Top Chef Recap: There’s Nothing Quite Like Restaurant Wars

Just some dudes, makin' some decisions.
Just some dudes, makin’ some decisions. Photo: Bravo

It only took nine thousand ten episodes to get here, but we’re down to eight chefs which means … restaurant wars! Why do they always try to present this as a treat? Because it’s a bigger disaster than usual? It never actually replicates what these people would do with a restaurant. However, there is a bright side to restaurant wars: We get to skip the Quickfire. So, on to the challenge! Padma split the chefs into a battle of the sexes. Both the chefs and the judges spent the rest of the episode referring to the teams as boys versus girls, but since these are all quite grown, professional adults and we find that weird, we are going to refer to them as fellas versus ladies.

Other than the gender-specific teams, the rules were pretty much in line with previous years’ wars (although they did serve on separate nights and not simultaneously): Make a three-course meal with two options for each course for 100 guests, everyone’s responsible for at least one dish, and one person handles the front of house.

The producers went back to giving the teams a raw space to decorate, but thankfully the shopping montage (where they were given a cool $7,500 each) was pretty quick. The fellas quickly decided to put Ed at front of house since he owns his own restaurant; Paul dubbed their spot Canteen, as it reminded him of a communal, nostalgic experience, which they aimed to emulate in their cooking.

The ladies put Lindsay in front of house (since she’s helped open a lot of restaurants), and called their restaurant Half Bushel, hoping to evoke a rustic, organic, ingredient-driven feel. Their menu planning did not go as smoothly as the fellas’, with Sarah continuously shooting down every idea of Beverly’s, as apparently she is the new Heather. But for once Bev finally got an ally, in the form of Grayson. When Sarah tried to shoot down Beverly’s idea to do short ribs again, Grayson excellently retorted, “Why not? She’s fucking good at it.” At least one person on this show remembers that it’s supposed to be Top Chef and not Top Ego.

Team Canteen “lost” the coin toss and had to cook the first night. Creeper Chris opened their day with a lengthy speech comparing restaurant wars to Star Trek, a metaphor completely lost on us despite our love of The Big Bang Theory and our father forcing us to know about the borg as children. Ed got very dramatic while setting up, complaining that he had to clean the bathroom all by himself. We’d be willing to bet all of Chris’s scrunchies that they were not given a dirty bathroom to work with, but okay.

The fellas didn’t realize until they were in the middle of service that they hadn’t chosen someone to expedite, a problem that grew exponentially when the servers had issues as well. Paul blamed their friendships for getting in the way of bossing each other around, a sentiment not heard very often on this show. Paul put quite a bit into this challenge: he also made a ham and pork pate with mushrooms and duck fat crostini for the first course. He worked on both second courses — solo on a crispy-skin pork belly with sweet potato puree, and alongside Ty-lor Boring on poached salmon with clams and tomato water. Ty-lor also made a Thai-style crab and shrimp salad for the first course, while Ed and Chris took on dessert. Ed made an “Almond Joy” cake with malted chocolate mousse and banana-coconut puree; and Chris made homemade Cracker Jack with cherries and peanut butter ice cream.

The ladies’ team noticed Canteen’s problems as they dined, and swore that they would stay strong and stick together when they cooked the next night. Naturally, they instead spent almost the entire time yelling at each other. Sarah yelled at Grayson and Beverly for how they did things, Beverly complained that Lindsay didn’t give her a good fish-cooking demo, and Lindsay worried that Bev would mess up her dish. In fact, Lindsay seemed much more concerned with her fish than she was with her front of house duties, also complaining about how hard it was to seat all the tables (which is, you know, a main part of the job of being restaurant wars front of house). Most shots of her during service showed her in the kitchen, yelling at both the other chefs and the servers. Who knew such a quiet person had such an angry streak?

Grayson and Sarah took the first course. Grayson made a peach salad with picked shallots and bacon vinaigrette, and Sarah made a mozzarella-filled arancino with sweet and sour eggplant. For the second course, Beverly made her braised short ribs, while simultaneously executing Lindsay’s grilled halibut with chorizo and fennel salad. Dessert included Grayson’s schaum torte with vanilla meringues and Champagne berries; as well as Sarah’s hazelnut cream doughnuts with banana sugar glaze.

Despite their more severe problems with service, the ladies team’s dishes pleased the judges quite a bit more than the fellas’, and the ladies were awarded the win, prompting them to hug each other like they hadn’t just been screaming an hour earlier. But their love fest was short-lived. When the judges announced that Beverly was the challenge winner, Sarah and Lindsay’s faces dropped like Tom had just canceled Christmas. Beverly cried, obviously.

Tom was, once again, severely disappointed with the losers, remarking that he could send all of the fellas home. (DO IT, TOM, PLEASE.) The judges didn’t like how greasy Paul’s first course was and wondered why he did so much while Chris did so little. They also didn’t like how Ed named his barely coconuty dish after Almond Joy, but they found the most fault with Ty-lor, who severely underseasoned all his dishes and whose “Thai-style” dish was not flavorful at all. As the judges notoriously get offended by dong shots underseasoning, it came as no surprise that Ty-lor got sent pack-ing. Farewell, Mr. Boring.

Next week: We have no idea, because Bravo HD froze right before the scenes so … come up with your most creative episode ideas and leave them in the comments!

Top Chef Recap: There’s Nothing Quite Like Restaurant Wars