Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 9

This week on Top Chef...RESTAURANT WARS!!! But first, sibling rivalry, Jen in a bikini, and a brand new Quickfire that's one of my favorite things so far this season.

Padma and sustainable-happy Chef Rick Moonen preside over a "tag team cookoff." The eight remaining chefs choose knives to find out who will have the honor of picking teams, elementary school kickball-game style. Jen and Michael V. are the lucky winners and they don't waste any time not picking Robin. Well, Michael ends up having to pick her, but not until the very end.

The teams are:

Blue: Jen, Kevin, Laurine, and Mike I.

Red: Michael V., Bryan, Eli, and Robin

With teams in place, Padma explains that this challenge is all about teamwork and the line. Each team will be responsible for creating a cohesive dish - which would be no problem if they could just work together. Instead, they will each cook for 10 minutes, one at a time. And before they start cooking, they have to wear blindfolds. And they can't talk about the dish at all - beforehand or while cooking. They have to figure it out as they go along.

Jen kicks off the Blue team, starting sablefish (which she then calls trout, to her severe chagrin), gets a sauce on, and starts some oil for eventual poaching. For the red team, Eli starts a bunch of raw ingredients, cleans some greens and says he started to cook in a very basic way.

Though there's some hand-wringing at different stages of the game, the chefs are actually pretty good at figuring out what their teammates are thinking, and improvising when they can't figure it out.

Ultimately, the Blue team takes home the win, thanks in large part to the "great stock" that Jen started at the very beginning. There's some celebration and Laurine mentions that she's excited because it's her first win. Foreshadowing.

Padma tells the team that they've won $10,000 - but if they want, they can "let it ride" on the Elimination Challenge. Of course they say yes.

And...Restaurant Wars! Bryan V. celebrates by almost smiling.

Rules are a little different this year: for one, nobody's responsible for decor. Thank God, too, because what a waste of time that was in past seasons.

Here's the thing about this episode: it's busy and it's about the food and about teamwork. It was totally entertaining, but not really all that funny. There are meetings and there's shopping and there's stress in the kitchen. Robin ditches the mom persona and uses the "f" word to controlling Michael V. Jennifer seriously screws up her trout with brown butter sauce. Laurine obviously doesn't know what "good at front of the house" means and Eli doesn't tuck in his shirt.

But when it comes down to it, this bunch of chefs - even Eli, who got the childish edit last week - they're professionals. They work hard and work together and do a decent job. So decent, in fact, that Tom tells the Red team (aka R3VOLT - yes, with a backwards "e") that they created the best restaurant ever to appear on Restaurant Wars. They'd all be happy - especially after Michael V. shares the $10,000 he got for being the big winner - except that Bryan can't deal with little brother's control freakishness.

So the Red team wins and the Blue team loses, thanks to Jennifer's failed trout and decent, but very slow cook-to-order bouillabaise, Kevin/Laurine's undercooked lamb, and Laurine's seriously terrible front of house behavior. They know what they did wrong...and they feel terrible about it. Professionals.

The editors clearly want to scare us into thinking Jen's going home (it worked in my house) but in the end, it's Laurine who gets PPYKAG'ed.

I love Restaurant Wars, and I really loved the new Quickfire, but I've got to be honest - it's not that easy to write about. Everyone's just so professional. But what did you think? Do you wish for more drama? Or is the food enough? Please leave a comment with your thoughts....


Kristine said...

Loved it. Restaurant Wars has been the downfall of some good chefs, so I was very nervous for Jen. And is that the first time they've mentioned only THREE going to the finale? I assumed it would be four again.

frogponder said...

Interesting the changes they made - no decor and front of the house having to be responsible for a dish.
AND the judges being unhappy there was no dessert!

Anonymous said...

Great episode, but I'm getting tired with seeing the Volts win so much. I guess that means they are talented. It's amazing that a team won with Revolt as their name. The other team defeated themselves with too many dishes. Every shot of Jen was of her prepping the fish. Laurine should have known that she needed to describe the dishes to the judges.They also lost points by not even attempting a dessert.

Kit Pollard said...

I didn't even catch that mention. That's too bad - I was hoping the big four would all get to compete in the finale. So far, they all deserve it...

Laura K said...

This was a great episode. I loved the Quickfire and the Restaurant Wars was the best ever. So glad they didn't have to "decorate." I always thought that was dumb.

ellen said...

I think Jen made a tactical error in not splitting up the V-brothers - who each made two amazing dishes -together they are just too strong and competitive with one another to not pull off a win. Also, I think she erred in not having Mike as her front of the house person -he's a big schmoozer like Eli.
It was a great episode! BTW, Toby said three stars, not including the name and something else I don't remember....

Cliff O'Neill said...

I totally LOVED that new Quickfire! I don't know what if anything it had to do with real cookery but BOY was it fun!

The actual restaurant thing I'm sure was tasty, but, for me, was only really fun when I was seeing how pissed off Padma could get that Laurine wasn't doing her job.

But you know me; I'm more about the TV aspects than I am the food. (Though I'm sure the food's great.)

MikeG said...

I was hoping for a shocking ending where JEN and Laurine go home together. I am tired of their whining about robin and not doing any better. Jen walks around looking for someone to tell her she is good, always moping, "whoa is me". Laurine always skates by as well. Neither have done better than Robin but both look down on her. both are sad and should have been fired after that performance. Interesting that she comes out after and says she wanted to go after Robin, that says allot about her.