Tonight only six chefs remain in the quest to become Top Chef. Last week, Miguel had a tiff with Tiffani, calling her a snake, (sssssssss), and the Judges sent Andrea packing. This week, Miguel has another tiff with Tiffani and says he’s not ready to walk. Also not ready to leave is Dave who knows he needs to win one tonight to stay in the competition.
Tonight we go right into the Quickfire Challenge- no time for pesky build up or interpersonal relationships here! When the chefs enter the kitchen they see a huge spread of meats, condiments, bread… all foods that would make a picnic lover thrilled. Judge Tom Colicchio will be critiquing the chefs today, and they have a very exciting task before them. Tom tells them that he is going to be opening one of his famous ‘wichcraft restaurants in the bay area. The chefs each have 30 minutes to create a unique and tasty sandwich. The kicker? The winner will not receive immunity, but will have his or her sandwich placed on the menu at ‘wichcraft. Wow. They’d all probably rather have immunity.
As usual, there’s a lot of rushing around. I can’t figure out what the big deal is, because I can slap together PB & J in no time, but again, I guess that’s why I’m not on Top Chef. Lee Anne knows that Judge Tom Colicchio will be hard to impress, Miguel knows that he really has to prove himself after next week, and Harold is familiar with the ‘wichcraft menu and thinks he knows what Tom is looking for.
Today Stephen uses eggs, brioche and plantains, (and a whole bunch of other ingredients that I’m not familiar with) for his Brunch Brioche Sandwich. He tells Tom that he is a late riser, so he likes food that can be eaten for breakfast or lunch… “Like brunch?” Tom says, and Stephen looks at him like he’s grown another head. For some reason it seems like that word offends him, although he used it earlier in the show, so I’m not sure what the problem is. Tom thinks the sandwich is quite good.
Dave’s Grape Ape Sandwich is made with ham, arugula and grape jelly, and I think he should be immediately disqualified for using grape jelly on a dish that doesn’t contain the words “cocktail weenies” in its title. Tom is happy that Dave is back to his flavor, and likes the sandwich.
Tiffani named her sandwich French Toast Toad in the Whole, (mmm… doesn’t that sound yummy), and has prepared possibly the world’s biggest sandwich. Tom says he needs a bigger mouth to eat the thing, and Tiffani is embarrassed. It’s nice to see her a little humbled for once.
Lee Anne has prepared a Egg, Salami and Sunchoke Sandwich, using… well, eggs, salami and sunchokes. What you see is what you get with Lee Anne, folks- none of them fancy names for her tasty eats, nosiree! Tom takes a bite of the sandwich and gets a mouthful of stringy greens, leading Lee Anne to comment that next time she will remember to chop the greens. Sorry Lee, I don’t think there’s going to be a next time.
Remember how Harold knows exactly what Judge Tom is looking for? I hope he’s right with his Mortadella Dandelion Sandwich. Tom seems to enjoy the sandwich and tells Harold that “everything is in there.” Wow, that’s good, I guess.
Finally, Miguel presents his Deconstructed Falafel. During the prep, Miguel made the comment that he had the challenge in the bag. Apparently he’s some sort of sandwich genius or something, although he hasn’t really prepared a traditional sandwich. More like falafel on a plate. Judge Tom says that he has to eat the “sandwich” with his hands, to be fair to all the other chefs. Although it is a huge mess, Tom likes the flavor and tells Miguel he would have won if only he had followed the instructions and made an actual sandwich.
Judge Tom commends Dave, Stephen and Harold for their great sandwiches, and announces Harold’s will be the one added to the ‘wichcraft menu. Harold is excited and asks Judge Tom if this means they are partners now. Judge Tom doesn’t say anything, but I think it’s safe to say that the answer is no.
This week’s challenge is a toughie, because it involves a raw space, $1000, and worst of all- teamwork. The chefs will be split into two teams and have to create a restaurant using raw space and $1000. They must create the concept, name and menu, and will be judged by their diners.
The chefs choose their teams: Harold, Tiffani and Dave on the Red Team, and Lee Anne, Stephen and Miguel on the Blue Team. Lee Anne says she’s f***ed, and I think she’s probably right.
30 diners will have their choice of which team’s wares they would like to sample, based on the menu and restaurant description. Who wins or loses will be based on how many diners each restaurant attracts, and the questionnaires they complete. Oh, and tonight’s special guest is famed restaurateur, Jeffrey Chodorow. You reality TV fans may remember him from The Restaurant, or if you’re not one of the ten people who watched that show, this is your first J-Cho encounter. Enjoy it, although I’m sure NBC and Bravo will make sure to bring him out for other reality shows in the future.
The Red Team aka Team Emotionless Robots, (except for Dave)
The Red Team decides to call their space “American Workshop and immediately gets to work on their menu. Tiffani tells the others that it is all about the task, and nothing is personal. I think she thinks that gives her license to treat the other poorly and talk down to them.
They decide on a rustic menu of classic American comfort food, and decide to set up their restaurant family style, with long tables. Their menu is: Tuna Tartare, Roast Chicken, Fall Vegetables and a Fruit Crisp. Ooh! Fancy. They do their shopping within an hour, and in a smart, methodical fashion.
The Read Team works well together, although Tiffani is trying to micromanage the hell out of everything. She and Harold plan to cook while Dave works the front. Because he’s responsible for the décor, Dave takes a trip to the restaurant supply store, and he picks out all of his supplies in a timely manner and spends a mere $479.56.
Dave and Tiffani both state that food is about socialization, and Dave thinks their rustic, family style dining is elegant. And much better than the other team’s concept.
The Judges like the food, and think that Dave’s personality and attitude are really making the meal great. Sounds like things went pretty well for the Red Team, and they ended up serving 13 people.
Blue Team, aka The Team with the Big Thinker and the No Thinker
The Blue Team decides on Spanish cuisine and calls their space “Sabor,” which means “taste” in Spanish. Lee Anne quickly takes charge of the team, and she and Stephen make all the decisions without really allowing Miguel any input.
Sabor’s menu consists of a Tapas Trio, Red Snapper on Paella Cake and Olive Oil Ice Cream. Team Blue also completes their shopping, but definitely not in a smart, methodical manner. Miguel has a price mix up crisis with the snapper, Stephen goes overboard with some pricey coffee and wine, and Lee Anne is like a pre-school teacher, trying to keep her charges in line and out of trouble. She has to get stern with the boys, and I don’t blame her because apparently neither of them have ever worked with a budget before.
For Team Blue, Miguel and Lee Anne are in charge of the kitchen, which leaves Stephen in the front to manage the guests. Someone did not think that one through very well. Stephen goes to the supply store with Dave, but checks his brain at the door and forgets all notions of “time crunch” and “$500 budget.” He takes forever to pick out his things, and is shocked when, as he’s only about halfway done with his shopping, the clerk tells him his total is already well over a thousand dollars. Ever hear of a calculator Stephen? It might have come in handy for this task.
Hours later, Stephen returns to the space and sets up the dining room. There’s no time for him to help with the food prep. It’s probably lucky for Stephen that he’s too busy making napkin towers and wasn’t in the kitchen when Lee Anne discovered that the fish had not been scaled, because I’m sure that was not a fun place to be. I think she actually called Miguel “Chunk” at one point, but I can’t be sure.
The guests begin arriving, and Stephen begins talking, and talking, and talking and talking. He feels that he is there to educate the guests and will. not. shut. up. The food service suffers, because the chefs are working to get the food prepared, but Stephen is so busy forcing education on the guests that he doesn’t serve it quickly, and some of the food is too cold, or too warm.
The Judges sit down for their meal, and immediately Tom Collichio finds scales on his fish. They think the Blue Team took more of a risk with their menu, but their service was poor, and Stephen was arrogant and condescending. The Blue Team ends up serving 17 people.
The Judgment, or I’m not your Bitch, Bitch!
Although they’re on teams tonight, there will be one super-winner of the Elimination Challenge, and that person will get to accompany Jeffrey Chodorow to the Cannes Film Festival. I wonder if they have to hang out with him while they’re there, because if so that doesn’t sound like much of a prize to me. Neither of the teams know who won, but Stephen is confident, and calls their food “fly.”
The Judges call in the Red Team and announce they are the winners. The guests rated them 26 out of 30, and though the food was great, the service was excellent, and they all really loved Dave. Jeffrey asks each chef to tell him why he or she should win the trip to Cannes and Tiffani is only too happy to begin.
She says that American Workshop is a name that’s been in her heart and head for the past five years, and she put that dream on hold for a while to compete on Top Chef. She concedes that Harold made a good au jus, but she could have made one just as good, and Dave worked the guests well, but she could have done an even better job.
Dave tells the Judges that he brings integrity to everything he does, and he made the experience a pleasure for the diners. He says that Tiffani tried to do everything, and he’s sick of listening to her talk because he’s been listening to her for the last two days. Tiffani tried to interrupt, but Dave says “I’m not your bitch, bitch. I don’t need to be treated like s***.” Tiffani says “Wow,” and Harold says nothing.
Harold tells the Judges he doesn’t think he should be the one to go to Cannes. Although he enjoyed working side by side with Tiffani in the kitchen, he thinks that Dave should be the one to win the trip. Jeffrey Chodorow agrees, and chooses Dave. Dave is really, really excited that he gets to go to Cannes, although he keeps pronouncing it “khan,” so I hope he doesn’t think he’s going to a Star Trek convention or something.
The Red Team gives the bad news to the Blue Team, and Tiffani tells them that Dave has won the trip to France. She even does a little dance as she chants “Dave’s goin’ to France.” It’s really… weird and out of character.
The Blue Team sits down in front of the Judges and Stephen is completely shocked to hear that they lost the challenge. He tells the Judges that all of the guests loved the food and service, but the Judges tell him the surveys didn’t show it. The Blue Team received a score of 22 out of 30, and someone will be sent home.
Lee Anne says that she was not comfortable with her team, and Miguel says he was not comfortable with the Spanish cuisine. Judge Tom tells him that if he was not happy with the choice, he should have spoke up because this is not Top Sous-Chef. Lee Anne tells the Judges she thinks Miguel should be the one to go, Stephen tells the Judges that Miguel should be the one to go, and Miguel tells the Judges that Stephen should be the one to go. The Judges side with Lee Anne and Stephen and send Miguel on his way.
Miguel leaves gracefully, and even hugs Tiffani goodbye.
Next week, the Chefs have to cater a wedding in just one day! Tune in to see Tiffani make a wedding cake out of store bought mixes, and get busted by Judge Tom.
I’m really hungry for sandwiches for some reason, but you can reach me at: SueEllenMishke@fansofrealitytv .com