Top Chef New Orleans Episode 9: Restaurant Wars
In which Carrie makes chickpea butter, which sounds a lot like hummus.
Each week we'll watch Aragona chef Carrie Mashaney represent in the show's New Orleans season.
Previously, on Top Chef: Carrie’s too-hot hot sauce! Porky posole! No one knows what “hip tang” means!
Who missed Top Chef last week, when you were prepping your pies and brining your turkey?
This week we jump right in with our top 10, and there’s no quickfire challenge because it’s officially time for restaurant wars.
The elimination challenge: Padma, inexplicably wearing what appears to be a kimono, introduces the guest judge, David Chang—cue the jaw-drops and ass kissing from the contestants. His words of advice: “Don’t plan about things that can go right, plan about everything going wrong.”
The chefs draw knives and are divided into two teams: the green team (Sara, Justin, Nina, Carlos, and Shirley), and the purple team (Nick, Carrie, Stephanie, Travis, and Brian). Nick points out that the green team has a lot of wins stacked up and likens his team—with our lovely Carrie!—to the Bad News Bears.
The green team decides on a modern American restaurant theme to best suit their eclectic, internationally influenced cooking styles, and Justin (and his ego) jumps in as executive chef. Sara again talks about her Wolfgang Puck experience and decides to be on dining room duty.
The purple team effortlessly ends up choosing a seafood theme, and Carrie gets loads of screen-time talking about how well they’re collaborating and how excited she is. Travis steps up as front-of-house manager, and Nick (quietly) takes on the executive chef role.
Ten minutes into the episode, Justin is already visibly pissy and short-fused. Nina looks concerned. They can’t find ring molds for Sara’s brown butter cake at Restaurant Depot, and no one seems to see the fault in the fact that she’s doing dessert and taking on FOH. We’ve all seen past seasons, right? We know where this is going?
Meanwhile, it’s all sunshine and rainbows on the purple team, with Travis calling Carrie a soccer mom as she drives one of the Toyota Rav4s to Whole Foods, and everyone getting on swimmingly. Brian buys xantham gum instead of agar agar for a purple corn gel or some such nonsense, and it’s sort of laughed off.
With four hours to service, the green team’s restaurant Found appears to be floundering—Justin’s sweating and cursing and barking orders that no one seems to take seriously—and there’s still plenty to do. Nick, on team Fin, is rocking a yellow bandana and appears to actually know what he’s doing.
The screen-time alternates between the two restaurants during service, which starts with the judges—Tom, Padma, Gail, and David Chang—at Fin, and the guests—a team of Chase Sapphire card-holding VIPs and Danny Meyer, whom Sara calls “the ambassador of the entire idea of hospitality”—at Found. Then they swap. Overall, Fin is mostly lovely, Travis does a remarkable job at being likable, the food is mostly good and comes out on time. They aren’t super impressed with Carrie’s prawns and chickpea butter—the term “oil slick” may have been used—but we’ll let that go.
Found, however, is a nightmare. Justin says “service is a clusterf*ck,” Gail calls Sara’s dessert a “weird, greasy cookie,” and even the Chase card whoevers look disappointed with their free meal.
There’s little in the way of judges’ table, because it’s all so obvious how disparate the two restaurants were.
The winner: Fin (duh), and Nick specifically. The judges loved his dish of roasted black drum, king trumpet mushrooms, and oxtail ragu; Chang pointed out how well he took care of his team in the kitchen.
The loser: Sara. Though it’s obvious to everyone but Sara, she ranked up there with some of the least personable service ever, and didn’t even explain what the dishes were (or who made them) as they came out. Except her own, which wasn’t good. Whomp, whomp—we’ll miss you and your head scarves.
The line of the night: “I don’t know what’s going on with Found, but I’m about to get lost.” Oh, Tom, you’re so clever.
- Is it just me, or has this season featured more obscure types of fish than any other? I had to Google both drum and cobia, and I speak menu-ese pretty well.
- By this time next week, we very well may be able to watch this from Aragona, Carrie’s new restaurant! Stay tuned for details on an exact opening date.
Next week: Everyone cries? I’m not really sure what’s going on from that clip…