’s dish.
Travis is doing a great job in the front of the house and all the diners look happy at Fin. At Found, however, things seem to be really mixed up in the front and back of the house. Back at Fin, Nicholas’ dish of Roasted Black Drum, King Trumpet Mushrooms, Oxtail, Kale and Hibiscus Reduction is served. It’s by far the most delicious dish from Fin according to the guest judge. For dessert, Travis made Olive Oil Cake with Greek Yogurt, Cherries and Pistachios. The cake is not moist, but the dessert tastes good.
Back at Found, the VIP guests are being served the wrong dishes and things are still mixed up. The judges show up and Sara is trying to smile and put on a good face. The VIPs haven’t even gotten their entrees and they are due over at FIN in three minutes. The guest judge thinks the Found menu looks better and reads better. Gail points out how great the service was at Fin and the fact that nobody has shown up at their table since they’ve been seated. Sara comes back and asks Justin where the judges’ first course is because Padma is complaining. Justin asks her where the ticket is and Sara tells him she gave him a “verbal” fire. Sara takes them the dishes, but doesn’t stick around to explain what the dish is or who made it. Carlos made Red Snapper Crudo, Avocado Mousse, Pickled Baby Carrots and Fried Platano. The presentation is not good. Justin’s Roasted Parsnip Agnolotti, Mississippi Rabbit and Collard Greens Broth is not a hit at all. The judges think it’s really bad.
Shirley made Olive Oil Poached Cobia, Blanched Ong Choy and Salsa Verde. It’s the favorite of the judges so far. For the third or fourth time, Sara serves the dishes without explaining what it is or who made it. Nina made Pork Tenderloin with Sunchokes and Trumpet Royale Mushrooms. Hers beats Shirley’s as the best dish of the team so far. Sara’s dessert will be missing a component, the mascarpone. I think Sara may be toast at this point. Meanwhile over at Fin, the VIPs are hoping for a better experience that what they got at Found.
I don’t think there is a question that the elimination choice is going to be between Justin and Sara. The chefs watch the judges talk about one team failing and that there is a clear winner and then the screen goes blank. Neither team has a clue because neither knows how well or badly the other did.
Padma comes in and calls the Purple (Fin) back to the judges’ table. Padma announces they are the winning team. They tell Travis he did the best front of the house job ever in the history of restaurant wars. They critique the chefs’ dishes and tell Brian his dish wasn’t that great, but they liked the dishes of Nicholas, Stephanie and Travis. Nicholas is declared the winner. This is the first chunk of confidence he’s gotten since Top Chef started.
Found is up before the judges and one of them will be eliminated. Padma calls it a disaster. Sara didn’t think it was a disaster, but the judges point out the only dish she explained was her own. Justin tells the judges he didn’t train the servers and it didn’t go as they discussed. Sara and Justin are blaming each other. Carlos tries to explain why his dish wasn’t that good (it didn’t get served on time). Justin had a plate issue with his dish. Shirley and Nina are going to be OK because their dishes were good. Sara has an attitude problem and she should be going in my opinion. Tom asks Sara and Justin if they think one of the two should be the ones going home. They both agree it should be.
The judges discuss who is most at fault, Sara for her execution and bad dish or Justin for his lack of leadership and bad dish. It’s a toss-up. Sara is asked to pack her knives and go. She will be facing Louis in the Last Chance kitchen. I think they picked the right person for elimination. However, Justin is not living up to expectations based on the last two dishes he’s made.
In the Last Chance Kitchen, Louis and Sara must both use Mascarpone in their dishes. They each get to pick a sous chef and have to guide them for 10 of the 30 minutes while blindfolded. Sara chooses Janine as her sous chef and Louis chooses Jason. Tom loved both the dishes but chooses Louis based the innovativeness of his dish.
Brandi’s Apology – Sort of
She says… (as captured by NMD – I left out the bits where she talks to her dog)
“Dear Fans, it’s me Brandi G. And I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands. There are so many bullshit blogs and rumors and b.s. out there, but I just wanted to give you guys a heads up on what’s about to happen. You’re about to completely hate my guts. Sadly, I’m a dick in the next three episodes. However, I will say, you don’t get to see the entirety of what happened because they can’t show everything they shot. You don’t understand why Joyce and I don’t get along. You don’t understand why I’m being a bitch to her. It just looks like I’m being a bitch to be a bitch. I have to have a reason to be a bitch. I’m not just a bitch. Umm, having said that, I would like to apologize ahead of time for my inappropriate jokes and my drunkedness on vacation. It’s all about to happen. It’s all about to go down, and it’s not going to be pretty, and I know a lot of you are going to hate me more than you already do. But I just want to say that I really am a good person, I don’t pretend to be a victim, I don’t lie, and I think I’m getting an ulcer knowing what’s coming up. But, having said that I think I’ve said my piece. Get ready for me being a dick and an asshole and drunk on vacation, did I mention that? And making very inappropriate jokes that my friends might find funny but I don’t think most of you will. And just realize that there’s a lot that goes on …. outside of shooting that you guys don’t actually get to see and I’m not a complete asshole. In these episodes I am, but I have a reason, kind of, you know, there’s something there. But anyway, umm yeah I just decided to do this and hopefully you’ll all forgive me and understand.”
Remembering Nelson Mandela
Newsweek’s Feb. 19, 1990 cover