1/17/2013 02:36:00 PM

Top Chef Seattle Episode 11: Restaurant Wars Part 2

Image via Bravo
Sheldon and Kristen won last week's restaurant-concept-in-a-dish challenge so they're heading Restaurant Wars and executing the concept behind their winning dish. Sheldon's concept is Modern Filipino and Kristen's is a twist on classic French. The teams are boys versus girls. Everyone's pumped. Let the games begin.

They go to check out the spaces and - wait - there are no kitchens. Oh man. They have to build them from scratch in the empty courtyards. The cheftestants run off to get ingredients and equipment and come back to set up their kitchens. This could be interesting...

Josie and Kristen immediately butt heads during prep and fight their whole way through service. Josie's making bouillabaisse. Bouillabaisse takes a long time to make. Josie takes forever to do everything. This is poor planning. As can be expected, Josie doesn't start roasting her bones on time, then she doesn't add the gelatin for the broth on time, then she doesn't test the sauce. Kristen's head is spinning off. She'd "prefer one of the dishwashers in place of Josie." Kristen tells Josie to forget the gelatin because there's not enough time and just add cream. This does not seem like a good idea.

They're still fighting when Tom, Gail, Padma and guest judges Danny Meyer and Emeril show up at Chez Kwan. Brooke's at the front of the house and she's a delight. The first course is Lizzie's take on charcuterie, which is pulled rabbit with pickled turnips and yellow beats in a chicken and rabbit broth. It's not the "rabbit terrine" that's on the menu but they all agree it's great. Up next is that bouillabaisse we were talking about. The judges agree it's a disaster. There's almost no broth and the sauce is dried up on the plate. The third course is Kristen's beef bourguignon. The beef is good but there's no bourguignon. Get these girls some sauce! Chez Kwan is having some problems with misrepresentation.

Brooke's cheese plate with roasted radish, stone fruit compote and sticky sweet pinenut is next. The sticky pinenut is too sticky but the plate works. Dessert is Kristen's deconstructed macaroon, which is almond cake with cocoanut custard and salted caramel buttercream. This was a very dangerous thing to serve to Gail because if Gail could come back as one single item in the culinary lexicon, she would come back as a macaroon. And she does not see the connection. Overall,  Chez Kwan doesn't do great.  It was a tough concept. The dishes all would've been better if they didn't have the expectation of the original. Lizzie's rabbit soup was the dish of the night.

Over to the boys at Urbano - with a small o, which Danny Meyer says means look out for a twist. Stefan is as bad as it gets in the front of the house, despite the fact that he looks pretty cool in his blue velvet blazer. He's walking around asking people to get up and kicking people out. The judges don't even see any of this but they have enough of their own inhospitable experience. They notice the buildup of people in the front and no one has drinks. Urbano seems like a mess but the food is not. The first course is Stefan's Kilawen - yellowtail with cilantro, spicy chili and white soy sauces. The judges love the contrast of flavors. Handlebar Josh's dish is a Balut, "the infamous egg of the Philippines" which is a poached egg with duck confit and foie gras mousse. Stefan rushes the presentation and assumes they're all familiar with the "infamous egg." That said, they think it's executed beautifully. Tom says it doesn't read Filipino but it reads good.

The third course comes out without any explanation at all. Where's Stefan? It's Sheldon's Miki which is prawns and tapioca roll with achiote. Tom loves the texture of the tapioca pasta and they all agree it's great. When Stefan comes over and Padma says we need an explanation with lasers shooting out of her eyes, Stefan only adds insult to injury by not apologizing and quickly spitting out that it's a "tapioca noodle" before walking away. Tom feels like he was just scolded. The judges are horrified. Emeril says the "way he just made them feel was worse than the bouillabaisse."

Sheldon's Adobo - pork belly with mung bean puree and pea shoots salad - brings them back. The judges quickly agree this is the best dish of the day. Danny Meyer can't stop eating it. The two desserts are Josh's Halo-Halo, which is coconut sorbet, avocado mousse, banana and shredded coconut and Stefan's ginger tea and dark chocolate cluster with macadamia nuts, ginger and peppermint oil. They like the desserts and appreciate the tea.

The food was definitely better at Urbano but Danny taught Tom that people go for the food and come back for the hospitality and Tom's not sure he's coming back. They all think Stefan should go home for his service. The two most offensive things of the day were Stefan's service and Josie's bouillabaisse. The question is - which was worse?

The judges give Urbano - but really Sheldon - the win. Stefan's performance was quite bad enough to choose Chez Kwan's overall mediocrity over all of Urbano's great food. Stefan is lucky. Lizzie and Brooke are safe - it's between Josie and Kristen to pack up their knives and go. The judges ask what happened with the bouillabaisse. Josie immediately throws Kristen under the bus and says Kristen plated their plates and told her not to use gelatin. Kristen takes it even though she doesn’t deserve to. The judges fight it out. It's a tough call. In the end, it's Kristen. This seems unfair. But - we guess - all is fair in love and (restaurant) war.


  1. I'm getting seriously tired to the Bravo drama on Top Chef. I get that ratings are important and all, but Top Chef was a show I used to love bc of the culinary finess and prowess. If I wanted to watch drama I would tune in for Real Housewives. And unfortunately that's what it has become. When producers run the show and decide to keep characters on rather then talent, it's time to move on in my book. I wish the 'judges' had the spine to keep the real Top Chefs on board rather then be turned into puppets of a drama driven network. For shame.

  2. Sorry, that was a huge blunder. Kristen was so obviously the talent. I agree, the drama is taking over the cooking, and it's unsavory.