Top Chef Episode 9- Restaurant Wars


top_chef_tvIt’s that time of year again. The leaves are falling from the trees, the Phillies are in the World Series, it’s time for Restaurant Wars on Top Chef. Rick Moonen offered up his bi-level restaurant for this year’s festivities and Jenn Carroll had one of her most memorable performances. It was more Vicente Padilla than Jayson Werth, but memorable nonetheless. More after the jump.

QUICKFIRE – Tag Team Blindfolded Quickfire

Guest Judge – Rick Moonen

Prize – High Stakes Quickfire with a $10k prize and choice of space in Restaurant Wars.

  • The knife-drawn captains for the challenge were Jenn and Mike Voltaggio.
  • Jenn and Mike picked teams dodgeball style with Jenn picking Kevin first overall.
  • Jenn’s Blue Team consisted of Kevin, Mike I, and Laurine.
  • Mike V.’s Red Team: Bryan, Eli, and Robin.
  • Each team would prepare one dish. One team member would work on the dish at a time while the rest of the team were quiet and blindfolded in the corner waiting their turn. They only could communicate through the mis en place they would leave for the next chef.
  • Jenn started out with the intention of an olive oil poached Sablefish, but morphed into a Butter Roasted Sablefish with Sautéed Mushrooms, Shiitake Broth and Radish Salad by the time it reached Kevin.
  • Mike V’s Red Team went for the beef with Pan Roasted NY Strip with Whipped Miso Avocado Puree.
  • Despite the miscommunication, the Blue Team’s Sable was the stronger dish and they walked away the winners.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE- Restaurant Wars

  • The chefs stayed in the same Quickfire teams. The Blue Team chose the elegant upstairs of RM Seafood as their Restaurant Wars venue. They came up with the name “Mission”, a homage to Mission Architecture, to show their understated, simple, yet refined cooking style.
  • The Red Team went with the name “Revolt” for their spot stemming from a play on their names (Robin, Eli, VOLTaggio).
  • Both restaurant concepts were modern American and simple, but they didn’t have to worry about décor since they were put into a pre-existing space. Eli would run the front of the house for Revolt, and Laurine would be in front for Mission.
  • Menu planning and shopping went smoothly, with the biggest surprise coming from Mission’s decision to go without a dessert course.
  • Service time came and both teams were running behind schedule. There was some serious words in the kitchen between the Mike Voltaggio and Robin regarding the portion size and plating of her pear dessert. Bryan stepped in to quell the situation, but also had words with his brother in a way that only brothers can.
  • Winning Team –Revolt
  • Despite a terrible name, Revolt was deemed perhaps the greatest Restaurant Wars restaurant in the history of Top Chef. Mike V.’s Chicken and Calamari “Pasta” was one of the best dishes of the year. Eli’s Smoked Arctic Char with Beet Sauce and Horseradish Cream was a bit one dimensional, especially when served next to Mike V.’s chicken. Bryan’s Duo of Beef was enjoyable, but came out of the kitchen cold. Mike V. delivered again with a “brilliant” Cod with Mussel Billi-Bi. Bryan also worked on a dessert in Chocolate Ganache with Spearmint Ice Cream and Chocolate Tuiles. The real star dessert came from Robin with a Pear Pithivier in what was definitely the strongest dish she has made all season.
  • Losing Team– Mission
  • The name of this team wasn’t so bad, but their organization, service, and dishes were. Mike I.’s Arctic Char Tartar needed salt, but he also contributed with a slightly stronger dish of Asparagus with Six-Minute Egg. In what was her worst performance to date, Jenn was responsible for the fish course. Her Trout with Hazelnut Butter suffered from a broken sauce and was described as “ a disaster”. She was thrown into disarray by making mussels and clams to order, and her consommé wasn’t clear in an equally disappointing Bouillabaisse. Laurine’s Lamb with Carrot Jam was served extremely rare and she didn’t seem to care very much as she served plate after plate of bloody, jellified lamb chops. Kevin was the one cooking the lamb, but he delivered the strongest dish with his Pork Three Ways. The man knows his way around a pig. Although, the judges noted that they would have liked a dessert to end their meal.
  • Casualty of Restaurant Wars– Laurine’s poor service and undercooked lamb had her packing her knives this week.

Random

– Despite some tension in the kitchen, Mike V. stepped it up big-time this week. He pretty much ran the kitchen and put out two of the strongest dishes of the year.

– Everyone has bad days, but Jenn’s night was a bit concerning. Restaurant Wars is the challenge every chef would like to win. A lot of the challenges have been a bit campy until now, and Restaurant Wars is the challenge most like the final showdown. I still have confidence in Jenn’s ability to make it to the finals, but Mike V. made it a bit harder for her this week.

-Next Week: Vegetarian Natalie Portman stops by for dinner.

– Does Top Chef ever come up with new challenge ideas?

Power Rankings

  1. Kevin- Let’s see what he makes for Princess Amidala next week.
  2. Bryan- Still a step ahead of his brother.
  3. Mike V.-Strong performance pushes him into the top three
  4. Jenn- One bad week won’t hurt her.
  5. Mike I- Needs a big week to stay relevant.
  6. Eli-Closer to the bottom than he is the top.
  7. Robin- Can she seriously make it another week? Maybe.