5:45 am. It's the crack of dawn and Chef
Tom Colicchio arrives on the scene to wake up the remaining six chef-testants and tell them about the Quickfire Challenge. (Though unnecessary,
Padma Lakshmi was apparently still getting her beauty sleep.) Working the short order egg station at the hopping Chicago breakfast spot Lou Mitchell's Restaurant is where owner Helene will separate the winner from the yolks.
This is where we got to see Dale shine. The pace was fast, he was focused and didn't lose his temper. It's too bad he didn't win or carry this approach over to the Elimination Challenge where things might have turned out differently for him. Antonia was an egg-flipping fool that was chosen the winner over Dale.
Starting the day in one restaurant set the tone for the shift over to a large empty space that would transform into two dining areas for Restaurant Wars. The advantage Antonia got for winning the QFC was the ability to choose her team. She went with a sure thing selecting Stephanie and Richard, who have experience opening restaurants and had successfully worked together during the Wedding Wars challenge.
On hand to display his "warmer, sunnier disposition" was Chef
Anthony Bourdain substituting this week as head judge for Chef Tom. A welcome addition, he announced that each team could pick an eliminated chef to assist in the kitchen. It was no surprise to me that Dale chose Jennifer. She's a good worker and, if you recall the comments, astonished the other chefs when she was sent packing. Pasta wizard Nikki came in to save the day for Antonia. Neither Mark nor Andrew was picked. Wah.
With two very different concepts and demeanors it was clear how things would unfold for each side. Warehouse Kitchen was the name Antonia's team used to reflect a casual, modern, somewhat minimal dining experience. Everything went well especially, and most importantly, the menu. I thought there might have been a problem when Nikki tasted grit in the Linguini and Clams with Sausage and Horseradish Crème Fraiche but Richard worked some magic and made it disappear before service. They were praised for the Lamb Squared (lamb loin with braised lamb shank), Richard's rehashed but somewhat improved Banana Scallops with Banana Guacamole and Stephanie's Gorgonzola Cheesecake with Concord Grape Sauce. This last dish contributed to Stephanie's winning the challenge and a culinary and wine tasting tour of Barcelona, Spain.
It would be great to spend more time discussing the winning team and the good things they presented but there was so much that went wrong with restaurant Mai Buddha that it's hard to avoid. Even with all of their experience and familiarity with Asian food perhaps it was not the way to go.
Purchasing a red Buddha and taking no responsibility for the tablecloths and napkins, Spike sans hat and donning a suit avoided the heat of the kitchen and worked the front of the house. Guest judge
José Andrés was not there long but totally picked up on the fact that Spike, perhaps wisely, slid out from the combustible duo of Lisa and Dale.
Remembering the first episode of the season, Chef Tony mentioned to Richard that he didn't bring his smoke gun, but fire was in the air. Lisa over-smoked the Spicy Coconut Shrimp Laksa Soup. Then there was the issue of the Mango Sticky Rice. Dale blamed Lisa for grabbing inappropriate rice but it actually was he who pulled it from the shelf. Adding pastry cream and topping it with toasted coconut gave it the worst comments from the judges: "an atrocity", "baby food garnished with potpourri", "baby vomit with wood chips".
Dale was executive chef on his team but didn't pull them together.
Ted Allen said the sauce on his Butterscotch Miso Scallops was too sweet and gloppy. He somehow salvaged his Halo-Halo from a brownish tint caused by an avocado with favorable flavor. But Mai Buddha's biggest problem was lack of teamwork and attitude. Lisa doesn't hold back and throws out blunt comments. The judges even knew by her telling body language that she doesn't like criticism. Dale has an explosive temper in the kitchen. I've seen and worked with great chefs like that but in this competition the stress is already high and antagonizing can be infectious. Giving in will destroy the working environment.
During his exit interview, we finally saw real emotions from Dale- not for losing but for the connections he made with the other chefs. All, that is, but Lisa who remained seated as he left the stew room.
" How different would the dynamics have been if Dale had won the QFC and worked with Stephanie and Richard instead of Lisa and Spike?
" The final four will most likely include Antonia, Stephanie and Richard. Do you think Hat Guy Spike will slide by again or will Lisa push her way through?
" The Text Poll again is to vote for the Fan Favorite to be announced during the reunion special the week after the finale. I voted for Stephanie last week but may vote for Richard this week. Is there a clear fan fave winner this season?
For more tasty treats about
Top Chef, dig into our
Online Video Guide.
545 am Its the crack of dawn and Chef Tom Colicchio arrives on the scene to wake up the remaining six chef-testants and tell them about the Quickfire Challenge Though unnecessary Padma Lakshmi was apparently still getting her beauty sleep Working the short order egg station at the hopping Chicago breakfast spot Lou Mitchells Restaurant is where owner Helene will separate the winner from the yolksThis is where we got to see Dale shine The pace was fast he was focused and didnt lose his temper Its too bad he didnt win or carry this approach over to the Elimination Challenge where things might have turned out differently for him Antonia was an egg-flipping fool that was chosen the winner over Dale Starting the day in one restaurant set the tone for the shift over to a large empty space that would transform into two dining areas for Restaurant Wars The advantage Antonia got for winning the QFC was the ability to choose her team She went with a sure thing selecting S