Top Chef Recap: Restaurant Wars (Fabio Charms Everyone)

Recap: on Last Week's Top Chef, the chefs were taken out on the S.S. Minnow for a three hour tour and fish fry.  Carla won a trip to Amsterdam and both Jamie (finally) and Tiffany were sent packing.

Quickfire Challenge: The cheftestants walk into Le Bernadin, the best seafood restaurant in the freaking world (which, by the way has an off-the-charts tasting menu for $135 a person should you be in NYC). Anthony Bourdain meets the cheftestants. Where's Eric Ripert?  I mean I love me some Tony Bourdain but if one hot chef is good, two are better and a Bourdain-Ripert Top Chef episode is always pure gold with me.  Add Tom Colicchio and you've got the hot chef trifecta!

No Eric in sight, but we do get an impressive display of fish butchery by Le Bernadin's Justo Thomas. Now it's the cheftestants turn. They have a generous 10 minutes to butcher a cod and a fluke to Le Bernadin standards. During that ten minutes, Marcel whines about how he has skin allergies to fish and Fabio cuts through his fingernail. The best fish butchers; Dale, Richard, Mike and Marcel now have 45 minutes to cook a delicious fish dish...using the crappy parts that cats generally eat - namely the head, tail and fins.  Winner gets immunity. 

During cooking, Mike calls Marcel a "dick". No argument there. Tony deems all the dishes good, but Dale wins immunity.

Elimination round: Padma introduces the cheftestants to Chef Ludo, who has a pop-up restaurant named LudoBites 5.0. Chef Ludo explains that a pop-up restaurant is a restaurant that's in a temporary space and open for maybe a month, maybe a week, maybe a day - totally awesome!

Padma announces that this is Restaurant Wars and they're to form teams and create a pop-up restaurant. New Restaurant Wars twist - the diners will eat at both restaurants and choose the winners, not the judges. Since Dale won the quickfire, he's a team captain and gets to choose the other team captain. He chooses Marcel. 

Marcel's teammates are Mike, Antonia, Tiffany and Angelo. Tiffany will do front of house. The concept will be Mediterranean and the restaurant's name is Etch (better than Itch).

Dale's teammates are Fabio, Tre, Carla and Richard. Fabio will do front of house (instant win). The concept will be a bodega, as in scruffy grocery store where you can buy loose cigarettes, beer and condoms. The restaurant's name is....Bodega. 

Things are not looking too good over at Etch.  Tom Collichio drops in to talk to Marcel and concludes that Marcel has a "wild energy". Things go downhill from there. Dana Cowan, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine Magazine, sends back her lamb dish, her egg dish and pretty much everything else.  Padma and the gang walk in to find Tiffany gone from her post, but can hear her cackling nervously.  Mike and Marcel fight in the kitchen and Angelo tries his best to disappear into the cooler.

Across the way at Bodega, Fabio is charming the boxers and panties off of every man, woman and crustacean that walks into the restaurant.  Fabio is one hot cheftestant and he knows how to work it!  He takes charge of the servers and for the first time EVER in restaurant wars, this looks like what a fine dining establishment should look like instead of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.  The kitchen is running smoothly and putting out some delicious dishes that are appreciated be everyone, including the "tuna in a can".

Judges Table: Padma calls in Team Marcel, where they're told that only 17 out of 76 diners voted for their restaurant - ouch! The judges are pretty harsh. Bourdain says it best by stating the dessert was "a thumb in the eye".

Team Dale enter Judge's table.  Praise all around. Richard's potato chips were "smart", Dale's egg dish was "perfect stoner food", Fabio's sauce was "fantastic".  Overall winner - Richard. 

Team Marcel gets called to the chopping block. Tony Bourdain's line of the evening - "I've seen prison breaks organized with more efficiency and teamwork". And Marcel packs his knives and goes.

Next week? Something catches fire and some mobsters take over the kitchen. 

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss