I really hate being right sometimes.
I have some conspiracy theories about this week’s elimination, but more on that later.
We pick up with part 2 of Restaurant Wars, and the teams are ramping up to create Sheldon and Kristen’s winning concepts from last week. Team Kristen (Josie, Brooke, and Lizzie) will do Atelier Kwan, her semi-fancy, mostly French concept, while Team Sheldon (Josh and Stefan) start setting up his Filipino restaurant, Urbano.
In addition to having lopsided teams due to Micah’s elimination last week, this year has yet another twist. In addition to having to buy all of the table setting and set up the dining area, the teams must also construct their own outdoor kitchens. As if they didn’t have enough to do already.
From early on, no one wants Josie involved in anything they are doing. Kristen can’t wait to kick her out of the kitchen, so she sends her off with Brooke to pick the decorations. Brooke knows that Josie’s…sensibilities…are not as classy as the image that Atelier Kwan should project, so she spends half the trip with her eyes rolled back in her head. And you know what? They are both right. I wouldn’t want her making any of those decisions, but Kristen should have forced Josie to stay behind and actually start her prep work.
This brings us to the first major misstep for the ladies: Allowing Josie to prep on her own stupid schedule. Have we not noticed that every time she has to cook for a large group, she winds up way behind with a massive line at her table? If I were Kristen, I would have pulled rank and made her prep much further in advance.
Best quote of the night: “I would prefer one of the dishwashers in place of Josie.”
Over on team Urbano, things seem to be going more smoothly. Stefan takes the front of house, and is loving the flower shopping (Don’t worry Stefan, straight guys can like “vases and little pebbles and stuff” too.) You can really see Sheldon’s passion for his native cuisine just in the way he talks about it, and seeing his dishes made me want to look for the closest Filipino restaurant in town to check out (feel free to send suggestions).
At this point in the game, I’m not sure if we are getting the “bait and switch” edit, where all signs point towards Kristen’s team blowing this and the guys are all smooth sailing, or the “transparent” edit where everything is as it seems. Kristen seems bitter in her interviews, Josie is super defensive, and Sheldon just seems happy to be there.
Back over at Atelier Kwan, Kristen’s control-freakiness is getting the best of her psychologically, but it was the areas that she wasn’t controlling that caused more problems. Namely, she allows Josie to plod through cooking; something that Josie did knowing full well that Kristen would likely take the blame. I won’t use the word “sabotage”, but I do think that Josie took it a little easy knowing that most of the pressure was really on someone else. Case in point: Josie is behind, which means that 30 minutes before serving, she still hadn’t added gelatin to her sauce, which completely destroys Kristen’s plan for the dish. Kristen improvises and adds cream instead of the sauce.
Service begins and Stefan and Brooke are leading their respective front-of-houses. Brooke, aside from allowing anyone that asked to go gawk at her team in their makeshift kitchen, runs a smooth operation. Stefan, on the other hand, nearly loses the entire challenge just on his rudeness and ineptitude out front. Nothing like insulting the judges to win bonus points. Maybe they just didn’t get his European sense of humor.
Lizzie’s hot-soup rabbit charcuteries dish really impressed the judges, showing them a take on rabbit rillettes that they were not expecting. Then it is time for Josie’s bouillabaisse, and things stop looking so good. Plating is way behind, mostly because of the improvising necessary because Josie screwed up the plan for the sauce. When it finally makes it to the judges, nothing is right. The halibut is over-cooked, the scallop is nearly raw, the brother was under-developed, and the improvised sauce was a flop.
The food at Urbano, on the other hand, all goes over very well. Stefan’s raw-fish kilawin brought a nice contrast of acidity and sourness. Even though it isn’t very Filipino, Josh’s tamer version of balut – usually un-hatched duck embryo – using a soft-poached egg, duck confit, and foie gras mousse, had a great flavor, despite being off-concept. And Sheldon’s adobo pork belly was far and away the most popular dish of the night.
Ok, so here is where things got ugly. As soon as the criticism of Josie’s bouillabaisse begins, she immediately starts pinning it on Kristen. And hats off to Kristen for keeping it classy by falling on the sword and taking the high road but…ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?!? Stand up for yourself!
And here is where the judge’s failed miserably. They KNEW that Kristen was being noble, and they knew that Josie was the real reason the dish failed (remember…botched fish and weak broth, the sauce wasn’t the only problem.) You could almost see them begging Kristen to step up and fight back. But Padma was ready to crucify Kristen. Even though all four of them KNEW that Josie should have gone home, Kristen is sent packing.
Here is my conspiracy theory that I mentioned: Last Chance Kitchen.
I’ve avoided LCK all season, because frankly, I think it is sort of lame. But, this was the first one I’ve watched all season, and I doubt I’m the only person in that boat.
What would make for better drama than the unjustly eliminated Kristen fighting her way back into the finals in Last Chance Kitchen? And guess what…despite an over-use of saffron in her dish Kristen lives to fight another day. Curious? Hmmm.
Oh yeah, Sheldon won a Toyota.
NEXT WEEK: No clue what happens, but I hope it involves Josie being grabbed by the headband and forcefully dragged off the show.
- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog