The top of this week’s episode saw eight cheftestants still standing, and I think they suddenly realized that it has become Do or Die. And as we saw, this seemed to have rattled a fair number of them.
… but I’m getting ahead of myself. First, the Quickfire Challenge. It’s interesting that both Kevin and Michael asserted that it was a ridiculous challenge. I think it was a fun play on a process that does happen in more creative kitchens … theirs surely included. One person says, “How about doing ‘X’?” and another says, “Oh, yeah – I have some heirloom tomatoes that would go well with that…” and another says, “…which makes me think we could then do ‘Y.’” In my kitchens, a chef will say, “I want to do ‘X,’” and I’ll say, “Cool, but let’s take that and go in this direction…” And so we do collaborate and co-create dishes. Just minus the blindfolds, i.e., during the planning stage, not, as here, during the execution stage. I thought it was a very interesting exercise, one that called into play a great many of the chefs’ skills, as they had to be able to assess the state of a dish-in-process, and move it towards completion in a way that set up the next teammate. Eli’s approach was very smart: he put the most general mise en place together and prepped without committing to any one thing. Jennifer, on the other hand, made some big decisions, putting sauce down and saying, “This is going to be the flavor of the dish,” a good choice for her given her skill with sauces. Everyone did well with the challenge, Kevin and Michael included, despite their initial skepticism.
It’s at Restaurant Wars that it all began to go south for some….
I think we can all agree that in REVolt, we’ve never had a better restaurant with a worse name. We’re glad it didn’t deliver on its name’s connotations. As for Mission, however, unfortunately it didn’t either.
For the second time in this one episode, Kevin said something that I have to challenge: He said that it was ridiculous to have three hours in which to open a restaurant. Well, yeah, that would be ridiculous, if that were what was being asked of the chefs -- I’m not challenging that assertion – but is it ridiculous to do a three-course menu for fifty people and have it prepped in three-and-a-half hours? No. It’s a lot of work, but it’s not that crazy, as Kevin was suggesting. As I wrote above, I think being at this slightly-more-than-half-way point in the competition had folks a bit fazed.
One thing the episode showed us was that the leadership of the two teams was very different. Michael V. was very assertive: taking his leadership role very seriously, he had his hand in everything. He wasn’t being obnoxious when he asked Bryan whether his chocolate dish would be too grainy; rather, Mike wanted to be sure it would be done well for the sake of their restaurant. And when he felt that Robin was deviating from the plan they’d already devised and that he’d signed off on, he stepped in to fix the situation. He was firm, albeit respectful, and he expected respectful behavior from everyone else, so he wasn’t going to permit what she was dishing out, literally and behaviorally. And he led by example, working very hard and expecting the same from his team in that regard as well.