Top Chef

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

Warehouse Kitchen, says Bourdain, is "deliberately creating modest expectations" that should not be too difficult to exceed. Basically, they're playing it safe, while Mai Buddha's menu could either soar or go down in flames. Asia's pretty big, observes Bourdain, it's tough to be everywhere food-wise, and, by the way, he has extremely high standards for laksa. If they manage to pull it off, it'll be an inspired accomplishment, and if they don't, it will be a spectacular failure. Two different teams with two different concepts should add up to one very interesting meal.

But first (of course) there's a twist -- an unusually beneficial one, in this case. Bourdain reveals that, due to the punishing demands of restauranteuring, each team will enjoy one extra pair of helping hands. He gestures with a flourish ("Maybe you know these people from such shows as...this one") as the last four rejects -- Jen, Nikki, Mark and Andrew -- file into the kitchen. Antonia only has eyes for the women, because either Jen or Nikki can roll out the pasta, which Warehouse Kitchen desperately needs. Because Warehouse Kitchen (or, as Bourdain calls them, "Team Woodstock") was constructed by choice, Bourdain lets the dreggy Mai Buddha ("Team Altamont") choose first: Dale selects Jen, which Lisa thinks (and I agree) is a very smart decision. That leaves Nikki and her sporadic pasta-making skills for Warehouse Kitchen.

With three hours until service, things get bumpy for Mai Buddha. In making avocado puree for his halo-halo, Dale accidentally uses one brown avocado, which turns the entire batch into an unappetizing greenish-gray that could have been lifted from a 1970s Formica sample. Jen helpfully offers that it tastes good, it just looks...uh, disgusting, and Dale starts pouring olive oil into his Robot Coupe in a salvage attempt. Lisa observes that this incident throws Dale more than an executive chef should be thrown. Cut to Dale looking frazzled and cursing, face beaded with sweat. Lisa yells because someone took her rice off the stove -- wait, can Lisa actually cook rice? She informs Dale that "the rice is not done, buddy," and then informs us that she doesn't want to create a conflict with Dale (as he tells her to stop freaking out), and that she will be a mature adult by meeting his deteriorating attitude with a crap attitude of her own. It may not be appropriate, she observes, but that's how it's going to be -- one shitty mood begets another, and Mai Buddha begins a slow descent into chaos.

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Top Chef




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