Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fantasy Top Chef Update Week 3: Master of the House

It was clear from the ads for this week's episode that it was going to be the much anticipated "Restaurant Wars", where the remaining chefs split off into two teams and create a restaurant from scratch in three and a half hours. Fun times!

Quick Fire Challenge

For the Quick Fire challenge, everyone drew knives to be "Team Captains". Jen was the captain of the first team, and after some deliberation chose Kevin. Michael V., the other captain, instantly picked his brother Bryan. The teams ended up as so:

Team Jen: Jen (Saunter), Kevin (Garth), Mike I. (Saunter), Laurine (Daddy)
Team Volt: Michael V. (Garth), Bryan (Daddy), Eli (Saunter), Robin (Garth)

As luck would have it, Daddy's picks were spread out across two teams. Team Jen is also Team Saunter, while Team Volt is Team Garth.

For the challenge itself, each team had to create a dish by taking 10-minute turns. The non-cooking chefs would be blind-folded. And NO TALKING. Craziness!

In a clever move (if it was intentional), Team Jen produced a fish dish that seemed to please the fish-inclined guest chef (Rick Moonen). As there was no single chef winner, all chefs on Team Jen are awarded +1. All chefs on Team Volt were deducted 0.5. In the washup, Saunter picked up 1.5 points, while Garth and Daddy broke even.


Elimination Challenge

As mentioned above, the EC this week was "Restaurant Wars". The two teams from the QF challenge were retained, Team Jen naming their restaurant "Mission" and electing to have Laurine run the front of the house, while Team Volt (stupidly) went for REVolt and (smartly) had Eli run the front of the house. Both Eli and Laurine would also be responsible for a dish (though they would not cook it), as well as managing things out front.


Elimination Winners

REVolt seemed to have gotten all of their mediocrity out in the name of their restaurant. Other than the moniker, Colicchio thought that this was the best effort that they had seen during a "Restaurant Wars" challenge.

Bryan (Daddy, +2): Bryan fought for his ganache as a dessert, despite it flaming out in a previous EC, but the spearmint ice cream he served with it was a big hit. His mains dish also seemed to be served underheated, which was not a good sign. He also had a hand in Eli's arctic char dish, which didn't impress. And to top it all off, he had a bit of bickering with his brother, though it seemed just about everyone fought with the younger Volt. Daddy has to be disappointed that his Big Dog didn't bring home more points, but it's better than nothing.

Eli (Saunter, +2): Eli was something of a revelation running the front of the house. He explained dishes well, was able to joke over the odd mishap, and in general seemed in control of things. His dish (the aforementioned arctic char) wasn't a hit, but he otherwise contributed solidly to the restaurant.

Robin (Garthmeister J., +2): In a smart decision, REVolt decided to also reprise a dish done previously in an EC, though Robin's apple crisp has actually done well. This time they decided to have Robin do a pear crisp. Despite Robin and Michael V. having a little spat, the dessert was well received by the judges. Garth has to be ecstatic here that he has gotten a positive return from Robin.

Overall EC Winner: Michael V. (Garthmeister J., +6): Michael was rewarded by the judges for his chicken appetizer and his cod main (which looked amazing), but if the judges had been privy to all the back-stage goings on it was clear he was the driving force anyway. Interestingly, Colicchio blogged about how he liked Michael V's manner. His prickliness may still cause him some pain, but for now he is racking up points for Garth.


Elimination Losers

Team Jen went with the better name "Mission", but that was it for them. It seemed like Team Jen were just unorganised all over, spacing out the dishes badly, choosing not to have a dessert course... just not well planned.

Jen (Saunter, -1): Once again Jen fails to impress. Perhaps it was the whole team's fault for agreeing to stick her with two fish mains, but it seemed that she was forever behind prep, and was forced to cook clams to order, which was death. In particular her trout was terrible. She could have dodged a bullet by not being sent home, which could have spelled the end for Saunter.

Kevin (Garthmeister J., -1) A rare trip to the bottom of things for Kevin. Despite his excellent pork dish (the man knows pig!) he seemed to really undercook his lamb. This could have been because he was doing two meat dishes at the same time, which spelled doom for Jen also. Having said that, he never looked like being in the running for elimination, and Garth will just have to suck up the negative points.

Mike I. (Saunter, -1) Mike probably should have run the front of the house, using his powers for Good not Evil (similar to Eli running things for REVolt). Mike's Artic char tartare and asparagus and egg are simple dishes (though the tartare was underseasoned), and seemed to almost guarantee that he would neither win, nor be eliminated.

Eliminated: Laurine (Daddy, -1) And Daddy loses another chef! Laurine had seemed on borrowed time, and her performance managing the restaurant was atrocious. When you get called back by the judges to explain the dishes you just served... well, that's not a good sign. In some ways this puts Daddy out of his misery, as he has everything ride on Bryan.


League Table

Garthmesiter J.: 19.0 (+7.0)
Saunter: 12.0 (+1.5)
Daddy: 6.0 (+1.0)


A dominating week for Garth, as he once again picks up an Elimination Challenge win, the Kevin/Michael V. duo performing marvellously. Saunter is still lurking, though she needs Jen to lift her game. Daddy is all aboard the Bryan train, and needs a deep finish to have a chance of taking this thing out.

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Pauly and Nicky have gotten the Fantasy Top Chef bug as well! In case you missed it, check out their recap of last week's episode.

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