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Top Chef: Seattle, Episode 11 Recap (Restaurant Wars)

Judges, are you smoking something that clouds your ability to make sound decisions this season? Are you living in an alternate universe where you’re supposed to eliminate the top contenders on Top Chef? Yes, yes, I believe you are. Great. Thanks to you, this season’s finale is going to be interesting. And by interesting, I mean not fun to watch.

Restaurant Wars

The seven remaining cheftestants have 48 hours until their restaurant concepts brim with life. Kristen leads Atelier Kwan (Brooke, Josie, and Lizzie), a restaurant serving the ever-original idea: classic French food with a twist. Sheldon, on the other hand, is feelin’ the spirit of Menehune and taking the helm for Urbano, a restaurant named after his grandfather, which serves modern Filipino cuisine. The only problem? Stefan and Josh have never cooked Filipino food before.

Another small issue pops up. Stefan walks into the kitchen area only to find empty space. “F@#^. No kitchen?! I don’t know who’s smarta** idea it was to build a kitchen from scratch and a restaurant from scratch. Who does that?!” He’s taken aback for a second, and then he’s off frolicking with lilies at a flower shop.

“Stefan has a very strong personality,” says Sheldon. “I’m definitely going to have to play cowboy and keep a lasso around Stefan’s neck.”

Meanwhile, the ladies of Atelier Kwan team aren’t having a ball, either. Josie is doing what she does best: slowing things down and forcing everybody to age faster. Kristen is up to here with her sous chef’s sluggish cooking, and she tells Josie not to add the gelatin to her bouillabaise, given that there’s not enough time. “I had a vision going, and now it’s all f***ed up,” whines Kristen. Yup. Sounds like a classic Josie thing to do.

The doors open to both restaurants, and immediately the judges flock to Atelier Kwan. Lizzie’s charcuterie roasted rabbit broth is delightful and inventive, while Josie’s bouillabaise is trash. The halibut is overcooked, scallops are raw, and there’s not enough broth on the plate. Great service, but some of the dishes were disappointing.

At Urbano, people are waiting forever to sit down, and Stefan (front of house) is running around the restaurant like a chicken with its head cut off. After being seated, the judges immediately start complaining about Stefan’s lack of hospitality and warmth. Well, guys, let’s think about this for a moment. This is Stefan we’re talking about. He likes flowers and pretty vases, but people? Not so much. Danny Meyer is smacking his lips at every dish that comes out, especially Sheldon’s adobo pork belly and Josh’s creative take on the traditional Filipino dessert, halo-halo. All the food is near perfect, except the judges can’t stop complaining about how poorly Stefan is kowtowing to them.

They need to stop being such divas. Really. I feel sorry for the poor Finnish man. He’s a chef, not a server, just like he said. Give him a break.

The judges finish their brat moment and award Urbano the Restaurant War winner. Sheldon takes home a well-deserved hybrid Toyota. Menehune would be proud.

Grab a Tissue: This is Where the Sucky Part of the Episode Begins

The girls lose, obviously. Brooke and Lizzie are safe. The judges hated the bouillabaisse, and now they’re seeking revenge on Josie and Kristen. Who decided to put such a small amount of broth on the bouillabaisse plate? Kristen, being the samurai woman she is, bites her tongue and decides to perform seppuku on herself. It took a lot of willpower for me not to fast forward through her “I take the blame, I take the blame” speech. Why, why, why, why is this happening.

As the executive chef of Atelier Kwan, Kristen believes she has full responsibility for everything that came out of the kitchen, even if Josie was the slowest poke on the face of the earth. Let’s get one thing straight, SideDishers: that bouillabaise was Josie’s fault. She should’ve started cooking that broth earlier, so that the gelatin could go in. If the gelatin went in, the broth would’ve been amazing, and then Kristen would’ve put more broth on the plate.

“Sleep in the bed you make,” says Gail, right after she heartlessly sends Kristen to pack her knives and go.

To catch up on other Top Chef: Seattle recaps, go here.

  • Karen Habbestad

    This is the first season I’ve watched of this show, and I just can’t get over how bad it is. Unfortunately, it’s like a train wreck in that no matter how disgusting/gross/sad/tragic I still have to watch. I don’t think I’ll watch future seasons tho. This one really does suck.

  • tired

    I think it was done to stir up some buzz. No one likes Josie, she should have been off weeks ago. She cannot perform quickly enough and that has been shown time and again.

  • Sam T

    I can’t believe the judges wanted to send Stefan home because of his poor service; this was one of the craziest Top Chef episodes ever. My DISH co-worker and I watched this together and we are still in shock about Kristen’s elimination. I’m going to continue to watch the season, but Wednesday nights in my home is a big television night because my husband likes to watch his sports. Luckily, we bought a DISH Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR to solve this problem. We can watch up to 4 different HD programs on different TVs at the same time; I like to watch this show in the bedroom while he watches in the den. It has ended the arguments on why my shows are more important to watch than his sports.

  • Liz

    Brooke was right. Kristen didn’t have the experience necessary to rein in Josie and get her own work done. Josie is a jerk, but Kristen’s beef dish and dessert both fell short as well. Kristen had too many components. It’s ridiculous that Josie is still there, but it was Kristen’s decision to avoid confrontation and she paid the price.

  • plastic chef

    Many chefs have been sent home in the past for poor front room service, so had Stefan been sent packing it would not have been a surprise.

    Restaurant wars always gets rid of a very good chef and it’s getting harder to see its merits.

    They need to look at the last chance kitchen concept again. Good idea but leaves too much room for doubt with the one judge. If one judge is used then it should be a blind tasting. For that matter, it should be blind anyway.

  • Sausage on a stick

    I’m still wondering how Josie ever made it back on the show (by the looks of her she must have eaten the others being considered). One of the most spiteful, least talented chefs on any show from any season.