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Top Chef: Restaurant Wars!

January 19, 2011 09:30 PM by Shayla Perry

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This week, on an all new episode of Top Chef: All-Stars on Bravo, it’s time for Restaurant Wars! Will the All-Star chefs do better with this fan favorite their second time around? And which of the remaining 10 contestants will be packing their knives tonight? Keep reading to find out!

After last week’s double elimination of both Jamie and Tiffani F., the remaining cheftestants are off to a fresh start, but Antonia, aka “The Black Hammer” is starting to think that maybe there’s a little truth in the belief that anyone on her team is destined to be booted from the competition.

Arriving at Le Bernadin, one of the best seafood restaurants in the country, instead of the Top Chef kitchen, the chefs are greeted by Anthony Bourdain, who takes them down to watch pro Justo Thomas quickly fillet a fish, and the contestants immediately know what their Quickfire Challenge will be.

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Anthony Bourdain informs them that they must fillet their own fish to Le Bernadin standards in 10 minutes, which is 2 minutes longer than it takes Thomas.

Tiffany, who’s an executive chef at a seafood restaurant, is expected to do well, but worries about the time constraint. Fabio ends up cutting his thumb, but decides to “take it like a man” and tough it out, while Carla struggles to get any usable portions from her fish.

Tiffany, cut the fish the wrong way and ends up at the bottom of the challenge.

The four chefs that did the best–Richard, Dale, Mike, and Marcel–will have 45 minutes to make a dish using the excess of the fish–the heads, tails, etc. The winner will receive Immunity in the Elimination Challenge.

Dale Talde is perfectly comfortable with the challenge, having grown up eating dishes prepared with fish heads, and actually ends up making two dishes.

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Though Anthony Bourdain and Justo Thomas are impressed with all four of the chefs’ dishes, it’s Dale that wins the Quickfire and Immunity.

Back at the Top Chef kitchen, Padma Lakshmi is joined by Chef Ludo  of Top Chef Masters, and the two reveal that the Elimination Challenge will be Restaurant Wars!

Dale, as winner of the Quickfire, is the captain of one team and gets to choose the captain of the opposing team. Dale selects the person he’d least likely want to work with…Marcel.

The two select their teams for the challenge:

Dale’s Team: Dale, Richard, Tre, Fabio, Carla

Marcel’s Team: Marcel, Angelo, Mike, Antonia, Tiffany

Padma Lakshmi then tells the two teams that they will have 24 hours to open 2 pop-up restaurants, and for the first time in Top Chef history, the diners will be deciding the winner of the challenge! (Sounds like a major advantage to Dale’s team, since we all know that Fabio is the King of woo-ing diners.)

The contestants immediately start to strategize, because as Marcel says, “Restaurant Wars is about assembling a mother f–king team!”

Marcel is having a hard time leading his “mother f–king team,” and Fabio doesn’t think that he’ll be able to pull off a “maracle” and rally them together for the challenge.

At a much more organized strategy session, Dale, Fabio, Carla, Tre, and Richard work on their own menu, as Marcel’s team struggles with his ego to come up with a name for their restaurant.

With 5 hours to prep, the two teams to prepare the dishes for their restaurants, Etch (Marcel’s team) and Bodega (Dale’s team). Marcel’s team is creating Mediterranean inspired dishes, but Tom Colicchio is worried about how the hot-headed chef will work out as a leader. Before leaving, Tom informs the chefs that the winner of the challenge will win $10,000.

While Fabio is in the dining room managing his servers, Tiffany is busy peeling boiled eggs, which Marcel feels the need to give her pointers on.

Having to head out to the dining room, Tiffany leaves the rest of her dish to Antonia.

Richard is a little concerned because things are going too well with his team, and he knows they’re bound to have problems.

Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine magazine is in the dining room, but since the diners will ultimately decide this challenge, she’s not exactly they’re top concern.

As Richard predicted, his team starts to have some trouble when Dale gets angry with one of the servers, but the problem isn’t as bad as what’s going on with Marcel’s team… The diners, including Dana Cowin, are sending they’re food back because it’s not cooked well enough, and so far, they don’t have many good things to say about their meals.

The judges arrive and Fabio is in full schmooze-mode, which is VERY impressive, and all of the judges seem to be loving Bodega.

As they arrive at Etch, Marcel’s restaurant, things are much less organized, and the judges are concerned with the fact that they can hear Tiffany’s laughs above everything else in the restaurant, and that the waitstaff isn’t getting any direction from her at all–a far contrast from Fabio’s well-oiled machine.

When Tiffany tells the people in the kitchen that the food needs to be hotter, Mike and Angelo suggest putting the plates right on the stove, but Marcel tells Mike to “just keep cooking,” which sets Mike off.

At the end of the challenge, Fabio is confident, but Richard notes that the last time he was confident, they ended up at the bottom! Marcel tells his team that they did well, but Antonia strongly disagrees.

Padma Lakshmi calls team Etch (Marcel’s team) before the judges. Padma tells them that only 17 of 76 diner favored their restaurant, which Tom attributes to a lack of organization.

When the judges ask Tiffany about her front of the house operation, Tiffany blames arguments on the line. The judges then ask what the arguing was all about and everyone begins pointing fingers at Marcel, which starts a heated conversation between Marcel and Mike.

Team Bodega is obviously the challenge winner, with the judges loving everything about their restaurant and Anthony Bourdain referring to Dale’s egg dish as “stoner food at it’s finest”–in a good way.

The winner of the challenge and $10,000 is Richard, who’s surprised, since he thought he was going home.

The judges begin to deliberate about the failure of Etch, which ranges in everything from the food to the service. But should Tiffany go for having a hand in both, or Marcel, for poor leadership?

When the judges call the four chefs of Etch back before the panel, it’s Marcel that’s asked to pack his knives and leave the competition, meaning two things: 1. Marcel can’t assemble a mother f–king team, and 2. The curse of the “Black Hammer” continues!

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Photo credit: BRAVO

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