“Top Chef” Recap: Episode 4.11 “Restaurant Wars”


Did you make reservations? —
At the grocery store, the teams
purchase everything they will need to start their restaurants from scratch.
Team LSD is having a hard time finding all their components for their Asian
fusion menu. Whole Foods doesn’t carry sticky rice, really? Dale grabs a mix
used for rice puddings instead. Um, well, I guess it’s sticky.

Next the chefs cruise over to Pier 1 Imports to spend their
$5,000. God, just imagine how much stuff they could have bought with $5,000 at
IKEA. They could have furnished a dozen restaurants with that budget. Of
course, they would also have to spend the entire challenge assembling their
purchases with that tiny Allen wrench and those insane, wordless instructions.

So, maybe Pier 1 isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Spike assumes Team LSD’s front of the house responsibilities
as well as interior design duties. I’ve got to question the wisdom of leaving a
man who wears so much
truly terrible headgear
in charge of anything aesthetic.

But true to their restaurant’s name, they buy a boatload of

War, huh, yeah! What is it good for? — As they return to the
warehouse kitchen, the teams divide and conquer tasks. Their menus and styles
could not be more different. Each team serves three courses with two options
per course.

Team ARS:

First course — beet and goat cheese salad, linguine and
Second course — trout with cauliflower, lamb leg and loin
Third course — gorgonzola cheesecake, banana "scallops"

Team LSD:

First course — shrimp laksa (soup), pork and pickled plum pot-stickers
Second course — butterscotch miso scallops, braised short ribs
Third course — halo-halo (flavored ice), mango sticky rice

Hmm, both teams have decided to recycle dessert dishes they
had success with in past challenges: Richard’s "scallops" and Dale’s
halo-halo. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke, eh?

Spike, ever the strategist, has decided to make one dish. I
detect a trend. Remember when he decide to claim
one dish
as his own during Wedding Wars and it saved his ass(hat)?
This time he picks the braised short ribs.

Hey, you look familiar — The chefs get busy cooking. Antonia
is worried about their made-from-scratch pasta, which isn’t coming together as
planned. They didn’t buy any backup pre-made pasta, so she is having "a
little bit of a heart palpitation about it."

Before she can go into full-blown cardiac arrest, in walks a
guy I know has No
. Kitchen bad boy Anthony Bourdain is back and wearing
the blue chef jacket normally reserved for Tom. In Tom’s absence, he will serve
as the head judge.

Team LSD starts to worry about cooking Asian food for a man
who has globe-trotted as extensively as Bourdain.

If there is any chef out there that has traveled all
of Asia, it’s him. I think Dale is pissing his pants a little bit on this one.

But before Dale can break out the Depends, Bourdain goes to
talk with each team. He seems impressed by Team ARS’ division of labor and
decision to not use the smoke gun. Over at Team LSD, he tells Lisa he really
loves laksa and takes it very seriously. Now it’s Lisa’s turn for some adult

Bourdain breaks down each team afterward. He says Team ARS
is "deliberately creating modest expectations" but no one is "taking
any big chances." Whereas at Team LSD, things could go "really,
really well here or really badly," and that "Asia is big, how good
can you be at all of those things?"

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