So, who wowed The Puck? Brooke releases the kraken with a ginger-caramel squid with fresh lime and chili powder, which I want to make. Like, immediately. That girl is no joke. Stefan’s ahi tuna with lemongrass and ginger was also a hit, as was Lizzie’s watermelon and ginger soup with fresh mint, which was “simple but well balanced.” Brooke wins the Quickfire and gets immunity in the Elimination Challenge.
The incredibly successful restaurateur Danny Meyer (Union Square Cafe, the Modern at MoMA, Gramercy Tavern, among many others) joins Padma and Puck to announce. . . say it with me now: Restaurant Wars! This season, it’s a little different. (Praise you, O Wise Producers, for shaking this up and perhaps even making it better.) Each cheftestant must come up with his or her own restaurant concept and cook one dish that best represents it. Carla, Eliza, Chrissy and Kuniko return to help as sous chefs. The two winners of this first part of the challenge will then have to open their “restaurants” in the second half of the challenge.
Danny, Tom, Padma and Gail show up at the food festival where the chefs showcase their restaurant concepts. Danny and Tom reminisce about the first time they met; we see a deer-in-the-headlights kitchen photo of Tom with hair, and he looks strikingly like he could be
’s younger brother. Here’s what the judges tasted:
Josh (“Bistro George”): Seared eye of rib-eye with cauliflower puree and mushroom-red wine sauce;
Lizzie (“northern Italian farmhouse kitchen”): Mustard green canederli with fonduta and crispy speck;
Sheldon (“Urbano,” modern Filipino): Sour tamarind soup with pork belly, shrimp and snapper (which I want to eat as soon as the show is over, holy wow);
Stefan (German-Thai): Thai lobster bisque with shrimp dumplings, potatoes and radishes accompanied by a Bavarian cream-mango lollipop;
Micah (raw): Raw salmon, snapper, hamachi, squid, scallop and mackerel with raw vegetables;
Kristen (formal, contemporary French): Onsen egg with camembert-mustard sauce and buttered radishes;
Brooke (“unkosher”): Matzoh ball soup with duck confit and toasted black rye bread;
Josie (“Home 305”): Puerco asado, black bean-chorizo croquette, pickles and mojo sauce.
When Padma asks which chefs are contenders to be sent home, the judges say they are not feeling Stefan’s German-Thai concept. They also aren’t fans of Micah’s raw food. Gail calls Josie’s pork “inedible.”
Back in the Stew Room, Kristen, Sheldon and Josh are called to Judges’ Table. As they stand up and walk out of the room, they look as if someone ran over their puppy while telling them they have cancer. Smiles break out when Padma tells them they had the three best concepts and dishes. Gail loved Josh’s “neighborhood” feel, and Tom thought his rib-eye was nicely seared. Each of the judges praised different elements of Kristen’s dish. Danny tells Sheldon he made an impression with that very first sip of soup. Tom tells him there was a place and purpose for everything in his soup, “and that is the hallmark of a great dish.”