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

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Guest judge Andrés gets to pick the winner. He picks Stephanie for her teamwork and conceptualizing the linguine dish and cheesecake dessert. And what has Stephanie won? A trip for two to Barcelona on a four-star culinary vacation. Damn, if I won that I’d be smiling that big, too.

A long, strange trip — Team LSD knows their fate as they wait in the Stew Room. Once in front of the judges, Bourdain cuts to the quick.

Bourdain: All of us were unanimous in finding some very unpleasant aspects to this meal.

The judges then tear through that unpleasantness one by one. Bourdain asks Spike who was responsible for picking the tablecloths and napkins. He says all three were. And then he says they didn’t get their first choice. Shirking responsibility isn’t just a hobby for him, it’s a full-time job.

The judges say the front of the house’s design increased expectations for the food — expectations that were not met.

Next up are Dale’s butterscotch scallops. Guest judge Andrés says “nothing seemed to work” about that dish, while Bourdain says it “looked like a melted candy bar.”

Then comes Lisa’s laksa. Bourdain says the bowl was like sticking his nose into a campfire.

Lisa: I take full responsibility for that dish … The way that I was taught to do laksa was smoked, but clearly I just took the smoking too far.

Well it’s nice to see someone take responsibility for something.

Assume the position — When the judges ask whose idea the laksa was in the first place, Spike says it was his, but that his idea of a laksa is “very different.” And then when Allen asks where Dale was in the decision-making, he says he doesn’t know laksa and trusted them to make it. Well, seems that whole concept of responsibility was short-lived.

Bourdain: You’re the executive chef and you don’t even know what a laksa should taste like.

Man, too bad I’m not into S/M, because this is an old-fashioned spanking.

The short ribs get called the only highlight of the meal. When asked who made them, Spike suddenly remembers how to take responsibility again. But Dale and Lisa have a little problem with his glory hogging. Dale braised them, and Lisa helped as well.

Spike: My recipe. Dale and Lisa both took part in executing them.

You can tell it hurts Spike to have to deviate from his strategy of taking credit when it’s good, dispersing blame when it’s bad.

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