Top Chef Season 16 Restaurant Wars: Three times the chaos


Top Chef Season 16 Restaurant Wars came earlier in the Top Chef season. Could this season’s fan favorite episode be three times as chaotic?

Top Chef Season 16 Restaurant Wars is here. In a two part episode over two weeks, the food fans had a special gift right after the holiday. While the big challenge wasn’t revealed until after the Quickfire, the chefs went from confident to confrontational.

After last week’s over indulgent holiday spectacular, the chefs started this week’s challenge with something a little lighter. For the Quickfire challenge, the chefs had to create a amuse-bouche. Any good amuse-bouche need to be a single, tiny perfect bite. It is never easy.

Before tacking the specific dishes, the chaos in the kitchen during Quickfires is extreme. Last week there was broken bottles, elbows and pushing. This week’s Quickfire had a lot of the same chaos. While 30 minutes is extremely short, the jockeying in the kitchen seems to be almost out of control.

For this single bite challenge, the key is understanding all the components in a single dish. With a bite so small, one little element could throw the whole bite completely off. The chefs who understand this idea would do well.

Again, as it has been said in other recaps, the chefs should have had an idea in their heads prior to stepping into the Top Chef kitchen. A couple ideas for these single bites that the chefs have either done before or do currently isn’t too out of the question. Creating something completely untested seems a poor choice.

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Looking at the Quickfire dishes, the dishes either were remembered or just passed over. The middle ground were quickly dismissed. It is the nature of these early episodes.

Two of the top dishes were quite impressive. Brandon’s chowder was a bold choice. Finding a lot of herbaceous flavor in just 30 minutes was quite a task. The dish was described as a delicate, yet flavorful bite of spring.

The winning dish was an inspired choice. Michelle’s halibut ceviche with compressed watermelon showed an extreme about of thoughtfulness. After being in the middle in previous challenges, this dish earned her the top spot.

The balance of flavors and textures was thoughtfully composed. While the fish was lovely, the compressed watermelon pushed the dish to the win.

The bottom dishes were equally as noticeable. While Kelsey wanted to highlight a Southern classic, her corn fritter was much too large of a bite. Additionally, the fritter was too dry. It wasn’t a pleasant bite.

Another poor choice was Adrienne’s lamb tartare with a red pepper ribbon. Since she didn’t cook the red pepper, the pepper skin was unpleasant. Also, the lamb was under seasoned.

Lastly, David’s pasta dish was in the bottom. After winning the past two Quickfires, the Quickfire king was too ambitious. Making a stuffed pasta in 30 minutes was a poor choice. The pasta was dry and undercooked.

This Quickfire had an interesting side note. The judges with Padma were two former Top Chef contestants. Both women chefs have gone onto receive many accolades, including a James Beard Award. It was curious to see how their flavor preferences and commentary differed from other judges.

Their descriptions of the dishes were precise yet equally as critical. It was somewhat curious that the dishes that were clear, composed and thoughtful found their way to the top. Taste is a preference.

After the Quickfire Challenge, the chef got the big surprise that Restaurant Wars is coming early in Top Chef Season 16. Unfortunately for foodie fans, the episode is split into two parts. This week focused on the prep. Next week, the chaos in the kitchen really hits the boiling point.

The chefs learned that their teams were based on the plate used in the Quickfire. Some groups seemed happy with the pairings. One team was way too over confident. Isn’t that always the kiss of death on Top Chef?

Just looking at all the teams, the groups were really even. Winning a challenge or having pastry knowledge isn’t always the key to winning Restaurant Wars. Having a clear vision and plan is vital. All these chefs are accomplished, but can they check their egos and tempers at the door.

Each of the three teams had very different visions. Team Thistle is vegetable forward. Team North East gains inspiration from the chefs’ respective home. Team Third Coast focuses on the Gulf Coast.

It was quite interesting to see how each team set up their restaurant and system. Granted no one wants to lose Restaurant Wars, but they chefs didn’t seem to heed the former Top Chef contestants’ advice. Egos, attitudes and stubbornness will get people sent home.

One of the things that is different about this version of Top Chef Season 16 Restaurant Wars is that the episode seemed to comment a lot about front of house. Without a smart, well-planned and smooth service, the restaurant will fail. Think about it logically. Do you go back to a restaurant with poor service? Even if the food is amazing, bad service can cause people to never go back.

Team Thistle is composed of Pablo, Michelle, Sara and Brandon. With Michelle having immunity, this team has a lot of pressure. Looking at certain clips, the actual service portion of this challenge will focus on Michelle not being a force on the pass (Executive Chef). While Sara seems well organized in the front of house, the kitchen needs to be on task as well.

The potential weak link on this team will be Pablo. He admitted that he hadn’t tasted this dish in a composed bite. Could that be a sign that he will be in the bottom?

Team Third Coast is the over confident team whose personalities could create a flare up in the kitchen. This team consists of Nini, Kelsey, David and Justin. This challenge always sees people who are top fall hard.

This team doesn’t have a clear plan. They think that it is in the bag. With no front of house training, the restaurant is set up to fail. Even with the best dishes, service could be their downfall.

Team North East is Eddie, Adrienne, Brian and Eric. This team seems to be the most organized. They have a plan both for back of house and front of house. For sheer planning purpose, this team would be far ahead of the other teams.

As this episode comes to a close, Tom’s announcement causes a hush over all the kitchens. Top Chef Season 16 Restaurant Wars will be a double elimination. It makes sense that there will be one winning team, who will most likely be safe. Don’t all the chefs wish that they had immunity, like Michelle?

Going into part two, here are a few things to expect. Team Third Coast will have a meltdown in the kitchen. Front of house will be a nightmare. Also, Nini’s ice cream may not save her.

On Team Thistle, Brandon is going to try to push over Michelle. Loud doesn’t command authority. Loud is just loud. Maybe chefs should be checking that ego.

Lastly, Team North East could have some personality conflicts. Will Brian’s compulsive notes help them achieve a good service?

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Which team will prevail or which team will epically fail? Check back next week to see what unfolds on Top Chef Season 16 Restaurant Wars.