Top Chef

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Chuck: C+ | Grade It Now!
Mai Buddha Sucks

At Warehouse Kitchen, aka the modern American gastro pub, Antonia is executive chef, Richard is chef de cuisine, and Stephanie is out front serving "simple, beautiful, clean, well-executed flavors." Their first course will be a beet and goat cheese salad with ras el hanout (again!) or linguine with clams; second course will be trout with cauliflower and hazelnut brown butter or "lamb squared," a red wine braised leg and a seared, roasted loin. Dessert will be Stephanie's gorgonzola cheesecake or Richard's recycled banana scallops. Spike Buddha-fies the dining room, and Lisa explains Mai Buddha's menu (no, that's my Buddha): shrimp laksa or pork and pickled plum pot stickers to start, butterscotch miso scallops (oh, nasty) or braised short ribs to follow, and halo-halo or mango sticky rice for dessert.

Antonia's back to her "Dale cooks only Asian food" song and dance, and says it's no surprise they're opening "a Chinese restaurant." Why the hate, Antonia? Spike, taking time out from the dining room to deploy his "own one dish" signature, takes the braised short ribs -- long, slowcooked, can be left alone. As Stephanie manhandles dough in a bowl, Antonia explains that they stupidly didn't buy any back up pasta, which is already on the menu, so the stuff Stephanie's got in the bowl has got to work.

Turns out the acerbic Anthony Bourdain will be stepping in as head judge while Colicchio's doing good deeds -- apparently catching everyone off guard as he strides into the kitchen. They keep working, acting nonchalant, but you know they're even more nervous now that Bourdain will be bringing his "warmer, sunnier disposition" to the proceedings. Spike confirms that -- while he just loves Chef Bourdain (or "Anthony," as Spike calls him), he also knows that he's traveled all through Asia, knows a lot about Asian cuisine, and, of course, has many a strident opinion. Spike thinks "Dale's pissing his pants a little bit."

Bourdain starts his mid-cook inspection with Warehouse Kitchen, as Antonia explains the division of labor -- Stephanie took front of house based on her experience with opening a restaurant (and presumably because both women wanted to keep Richard as far away from the guests as possible) and, in response to your question, Chef Bourdain, will not be using a "smoke gun" today. Bourdain tells them they seem on-track with a simple, well-executed menu, and moves on to Mai Buddha. Upon learning that Lisa will be cooking shrimp laksa as a first course, Bourdain professes his love of laksa, which makes Lisa visibly uncomfortable (or maybe that's just being awake for her). No, she's definitely feeling the pressure, since Bourdain knows from laksa -- after confirming that all three of Mai Buddha team members were immediately on board with the Asian concept, Bourdain wishes them luck and leaves, then offers his take to the camera.

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Top Chef




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