Top Chef Restaurant Wars Recap: It Was Over Before It Started

Welcome back, dear readers. We’ve finally made it to Restaurant Wars and we’ve got a decent pool of cooks on whom to gamble. We’re also fully committed to this season now, so we need to see it through. Thankfully, Dr. Elmi is still alive and/or kicking, as are two of my other favorites–Brian Huskey and Carlos Gaytan.

In order to give the chefs ample time to let their egos run wild, Bravo skips the Quickfire (again!). And we were really hoping that the cheftestants would have to cook something with PHILADELPHIA CREAM CHEESE on the engine of a TOYOTA RAV4 that was inspired by one of the new features available with the 2014 model. While blindfolded. And drunk on Terlato wine. With the winner getting their own line of Healthy Choice Top Chef Inspired Microwave Meals.

No such luck.

Instead, they draw knives to determine teams, and Nick is none too happy about his David team against a Goliath opponent, dubbing himself and his purple teammates the Bad News Bears. But we always root for the underdog, right (except when it’s a remake of a classic baseball movie featuring the creepy guy from that one movie with Kate Winslet where he cuts off his junk. Pro tip: remakes fucking suck. Go see the latest Total Recall if you doubt me)?


Whether it’s overconfidence or just plain incompetence, Nick’s opponents get off on the wrong foot, and they leave the menu planning sesh without even having a menu. On a cooking show. Genius. Carlos seems a touch concerned about this (as he should be), but Justin, who decided to be executive chef, gets drunk with power and throws a temper tantrum.

The Bad News Bears, on the other hand, seem to mesh like that really sweet Ballin’ Oates mashup going around the internets right now. A menu is planned and roles are decided. Dr. Elmi takes the executive chef position, and Travis takes the front of house position. The rest of the team falls in line and checks their egos at the door. As a result, planning continues to run smoothly for them while the Green Team is now waist-deep in the quicksand of disagreement.

Also, they still don’t have a menu.

Justin can’t shake the meltdown mode and it’s really funny to watch. Imagine that part in Star Wars when Luke says, “But I was going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!!” over and over again. It’s funny and sad, kind of like Mark Hamill’s acting career.

Nick and the Purple Team’s concept is Fin, and it’s all about seafood. They decided this when they were supposed to, and between Nick’s skills in the kitchen and Travis’s front-of-house savvy, the only thing standing between them and the win is execution.

Meanwhile, the Green Team’s concept, Found, is lost (Tom used that joke, too. Thanks for the joke, Tom!). The staff wasn’t trained properly, Justin is in a blind rage, and Sara thinks smiling really big will solve all the team’s problems. The result is a disaster of a dining room. The CHASE SAPPHIRE CARDMEMBERS and special guest Danny Meyer don’t even get a chance to look at their menus, then the plates get confused, then the food is just kind of bad.

Cut to the other dining room, and the Bad News Bears are anything but. The whole service plays out like the end of an underdog movie, and although Brian Huskey mistakenly bought xanthan gum instead of agar agar for his purple corn gel (silly Brian!) and Carrie’s shrimp were overcooked and Travis’ olive oil cake was dry, Dr. Elmi glides his team in for the win on wings of roasted black drum, king trumpet mushrooms, oxtail, kale & hibiscus reduction. It bears mentioning that Travis was also flawless in the front of the house.

The judges move onto Found, where the damage is pretty much done after the first service. Sara doesn’t get the idea of having tickets for orders, so Colicchio and company’s food gets lost in the shuffle. When it’s finally ready, Sara drops each dish and runs back to the kitchen without introducing who cooked it or what it is, which for the most part was bad food. She did manage to introduce her own dish, however, but since it sucked and was incomplete, it didn’t really matter.

When they’re up for elimination, we finally get some classic Top Chef banter. Grumpy Justin or Sweaty Sara will go home, so they make excuses and throw each other under the bus while Nick and his team toast a well-deserved win.

After a brief stew, it’s obvious that although Justin let the title of “executive” get the best of him, Sara’s front-of-house skills are lacking, so she’s sent packing. Maybe she was a gooch after all.

So we’ve got 9 left now, folks. Let’s do this, Elmi.

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