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Top Chef: Seattle – Ep 11 – The Episode Where I Get Mad At Padma

That’s right, I’m very sad to say, but right now…we’re fighting, Padma. Because what transpired in this episode seemed to stem directly from Padma. And the result that it produced was so awful, so ridiculous, and shines a bright light on a couple of warts upon the skin of the show that I have long said I did not like. If you have not watched the episode yet, well, you really need to stop watching because I am going to spoil it early on.

To recap from last week, Restaurant Wars was split into two episodes this year – last week, the chefs battled over concepts, and this week the two winners led the teams in opening restaurants based on those concepts. Kish and Papa Smurf won last week with concepts focusing on fine French dining with a twist and Filipino cuisine inspired by Papa Smurf’s grandpa…er…Grandpa Smurf. With Micah’s elimination, Papa Smurf’s team was one person short, and as it turns out, they are doing a Battle of the Sexes in the Wars. Last week, I questioned the logic of Kish choosing Josie and whether or not it was better to have her on the team, or to be shorthanded. To answer the question – it was better to be shorthanded.

Papa Smurf’s team made good food with only nitpicks against the menu. The problem was Stefan the Thumb’s bad service and hospitality. I mean, he was not good. One dish came to the judges without him around and unable to actually describe it. When he did, he did so in such a way that the judges felt they were condescending and insulting to their intelligence. At one point, he answered a question with what sounded like this answer, “bbbadehdah, bauaddityyalyy.” Seriously, no idea what he said. He was like Benicio Del Toro in The Usual Suspects. He was like a Charlie Brown grown-up. Guests were backed up, it was a disaster. Now, I think his troubles were partly his fault, mostly perhaps, but partly a result of the lack of a fourth teammate. He had to prepare his food, set up the front, train the staff, manage the staff and be the host. He had to rely on the random Redshirt waiters to take on a lot of responsibility. And it backfired. If Papa Smurf’s food wasn’t as good as it was, The Thumb would have been gone.

As it turns out, Kish’s team wound up losing the War and one of the women was going to leave. Brooke and Lizzie each rocked their dishes, so they were safe. That made it a Kish vs. Josie decision. Kish made a big mistake in taking on a LOT of responsibility. She wanted to have a hand in everything that went out. As Tom said, her concept was in her head, and was not properly relayed to her team. She even made two dishes, which had faults, but were not criticized to the point where you would think they were the worst dishes.

Josie’s dish, however, was clearly the worst dish served in this challenge. To me, that should be both Strikes One and Two. To quote Tom from years ago…it’s a cooking competition! Where the disconnect between the judges and reality came in to play was the fact that we saw things they didn’t know. We saw Josie refusing to begin her prep the day before, despite Kish’s urging. We saw Josie’s dish was not ready in time as a result, leading to Kish having to order her to cut corners in order to get it out on time…and for that, it was actually on time as the tables had to wait for that course. We saw all of the kitchen drama, the judges didn’t. They saw Kish biting her tongue and refusing to drive the bus over Josie. Meanwhile, Josie had no problem getting behind the wheel to save herself by blaming Kish’s concept and leadership for her faulty dish.

It is this disconnect that often hurts the judging process. They don’t see what’s going on. And, if you ask me, they should NOT speculate about what may have happened and judge the food. They could not really understand what happened between Josie and Kish – all they could get out of it was that Kish ordered the changes to the dish, that the dish was delayed coming out, and that Josie has ALWAYS been late with her service. Do the math guys, and figure it out.

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