Tom Colicchio

Laurine's dismissal was a simple math problem.

on Oct 21, 2009

Jen’s style, on the other hand, was more laid-back than it had been at the military base earlier in the season. I think this was because of two major flaws in her team’s planning, two flaws that ultimately led to their defeat: First of all, they opted not to do a dessert. Aside from the fact that it felt like an omission on the menu and left guests wishing they’d had a dessert, it also meant that the team had more savory dishes to prepare, which put more of a burden on the entire team. And second, whereas Michael and Bryan worked on all four of the primary dishes together, plating them, etc., Team Mission decided that Jen would be responsible for the two fish dishes and Kevin would tackle the two meat dishes. Since both fish dishes hit the table at the same time followed by both meat dishes, this meant that first Jen was scrambling to do both of her fish dishes at the same time, which she could not do successfully, and then Kevin followed suit and struggled with the lamb. And as a result, Jen was unavailable to lead as effectively as I believe she otherwise would have.

It was easy to determine which restaurant won. The food was better at REVolt and the service was smoother. Now as for determining who on the staff of Mission would have to go home…

Jennifer could have gone home for making the mistake of choosing to steam the clams and mussels to order, but we all liked the halibut.

Kevin had a hand in Laurine’s lamb dish, but he made a great pork dish.

Mike Isabella wasn’t going home for either of his dishes, though I take issue with his having said, “As soon as my two dishes are out, I can go home.” This leads me to believe that he didn’t really help out much, as he should have, though I obviously didn’t know that at the time.

Remember how I said in last week’s blog that if anyone makes a mistake from here on out, they need to hope that someone else has made a larger one? I should’ve added, “or two of them,” as I think that’s exactly what happened in Restaurant Wars.

We all saw the disaster that was Laurine’s lamb dish. As far as her work at the front of the house, Laurine relied way too much on the wait staff, especially with regard to the judges’ table. Eli said, “If you fire the next course when the first one goes out, you’ll probably be OK.” A good system, as it didn’t rely on the waiters to ask the kitchen to fire up each new course, and the kitchen was automatically on schedule for each table, more or less. Laurine’s decision to rely on the waiters left room for human error and required Laurine to double-check on them … which she failed to do. She should have paid careful attention to our table – we were judging her, after all! – but even we received frazzled and poor service from her. We had to call her back to explain the dishes to us. And she failed to notice how long we were awaiting our second course. We called her over to inquire after it and sent her into the kitchen to check on it … and she learned that it hadn’t even been fired yet. The moment our first course hit the table, she should have taken the initiative of going into the kitchen to be sure the next course had been fired. She spent a great deal of her energy apologizing to diners all night long instead of fixing the system.

Laurine’s lamb was the worst dish of the night by far, and she gave us all terribly inattentive service. So – it’s a simple math problem. Laurine had two strikes against her, versus Jen and Kevin’s one strike each and Michael I.’s no discernable strikes. Laurine’s performance contributed the most to the overall failure of the restaurant, to our overall poor experience there, and so it was she whom we asked to leave.

I’ll say one more thing: While this didn’t contribute to our decision to send Laurine home, it is noteworthy that while questioning the chefs at the Judges’ Table, we got the very distinct sense from Laurine that, as she herself confirmed at the very end of the episode, she was ready to go home. Cooking for a competition is, indeed, very different than day-to-day cooking at one’s home restaurant, and we have seen people tire of competing at different stages of the competition every season. While we certainly wouldn’t send Laurine home for such an intangible reason, I think her performance in this week’s challenge reflected that she was done with the competition and wanting to go, and we did send her home for the work she did this week. So it all works out: we don’t want to keep someone who doesn’t want to compete, and the person who is finished gives us something that earns their trip home.