Team Top Chef

Danny Meyer is the perfect guest judge for the battle before Restaurant Wars.

on Jan 7, 2013

Heading into the Elmination Challenge, the chefs are greeted by one of the most successful restaurateurs in the country -- Danny Meyer.  You can just visit his website to see all the amazing NYC eateries he owns, but I'd like to point out that he is Top Chef Master Floyd Cardoz's partner in North End Grill. And, well, he's responsible for Shake Shack and the glory that is the Shacktacular. Thank you, Danny Meyer! So, honestly, there is no better candidate for guest judge for the first half of… Restaurant Wars! [Cue the balloon drop.]

The chefs are tasked with creating a concept for a restaurant and a dish that embodies that concept. Danny's advice? To "do it from your heart. You can't fake soul." Not having enough soul has bitten a couple of our chefs in their arses in the past, so this seemed extra-ominous to me. There will be two winners, and four chefs returning as sous-chefs (Kuniko, Carla, Chrissy, Eliza.) The chefs start diving in to their concepts. Josh is set on Bistro George, a sweet ode to his father. Josie is making Cuban food to shout-out Miami. Micah is going raw and not cutting his own fish -- that's what Kuniko is for. Josh thinks it's a bad idea. Brooke is going with "Un-kosher," which she describes as Jewish food gone awry, to which Tom retorts, "It's like my mother-in-law's seder ever year." Badum-bum. I warned Tom this would be in the episode, so he could do some pre-emptive damage control with his wife, Lori. Ha! You don't want to insult a Jewish woman's holiday preparation.

Brooke's name and concept reminds me of Traif in South Williamsburg, a word based not he idea of non-kosher food. And you should all absolutely eat there because it's amazing (unless you keep Kosher, of course.) A lot of Jewish-style restaurants have popped up in the past, including Nikki Cascone's now-shuttered Octavia's Porch, which was delicious, and should never have closed. But my go-to Jewish-style place (besides traditional delis like Katz's and Ben's) is Kutscher's in Tribeca. You might not think to order the roast chicken, but you should. It's exceptional. And don't forget to save room for a rainbow cookie sundae!

But I digress!

Brooke is going with matzoh ball soup. Stefan, in an odd twist, selects Carla to work with him, and, hey, they actually get along! But Stefan is also making lollipops again. For those who remember Stefan's first turn on the show, he loves a lollipop.