Top Chef Rundown: January 21, 2009
It’s one of the most insane challenges on Top Chef and one of the most exciting. The cheftestants are divided into two teams and have to design and and open a brand new restaurant in 24 hours. Of course, in the real world, people spend months, even years, opening a restaurant, so 24 hours is basically just lunacy.
They used the quickfire challenge to pick “team captains.” The challenge was straightforward enough: make a dish that represents your concept for a restaurant. Oddly enough, two of the weaker chefs ended up with the strongest concepts, and the teams were lead by Leah, and Radhika, who are pretty much at the bottom of the heap at this point.
And in danger: It was said about 100 times in this episode, but it’s the truth–historically, the leader of the losing Restaurant Wars team is the one who goes home.
There were plenty of lows, but I was actually pretty surprised at how well these restaurants turned out. Compared to previous years, where plates were left off of the tables, heavily scented candles ruined everything, and things were generally so bad that the judges called a do-over and let them start again, a couple of bad dishes and a slightly unenthusiastic host seems like no big deal. (Speaking of candles, I thought it was cute when Stephan went nuts buying all the unscented candles his team’s Toyota could hold. I guess, sometimes, the chefs do learn from their forerunners’ past mistakes.
I was annoyed at all of the drama with Leah and Hosea, I won’t lie. First of all, those two have been ridiculous all season. Second of all, they are not single, and have significant others at home, and are happy to say so. Finally, Top Chef has never been that kind of reality show, and when it stoops to those kinds of hijinks (head-shaving, anyone?) it’s clearly at its worst.
The teams put forth relatively complete restaurant concepts, but in the end, Leah’s team won, despite her horrible contribution of raw, poorly filleted fish. Fabio was impressive at the front of the house, and Stefan’s desserts were lauded as some of the best Top Chef has ever seen.
Speaking of desserts, Carla tanked Radhika’s entire team with her melted frozen yogurt and flavorless chocolate cake. The rest of the food was actually better than the other team’s, from the way the judges spoke, but the combination of Radhika’s apathetic front of the house work and Carla’s desserts put Radhika’s team firmly on the bottom.
And like many a Restaurant Wars leader before her, Radhika took the fall for her team. I think they made the right call. Carla made mistakes, but Radhika made plenty of her own, and failed to correct Carla’s mistakes when she had the chance.
The only downside is that Leah lives for another week, and that means I’ll have to sit through more Leah & Hosea drama. Maybe they’ll shave her head.