January 21, 2009 09:45 PM by DA Southern
Top ChefNew York recapped the farm challenge last week and the dismissal of Ariane from the ranks of the chefs. As the chefs continue to drop and the cream continues to rise to the top, the chefs realized that it’s not just about cooking anymore. It’s also psychological warfare where every detail of the cooking may mean the difference between staying and leaving theTop ChefNew York competition.
Stefan and Hosea were quick to start to size up the remaining chefs and Carla was talking about how she thought that Ariane had been thrown under the bus by Leah. Knowing that she did indeed get a pass, Leah was committed to show that she could compete with the remaining chefs.
After a quick meeting on the balcony, Fabio rounded the chefs up for what they though to be another Quickfire competition, but discovered instead, it was the ever-popular, Restaurant Wars. Restaurant Wars is the completion inTop Chefthat weeds out the chefs and sets the tone for the remaining time inTop Chefand is usually a fairly good indicator of who will be in the top.
Host Padma introduced Stephen Starr for the Quickfire Challenge and announced that the chefs would be preparing a dish for a tasting by Starr to set the tone for the two restaurants. The two winners would not receive immunity but would, instead, be the “Owners” of the restaurants. Not necessarily a great prize as the owner usually takes the brunt of the criticism in the challenge by the judges, but Radhika and Leah came out on top to lead their crews. Radhika picked Jamie, Carla and Jeff for her team and Leah picked Hosea, Fabio and Stefan.
The chefs went shopping for their restaurants and, for once, had a pretty sizable budget to work with as the chefs not only have to beef up their menus, but also supply the decorations to make their restaurants pleasing to the eye. With six hours to prepare, Jeff was definitely worried that all of the details would soon overwhelm the chefs.
Back at the apartment the night before the start of Restaurant Wars, each team had to finalize the menus and print all of the menus as well as talk about assignments for the next day. You could tell the egos were getting in the way with the final eight as the teamwork aspect seemed to be missing at the planning stages, except for Leah and Hosea, who could not keep their hands off of each other as they lounged on a couch together.
The chefs were off to get what was needed for the day for the various grocery stores and off they went to get ready for the night’s festivities with six hours to prepare per Padma’s instructions. Leah’s team decided on a lighter, Sunset Lounge Menu vs Radhika’s more Eastern-inspired, Sahana Menu which had more of an international flavor. Time was not a friend of the chefs as each of the chefs seemed to have a major hitch with the preparation of many of the dishes.
The guest were in and the chefs were felling the pressure of Restaurant Wars, knowing that there was a lot riding on this competition on the eyes of the judges. The judges were in and they were first to Radhika’s restaurant to sample the food. The judges seemed to be overall impressed with the first course, but seemed to be mixed about the lamb and fish.
Desserts still seem to be trouble this season and Carla knew that her desserts were a mess before they even went out. Even many of the guest were hating on the desserts. One of one of the biggest complaints for Radhika was her lack of personality in the restaurant.
Fabio was the charming front man for Leah’s team and immediately made an impression, which may have been one of the strongest parts of the meal. The judges were not quite as impressed with some of the food and some of the food was undercooked when it went to the judges table. The desserts were much better at Leah’s table, and Tom even added that “Stefan was definitely not going anywhere tonight” because of the quality of his desserts.
Much of the decision of the night will come down to comment cards and the overall balance between service quality and food quality. The judges even thought that Radhika’s food was slightly better but were very impressed with the front house service of Fabio and Leah’s team.
Padma called in Leah’s team, Sunset Lounge, and Tom announced that the comment cards were in favor of them and that Stefan won because of his desserts. The other team was in and Padma told them that they were the losing restaurant. As usual, the desserts were a bone of contention and Tom got on Radhika for not using her pastry chef experience to help Carla in the preparation.
In the end, the judges, were really hard on Radhika for her lack of leadership and were willing to overlook the horrendous desserts from Carla and sent her packing.
Next week’s show pits All-Stars from season’s past against the remaining seven and looks like it will test the patience of the chefs as they have a cook-off.
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Photo Credit: Bravo