Top Chef: Restaurant Wars

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Contrary to last week’s upsetting elimination, this week’s episode was about as predictable as they come. For one thing it was restaurant wars, the one challenge that reappears each season and therefore the one challenge where we know what to expect. Don’t get me wrong, we needed predictable. Now that the season is more than halfway over, it’s time for the judges to get rid of any chef who doesn’t belong. And this time, I think they did.

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I’m talking about Radhika of course. While I hate to trash talk our fellow Chicagoan, she did not pull her weight in any way, shape or form. She was chosen head of her restaurant by Stephen Starr, the quickfire judge for her dish above and needless to say – she didn’t do a good job with her position. For one thing, she didn’t cook ANYTHING. Fabio was front of the house in the other restaurant and he still managed to pull off an amuse bouche (albeit not that great of one, according to the judges). Secondly, she was terrible at her front of house position; she wore her stresses on her face and essentially hid in the kitchen from her customers. And lastly and most importantly, she did not lead.

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If you’re ever going to open your own restaurant or be a good chef, you need to be a leader. A top chef is someone other chefs should want to work for, someone who inspires and that’s where Radhika is lacking. I’m glad the judges saw that. But the worst part is she still doesn’t realize this. She blamed Jeff for the reason she had to be front of house, assuming that if she was able to be in the kitchen and cook, she could have done a better job. But the fact is, she was in the kitchen a lot and still didn’t lead anyone at all.

This episode couldn’t have made it clearer who should be in the finale. My final three as of right now is Jamie, Stefan and Fabio with a possibility of Jeff to replace Fabio.

Even though I questioned her earlier in the season, I have a new respect for Jamie and her ability to lead a team left without a leader. As Radhika stated in a Bravo TV interview, Jamie is “just the right amount of bitchy,” a perfect quality for a leading chef. Not to mention, her food has been spot on for most of the season. She definitely deserves to be in the finale (though my suspicion is something will go wrong based on both previews for the next episode and a magazine article I read prior to the season beginning where Tom is really surprised about who went to the finale).

Now, let’s talk about Leah. I mentioned in the last recap that I was no longer a fan and not surprisingly, I’m still not. I’m not saying she can’t pull out good dishes but she’s letting her personal life get in the way of her focus and blaming things on other people. It was interesting that she was chosen as the leader of a restaurant with her last-minute quickfire dish ( a tempura-fried  cornish hen with dashi). But, I do suppose Stephen Starr, owner of Morimoto and Buddakan,  is a sucker for Asian restaurants.

While Leah’s restaurant was chosen as the winner in the end, it was not because of anything she did. Fabio’s excellent front of house service and Stefan’s spectacular desserts  were the reasons Sunset Lounge won the challenge. Take the two of them out of the mix and Sunset Lounge would not have had much to show for itself. It sounds like I’m reiterating what the judges said but this was obvious from the start and the judges made the right decision.

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The best part about Stefan’s desserts is that he made them with limited resources. Carla’s desserts failed because of the terrible freezer and such but Stefan had those same problems and was still able to find solutions and pull off great desserts. I was quite impressed. That’s all I have for this week, I will leave you with photos of Stefan’s amazing desserts.

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On a sidenote, I know sometimes I can be harsh in these recaps so I want to take a minute to applaud the chefs for having the talent to get this far. Believe me I know that if you were to put me in any of these contestants’ positions, I wouldn’t do as well as they have.

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EPISODE 9 RECAP:

Official Episode Title: Restaurant Wars

Challenges: Quickfire - Create one dish to showcase your concept for a restaurant in 30 minutes.

Elimination – Run a restaurant! (guest judge: Stephen Starr).

Winner: Stefan (Sunset Lounge) Eliminated: Radhika

Chefs Remaining:  Carla, Fabio, Hosea, Jamie, Jeff, Leah, and Stefan

Next episode: Challenge with previous season all stars!

For a list of ALL the Top Chef episode recaps on Chew on That blog, click here.

Photos courtesy of BravoTv.com.

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  • http://simplycooking.wordpress.com Shannon

    I have to agree with your assessment, although I believe Fabio will sabotage himself in some way. I think it will be Jeff, Jamie and Stefan, but I don’t think Jeff has a chance of winning. I thought it was kind of a boring episode, for Restaurant Wars, which is usually one of my favorites. Last season was so much better.

  • http://savory.tv Heidi / Savory Tv

    Great recap! Agree, Radhika really failed. I do love Fabio although I think he relies on his charm a bit too much. My favorite chef is Jeff, although I may have a different opinion if I was actually tasting the dishes!

  • http://www.mangotomato.blogspot.com Olga

    I completely agree with you on the final 3! I actually sort of know Carla (I assisted her when she taught classes at Sur La Table in Arlington, VA) and was really sad about her performance.

    Stefan is my ABSOLUTE favorite. Too bad he smokes though :)
    Can’t wait to see what happens next.

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