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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.