Wow. Was everyone as shocked as I was last night to hear Padma ask Dale to pack his knives and go? I almost fell off my couch and dropped my pint of Rum Raisin ice cream. (The show makes me hungry, what can I say?)
I was certain Lisa was the one who was going to be sent home. But when I thought about it a bit, I thought judge's rationale was not unsound. He was the executive chef of the losing team, after all. And the butterscotch lopped scallops were his creation, but still. In terms of overall talent and performance on the show, I'd have sent Lisa packing, not Dale.
But the same thing happened last year on Restaurant Wars, the episode which I judged. You'll recall that Tre, a fan favorite and promising contender, was eventually sent home, to the shock and awe of many viewers. Responsibility for the team as executive chef does have its rewards and its consequences. It doesn't mean I have to like it, but I do in some ways understand it. I thought Warehouse Kitchen and Mai Buddha both presented likable trendy concepts as their restaurant themes, though I wasn't convinced that Warehouse Kitchen's menu was all that gastro-pub.
While I loved the name of the restaurant, and think it did convey the gastro-pub theme quite nicely, I was surprised to find Stephanie's Linguine and Clams on the menu. It's not a gastro-pub dish. For a gastro-pub concept, a chef is upgrading more traditional simple pub fare -- burgers, salads, stews, sandwiches, seafood and chops -- with more refined technique and often locally sourced, small-farm ingredients. I guess it's a small point but I'd have expected to see a really good burger or a heartier more rustic cooking for this concept than the linguine and clams and lamb squared dishes that were presented. Then again, what was presented was apparently delicious, which is quite an important feature in any restaurant, especially on Restaurant Wars.