Top Chef Recap: 8/15

Though he may not have the most cooking talent, our friend Howie sure has the most audacity in the group. At this point, nobody can stand to be around him anymore, but they simply don’t want to ruin their chances of becoming Top Chef, so they deal with it.

“Howie showed a complete lack of tact and stability last week. This is the final straw. Howie’s done for us,” CJ complained.

Besides dealing with Howie’s attitude in the kitchen, the 8 remaining cheftestants were back this week and prepared to cook to win. With guest judge Daniel Boulud watching them every step of the way, the chefs had no room for error. They were all extremely intimidated and blown away by the status and talent of Boulud, praising him as “a big deal, one of the top 10 chefs in the country, if not, the world, for French cuisine.”

Their Quickfire challenge this week was to come up with their own unique take on America’s best loved meal: the burger. Since they no longer receive immunity for the elimination round if they win the Quickfire challenge, the cheftestants knew this was their time to shine.

With only 30 minutes to create a delectable, creative, and courageous American burger, the intensity and focus level was just soaring through the roof.

Tre decided to go with a typical “surf and turf” burger, while, on the more complex side, Brian chose to create a scallop, shrimp and sea bass burger. Not your typical piece of meat.

Neither too simple nor too complex, CJ’s burger was chosen by Boulud as winner.

As the highly acclaimed winner of the Quickfire challenge, CJ had the privilege of choosing his team for the Restaurant Wars elimination round.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, "Restaurant Wars" requires the chefs to divide into two teams. Each team will be provided with raw restaurant space and 24 hours to get a restaurant up and running (from scratch!).

Some advice from expert Boulud, “Stay cool, stay together.”

CJ wisely chose three other chefs that he found himself working well with over the past weeks: Tre, Brian and Casey, and they decided to name their restaurant April, after CJ’s sister.

This left Hung, Sara, Howie and Dale for the other team, naming their American style bistro restaurant “The Garage,” since the space they were given to create their restaurant looked like a garage. How clever.
Each team was given $700 for food, and $2500 for table wear and décor to prepare for 30 guests who would later show up to wine and dine.

While each teams’ executive chefs (Sara and Tre) were cooking away, the other members were picking out food, décor, aroma, and, well, trying to stay calm.

“I've never seen Tre run that much in my life,” exclaimed Sara, shocked at how little time they had to complete such a large task.

In the end, neither teams’ restaurant was impressive. Brian volunteered to be the host for his team, which turned out to work against them. He was sweaty, flustered, and understaffed.

Restaurant Garage had issues with the “suffocating stink of vanilla,” along with Howie’s overly sticky risotto. To no one's surprise, he defended the level of stickiness.

Since both teams were apparently equally awful, the judges decided to give the cheftestants a second chance to prove themselves. Nobody was sent home, and they will be repeating the Restaurant Wars tomorrow evening.

Hopefully tomorrow night both Restaurant April and Restaurant Garage will get some Speed Stick; for Brian’s perspiration problem and Howie’s risotto-stickiness problem. Looks like all their problems are solved.

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