Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Restaurant Wars - The Red Team

So. Restaurant Wars. This is what I love about this challenge. Sometimes what you get is not ever what you expected. Coming out of the Quickfire, the Blue Team so confident that they let a sure $10,000 in cash go in the hopes of rolling it into $40,000. Sometimes that's the price you pay for overconfidence. We'll get to them soon enough. I want to talk about the Red Team or Revolt (with the E backwards) because without even stepping into the kitchen by all rights this team should have been called Dysfunction.
Here's your team, the Battling Brothers Voltaggio, Whiny Baby Eli and Faux Momma, Robin. Does it not have disaster written all over it? First let's review the parameters: 30 minutes to plan a three course meal, then $3000 and one hour to shop at Whole Foods and Restaurant Depot. A change this season, no one has to decorate their restaurant (thank goodness) because either A) there are no Pier One stores in Vegas or B) no one expected Pier One to still be in business once they got to this challenge or C) No gay guys left to slough off the flower arranging duties. They are also responsible for Front of House and Service and whomever does FOH still has to come up with and execute one dish. So the Red Team starts their planning and not five minutes in it starts.Best line of Red Team planning: Can you make your ganache not grainy...? The brothers may have each other's back but they still reserve the right to poke each other with a sharp stick, this sharp stick being Robin's Apple Crisp to Bryan's Grainy Chocolate Ganache. Done with the pokery, they move onto Shopping.Faux Momma has apparently given Baby Eli tasks that hopefully he can handle, like driving the cart and sending age appropriate (for him) product pimpage text messages.Guess Sprint's still in business enough to buy the big Top Chef Pimp. Meanwhile Faux Momma loses her mind over having her Pellegrino strategy copied by the Blue Team.Little did she know that all the Pellegrino in the world would not be able to save some people. Shopping done, it's back to the house for Project Top Chef Runway.
Dang, I'm guessing the Cocktail Dress didn't come with a matching set of diapers so it was nixed. Thanks anyway Tim Gunn.Three hours to prep before service is about the right time for Michael's Mr. Control Freak Hyde to emerge. Robin takes the brunt of his heavy hand but not even Bryan is immune.Revolt's menu is looking spectacular. Wide range of proteins and preparations and a fun dessert. Can they pull it off without killing each other?Service starts and already the restaurant's name is causing some confusion. Maybe it's a puzzle game to work on while your food is coming? While the diners try and suss it out, the Big Guns arrive. I think Padma stole Eli's cocktail dress and added some fringy shoes?Still, I'll have to admit she looks mighty fine in it. After more nit picking the restaurant name, Revolt's first course hits the table.

Smoked Arctic Char with Beet Sauce, Horseradish Cream and Potato Chip

Chicken and Calamari 'Pasta', Tomato Confit and Fennel Salad

Beautiful First Course servings of Char prepared by Eli and an interesting chicken preparation by Michael. The chicken gets raves especially from Tom who wants to eat all the serving instead of saving some for Padma. You know Padma's not having any of that noise. OK maybe Tom's a wee bit smarter than I generally give him credit for. Still, he did think Padma might give some back after he passed it her way? Snort! The Char, while beautiful, gets pinged for being one dimensional. Time for Main Courses. Well, maybe not time yet. While they never say, apparently there was too much time waiting between the first and the main course.

Duo of Beef, Braised Short Rib and Prime NY Strip Steak with Sunchoke Puree

Cod with Parsley Sauce with Mussel Billi-Bi Croquette and Zucchini Tenderloin

The cod gets the nod from Rick Moonen but no one talks about the Billi-Bi Croquette. So I will. Because I easily confess my ignorance I googled Billi-Bi and discovered that while there is a Danish boot designer named Billi Bi......Billi-bi in culinary terms is a French soup made from mussel stock, white wine, shallots, butter and cream. This dish caused a bit of tussle between the brothers when Bryan exploded a serving of croquettes and Michael had (really, demanded) to re-do the serving. I point this out not only because not serving a poorly executed dish is sometimes more important than getting to the diner quickly but because Michael gets a little heated and we hear the beep machine covering some of his juicier complaints. He may be a control freak but it was his dish and having that little croquette of creamy mussel goodness melt at the table is worth the extra effort. However it looks like Bryan's duo of beef is not as hot as it could be and Toby finds the sauces bland.Back in the kitchen, Michael apparently does not have enough to do so he micromanages the appearance of Robin's dessert. Robin, finally pushed to her limit, pushes back and gets her own beep machine montage. Michael, thinking cursing is restricted to just himself, warns her not to curse at him again. Bryan jumps in to break it up but Robin and Michael continue sparring until Michael decides the best way to get Robin to now relax is to yell Relax over and over again at her. Has he any problems with how her dessert tastes?

Pear Pithivier with Frangipane, Vanilla Ice Cream and Elderflower Syrup

Chocolate Ganache with Spearmint Ice Cream and Chocolate Tuiles

Must taste good because the judges eat them both up, giving Robin props for making her best dish yet and loving Bryan's Ganache.

What did the judges think of Eli's Front of House duties? He seems to have handled it quite well, apologetic when necessary, clear and concise with his dish descriptions and showed just the right amount of badgering to the back of the house to get those plates moving.

Back in the Stew Room, the Red Team works on their Under Bus Strategy.

They needn't have worried. They get the first call to Judge's Table and we all know what that means.Hugs instead of bus wheels. Now, for me, it gets a little stupid. You see Tom had to ruin it all with his Best Restaurant Wars restaurant ever comment and here's why. It may well have been the best food prepared for Restaurant Wars but to compare it against the five other seasons of Restaurant Wars is pure bullshit. This was absolutely the easiest, non-twist, no raw space challenge ever. You better hope you get better food but if you want to let all those chefs from past seasons come back and compete in Rick Moonen's sweet Las Vegas set up, with the well placed kitchen, beautiful decor and no bloggers planted in the dining section to throw nasty snark at the efforts of your chefs, fantastic, do it. Until then you sure as shit don't sound like you know what you're talking about because it sounds like a huge insult to those past chefs who helped make Restaurant Wars such a great challenge. Don't get me wrong, I'm as happy as a clam not having chefs attempt to be interior designers or have some crazy twist thrown at them. It's enough to start up their own restaurant and develop a cohesive menu in basically one day. To reward these four chefs with that kind of compliment is just more of lazy, sound bite pronouncements from Tom. Gee, what's new?

So Michael is named the over all winner of Restaurant Wars. But wait, there was one little twist......the Blue Team's $10,000 prize now goes to Michael. Happily he decides to share his winnings with his teammates which is pretty generous. Happily for me, his brother Bryan can't contain his anger at Michael's unprofessional behavior and tells him to keep his share of the money. I love family dynamics mixed with high tension stress. I feel like there's a wedgie right around the corner, just waiting for one of them.

Next up: Self Inflicted Wedgies.


MakingSpace said...

I have the following irrelevant comments:
1. ONE potato chip? That thunking sound you hear is my eyeballs rolling up to the top of my head.
2. Fuzzi Bunz makes a black diaper. Just sayin.
3. Will there be photo(shopping) of the wedgie? Pleaseohplease

Big Shamu said...

Not sure if it was just one chip. Hard to tell from the video. I doubt it.
Fuzzi Bunz declined to pimp their black diaper for this episode.

No wedgie shots. It's scary enough what's out there in Google Land.

Aunty Belle said...

Wow, Shamy,
thas' some amazin' commentary. No follin', that really made me on--an' I doan even watch TC cause Padma gives me the pip, an so do all them primia donna knife wielders.

but the menu of Team Red was fabulous--except fer one thang. I doan think a zucchini tenderloin is the highest an' best use of zucchini. I mean....really now, that a wee too precious, ya know?

Big Shamu said...

Yes I do know Aunty. I mean, really, zucchini tenderloin? What next, zucchini heart?

LaDivaCucina said...

I don't understand why Robin got upset about the Pellegrino, not like it's a really "out there" kind of addition to the meal, is it? Water and wine...obvious.

Well, guess who learned what a Billi Bi was on the weekend watching Julia Child and Jacques Pepin? ME! HA! GO THE PBS!!!! (I even wrote it down, determined to make it yum!)

Agree with you about Tom's restaurant wars comments....is it me or is the food this season just not as creative and "out there" as past seasons?

Finally, I agree with Bryan, his brother is a putz and needs to grow up!