Top Chef
Season 9 Restaurant Wars

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The War of Restaurants
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Hey, we're still in Texas! Austin, to be exact. Is anyone else bored with this season already? I feel like you either need outstanding chefs, or really horrible villains, or really funny likable heroes. All three would be great. I feel like this season has none of those things. The women are blah, and as this episode will reveal, kind of awful. The men are blah. I still don't have a sense for what kind of food each chef cooks, except that Beverly makes a lot of Asian and Ed kind of does too. And Chris Moto thinks he's Mr. Science. Someone surprise me already.

The cheftestants walk into a restaurant called Palm Door, except that it's completely empty, no tables or chairs. Padma (joined by Hugh Acheson) announces that it's time for Restaurant Wars. I get why the cheftestants like this challenge; it's the most like what they actually do in their everyday lives, so they feel like they can do it well. Except things always go horribly, horribly wrong for at least one team. Anyway, rather than draw knives or whatever, this season the teams are divided by gender, men versus women. Hey, here's a statement that's going to shock you: Ed thinks the male chefs have more talent. And while I actually kind of agree with him on this particular season, more talent doesn't mean they're going to win, because it's not a talent competition, sadly. Well, I guess it depends on how you define talent. Is talent the ability to roll with the punches and come up with crazy ideas that please the judges? Because that's the kind of competition it is. Sarah is happy with her team except that she thinks Beverly is the weak link.

Padma gives out the deal with the challenge: each team will take over the restaurant on consecutive nights, so they will also get a chance to eat at the other team's restaurant. AND, they have brought back the wrinkle where the teams have to decorate the restaurant themselves, which I've always enjoyed, although it doesn't always lead to drama. Padma flips a coin and determines that the boys will serve on the first night, and Hugh explains that they have to serve three courses, each with two choices, to a hundred people. They don't specify that the third course needs to be dessert, or anything about the food really. One team member needs to handle front of house, and they will have five hours to cook and decorate the space.

Padma gives them forty-five minutes to menu plan, and they separate into teams and get to discussing their menus. Ed immediately agrees to do front of house for the men, and interviews that none of them want to do it, but he feels like he's qualified to do so because he owns his own restaurant. I'm going to guess that all of them have worked in service at some point, but whatever. Let Ed do it. Paul has a name: Canteen. He explains that it's a communal place to eat, and they're all fine with it. It's fine. It's not that exciting, but it doesn't need to be.

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