Top Chef California: Episode 11
By Jason Lee
February 15, 2016
Lunch is in the books. Dinner is next up. Which team will prove worthy to take home the Restaurant Week crown?
We pick up where we left off last week, with Palate pleased with their generally error-free lunch service, while District LA has a dozen or so tables left to feed. To say they're in the weeds is an understatement. The weeds have overtaken the garden and are threatening humanity's reign over this world.
As you can imagine, tensions are running high on that side of the kitchen. Jeremy is super pissed, finally realizing his complicity in creating this mess. Phillip is again complaining about the decisions made by Jeremy in the role of executive chef. Amar has turned his attention to what needs to be changed for dinner service.
Once District LA finally wraps things up, Tom and Bill (our guest judge for this episode) calls everyone over. The two teams weren't pushing the envelope, Tom comments. Bill notes that you can't win Top Chef by playing it safe. “Playing it safe gets you sent home,” Tom agrees ominously.
This doesn't bother Palate. Carl, who'll be serving as Executive Chef, knows that their menu is much more complex for dinner. Still, out of an abundance of caution, he starts tweaking the dishes.
There's no time for that at District LA. They're 45 minutes behind due to lunch service, which forces Kwame to enlist a server to start prepping strawberries for Phillip's salad, which is STILL a point of contention between the two chefs. Kwame really wants to start simplifying the ingredients (e.g. mixing the vinaigrette right now to speed up service) while Phillip is still balking. “It's MY dish,” he says with all the petulance of a two-year-old.
He's busy, though, being front of house for his restaurant. Karen's supposed to be in that role over at Palate, but she's much too busy to be taking care of anything related to service. Thus, poor Marjorie must put her dishes on hold and train the wait staff, as she did for lunch. I really hope that doesn't somehow lead to her being sent home.
Back at District LA, Phillip has prepped his man bun for service and is again refusing any tweaks to his strawberry salad. Kwame thinks the onions need salt, but Phillip vetoes that request. You can almost read Phillip's thoughts: “Why can't Kwame see how perfect the dish already is?” Believing that issue to be settled, Phillip starts mixing a complimentary cocktail that his host will be offering to patrons as they arrive. Phillip notes that he's never seen anyone do this before, and believes it's going to be a real point of praise with the judges.
Dinner service starts before we know it. Diners start sitting down at Palate, including the four judges. Karen is quite calm escorting the judges to their table, but back in the kitchen, Marjorie is freaking out because her prep work isn't done yet.