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


As the food comes out, Padma makes a loud, happy “Ooooh!” sound when she sees the pot-stickers. Wow, the woman must really love pot-stickers. And then she tastes them.

Padma: I’ll tell you what I think is delicious are these slammin’ dumplings.

I make a mental note to have some pot-stickers with me after I locate her on my Padma GPS Device (trademark pending).

Size doesn’t matter — Back in the kitchen, Spike wants the portions of his short rib dish to be bigger. Gee, why could that be? Lisa insists they’re plenty big, but Spike won’t let up. He says the scallop entrée is way bigger. Dale ends the bickering with a “let’s just get the plate out” followed by “f—ing idiot” under his breath.

The short ribs go out and Padma is excited, again.

Padma: I love short rib, especially a braised short rib.

OK. Pot-stickers, check. Short ribs, check. My bag is going to weigh a ton when I finally reach Padma.

The butterscotch scallops get a less enthusiastic response from the other judges.

Bourdain: It’s like Willy Wonka scallops.

The other diners are equally perplexed. Says one woman, “I don’t know what exactly we’re eating.”

So much for the sweet stuff — As their final course goes out, Lisa and Dale snap at each other one last time. Dale also snaps at the waitstaff. I sure hope they’re being tipped well.

Dale: Lisa can’t handle the fact that I’m executive chef. Lisa is always negative and she always is argumentative. She doesn’t take criticism very well. I don’t take criticism very well, but she takes it even worse than I do.

Dale is unhappy with his choices, he’s unhappy with my mistakes. But at the same time ultimately it’s the chef’s responsibility to make sure the food is perfect, and Dale has not fulfilled his role as an executive chef.

If Team ARS was a love train, Team LSD is a train wreck.

The dessert comes out, and the judges go from underwhelmed to overly grossed out. The halo-halo is called “familiar,” but the sticky rice is called an “atrocity.” Bourdain minces no words.

Bourdain: It’s baby vomit with wood chips.

Oh, snap squared.

The diners also get to fill out comment cards for the teams’ food. Team LSD better hope they’re not as colorfully critical as Bourdain.

Least. Suspenseful. Winners. Ever. — As the teams clean up, Dale gives Jennifer a hug and she tells him she hopes she was helpful. Poor dear, she probably would have been more helpful is she took a taser gun to her three teammates and just made the food herself. From the look on her face, she knows it.

Spike says he is confident the diners loved the food. He also judges both Dale and Lisa’s performances as poor. Funny how he’s always able to shirk just enough responsibility to stay safe. Let’s see how long that lasts, eh?

In the Stew Room, the chefs all toast each other on their feat of opening a restaurant in five hours. Padma breaks up their congratulations by calling in Antonia, Stephanie and Richard. And to no one’s surprise, Team ARS is the judges’ favorite. That, my friends, is how you kick some ARS.

The judges continue to slop sugar all over their teamwork, composure and food. “Smart.” “Perfectly cooked.” “Successful.” “Very nice.”

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