Well, the eagerly-awaited, both loved and feared Restaurant Wars were upon us this week, and I’d be surprised to hear of any surprise at their outcome. Creating a one-night-only restaurant is a formidable undertaking, and it’s been interesting season after season to see how our chefs approach and execute the challenge. The experience has run the gamut from hair-raising to, well, hair-raising for our chefs, and has never been humdrum for us judges.
As you saw from the introduction of our guest judge, Ludo LeFebvre, professional chefs of note will create such restaurant events, dubbed “pop-up restaurants.” My "Tom: Tuesday Dinner" (TTD) was (and is again) one such venture, in fact. Every other Tuesday for a year, I presented a rather impromptu tasting menu in Craft's private dining room. I've recently begun doing so again, periodically, for a little while. The space is intimate and the kitchen open to the dining room, so that I can connect with the diners and can enjoy cooking directly for them. Many of the dishes I devised for TTD have made their way onto the menu at Colicchio and Sons. TTDs are always fun for myself and the chefs cooking with me, and our enthusiasm always makes its way across to the dining room. Pop-up restaurants such as Ludo's and mine are culinary happenings of a sort, but at the end of the day, they still need to be restaurants. No one is expecting the atmosphere at a pop-up to be great, or the restaurant to be built out, but that’s not the point of the pop-up. One goes because one gets the sense that it’s new and only for the moment, and that’s what exciting about it. But a pop-up only works when that excitement is there from the start and is sustained throughout by the chef and his/her staff. All involved in the venture need to sincerely invest in that excitement and communicate it to the diner –- the workers need to have the attitude that they are part of something special. The diner is then brought along on this brief journey. The dishes can be experimental and fun and may or may not succeed, as long as the chef and staff are never imposing anything on the diner. Here, wewitnessed an example of a successful pop-up and one that pretty much imploded. We saw in Bodega the spirit of fun and the sense of sharing a culinary moment with the diners, whereas with Etch, we saw the head chef impose his will on his teammates and his negative experience on the diner. Not fun. The s--tstorm in the kitchen (as the chefs rightly referred to it) got in the way at every turn and translated into a poorer dining experience for the patrons and a loss for the team.
I was getting soooooooooooooooo tired or Marcel and his attitude... I am glad he is gone. I do hope that his time on the show this time around will help him to become a better person/chef.
This season's Restaurant Wars has made me forget all about the rather mundane one from last season. Plus, it was nice to see Ludo not freaking out and cursing up a storm like he always seems to do when competing on TC:M!
I think you're dead-on with your opinion of how it would be a surprise to see anyone complaining about how this episode ended up. Everything went the way it seemed like it "should" have. The team that won clearly SHOULD have won, and did. The chef that was eliminated clearly SHOULD have been eliminated, and was. Perhaps, even if just for one week, we won't have seven dozen blog comments from the likes of "Angry TC Viewer" and "Never Watching Again" filled with vitriol.
How can anyone not get along with Mike Isabella? How can anyone take the calming advice of Angelo Sosa and just spit it to the side? Marcel must be one hell of a guy to work for. We've seen a lot of changes and maturity in people from their first seasons, especially Dale Talde. We've seen it in everyone except Marcel.
How great was it to see Dale and Tre be on the winning team, knowing they were eliminated from their respective earlier seasons in this very challenge?
Callback to the Angelo attempt to calm down Marcel and having it tossed aside: I loved Angelo's reaction to it. He just looked over at Mike and laughed in his classic way. He showed no anger or any sign that he was insulted in the least. I think that's all the proof needed that by this point, Marcel's credibility as a leader had all but hit absolute zero.
Glad that Marcel went home. I'm still sad (not mad) that Tiffani F. went home. She showed that people can change, while Marcel didn't.
Excellent episode. Of all the times when I was ragingly jealous of the diners, tonight is the top. Bodega seemed virtually flawless.
Kudos to the editors of this episode as well. Given the caveat that the diners would pick the winner, and the juxtaposition of their positive reactions to Etch with the judges' negative reactions, I was just as worried as Blais when the final decision came down.
Marcel's downfall is his arrogance! He effectively treated his peers like the kitchen help and was sent home because of it. I was surprised when he was asked to even be on Allstars! In any walk of life, if you want to succeed, people have to respect you and your ideas. To be a leader you have to be respected and respect. Marcel has neither of those attributes. Was he not taught by his parents? I have four grown children and the one thing I taught them was to respect others, their ideas, their feelings, their values.
In closing, I feel very sorry for Marcel (perhaps it's pity) he will never succeed at what he does, he will always only be a "cook". A chef is honored (my dad was a great chef in the city during the 50's, 60's and part of the 70's) I saw how my father was loved and admired, even by the pot washers! I hope Marcel learns from this and changes his ways. I don't see a great restaurant in his future, if tonights behavior is any indication, any restaurant he opens will close!
Have a great night everyone, see you next week!
Hurray. I am sure I echo all viewers feelings about Marcel and his erratic performance. It is clear that his people skills and attitude about himself will affect his abiity to succeed as a chef. Poor fellow. I saw this coming in ealrier shows, but he is now running with the pros and his behavior can no longer be misunderstood. Dale was smart to make him leader. In the history of Top Chef, I don't think we ever got to know a cheftestant as well as Marcel...clearly a troubled human being. I hope he sees this performance and accepts responsibility for his failure and gets some personal help. On another note, it was amazing to see the judges react so positively to the entire meal cooked by the Bodega team. They were pros as a team...and it was a pleasure to see them use their individual skills to create such an excellent meal. These are talented chefs, but they had another dynamic here....a spirit to cooperate and some excellent leadership. Also, although Dale, Richard and Fabio were the "stars", Tre and Carla were good soldiers and accepted their roles with grace. What a pleasure to hear such accolades.
Excellent episode!!! I am a Top Chef fan from season 1. Restaurant wars with chefs you love and chefs you love to hate! Amazing! I was yelling at the TV trying to guess who was going to win and who would be sent home! Richard shines with his excellent food, Fabio, the fan favorite shines at the front of the house, Marcel, Mike and Angelo out for themselves. Classic! Maybe Marcel went home too early, but hey, this is Allstars, and foam can get you only so far! You rock Tom! Thanks for a great season!
I have viewed every season repeatedly, and I have never seen Marcel fall apart like almost every other chef has done, and almost everyone else has come across with more arrogance then real talent. And tonight they called that bit of a quickly settle disagreement bad have you not seen the previous seasons. Are kidding me, Tiffany sucked in the dining room, and she screwed up soft boiled eggs, and Mike failed on many levels and Marcel handled it in a much maturer way then most every chefs, and sneaky Antonio knew Marcel was a huge competition for himself he knew Mike was in the wrong and needed to step up and knew Marcel was right in all his criticisms that others wouldn't listen too, Antonio also failed on her dish, she failed on the expediting knew Marcel took one for the team that wouldn't listen and the Judges should have taken the teams immatue response to a younger chef being in charge. Many previous chefs have been cut for poor front of house that did better then Tiff did, and they complained about every part of her dish. This is the second time I felt the judges used Marcel as a scape goat for other chefs immaturity. Because the chefs Marcel gets along with have respected him and get where he is coming from. Tom you and the other judges have become politcal hacks with the removal of Marcel, when you all know there was several others who should have gone from their team first. I guess it doesn't matter, but I officially will not watch the show again, and feel complete disappointment and believe the judges to be unethical with their decision tonight.
I don't care for Marcel but he should not have gone home. He tried to give help and culinary advice and they ignored him. They did not want to be led. Usually I'm like forget Marcel but when he asked for time on the entrees from Mike,all he got was attitude. He tried to lead the jackasses to water but they were too stupid to drink. If Tiffany can't cook a 6 minute egg, how is Marcel responsible? He tried to help her and once again a smart ass remark from her. Tiffany should have gone home or Antonia, can't she know about simple seasoning? Shame on you judges and producers, none of that team worked as a team. He is a different person and you failed to recognize this.
I so want to like this season,but all it is,is team challenges,when do get to see them cook against each other. I really haven't liked this season at all,thought it would be my fav but it sucks with all the team challenges. I am a Team Richard all the way,if he gets sent home then I am not finishing the season,or bothering to watch again! Too much gimmicks,drama and stupid challenges!
I'm glad the way this episode went. The quickfire was excellent and the elimination challenge well done and made sense.
Great season!!! The way the two teams operated really showcased what it takes to be a successful member of a team.
Hard to say who will be in the Finals, but right now I'm thinking it could be Dale, Richard, Carla, Angelo.
Finally! I am so tired of Marcel and the foams. Why haven't the judges come down hard on this before?
love, love, love that Marcel is gone. ANY one of the rest of the chefs could win and I'd feel good about it, although Richard is my favorite. Please don't ever bring Marcel back.
I doubt Marcel reads these comments, but what he should know is that his approach to gathering ideas and concensus was good, but it's all the ill will he generated to date that sabotaged his well intended leadership approach. HIs ship was already sinking due to the many "reef" collisions leading up to this challenge. In contrast, the off-putting of Dale of his previous season has grown to a still intense but amiable team mate.
Still hate the front of the house role for any of the chefs. Next year, let all the chefs cook. Bring back the previously eliminated chefs, let the teams pick who they want to run the front and incent those chefs to succeed with perhaps $5k.
Restaurant wars are always my favorite episode to watch. I was so happy to see that you let Marcel go! I have had to work with someone that acted like Marcel, and he was a really pain in the behind! The Bodega team worked so well together. I am really enjoying this season of Top Chef!!
You'll be happy to know that I was happy with the judging decisions 2 weeks in a row. I have to applaud Dale for using his advantage to pick a competing team leader to its full potential when most chefs shoot themselves in the foot. Poor Marcel had no idea that he was being set up for a fall.
Wow, I think it was a toss up as to whether Tiffany or Marcel should have gone. She made me cringe at the front of the house, same cringing going on with Marcel leading the back. Now that RW is over, are you going to some individual challenges? Enough with the teams. I really wish I could have tried Bodega's menu. Please tell Padma to stop scolding the chef's at judges table. It is not an attractive trait.
I would have understood if Tiffany was sent home; however, in general I dislike having the chefs work the front of house. I love a previous poster's idea of having an eliminated chef come back to work front of house and giving them some sort of cash incentive to win. Allow all the chefs to cook their way in or out of the show, instead of having front of the house burdens and having others cook their food. While this didn't ultimately hurt Tiffany, it did hurt Casey earlier and has hurt others in seasons past. I'm also glad the diners chose correct restaurant. It was obvious who was winning and who was losing. I wonder what would have happened if the diners had chosen the other way? I trust the judges way more than random diners. Great season so far! I love having Tony Bourdain around. I only wish we could have some interaction between him and Eric Ripert. The two of them together are hilarious!
Wow... My dear, do you have any idea how childish you sound?? I am sincerely wondering how old you are :S, because you are having an Adult tantrum, in public no less .... that being said,
It was Marcel's time to go, and this is coming from a past Marcel supporter. I have been watching TC since day one, and I found the abuse and hateration directed toward Marcel during Season 2 to be painfully unfounded, and personally thought both Ilan and Betty's behavior toward Marcel sell to be immature and deplorable..... However, the "getcha-gotcha" of reverse psychology has gotten the better of Marcel and his personality. I think Marcel had become so used to being unjustly criticized and villianized by his peers that he has taken up the very unsavory persona that others had previously projected on him, and he doesn't seem to notice...
I was rooting for Marcel however, this season I found him to be as arrogant, annoying, and out of line as he had previously been accused of, and this was sad to see. Marcel's behavior lost him the respect of his colleagues long before the Restaurant War's episode, and it was clear that none of those he chose for his team actually wanted to work with him.... His inability to keep his cool and lead/communicate in a clear, concise and respectable manner was simply the final nail in the coffin... Marcel was destined to fail at this challenge, and this time Marcel you only have yourself to blame. I truly hate that you allowed yourself to become worthy of the hateration that I once felt you endured unjustly in Season 2.
Grow Marcel, grow.... You can be supremely confident, without being an unbearable ass.
Team challenge, so what!? Leading a restaurant or a catering business is a team sport - period. I can't understand why so many viewers have a problem with these challenges. Being a masterful cook/chef will only take you so far. You need to source competent staff, inspire/inform them as to your vision, and lead them on a daily basis to do their best work. Condecension and insults only drag down "the team" and the product to the public. The best leaders don't have to always be in the limelight. I love how Eric Ripert talked about Justo's skills. He was so modest and self-effacing. He understands full well how Justo's butchery artistry adds to his own reputation and face to the public. Now that's management.
Question for the Judges- In the past, you have given out double wins. It was very obvious that Fabio played a significant part in the win- both as a front of the house and as a chef for his dessert. Even two statements were shown highlighting (1) high level of detail "never before seen on TC" for service and (2) Tony seemed to be almost orgasmic over his dessert. Given the track record for Restaurant Wars, I'm thinking that's a monumental achievement. Not taking anything away from Richard, why not a double win for Richard AND Fabio?
Awesome question. I concur. I think almost all the winning team could have won but to me Richard AND Fabio stood out. What say you, Chef Tom?
Good point. I was sorry about Tiffani and I liked how she grew. Did her better sense of a well-rounded self hurt her competitiveness? Perhaps. It seems to me one could be competitive AND gracious about it. Carla does it. So do others.
I was very miffed Spike went home myself, but I think he got wrapped up in the game instead of his dish and while it helped competitors it hurt himself.
So far, great season. Can I make a suggestion on you extended judges' table video clips. How about showing your discussions on picking the winners.
I agree with chellemabelle - Fabio contributed so much to the entire team effort...richard was a bit of an ass in this challenge, kind of petulant. And I think Tiffany was worse than Marcel, and I always loved Tiffany. She did not add much to her team and she and her colleagues seemed to fight Marcel's leadership. I never saw the Marcel season, but the negative remarks about him seem more based on that season than TC All Stars. And why does someone like Mike Isabella, who was ABSOLUTELY HORRID towards Robin and involved in frat house type behavior towards her, have credibility when he calls Marcel out on not respecting the other chefs? I don't know, but a lot of things not adding up here...
Last week I thought that you guys were going to take one from each team, not the same, and it would be Jaime and Marcel, I was surprised when Tiffani's name came out. I'm so happy that Marcel went home, and wish you guys could bring back Tiffani F.
Tom I respect your blog comments they explain precisely the decision making without the glee over the melt down of another cheftestant. Marcel is doing enough harm to his own reputation he doesn't need the additional nicknames. His defensiveness and arrogance in his ability and his desperation to wow the judges all sank him. His ambition wouldn't allow himself, for example, be the front of the house I can see him being good at that.
I have to agree about all the group challenges enough already. they are competitors first and foremost and it took veteran contestant who went very far before to be able to pull it off. It was definitely Richards show with some smart casting choices by dale.
Since Fabio did such a great job leading and running the front of the house, keeping peace between the front and the back of the house and making the dessert, I was hoping he'd win. Isn't that what they did w/ Eli on the Vegas season?
Just watched last nights episode and had a couple thoughts..
First, I am giving Dale credit for picking the best opposition team leader in Marcel. He knew Marcel would have a hard time leading the people left in the competition.
Marcel has been a fave of mine since he first appeared on TC. Yes..he can be a bit much but he is a great chef. I knew he would have issues leading a restaurant war & it for one reason-EVERYONE on his team was anti-Marcel, no matter what he said. He DID try to get them to work together at the start....noone wanted a part of it. They all had in their minds what they wanted to do, & didnt listen. I knew he was gone right at the start :( I think my main issue w/ Marcel & the pickng of the teams is WHY wouldnt you pick Fabio first??? You KNOW he will win front of the house & probably his dish too!!! He picked sooo badly!! WHY pick every strong personilty?
And Angelo....the one who always has to touch very team-mates dish....why hide in a corner when you see things are going wrong? Normally he would be in every dish, sticking his fingers in. Instead he sabotaged his team by not saying a word...
I am glad Richard won, but think Fabio should have. I think Tiffany (whom I love) should have been sent home for her inability to handle the front of the house & her poor dish
"How can anyone not get along with Mike Isabella?" Are you kidding me? Mike is guilty of virtually every behavior of which he accused Marcel. He was incredibly rude and disrespectful on his original season and he doesn't seem to have improved in the meantime. I wouldn't say it was inappropriate for Marcel to go home but his teammates did him no favors.
Half the time, I write comments to episodes, they don't appear. Why? I don't know, but it's frustrating to be a fan and have an opinion, often valid, that never makes it to the site. Having said that, I did have an issue with Marcel leaving this week. I don't like the man, I'm tired of his foams, I get that he didn't garner respect from his team--I've heard all that ad nauseum from folks. However, Tiffany (who I do generally like) was annoying as hell with her fake laughter and over-the-top friendliness and couldn't even pull together her simple egg dish. Mike (who I have really come to like) acted like a 2 year old--with the tantrum "don't talk to me that way" silliness. Really? I've seen enough cooking challenges on top chef and others that it wasn't out of line for Marcel to want Mike to focus...lamb was often cold...the timing was off...Mike wouldn't coordinate timing with Marcel...the monkfish was soggy that he was cooking for Marcel...Angelo said he would have sent Mike home...Mike tried to dominate and undermine Marcel from the get-go...I guess the disorganization and bad dishes almost across the board (Tiff-bad, Angelo--no fish flavor, Tiffany--bad asparagus, not enough chorizo, Antonia--too salty, Mike--bad timing on coordinating cooking of proteins and immature behavior) ultimately rests with Marcel...but from what I could tell he tried...I'm rambling...Anyway, this show was a reminder of how often the judging doesn't make sense. Yes, the diners picked their fave pop-up, but you picked the winner and loser...why didn't the diners vote on their favorite dish, with adjustment for judging FOH as well for Tiff and Fabio.
Dim Sum FOH was completely different because they didn't have waiters, the many diners didn't speak English, and there was no food to pick up. There were Carla and Casey running around like chickens with their head cut off. Tiffany had plenty of help and it still was a catastrophe. In my opinion, her or Mike should have done, despite Marcel's foam.
Marcel... I will always have his back. The only time he disappointed me was his negative reaction to Carla's joy on her win. That was uncalled for. But, Tom, you and all these older chefs are cocky & you just don't like a young chef like Marcel being arrogant since he's not "paid his dues" yet. Ex-look at what Ludo put up with on TC:M. Isabella was a jerk on his season & is still an arrogant SOB. Marcel was trying to be an ex. chef looking for callouts like a working kitchen and he was ignored. Plus, c'mon Fabio-Mr. Italian charm and smarm? I'll bet some of the higher marks went to him than the food. I knew he wouldn't win when he was doing well in some of the quick challenges but never won. And no mention of Dale's abuse of the servers? Unfair Tom. Well, I'll root for Carla now. And wait for Marcel's new TV show on another station.
Kudso to Fabio for not only doing a fantastic job on his dish and the front of the house, but for also telling Dale to be nice to the servers. It's a shame that folks have to be reminded to be polite, but good to see a chef that goes out of his way to make sure that ALL members of the staff are treated with respect.
YAY...Carcel's gone, Jaime's out. I love the chefs who show up and cook, without all that complaining and whining. My favorites are Tre, Richard, & Carla. They always show up and adapt. Some of the others makes me think, why are you cooking if it makes you whine so much.
Loved, loved, loved the pop-up concept for restaurant wars. Wasn't actually sure the "Bodega" idea would fly. You're "Let's give 'em a little poetic license" line was dead on. It was the team that made it come together. I tend to agree w/ both your blog and the other commenters - it was total teamwork that wouldn't have had the magic w/o Richard's insights and Fabio's magic. Wish both could have won. Great blog.
Angelo put it best when he stated that Mike should be banned from the kitchen, and presumably from Top Chef for his attitude. If a line cook ever mouthed off to the chef in a restaurant the way Mike did to Marcel he would be out in the street before his spoon dropped to the floor.
Just ask Ken Lee the first chef eliminated on Top Chef.
I agree, Tom you even remarked that you had never seen such great running of the front, especially how great he managed the work staff and kept every aspect of service running like clockwork. He hit 3 home runs 'cause he even had to keep Dale & his foul temper in the kitchen in check, Richard with is petulant attitudehad to be soothed...Fabi was FABULOUS!
Yes, you are so correct. But my angst is with Tom reaming Angelo and accing him of doing nothing but keeping his head down. Basically only saving himself and nit caring about his team. That is NOT Angelo and Tom should know better than that. There would have been blood spilt back there if not for Angelo. But these are grown pepole with big egos and even Angelo could not do the cooking for them. The atmosphere reflected in their food. Tom says they look at tapes...then he owes Angelo an apology IMO. Peace.
I'm tired of reading how Marcel is a great chef. No he isn't. He is a good chef. Marcel has only won 1 quickfire and has never won a challenge, that should tell you something. The team leader ALWAYS goes home and that's the way it should be. Tre team leader eliminated, Kenny team leader eliminated, the only reason that Elia was not eliminated on her team challenge is because Mia eliminated herself in order to save Elia.
Latta Lil Foamy, Holla.
I agree with you, Fabio was robbed. Casey was eliminated for FOH duties and a bad dish, Fabio should have won for great FOH service and great dish.
Is it true that Dale only plated for the judges and did not make food for the diners in the dim sum episode? If so, that is just wrong.
Yes, Dale "put together a winning team" but he really needs to sign up for more anger management classes when this Top Chef ride is over. He is a little man, with a huge temper and it has no place in any work environment. I hope apology's were handed out to the servers he talked rudely too.
First, Marcel did not try and advise and/or guide, he tried to impose his will. Not a good quality when you want your "help" to rally around you. And, it began in the apartment, when they were chosing names, and he smugly said his idea, complete with hand gestures was still "up there".
Though I didn't like her in her season, and still didn't like her in this one, at least Tiffany F. saw her shortcomings when she watched her own season. It's too bad the same can't be said for Marcel. Talent only gets you so far.
Dale is a strategist indeed! I think he chose Marcel as captain not only because he didn't want to work with him, but because he knew of Marcel's poor people and leadership skills, which would give Dale and his team the advantage! Leadership isn't about bossing people around, which Marcel has failed to learn in two seasons.....and his parting comments show that he still is unwilling to be introspective!! Everyone else is always wrong in his eyes. I share Isabella's sentiments....these things can come with time and maturity...hopefully, Marcel get's it soon.