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Top Chef Seattle – Ep 10 – You Can’t Fake Soul

I’ll get right into the crux of the elimination this week, by saying something rather simple. Why would you want to open a restaurant that serves raw meat, when you could just go get sushi? Is there such a big clamoring for an all-Carpaccio theme restaurant? Is there a yearning in the American public for one place where you could get as much raw beef as you want? And even if there was, would you want a plate covered in gobs of random raw meat, vegetables and various sauces? It was just a bad, bad, bad idea.

And it took such an epic fail of a restaurant concept to overcome the latest episode of “The Josie Show.” The problem with “The Josie Show” is that each episode seems just too formulaic. Josie claims to make food close to her heart and soul. Josie tries to serve the food to a room full of hungry people. Josie fails miserably and does everything short of a ventriloquism act to distract the hungry people while she cooks at a speed barely measurable on film. Tom gets pissed at Josie. And the food comes out badly. And she survives to cook another day. If they don’t start mixing up the plots of “The Josie Show,” it’s going to go the way of the sitcom with the monkey doctor.

So, that prelude is basically what this week was all about. Restaurant Wars was split into two parts this season – the Final 8 have an individual challenge this week, leading up to the official wars next week. Each chef has to come up with a concept and then serve a dish which personifies their restaurant concept. The two favorites will be selected as Executive Chefs for the Wars, and will pick their teams right there in the Stew Room. The trick…they will not know who is in the Bottom Three as they select the teams. One team will wind up fighting Restaurant Wars with one fewer team member as a result. Nice twist, Show.

I’m going get right in there and spoil who wins the challenge. If you don’t care to know, well, watch this for a few minutes, and then watch the friggin episode. I mean, you know I’ve posted this column late. I always post this column late. No excuses.

Is everyone gone that wanted to be gone? Someone do a head count. I’ll wait.

(Whistling)

OK, so Kish and Papa Smurf each earned the win, with OTV falling just short. Both winning concepts were good ones – but I worry for Kish. She chose a French theme, but the food is not the issue. The problem is going to be the fact that she wants it to be a formal dining experience. She will have less than 48 hours to open this restaurant, and that concept seems to be rather complicated. Papa Smurf used his grandfather as inspiration to go for a modern Filipino theme – which should prove easier to set up. The trick there is I am uncertain if his team members have much experience with this cuisine. I assume Papa and OTV were battling for the second slot as their concepts were similar – OTV using his dad for inspiration for his steak and potatoes style restaurant. I wonder if Papa Smurf got the nod because of the complexity of his concept.

So, here’s the fun part of the episode – in my opinion. And maybe this is my love for Survivor coming out, but it is a rare case where strategy comes front and center in Top Chef. Kish and Papa Smurf have to select a team. Kish picks first – not sure if that meant she was main winner of the challenge, or if she won Rock, Paper, Scissors or something. She makes a smart pick – Brooke. Not only has Brooke done lots of winning recently, but Kish knew she was safe due to her immunity win at the Quickfire. Papa Smurf counters with an equally smart pick – OTV. He knew he was safe because he stood with Kish and Papa in the winner’s circle. Now for the tricky part – who should Kish take next between Lizzie, Thumb, Micah and Josie. I personally think you want Stefan the Thumb for this one, but Kish goes with Lizzie, as Papa grabs Thumb right away. Kish mutters a curse after this. Did she really think Stefan would last to her? I wonder why she took Lizzie – does she consider her to be a better chef, or did she like her concept more than his and thus thought Lizzie would be one of the middle chefs this week?

Clearly, both Papa and Kish knew that Micah and Josie were in trouble. Kish had the choice here and went with Josie. That surprised me a lot. The question to me lies with this – is it more beneficial to have Josie or lose Micah? Josie has proven to be a difficult teammate to manage this season – and the previews for next week show that may in fact be the case. Are you better off with the fourth set of hands, or to go shorthanded but with presumably fewer staff issues? I guess we shall see next week how that works out for Kish.

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