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

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But the spanking isn’t over. Lisa’s sticky rice is called “appalling.” Lisa says it’s not how she normally makes it, but the regular rice wasn’t available. She says Dale found this rice, and then the fireworks begin.

Dale: I did not find that rice, let’s get this correct. You found the rice.

Lisa: I did not grab that rice off the top shelf. [turns to Spike] Who grabbed that rice off the top shelf?

Spike: I don’t know.

The thing is, I have this wonderful invention called the rewind button. Shall we? Here’s what happened at the Whole Foods:

Dale: We didn’t find sticky rice, did we?

Spike: How about this?

Dale: That’s a thing for rice puddings.

Spike: Well, there you go.

No further arguments, your honor. Of course, at Judges’ Table there is no instant replay, only two asshats who don’t want to take responsibility for anything.

Just another he said, she said thing — But the judges don’t want to hear the bickering or even care who grabbed the rice in the first place.

Andrés: What you two are showing [is] a lack of teamwork that to me is — wow, this is not what this business is all about.

The look on Spike’s face says he is loving every second of Lisa and Dale’s fighting and subsequent spanking by the judges. I see — he likes to watch. Hey, I judge no man’s fetishes.

But Andrés calls Spike on his not-me act.

Andrés: You’ve been working at the front of the house, and I have the sense that [you said] I am going to be out of the trouble of having to be in the middle of dealing with them two.

Spike’s face goes from ecstasy to agony. Apparently he likes to watch, but he doesn’t like to be on the business end of the paddling.

Blah, blah, blah, he goes on about how much work the decorating was, blah blah. When asked directly what went wrong, he says he assumed the communication broke down between Dale and Lisa. And then those two are kind enough to demonstrate that communication breakdown live and in person for the judges.

Dale: When you have five hours to set up a restaurant, you are only as good as your weakest link.

Lisa: Just as you’re only as strong as your weakest link, you are only as good as your leader.

Spike smiles one more quick, satisfied smile.

The greater of three evils — Padma sends them back to stew some more as the judges mull over their choices. They agree that there is plenty of blame to go around for everyone. Andrés says Spike was “smart” in playing the role of the neutral party and placing blame on the other two. The thought of Spike being smart elicits this reaction from Padma and Bourdain:

But the blame, indeed, falls squarely onto Dale and Lisa. Dale’s gloppy butterscotch mess and failure as a manager, conceptualizer and executer are reasons for him to pack his knives. Lisa’s bombed laksa and sticky rice and inability to take criticism are reasons for her to go home.

Back in the Stew Room, Lisa and Spike commiserate about Dale. He hears it, tells them to say it to his face. Spike calls him a bitch, again. Dale said he was trying not to be a “d—head” in the kitchen. You know, business as usual.

The judges call them back in and it’s time for one last spanking. But who has to pack his/her knives and go? Dale.

When the remaining chefs hear this, they are stunned. I’m a little stunned, too. Not that he didn’t deserve it, but I was sure Lisa would be sent packing for not producing one edible dish. He gets hugs from the other chefs, even Spike, on his way out. Lisa, however, remains in her chair.

Dale: You either love me or hate me. That’s my personality. I am happy with who I am.

No question which camp Lisa falls in.

Dale tears up in his exit interview, saying he is disappointed and feels he has let some people down. He’s probably also wallowing in the fact that either Lisa or Spike (or possibly both) will make it the final four and get that trip to Puerto Rico for the two-part season finale. Like I said, stunning.

Next week on Top Chef: The chefs are given something very precious. Oh no, not the One Ring to rule them all. And then comes the stress, competition and hand holding. No, seriously.

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