“Top Chef: California” recap (13.10): Restaurant Wars Pt. 2

Previously on Top Chef, the first half of Restaurant Wars played out over a lunch service. Team District (aka team bro) couldn’t finish, and they didn’t satisfy all of their customers. I hear that’s a thing that happens to dudes sometimes—sorry guys.

img1 Kind of (via)


To kick off part two of Restaurant Wars, Tom visits the chefs and gives them a stern dad-talk. The judges were all underwhelmed by lunch, and he expects them to step it up for the dinner service. The chefs take heed of his advice and begin the mad dash to prep before diners arrive. Bunhead’s dish is super not ready, so he enlists the help of a random dude to chop strawberries for him. He also is condescending as fuck to all his servers, making sure they all know that he has a lot of important L.A. contacts that will be at the restaurant.

Karen is also very in the weeds—she’s trying to prep for two and half dinner dishes before she becomes the GMso she hasn’t gone out to give her servers any directions. Luckily, Marjorie steps up and runs over to the restaurant so the staff can get set up. I love friendship and teamwork, yay! Service begins and, over on Team Bro, Baldy seems to fall behind almost immediately. I think I used to like him at some point, but now he’s probably my second least fave. He just kind of seems like a dick.

The judges show up first this time at Team Palate. Everyone seems very behind on prep and stressed out, and I am probably just as stressed out watching this. Karen presents the judges with some bread first, courtesy of “Top Baker” Marjorie and—no surprise—she totally crushed it. Next up, the judges try Boston Carl and Karen’s oxtail consommé with tripe and tortellini, as well as Boston Carl’s snapper crudo. They really love the consommé and are also enjoying the crudo, but comment on how many damn crudos they’ve had lately (most of them made by Baldy, probably).

img2Hostess with the most(ess)

Back at Team Bro, things are running mostly smoothly, but Baldy’s steak is coming out very rare and Executive Chef Amar doesn’t seem to be too concerned with quality control. Womp womp. Anyway, between courses at Palate, the judges comment on the service—it’s the best they’ve had so far in the challenge. Go Marjorie/Karen!

The judges get their entrées—Karen’s coconut rice stuffed trout and Cajun’s braised lamb shoulder. The good news is that Cajun’s lamb is the best meat they’ve had! The bad news is Karen’s dish is the worst so far. Ruh-roh. Next up is Marjorie’s dessert—a composed cheese plate and a chilled berry soup with pannacotta. Tom is loving the cheese accoutrement (is he getting drunk?), but no one is really into the soup.

The judges head over to District L.A., and I am just amazed at how much food they’ve eaten over the course of the day. They’re doing the lord’s work, truly. Anyway, they get to District L.A. and have to drink Bunhead’s cocktail even though Bunhead isn’t there to greet them right away. Once seated, the judges don’t think District’s menu seems cohesive at all, and also, they hate Kwame’s amuse-bouche. Ouch.

Up next is Amar’s avocado gazpacho with crab and Bunhead’s weird soup/salad strawberry thing. The judges also hate Bunhead’s dish. Though I’m obviously rooting for Team Palate, this is becoming a little hard to watch. Amar’s dish is a bit odd, but it’s definitely better than Bunhead’s. Service is spotty over at District, too. Woof. The judges bet that Bunhead is rambling on to the guests about his own L.A. restaurants, and they are 100% correct.

District’s second course comes out, and Baldy’s risotto is bland and also the wrong consistency. Kwame’s chicken thigh is very meh. The third course doesn’t fare much better—Amar’s pork belly dish has way too much acid and Baldy’s steak is decent, but nothing special. After service, Team Palate is being pretty hard on themselves, so Team Bro thinks they actually have a chance to win. I am here to tell you that they do not.

At Judges’ Table, Tom tells the chefs that opening a restaurant is hard work, and it showed today. Padma tells them that the competition was neck and neck after lunch, but a clear winner emerged after dinner: Team Palate! They are shocked to hear they won!

img3I love that Karen’s reaction to winning is always to hit the person closest to her

The judges praise Team Palate for all the great things they did! Go team! They give the win to Cajun, which is fine, but I think Marjorie deserved it more. Just one woman’s opinion. 

The judges call back Team Bro to find out what went wrong. Bunhead acts like a child in the face of criticism—same old story. The judges rip them apart for not working as a team. After some more discussion, it’s clear that either Bunhead or Amar is going home tonight. It’s Bunhead! He’s leaving! It’s a miracle! Of course, after he’s sent home, Bunhead can’t comprehend how he lost. lol bye forever! (Oh god, please don’t win Last Chance Kitchen.)

Next time on Top Chef, the contestants are heading up to the Bay Area!