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Top Chef: All the Restaurant Wars

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Of all the reality series that have established certain touchstone events they return to each season, Top Chef's "Restaurant Wars" is among the very best. The remaining chefs are divided into teams and tasked with creating their own pop-up restaurants, complete with menu, decor, and the ever-cursed front-of-house service. Great chefs shine, but just as often, they go down in flames. It's a reliably tense and unpredictable tradition, and would make for a deeply satisfying meal in binge form.

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 1, Episode 7)

"Unhappy Customers" (Season 2, Episode 10)

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 3, Episode 10)

"Second Helping" (Season 3, Episode 11)

"Wedding Wars" (Season 4, Episode 9)

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 5, Episode 9)

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 6, Episode 9)

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 7, Episode 9)

"Restaurant Wars - One Night Only" (Season 8, Episode 7)

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 9, Episode 10)

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 10, Episode 11)

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 11, Episode 9)

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 12, Episode 7)

"Restaurant Wars, Part 1" (Season 13, Episode 9)

"Restaurant Wars, Part 2" (Season 13, Episode 10)

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 14, Episode 😎

"Restaurant Wars" (Season 15, Episode 😎

"Surprise…It's Restaurant Wars" (Season 16, Episode 4)

"Restaurant Wars Part 2" (Season 16, Episode 5)

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S3E10, Second Helping is also the awesome Mise En Place relay race where Hung showed a master class in breaking down a chicken while Casey failed at onions.

I love restaurant wars.

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First let me say that this is the best idea ever! I have been a Top Chef viewer since Season 1, Episode 1 and have watched every episode of every season since. I've always wanted to do a re-watch, but it seemed SO overwhelming especially as we're now in the SEVENTEENTH season! This is such a great way to sample just a little bit from each season by watching only the most iconic recurring episode of the series.

So far, I have re-watched the first five episodes on the list. That puts me through S4's RW as S3 had a two-part RW. Going all the way back to S1 and S2 is like time-travel. The first thing that makes you go "Whoa!" is that half of the team is at the market or at the restaurant supply warehouse and they're using flip phones to send photos to the other half of the team. It really makes you realize just how long Top Chef  has been around. 🙂

The jump in the caliber of chefs that TC  was able to draw between S1/S2 and then S3 was monumental. Perhaps not all the way down the roster, but certainly by the time of Restaurant Wars being down to Top 6 or Top 8.  I'm glad that they don't have the cheftestants of more recent seasons do so much of the design/decor work as they used to. That's not what viewers wanted to see. We wanted to see food!

As @BlackberryJam above mentioned, getting the opportunity to once again see Hung from S3 break down those chickens in like 2 minutes flat was definitely a highlight. IMO, that may just be the most iconic single segment of the entire series. What a joy to watch!

S4's Wedding Wars episode reminded me of exactly why I've always considered Dale Talde to be my least favorite cheftestant EVER to appear on TC. I know that when he returned years later, he had mellowed--I seem to recall that he was in therapy for anger management issues--but wow, he was insufferable in this episode. That's also saying something when you consider that it was Lisa Fernandes' initial appearance too.  

I'm off to watch RW, S5...

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I was thoroughly enjoying my binge through Restaurant Wars, Seasons 5, 6, 7, and 8 but then I came to the nightmare that was Season 9, Top Chef: Texas. Perhaps I spoke too soon when yesterday  I called Dale Talde my least favorite cheftestant ever because it'd have to be a tie with that pinnacle of awfulness, Sarah Grueneberg. I had forgotten how much I truly detested her. Rude, haughty, arrogant and bossy is definitely not a good look, no matter how good a chef you might be. She made me hate the entire season and of course, she was good enough that she was there right through the finale. Ugh! 🤮 Beverly may have been her favorite target, but in Restaurant Wars, she was horrid to everyone. I know she's a James Beard award-winning chef, but I can't imagine anyone wanting to work in her kitchen.

Doing this mini-binge has made me want to go back and watch some entire seasons over again. That will never happen with Season 9.

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I'm through Seasons 10, 11 and 12 now. 

Season 10 (Seattle):  It was nice watching S10's RW knowing that Kristen Kish's Top Chef story ultimately had a happy ending, because this loss was painful to watch. I have to commend her as a leader for taking responsibility for the team's failure, but watching JT again it was apparent that Tom didn't want to send her home but Padma wasn't givng in. Josie was such a screw-up; she should never have still been there for RW.

As for the winning team, I've always liked Sheldon Simeon and hope to someday get to sample his cuisine so it was not surprising that he led his team to victory as Executive Chef. As for their FOH manager, I have never been a Stefan Richter-hater. I've always found him entertaining, but wow, was he obnoxious here, especially to the judges! 

Season 11 (New Orleans): Looking back, I'd always thought of Nick Elmi as one of the weaker TC winners, and of course, the whole immunity thing is a big negative, but he sure did kill it as Executive Chef for his RW team. On the other side was the disaster of a team with Justin Devillier as Exec. Chef and the unpleasant Sara Johannes handling FOH. I had enjoyed Justin my first time watching S11--I know most didn't--and on re-watch I agree with the judges telling Sara to PYKAG. It was a mix of both FOH and the kitchen that doomed the team, but Sara's incompetence in not properly training the servers really did have a negative effect on the kitchen. I had some professional help guiding my decision during the re-watch, because in the middle of the episode, my son who's a Sous Chef got home from work, saw the disaster that was unfolding on the screen and sat down to watch and hilariously comment. That made it more amusing for me. 🙂

I'm pretty sure I'm going to re-watch this whole season because since it originally aired in 2013-14, I've actually had the opportunity to visit New Orleans and I'd like to watch the whole season unfold now that I now a little something about the city.

Season 12 (Boston): I was definitely looking forward to this one because Doug Adams is probably my overall favorite TC cheftestant. (Kevin Gillespie is right up there for me too. Go Kevin; bring home the S17 win!) Watching Doug run things perfectly as Executive Chef was a delight. I had forgotten that Melissa King (also currently doing very well on S17 All Stars) was part of the winning team, not to mention Mei Lin who ultimately won the season! That was some line-up.


Are there any other Top Chef fans doing this curated binge???

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On 4/24/2020 at 10:42 PM, ProudMary said:

Are there any other Top Chef fans doing this curated binge???

I would be, but how do you access it?

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8 hours ago, Brookside said:

I would be, but how do you access it?

All sixteen previous seasons are available on Hulu. I have the basic subscription only; none of the add-ons.

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4 hours ago, ProudMary said:

All sixteen previous seasons are available on Hulu. I have the basic subscription only; none of the add-ons.

 

3 hours ago, biakbiak said:

Hulu is also having a 30 day free trial.

Thanks, both of you.

I'm currently virus-binging on a free month of Netflix!

I'm pretty sure that Hulu always offers a free month, or will for a while longer, but I'll check out their website.  I may just sign up anyway.  Who needs sleep when you don't have work and can't go out with your friends? 

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I love this idea. I’ve taken it a little further by also binging all the makeover episodes  of America’s Next Top Model (you can actually see Tyra spiral into insanity) and the unconventional materials challenges on Project Runway.

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On 4/24/2020 at 10:42 PM, ProudMary said:

I'm through Seasons 10, 11 and 12 now. 

Season 10 (Seattle):  It was nice watching S10's RW knowing that Kristen Kish's Top Chef story ultimately had a happy ending, because this loss was painful to watch. I have to commend her as a leader for taking responsibility for the team's failure, but watching JT again it was apparent that Tom didn't want to send her home but Padma wasn't givng in. Josie was such a screw-up; she should never have still been there for RW.

As for the winning team, I've always liked Sheldon Simeon and hope to someday get to sample his cuisine so it was not surprising that he led his team to victory as Executive Chef. As for their FOH manager, I have never been a Stefan Richter-hater. I've always found him entertaining, but wow, was he obnoxious here, especially to the judges! 

Season 11 (New Orleans): Looking back, I'd always thought of Nick Elmi as one of the weaker TC winners, and of course, the whole immunity thing is a big negative, but he sure did kill it as Executive Chef for his RW team. On the other side was the disaster of a team with Justin Devillier as Exec. Chef and the unpleasant Sara Johannes handling FOH. I had enjoyed Justin my first time watching S11--I know most didn't--and on re-watch I agree with the judges telling Sara to PYKAG. It was a mix of both FOH and the kitchen that doomed the team, but Sara's incompetence in not properly training the servers really did have a negative effect on the kitchen. I had some professional help guiding my decision during the re-watch, because in the middle of the episode, my son who's a Sous Chef got home from work, saw the disaster that was unfolding on the screen and sat down to watch and hilariously comment. That made it more amusing for me. 🙂

I'm pretty sure I'm going to re-watch this whole season because since it originally aired in 2013-14, I've actually had the opportunity to visit New Orleans and I'd like to watch the whole season unfold now that I now a little something about the city.

Season 12 (Boston): I was definitely looking forward to this one because Doug Adams is probably my overall favorite TC cheftestant. (Kevin Gillespie is right up there for me too. Go Kevin; bring home the S17 win!) Watching Doug run things perfectly as Executive Chef was a delight. I had forgotten that Melissa King (also currently doing very well on S17 All Stars) was part of the winning team, not to mention Mei Lin who ultimately won the season! That was some line-up.


Are there any other Top Chef fans doing this curated binge???

Seattle and Boston are two of my favorites because both casts were soooooo strong.  Boston particularly with the final four of Mei, Doug, Melissa and Gregory.  Pretty sure that was my last "can they all win" moment. That was a pitch perfect performance with Doug as EC, Adam running FOH and Mei and Melissa as line cooks.  I remember my heart skipping because I was ready to throw shit if Gregory got sent home over Kerianne, but luckily it didn't happen.

Thinking of Kristen and her RW still makes the blood boil.  I believe Tom went on record saying how pissed he was at that result and normally his word is law.

I didn't mind the double service they did in Season 13.  My only complaint was that it was pretty obvious that one team was way better ( hooray for Isaac getting the win).  On the upside it was the end of Manbun.

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4 hours ago, kittykat said:

I didn't mind the double service they did in Season 13.  My only complaint was that it was pretty obvious that one team was way better ( hooray for Isaac getting the win).  On the upside it was the end of Manbun.

I liked the double service RW because no one got to hide. Every member of the team had to be either the Executive Chef or the FOH GM. It was the fairest RW across all the seasons, IMO. I loved Isaac getting the win. He's one of my all-time favorite cheftestants and the only one whose restaurant I've dined at. (Off topic: Isaac was nominated for a James Beard Award today!) Getting rid of Manbun was the icing on the cake! 

Edited by ProudMary
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