Top Chef S09E09: Restaurant Snores

The chefs are brought into a giant, empty events space. They’re getting 8-way married! Congratulations! No, they are not getting 8-way married (because no one will marry Beverly. Poor Beverly!) they are getting 8-way restaurant warred. No Quickfire this week. All Elimination Challenge all the time. Everyone is, as they are every season, WAY too excited about the announcement that this is Restaurant Wars. Seriously, I don’t get it. As a viewer, I hate Restaurant Wars, and that’s as a viewer. I can only imagine what a miserable nightmare it is as an actual contestant. So everybody take it down, like, six notches. Seriously, look at this face:

No way, dude. Too much. Ease up. This season, for the first time ever, it’s going to be a BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Once again, with the faces and the false enthusiasm.

It’s 2008, guys. We don’t need to get excited about Battles of the Sexes anymore. They were never that fun to begin with. In fact, people dedicated their lives to ending them, and for good reason. I know we’re just trying to have fun here, but I’m just pointing out that while divvying the contestants up into boys vs. girls is a totally reasonable way to divvy them up for a nonsense challenge in which everyone has 45 minutes to “create a restaurant” (not a real thing) but we don’t have to pretend like it’s a particularly EXCITING part of it. Because it’s not. Anyway, far more “interesting” this year is that the teams will be cooking on consecutive nights rather than side-by-side, and each team will dine in the other team’s “restaurant.”

And here’s a question: why do they tell us that the teams have $7,500 to buy decorations? Good grief, just let them decorate or whatever. I mean, there is just no tension in any of the shopping ever and I know that I say that every week but this show insists on making a thing out of it every week, and so here we are, with locked horns, so mad at each other. Everyone fills their basket with framed artwork and wicker folding screens and stuff, and we don’t even see them at the checkout line NOT THAT I WANT TO SEE THEM AT THE CHECKOUT LINE but it’s just like now part of my brain is filled with the fact that they had $7,500 to shop for decorations and that’s not something that needs to be in there.

So, each team has to plan a three-course meal with two options for each course for a hundred people. This is the kind of thing that really does make this show and cooking and restaurants and food business in general fascinating to someone who is so bad at math that he can’t even think of a joke about how bad he is at math because even that joke would require some basic understanding of math. But, like, how do you know how much food to buy if you don’t even know how many people are going to order each thing? It’s too hard. All the restaurants should just close. Forget it. We gave it a good run, guys, but we just could never work out how much food to buy in order to feed 100 people an endless combination of options. Too bad. Restaurants seemed like such a good idea at the time!

The boys are up first. Their restaurant is called Canteen. Sure. I mean, that’s a perfectly fine name for a restaurant that is absolutely not actually a restaurant. It sounds like Justin Timberlake’s favorite place to eat in Friends with Benefits. “Welcome to the Big Apple. I saw Willem Defoe eating at Canteen last night!” The guys keep having to explain why their restaurant is called Canteen (something to do with society?), which is funny because a canteen is actually a place where people eat, unlike the ladies’ restaurant, which is called Half Bushel, and which they don’t ever seem to bother trying to explain. Good job, ladies. Way to be less boring and pretentious than the guys, I’m serious.

Ed is doing the front of house stuff and he actually seems pretty good at it. He’s high-fiving the waitstaff and pleasantly greeting people at the door. This lasts for about five minutes and then it’s all kind of a mess. They didn’t decide ahead of time who was going to expedite the food, whatever that means. It does seem this season like we’re getting way more vocabulary lessons. Remember that whole episode that hinged on repeating the word “albumin”? Everyone keeps taking turns expediting until Paul gets fed up and decides he’s going to expedite for the rest of the night. The real problem, though, seems to be that the judges don’t actually like any of the food. I mean, just if I had to pick out a thing that was problematic that would be what I would pick up. Their general dislike of every single thing they ate with the possible exception of the desserts, although Scrunchie Chris’s peanut butter frozen strings cherry pile made Hugh Acheson want to barf, and it is crazy how mad Tom got about Ed’s dessert’s lack of coconut. (At one point, at SPOILER ALERT Judges’ Table, an actual quote from Tom was: “Where was the coconut? Yeah, but where was the coconut. It needed more coconut. Where was the coconut?” Whoa, Tom.)

And now it is the ladies’ turn. Lindsay takes the front of the house because she partied at Senor Frogs one summer or something. We are nine weeks in and I don’t know anything about Lindsay other than that her food seems to be very middle-of-the-road and one time she went to Mexico. Everyone’s being a real asshole to Beverly. At this point, it must be Beverly’s fault. Back when it was just Heather being Heather it seemed like maybe Beverly was getting a raw deal, but if everyone hates her something must be up, right? Isn’t that how hate works? She makes braised short ribs and will also be responsible for cooking Lindsay’s halibut, which Lindsay seems to be really comfortable and cool with just kidding yikes what a nightmare. The service in the “restaurant” is terrible because Lindsay keeps coming back to the kitchen to yell at Beverly. It just seems like fun. Now I understand why everyone gets so excited about Restaurant Wars. It’s fun! Every face Lindsay makes is rill bitchy.

The judges do seem to like the food at Half Bushel better. I think the way I can tell this is because they keep saying “the food here is much better.” They love Grayson’s peach salad and Sarah’s risotto ball. Beverly’s short ribs are also a hit, although Lindsay’s fish is overcooked, which don’t even worry about it because Lindsay will def be giving Beverly the what for in a minute. At the end of service she goes back into the kitchen and passive-aggressively bitches that Beverly fucked her loud enough for Beverly to hear but in the corner and with her back turned enough that she’s a coward. Cool. Cool of her. In the stew room, not only does Lindsay continue to harangue Beverly in a way that seems entirely rude and unnecessary, but then Sarah decides to pile on and not only rips Beverly for her work on Lindsay’s dish, but tries to confer credit for Beverly’s dish TO Lindsay, saying that Lindsay basically came up with the idea. This is nonsense because we saw them doing menu planning and Beverly was like “I’ll do short ribs,” which Sarah actually resisted for no reason, and all of the elements (thai basil potatoes, apple kimchi) are so clearly Beverly that this whole argument is just Unsubstantiated Bitching.

The ladies get called to Judges’ Table and against all odds (just kidding, 50/50) they had the winning restaurant. Despite all their fighting and Lindsay’s Yuck Faces and a lackluster piece of halibut, they did have the best food of the Wars, which is what this competition is about, in theory. Congrats, ladies. And the overall winning dish, with the pride that comes from that and also a three-liter bottle of wine (?!) goes to Beverly. Haha. Sarah and Lindsay are so pissed. What assholes! Did you really need a three-liter bottle of wine that bad? Go buy one! They send the boys off to the Judges’ Table to be judged and once the boys are gone Sarah starts in AGAIN, explaining that she thinks Lindsay deserved to win for all of her hard work. JESUS, LET IT GO! MAKE A SAUSAGE OUT OF YOURSELF AND THROW HALF OF YOU IN THE GARBAGE BECAUSE THERE WAS TOO MUCH FENNEL. Sarah is the new The Worst.

The boys had the least favorite restaurant, not just for the judges, but for all the people who voted using their new Top Chef Android app or something. All of the food was boring and although the service was better than at Half Bushel it was still clear that the boys were having trouble expediting their food and keeping things running smoothly. At a certain point my DVR just stopped recording so I didn’t actually find out who was eliminated until this morning, and I’ll tell you this: IT DID NOT DISRUPT MY SLEEP. Look, Paul isn’t going home because Paul is the best and OK maybe his ham and eggs in a jar looked more interesting than it tasted, but he’s great. Everyone else is UP 3 GRABS. It could be Ed with his clenched-jaw. It could be Scrunchie Chris who made a Star Trek reference this episode that I don’t even want to GET INTO. Or it could be Ty-Lor, with his name, and his mustache. In the end, it turns out, by logging onto the Bravo website, that it is Ty-Lor.

Goodbye, Ty-Lor! You were very nice to Sarah last week when she may or may not have gotten heat stroke and there was also that time you had to walk to the emergency room at four in the morning. So many memories. Good luck with all of your cooking and facial hair decisions and writing your name on personal checks which has to be a whole thing.