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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #9 - 12/04/13 (Spoilers)

LindaWhit | Dec 4, 201308:56 PM

Let's Get Ready to Rummmmmble!!!! Yup - it's time for Restaurant Wars.

But before that, they're back in the house doing some cooking for themselves. Then they head off to the TC Kitchen - and only Padma is there. She tells them it's time for Restaurant Wars.

The guest judge is David Chang - he tells them not to plan on things going right; they should plan on everything going wrong. They draw knives to break into two teams of five.

Green Team - Sara, Carlos, Justin, Nina, and Shirley
Purple Team - Brian, Nicholas, Carrie, Stephanie and Travis

Stephanie whispers under her breath "I should have taken some Pepto!"

Each teams must choose an Executive Chef, and someone to be FOH. Padma also tells them that there will be a VIP table of Chase Sapphire Cardmembers (:::blah, blah, blah insert ad here:::). The VIP table and judges will be the only diners who will get to eat at both restaurants. Padma also notes that restaurateur, Danny Meyer, will be joining them, who will check with the diners and report back to the judges.

Each team breaks off to plan their restaurant. The Green Team goes with "modern American". Sara offers to make a brown butter financier as the dessert for her team, since no one else claims any pastry experience.

On the Purple Team, Travis said he served as FOH and restaurant manager at the last place he worked at, and when asked, he said he would be FOH for the Purple Team's restaurant. In the confessional, Travis said "Gays belong in the front of the house! Duh!" LOL They're going with a seafood theme.

The Green Team goes with Sara as their FOH, and Justin said he'll be the Executive Chef. Sara discusses what the style of the restaurant should be; how it should look. Carlos notes that they're spending way too much time on the style vs. the menu decisions.

They head off in the Toyotas to an open empty place called "The Foundry" - and it turns out there's no kitchen. They realize that they'll have to figure out the design of the entire place - including the kitchen. The Purple Team agrees to have Nicholas as the Executive Chef.

They they all go to an event rental place for tables, chairs, plates, everything needed. Justin and Carlos get into a bit of a dust-up, when Carlos notes again that they hadn't even discussed what everyone is making after Justin said he didn't want to make the same thing as Carlos. When Carlos said they haven't discussed dishes, Justin gets snippy and said "Well, we haven't discussed it yet, so drop it - we're going back to plates." He then got snippy with Sara as well about a type of bowl - silver rim or no silver rim? The Purple Team looks over and see what's going on with the Green Team.

Then the teams head off to shop for ingredients. The Purple Team splits up - Nick and Stephanie head to Restaurant Depot for bulk food items; Travis, Carrie and Brian were heading to Whole Foods "in their Toyota Rav 4" (WAY obvious voice-over). Carrie programs the GPS; Travis said "you'll be a soccer mom yet!" Carrie retorts "Shut your mouth! Do NOT make me pull this car over!" :-)

Shirley, Justin and Carlos and Nina are in Restaurant Depot, while Sara is in Whole Foods. Shirley notes that they hadn't planned their menu, but as long as every dish can link together using the modern America theme, it should be OK. (How the hell are they picking ingredient choices? This makes no sense whatsoever!) Sara's requested ring molds are unavailable at Restaurant Depot, so she's going to have to wing it.

Back at The Foundry, the Purple Team (now named "Fin") starts unloading their stuff from the event rental place. Nicholas starts planning out the kitchen with the equipment coming in. He notes as EC, if Fin loses, typically the EC goes home. So if he asks someone on his team to do something, he expects them to do it. Carrie asks him if he wants them to call him "Chef" - and he said yes.

The Green Team (now called "Found"), starts to unpack their restaurant equipment. Both teams start their prep. Travis reviews the menu for Fin; everyone seems to be working well together. Sara (Found) asks about the coffee service; Justin replies that they ordered a coffeemaker. Sara looks over and said "That little 12-cup is going to feed 125 people?" Justin said "Let's just be positive and turn out great food - my food is turning out great right now! Let's just focus on the food right now!" Nina notes that having a happy restaurant is like a happy marriage. The line cooks are like the kids; the GM and the Chef are the parents - if they're constantly fighting the kids will see it. She calls out "Leave the effin' egos at the door!"

Over at Fin, Nicholas tastes something of Brian's, and says "You're going to gel it, right?" Brian says yes.....but then realizes the gel he thought he was buying (agar-agar) ended up being xanthum gum. Major issue with the gel with flavor and texture.

They're done with prep - back to the house. The Purple Team find a King Cake in the kitchen and say they're not going to share with the Green Team. Meanwhile, the Green Team is elsewhere in the house, and Justin is telling everyone (mostly Sara) how he wants the tickets to be written up. He said he wants proper communication and executing. (RED FLAG! Sure sign there won't be proper communication!) He said if there are issues with the FOH, it can throw off everything.

The next morning, they arrive at The Foundry, and they have 4 hours to finish up. Prep, table numbers, demo plates up, staff informed and trained, steps of service in place - lots of stuff to finish in a very short time. Travis meets his staff up front - and they begin to set up their restaurant. Meanwhile, Sara goes up front to meet her staff, and their restaurant is already set up. She notes how tickets are to be written up, walks them through the tables, making sure they know which table is which. Anything can happen if they don't know what to do.

The demo plates are brought out for Fin, and Nicholas reviews the plates with the servers. Meanwhile, over at Found, Justin asks Nina what happened with the other smaller bowls with silver rims. Nina notes he said he wanted matching white bowls. He said "Yes! But also the smaller ones with silver rims!" His dish is going to look lost in the huge soup bowls.

Fifteen minutes to service. Guests show up at Fin, and staff begins to take orders. The Fin kitchen looks well ordered and starts serving. VIPs being arriving at Found: Tory McPhail (EC @ Commander's Palace - we've seen him before!), and some of the Chase Sapphire preferred diners, and restaurateur, Danny Meyer.

Over at Fin, the judges arrive: Tom, Padma, David Chang, and Gail Simmons. Tom C. notes that in this situation, ECs can find it hard to have control over people with whom they're competing; but David Chang said you can't run it like a democracy - you need to be a totalitarian state back there (the kitchen).

BRIAN - Scallop Crudo, Corn & Squash Relish with Purple Corn Gel. Gail said the gel isn't a good consistency; David said "it's just too snotty."

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Stephanie says that Nicholas has such a handle on expediting. "However he's doing it should never change for the rest of his life."

Over at Found, Danny Meyer asks the VIPs if anyone got a chance to study their menus. Nope, they didn't even get a menu. Meanwhile, the staff isn't filling out the tickets the way Justin needed them to be filled out. He talks with Sara, and she goes to discuss with the staff. At the VIP table, they tell Sara they didn't get a chance to see the menus. She apologizes and walks away....even as the person who asked about the menus starts to ask her something else. She continues to walk away. Danny Meyer looks a bit astonished.

Back at Fin:

CARRIE - Sauteed Gulf Shrimp, Chickpea Puree, Oregano & Lemon (and Shrimp Butter)
STEPHANIE - Linguini with Caviar, Oyster Cream & Fennel

Carrie's shrimp is a bit overcooked, and Tom said there was an oil slick underneath, but Gail liked the flavor. Stephanie's pasta is very well received - it was perfectly cooked. Padma said service has been great, and Tom sees that everyone is happy, and Travis is chatting with the customers.

Back at Found, someone ordered the snapper, but received another dish. Justin notes that the tickets are still screwed up - including the VIP table - only half the dishes have been served? The dishes are going to the wrong tables. Sara said there are a few issues with the FOH, but that the BOH seems to be having some confusion as well.

Annnd we're back at Fin, serving the judges.

NICHOLAS - Roasted Black Drum, King Trumpet Mushrooms, Oxtail, Kale & Hibiscus Reduction. David Chang said it's a delicious dish, and Gail notes he took a chance and went bold, and paired the drum with a deep sauce.

Finally, dessert.

TRAVIS - Olive Oil Cake with Greek Yogurt, Cherries & Pistachios. Padma asks if it's the same purple gel - Tom said "No! Taste this gel!" David said it's tight. Gail said the cake wasn't as moist as it could be, but it tastes really nice.

And the judges are done and head over to Found.

Meanwhile, the VIP table service is being messed up. Runners are confused, Sara's running food and busing tables. The judges arrive, Sara schmoozes them. Sara said "No matter how much the house is burning down around you, you have to put on the FOH mask and smile." Padma goes over to the VIP table and asks how it's going. She asks what time their reservations are at the other restaurant - Danny Meyer replies "In 3 minutes, and we just got our main course!"

Sara seats the judges, and goes into the kitchen and asks Justin to fire 2 of each for the judges - he said he can but he needs tickets. Justin notes that the service is still a clusterf*ck. David Chang said the Found menu sounds better and reads better, but whether it will taste better is to be seen. Gail said service at Fin was excellent, but since they've been seated at Found, no one has come to their table to take their order or tell them that food is coming, the way Travis did at Fin...and now they're just sitting there. Tom said "I don't know what's going on with Found, but I'm about to be lost." Padma calls out to Sara to check on their first courses. She goes in to tell Justin that Padma just complained, and he said "You haven't given me tickets!" She notes privately that she had given him a verbal fire and it should have been done ASAP. Justin said "A verbal fire? Not having a ticket for the judges in Restaurant Wars is ridiculous!"

Sara gets the apps for the judges, and walks out to deliver them. She puts them down and walks away. She never explained the dishes! So the judges muddle through on their own.

CARLOS - Red Snapper Crudo, Avocado Mousse, Pickled Baby Carrots and Fried Plantano. Gail said it's not a beautifully sliced piece of fish.

JUSTIN - Roasted Parsnip Agnolotti, Mississippi Rabbit & Collard Greens Broth. Tom said it was really bad, and David Chang agreed. Tom said "it's overcooked and undercooked at the same time. And if you're going to serve consomme, you don't serve it on a flat plate." David Chang suggested that he and Tom go back there and tell them "all of you, stand in a corner....we're going to do this!"

Things are still very confused in the Found kitchen. Dishes are being brought out to diners who already have food.

Sara brings out the next dish to the judges and asks if she can get anyone anything else - Padma says "Why don't you describe the dish?"

SHIRLEY - Olive Oil Poached Cobia, Blanched Ong Choy (fried with shrimp paste) & Salsa Verde. David said the fish is delicious, and the shrimp paste is the star of the dish.

Meanwhile, the VIPs show up at Fin. Danny Meyer asks how many are banking on a slightly better experience, and they all say they are hoping for better service.

Back at Found, Sara serves the next dish - and AGAIN walks away without any description of the dish! So Gail reads it off the menu.

NINA - Pork Tenderloin with Sunchokes & Trumpet Royale Mushrooms. Tom likes the dish, and Gail said it's the best dish from this team so far. Back in the kitchen, the cream is broken because of the heat. Sara said missing the whole component just means "it's a piece of cake."

The desserts come out - and WHAT a surprise, Sara describes her own dish without any prompting!

SARA - Summer Nectarine Brown Butter Cake with Moscato Nectarine Salsa. Even Padma notes that being Sara's dish is probably the reason this was the only dish that got explained voluntarily. Gail said said it's like a weird greasy cookie. But both Gail and Padma see that it's supposed to have mascarpone and ask where it is - Sara explains the heat in the kitchen and the emulsion broke. Another diner said the dish was "so sour, and not in a good way." When Nina asks "How did it go, Sara?" she replies "As well as it could."

Back at Fin, the VIP table asks Travis if he did dessert and FOH, and he said yes, that he did all of the prep yesterday, so they just needed to plate it. When he walks back into the kitchen to tell them they're done, Nicholas asked "how'd it go?" and Travis said "Great!" I think he's right!

Padma said that the vibe at Fin was much better, and Gail said the service in general was fantastic. Tom notes that Found's poor service *could* be BOH issues. Sara notes that her team is not confident; there were many sins committed.

They're back in the Stew Room, and the TV comes on. Padma thinks both teams got psyched out by Restaurant Wars. Gail said it's a very difficult challenge. David Chang said they're cooks; that's why you have to be critical of what's on the plate. Padma said it was clear one team did do a much better job, and one failed. And the TV cuts out - very* brief!

Padma comes in and asks to see Restaurant Fin. They're the winners!

Tom said that Travis did a great job as FOH - and Padma said the BEST FOH in *all* of the Restaurant War competitions! Tom said the room felt right, and Travis said that's part of being a chef. He asked how they worked in the kitchen. Carrie said they knew they had to put egos aside, and Nicholas was their boss. Tom said "Good training!" Carrie's dish was well reviewed, Brian's gels were total opposites, Stephanie's pasta was well made, and Nicholas's fish was perfectly cooked, and Gail liked the combo of the oxtail and the black drum; Travis' dessert was well balanced.

Who is the winner overall? It's Nicholas!

Restaurant Found is asked to come in. Padma tells them their restaurant was a disaster. Sara said she didn't see a disaster...once they got rolling, she thought it went well. Padma said "So you didn't intend to explain any of the dishes to us." Sara said "I guess it didn't occur to me." Gail said "But you talked us through *your* dish!" and Shirley gave Sara a "WTF" look. Sara thought she was prompted by the judges at that point and Padma said "No, I purposely didn't ask you to do so at that point, but you did tell us about that one."

Tom asked if they thought service went well in the kitchen, and Nina said it didn't. There was a breakdown in communication. Justin said his plan of attack was entirely different than what actually happened. Justin said "perhaps I should have trained the servers" and Sara came back with "There was disorganization in the kitchen." Sara and Justin go back and forth with issues - food going out to the VIPs in stages; lags in fire times; tickets that weren't written properly. But eventually, David said the food was what went wrong. Gail said Carlos' dish should have taken just a little bit of time to get out to the table; they waited a half an hour. Justin said by the time they got a ticket for it, yes, it was a long time. Sara said "I gave you a verbal fire for it!" (Padma's mouth is open at the total mess.) Padma asks why a verbal fire, and Sara said that was her judgment call, and she apologized (yet again!).

The judges discuss the dishes. Justin's rabbit was dry; Shirley's cobia was very well received. Nina's pork tenderloin was the favorite of everyone. When Padma asked "Sara, you made dessert?" she just nods. Gail asks "Do you want to tell us about it?" and Sara replies "Apparently, it's the only thing I did tell you about already." David tells her she knew the kitchen was going to be hot; if a component of the dish wasn't going to be on the dish, she makes everyone looks bad. Tom asks Sara and Justin that as GM and Chef, should it be one of them going home? They both said yes, it should be one of them.

The judges deliberate. David said Sara took on more responsibility, but Justin should have taken more of an authoritative role. Tom asks did Sara's lack of training cause chaos in the kitchen, and everyone said yes. But their food was also the worst in both restaurants. Back in the Stew Room - Sara thinks 100% it's her going home, and Justin thinks 100% it's him. Wouldn't it be interesting if both went home?

So who's being ask to PYKAG? It's Sara. As I think it should be. In her confessional as she packs up, she thinks the culinary side was what shot her in the ass, but as they walk out of Judges Table, Tom said the lack of effort in the front of the house contributed to the mess in the kitchen. So yet again, Sara doesn't realize what the issue really was.

OK, this was a LONG one! Previews for next week shows Hubert Keller! YAY! They're also "going home" - serving dishes from their own home? I hear "squirrel" is on one of the menus!

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