First you have to be a cook. Then be a chef. And then, possibly, a restaurateur. Tonight's episode really showcased that being a good chef sometimes doesn't translate, at least automatically to the business world.
This was one of my favorite episodes not only as a judge but as a viewer. It was a show within a show actually. I would have enjoyed playing in this one. And you could get the sense at the judges table that we all were really into the challenge.
Think about it, I'll bet you've thought of a fast casual QSR restaurant concept before. Right?
Our chefs tonight not only had to quickly plan out a concept, but also pitch it, to real restaurateurs, myself included, and...attempt to sell it to the millions of people who will watch this episode.
Play your cards right on Top Chef, kids and investors call. It's actually pretty freaking amazing how many positive success stories this franchise has produced.
Most of the concepts were pretty dynamic and fun prototypes. Some were exceptionally thought through. Some just missed the point entirely.
It's not surprising to me that the more 'fine dining' chefs struggled. It's hard for some to transition from quenelles, tweezers and micro greens to value oriented portions, portion scoops and squeeze bottles...
Jeremy's concept was indeed, confused. Not to mention pretty stereotypical, dated and silly.
Kwame, and it's obvious Kwame has won over everyone personally, just didn't get the challenge. Serving amuse bouche sized portions doomed him from the jump. And using store bought waffles was the ultimate dagger. Simply making waffles and having them "sandwich" size probably would have saved him.
These small decisions and moments get replayed time and time again in the heads of competitors. I don't think I'm the only one who even now still wakes up in cold sweats screaming Padma,no!!! And thinking about "what if" during this challenge or that...
But can we talk about Kwame's exit? It may be the classiest moment in Top Chef history.
Okay close, I did give away a prize to a Stefanie in season four's wedding challenge ;).
What. A. Gentlemen.
That's the moment that will have people emailing Kwame about getting into business. Not his tasty crab cake from Santa Barbara or the chicken mojo he served in San Diego. He stamped his utmost professional credentials with authority tonight.
Marjorie's Pasta Mama was my personal favorite and what bravery to showcase the concept with a glorified tuna casserole. She's the real deal cats and kittens. A chef's chef. I have no doubt she will accumulate some big accolades in her future.
Isaac's gumbo concept, another smart, spot-on brand. Could you globalize gumbo? Add different ingredients and present a place that appeals to the masses. I don't know, but Isaac had us thinking long and hard about it.
And Carl's Savory Med. Well, it was the worst name. I know they left some Blaisisms' on the cutting room floor. What the name lacked, the food made up for. A very 'Chipotle' esque concept swapping Mediterranean ingredients for the Mexican ones. Classic, simple, proven, executed well. And good enough for a well-deserved win at just the right time for some playoff momentum.
Check out my fast casual concepts: The Crack Shack (San Diego California) and Flip Burger Boutique (Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville).
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