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


May I take your order? — The seconds tick down, and it’s time to throw open those doors. The diners stream in and, for a second, I think Stephanie is trying to hide behind the foliage. It’s very crouching tiger, hidden honorary chefbian of her.

But she finds her composure and warmly greets the guests — and among the first of them are the judges. Padma, guest head judge Bourdain, Former Queer Eye-er Ted Allen and guest judge José Andrés, the host of the PBS show Made in Spain. How relieved do you think Stephanie is that they didn’t go with Spanish food right about now?

As she runs back to the kitchen door, she tells the servers to tell her teammates to start the food. And, oh yeah, it’s for the judges. The first course comes out. Bourdain calls the linguine better than expected, and Chef Andrés loves the texture of the pasta. The salad gets a “really nice” from Allen and a “delicious” from Padma.

All you need is love — As they send out their second course, Richard gives some love to Nikki.

Richard: Hey, chef, this looks tight. You’re just like f—ing awesome.

I agree, but I’m busy giving Stephanie some love. Any woman who can get her cleavage that close to Padma’s head deserves a medal — and possibly a parade.

In the meantime, the judges are giving the team’s second course some major love. Bourdain really loves the lamb dish. Ted loves that they left the skin on the trout. Basically, it’s a lovefest. And the love train just keeps on chugging as the third and final course is served.

Padma: I was expecting to hate this gorgonzola [cheesecake], but I have to say I love it.

Fine, some of the dessert choices are called “interesting” and given points more for boldness than flavor. But if the look of the brown sauce smear on the banana dessert plate is the biggest thing the judges can criticize (Ted says it looks like the New York City sidewalks, snicker), you’re sitting pretty damn pretty.

Who’s laughing now? — Next up it’s time for Team LSD and their Mai Buddha restaurant to strut its stuff. The big red laughing Buddha is either a sign of good things to come or a portent of doom. The judges’ reaction to the décor hints at the latter.

Bourdain: Silver and purple? I don’t know, I feel like I’m in the back of Prince’s van.

Is it more Prince or is it more Aerosmith from the mic stand?

Oh, snap.

Unlike the lovefest inside and out of the kitchen at Team ARS, Team LSD is a flurry of nerves and complaints. Lisa says she knows she messed up her soup and will have to pay for it. Dale wants to know why his dishes are just sitting in the window instead of being served.

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