Top Chef Episode 11: Restaurant Wars

Editor’s Note: This week, we are late on the Top Chef review as usual. But who cares? This week, Citizen Chef and Miss Macchiato sat down together (via the internet) to watch the most grueling challenge of the Top Chef series. From Anthony Bourdain needing to punch Spike out to Stephanie needing a bra, the AwK writers have included everything you need to know about episode 11: Restaurant Wars.

MM: Okay, I’m paused on Spike lying in bed. Those are probably the last words you ever wanted anyone to say.

CC: Kinky. So it’s 5:45 am and Tom Colicchio is entering the house. The Quickfire Challenge: spend a short shift on the egg station in Chicago’s most popular breakfast joint. This challenge doesn’t seem that tough.

MM: I see disaster coming — Did Spike just say, “Let’s get the EGG out of here?” Someone needs to punch him!

CC: Richard is waiting for someone to order scrambled eggs with a sea foam gelee.

MM: Antonia’s shirt says “Yo biotch.” How fitting for her.

CC: Yeah, it fits her well, too.

MM: I didn’t even notice. Was too busy admiring the irony.

CC: Their poaching pot is gross. Every poached egg has gone into that same bath of water and it hasn’t been changed.

MM: I wouldn’t want an egg from that.

CC: The one hard part about the challenge is that its dependent on what people order during your shift. For example, Lisa got “eggs over easy with a side of burnt styrofoam”.

MM: You mean styrofoam flambe. Oh wait, we’re talking about Lisa. She can’t cook a flambe.

CC: Technically it’s a brulee, I think.

MM: Phone plug… gotta plug that product.

CC: We cant play spot the product plugs; I can’t type that fast.

Antonia wins the Quickfire and the Elimination Challenge is announced: Restaurant Wars. The chefs go crazy with excitement, and Antonia, rather than immunity, is allowed to pick the team she is working with.

Photo courtesy of Bravo

CC: I kind of like Antonia. Good for her. I don’t understand why they are so excited — Restaurant Wars always kills people. And holy crap, what a HUGE advantage!

MM: Wait a minute — no Tom Colicchio for the Elimination Challenge? But it’s Restaurant Wars! I can’t imagine they won’t have him for this. Maybe it’s a trap.

CC: Of course, Antonia picks Stephanie and Richard. As far as I’m concerned, that team is the final three. Dale has skills but he’s gone off the deep end.

MM: And with every episode, he goes deeper and deeper.

CC: If you remember, I predicted he would be going home this week.

MM: Yeah, I was about to mention it. You know I’m still pining for Spike’s removal, though. As for Antonia’s advantage, I’d say this was unfair, but in previous seasons the “dream team” didn’t always win the challenge. So, who are they going to get to replace Colicchio in the judging?

Photo courtesy Time magazine online.

CC: My man Bourdain! Tony, if you’re out there – call me, babe.

MM: Okay, that makes up for not having Chef Colicchio.

CC: And for the restaurant challenge they get to decorate their restaurants with stuff from… Pier 1? Both restaurants are going to look like a dorm room. Okay, here come the menus. Um, butterscotch, miso,and scallops?

Photo courtesy of Bravo.

MM: Spike is the general manager?????

Photo courtesy of Bravo, commentary courtesy of AwK

CC: Okay, pause! Everybody pause!

MM: Ok, I’m paused.

CC: AGAIN, Spike is making one dish he can call his own, instead of thinking about the team.

MM: Well, yeah. All three of those contestants on that team (Lisa, Spike, and Dale) are not team players. They’re rats. If the ship goes down… Not so with the other team.

CC: And Spike is always looking for a way off the ship.

MM: Yep. King Rat.

CC: Weak. Sauce.

MM: (Laughing)

CC: OK, play!

Bourdain enters the kitchen, sharing his “warmer and sunnier disposition”, and talking to the groups about their menus. Team Gimp tells him they are cooking Asian food. Bourdain is interested to try it, considering he knows a great deal about Asian food.

Photo courtesy of Bravo

MM: I think Dale’s pissing his pants right now. (laughs)

CC: I would NOT want to cook Asian for Bourdain. Now it’s Lisa’s turn to piss her pants.

MM: Worse. Did you see the look on her face when she told him she was making Laksa? I think she dropped a little present into her pants…

Photo courtesy of Bravo

CC: This team is going downhill fast – brown avocado mousse?

MM: And another Ricegate!


CC: Who gave her rice to make?

MM: They didn’t say, so I’m guessing it’s part of the dish she came up with.

CC: Wait, what? Did Lisa just say Dale’s bad attitude was bringing her down?

Photos courtesy of Bravo, expressions courtesy of morons

MM: Yes! (Laughing)

CC: Hold on – pause it again!

MM: Ok, paused.

CC: Okay, Lisa wins the most ironic line of the season! The ridiculous part of the whole thing is that she’s right. Dale’s attitude is horrible. Almost as bad as Lisa’s!

MM: She’s unbelievable. Now that Dale’s having a rougher time than the rest of them, Lisa and Spike are going to hone in on that and exploit it for the rest of the night. It will certainly make things easier for them at the Judges’ Table.

CC: Ok, I’m still paused. Where are you at?

MM: Paused on Lisa’s horrible expression… I guess that doesn’t really narrow it down, huh?

CC: Okay, so there’s an issue with gritty clams. How do you get the grit out of a clam?

MM: The only way I know of is a little time consuming – before you cook/kill the clams, let them sit in clean water. Let them sit for about an hour, then put clean water in again and let them sit in it a little more. They will expel the grit on their own. I don’t know what chefs would do in a time-sensitive situation. (Any readers out there know?)

CC: Did Spike just say no one can hold him accountable for the food?

Photo courtesy of Bravo

MM: Look at him in that suit.

CC: I have terrible thoughts in my head – but I’d better not share them.

MM: I think someone needs to beat him up, stuff him in a locker, and take his lunch money.

CC: My thoughts were much worse than that.

MM: Stephanie’s working the front of the house… bad choice of attire. Those stiletto boots are going to be killer in another hour. She also needs a bra.

CC: Stephanie would be cool to go drinking with.

MM: You’re married.

CC: I’m just sayin. Ok, both those apps look good.

MM: The salad looks a lot like Richard’s ceviche salad from episode 10’s Quickfire.

CC: Yeah, he likes the little cubes.

MM: He should. His knife skills are excellent and he should flaunt what he’s got. The judges have lots of good things to say about Team #1.

CC: Their gorgonzola cheesecake intrigues me. Bourdain hates the smear but, come on, everyone does the smear!

Photo courtesy of Bravo

Gorgonzola Cheesecake with Sweet Potato Puree & Concord Grape Sauce
Prep Time: two hours and 45 minutes
Recipe by Stephanie Izard

Gorgonzola Cheesecake:
1 1/2 cups cream cheese
2 egg yolks
6 oz heavy cream
12 oz gorgonzola
1T brown sugar

Sweet Potato Puree:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, large dice
3T butter
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste

Concord Grape Sauce:
1 bunch concord grapes
1T balsamic
Water for cooking

Walnut Crumble:
2 cups sugar
2T water
2 cups walnuts
2T butter

Recipe instructions are provided on the Bravo website here.

MM: If that’s the worst thing they can say about Team #1, then it’s in the bag.

CC: Now the judges move to Team #2’s restaurant… First impression: “Prince or Aerosmith?” (Laughing)

MM: Uh oh, some reflections – Lisa realizes she made a mistake.

CC: And she served it anyway! Now for that crazy butterscotch scallop… (Still laughing) Bourdain: “It’s Willy Wonka’s scallop.”

MM: Wow, you may be right about the elimination. Dale is sinking fast and there is no hope in sight.

CC: Next dish, Bourdain is still ripping it up. “Tastes like baby vomit and wood chips.”

MM: That’s unforgivable. Did they even taste their food before it went out?

CC: Did you hear that? A camera caught a customer saying they’d have to go out for dessert!

MM: And it’s over. Time for the waiting room and the Judges’ deliberation. The previous restaurant wars were portrayed so much more wacky and crazy that this one seemed really tame.

CC: Yeah it seemed like they all had an easier time of it.

MM: Or maybe they were just so busy focusing on how badly the second team did. From the judges’ reactions, there was all kinds of wrong going on in that restaurant.

CC: As we expected, Richard’s team is called in for the win.

MM: And the winning chef is… Stephanie! Another win. I really like her. Time for the losing team.


MM: Oh good grief, would you get a load of this? Dale’s about to weasel out of responsibility here.

CC: Spike won’t even stand behind his tablecloth and Dale is literally pointing fingers!

MM: Worse than that – Dale doesn’t want anyone else to talk or clarify what he’s saying, because it’s all contradicting what he is saying. Rats on a sinking ship.

CC: Look at Spike smiling – what a doofus.

MM: He knows he’s safe in this circus. All he has to do is keep his mouth shut and he’ll get to stay.

CC: I can’t decide which one I hate more, I really can’t.

MM: Okay, now that they’re deliberating, who do you think it’s going to be?

CC: I still think it’s going to be Dale because he messed up as Executive Chef AND as a chef.

MM: I hope it’s Lisa.

CC: If his scallops were good, it would be Lisa. But I still think its Dale. Actually, I hope to God it’s Spike, but I think he cheesed out another one.

MM: And the verdict… Dale is out.

CC: Who called it? Yeah, it was me!

MM: Stepanie’s trying to look shocked. It’s not working.

CC: Man, I’m on a roll! My prediction for next week is SPIKE GETS THE PLAGUE AND HIS LEGS FALL OFF.

MM: We can only hope. Next week it has to be Spike. IT HAS TO BE! Come on, I’m burning a candle for you, Spike… and I’m dangling a voodoo doll above the flame.

CC: You know what kills me is that either Lisa or Spike, or god forbid both, are going to make it to the final 4.

MM: I think it should be Spike over Lisa, even though I hate Spike!

CC: I’d rather see Spike leave and wipe that goofy grin off of his face.

MM: I hear that.

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