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S17.E08: Restaurant Wars

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I went and looked up the recipe for Country Captain and it's a thoroughly unremarkable chicken curry dish. It's just your standard curry but add bacon and raisins. The fact that they went gaga over it last week and not this week means that we should really be demanding the brand of curry powder Kevin used last week that was unavailable this week.

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On 5/7/2020 at 10:29 PM, mlp said:

I have never liked Karen so I was hoping she'd be eliminated because her dishes weren't good and neither was her attitude but I have to agree that Kevin was the right choice despite hating to see him go.  I didn't understand Kevin's menu.  Fancy appetizers and curried chicken aren't things I'd ever associate with country cooking.  

I like Brian M. even though he is exhausting.  He did a great job.  One of the best things that team did was have the wait staff sample the dishes.  That way they felt like part of the team and, importantly, they knew what they were serving.  I noticed that Brian thanked them at the end too.  The contrast with Karen's attitude and behavior was, um, interesting.

I like Bryan V. but I think I'm on team Gregory for the win.

In culinary school we ran a restaurant and the waitstaff tastes the food, get instruction on how to present the plate to the customer example the protein should be at 6:00 o’ clock.  Tasting the food allows you to give the customer feedback when they ask about the dish.  Karen is my least favorite she seems like being nice is such a chore for her.

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40 minutes ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

Also, not only could I not pronounce "Country Captain" (it kept coming out "Crunchy Captain") but it reminded me way too much of "Cracker Barrel" ... 

I'm thinking Cap'n Crunch! Served as the main dish: family style but dry, with a myriad of sides including whole milk, 2% milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, and yogurt, plus sliced bananas, blueberries, strawberries, raisins, honey, chocolate sauce, and maybe more. 

Dessert is drinking the cereal milk!

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Also, if the judges selected Karen's concept for restaurant wars she would be immediately eliminated.

Can you imagine her team trying to do wheeled dim sum and creating entrees?  That would be a logistical nightmare.

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I remember once they had a dim sum challenge and it was a disaster.

I have suspected Kevin is a bit tightly wound and would fray at the edges, but had hoped it wouldn’t happen. While I enjoy a total meltdown sometimes, Kevin seems like he’s probably a decent guy and the pressure just got to him.

I was thoroughly offended when he said “plantation” as if that was a positive adjective and did not bring up mental images of the horrors of slavery. What the fuck, Kevin? What the fuck? Say “traditional Southern” or something not so offensive.

Telling for me is how quietly Melissa stood there and yet radiated displeasure with both Karen and Kevin. She hated every moment of Judge’s table.

By choosing Malarkey first and assigning him a role and complimenting him, Gregory played to those strengths. Malarkey didn’t have to prove he’s a good chef to teammates that didn’t believe in him. He had to shoulder expectations and be the best front of the house he could be. That was a great psychological play.

Stephanie showed how much of a team player she is. Although the look on her face at winning Open Table when she doesn’t have nor does she want a restaurant cracked me up. Like, “Oh awesome, something I’ll never use, let me smile wryly at Parma who is enjoying my suffering at this.”

Country Captain, the food, sound like a stupid name. Sorry for anyone who loves it, but seriously? Country Captain sounds like a children’s cartoon, not a food. 

Love Stephanie Izard. She should do more of these shows. 

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2 hours ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

They absolutely did call him out on it ... and while watching, I admit, Mr. Snappy and I could not remember if Gregory had gone out to the table but he's Gregory and he's awesome (not being sarcastic, I am his No. 1 fan) so I'm guessing he did. 

Gregory came out when presenting his fish dish I believe.  Malarkey introduced him to the table.

On one hand, while I do think putting Malarkey as FOH could be seen as getting him out of the way, letting him basically run with it without any interference shows a lot of trust in his ability to get things done.  Kevin not only had too many dishes, he was all over both sides of the house. 

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2 hours ago, Yeah No said:

It didn't just show how in the weeds he was, but again it showed a lack of awareness of how NOT going out there would look to the judges, or even to the diners or anyone watching.  As was said by someone else, this was more than just "Restaurant Wars", it was like it was HIS restaurant.  He should have known that not going out there for even a few minutes was the wrong thing to do under any circumstances.

 

This may be one of the only things all night I think was a good decision. He knew that going out was what the judges wanted, but he was behind and had food to get out. I give him credit for knowing it would hurt him yet trying to do what was right for the diners instead of the judges.

45 minutes ago, seltzer3 said:

Also, if the judges selected Karen's concept for restaurant wars she would be immediately eliminated.

Can you imagine her team trying to do wheeled dim sum and creating entrees?  That would be a logistical nightmare.

I cannot imagine, no. Fussy dishes, lots of dumplings, carts running out of food. I could only hope she meant her ideal restaurant would have carts, not the RW pop-up.

20 minutes ago, BlackberryJam said:

I have suspected Kevin is a bit tightly wound and would fray at the edges, but had hoped it wouldn’t happen. While I enjoy a total meltdown sometimes, Kevin seems like he’s probably a decent guy and the pressure just got to him.

I was thoroughly offended when he said “plantation” as if that was a positive adjective and did not bring up mental images of the horrors of slavery. What the fuck, Kevin? What the fuck? Say “traditional Southern” or something not so offensive.

His eyes were getting...kinda crazy at judging. The tension and emotion in his face was freaking me out. He was holding it together, but barely.

Agree with everyone I flinched when he said plantation. It was all the more jarring being up against a Haitian concept, plus the presence of a Middle Passage concept.

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12 minutes ago, Irlandesa said:

Gregory came out when presenting his fish dish I believe.  Malarkey introduced him to the table.

Yes, the judges had already kindof pointed at their watches-- we need to be out of here in half an hour, said Padma. Then Malarky brought out the other main course and said that Gregory was just behind with the fish-- Gregory had said "I'm not going to serve them raw fish!" So Gregory then comes out just as they are starting to pass around the other dish and he explains the fish.

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2 hours ago, seltzer3 said:

This is kind of weird, but is that expected in restaurant wars?  In past restaurant wars the executive chef never went out in the front.

This RW was different in that the judges viewed the restaurants as belonging to Gregory and Kevin. They weren't only the Executive Chefs. Each restaurant was theirs. 

40 minutes ago, BlackberryJam said:

Stephanie showed how much of a team player she is. Although the look on her face at winning Open Table when she doesn’t have nor does she want a restaurant cracked me up. Like, “Oh awesome, something I’ll never use, let me smile wryly at Parma who is enjoying my suffering at this.”

Open Table was the sponsor for an overall $40,000 prize to the winning RW team. Stephanie won $10,000. All four chefs had a lot to be happy about with that victory!

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It really bugged me that as a Top Chef competitor on an all stars season, Kevin's understanding of curry is no better than the average American. Ask any Indian and they will tell you--curry powder does not a curry make! He really shouldn't be perpetuating that misinformation.

Between his misguided notion of serving family style "plantation food" with so many superfluous "fixins" (ie. red pepper relish, pickles, etc.), stylistic disconnect from the concept he had pitched both in aesthetic and in the appetizer course, and meltdown over the flatware, I'm glad Kevin was sent packing.

 

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5 minutes ago, Rahul said:

It really bugged me that as a Top Chef competitor on an all stars season, Kevin's understanding of curry is no better than the average American. Ask any Indian and they will tell you--curry powder does not a curry make! He really shouldn't be perpetuating that misinformation.

you're right-- he could have explained that "back when," curry was an exotic idea, and Americans just used bottled curry powder-- but he's hand-crafted just the right blend using freshly toasted spices, yada yada.

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4 hours ago, Yeah No said:

I actually think Malarkey has come a long way.  He did a great job at FOH and didn't make it all about him.  I think that went against a lot of people's expectations of him who see him as narcissistic.  But this is evidence that he is not and has a level of maturity that a lot of people don't give him much credit for.

Yeah, I cringe to think I defended Kevin last week but after hearing him talk about "Plantation cooking", he completely lost me.  Unless he was going to give credit to the African American slaves that invented a lot of those recipes, just no.  And even then it would be a little uncomfortable, even more uncomfortable than Eric's restaurant concept.  I have never been a Kevin fan because he has always struck me as being a little too self absorbed, and this episode only confirmed that impression.  I think he did the right thing in falling on his sword at JT but in this episode he revealed cracks in his facade that I knew were there all along.  The fact that he doesn't seem to be aware of how waxing sentimental about "plantation cooking" feels to the rest of the world IMO speaks volumes about him that aren't very flattering.  Just saying.

It didn't just show how in the weeds he was, but again it showed a lack of awareness of how NOT going out there would look to the judges, or even to the diners or anyone watching.  As was said by someone else, this was more than just "Restaurant Wars", it was like it was HIS restaurant.  He should have known that not going out there for even a few minutes was the wrong thing to do under any circumstances.

I agree about the plates 100%.  I don't think Malarkey took them knowingly and who cares if they use the same plates?  They're ONLY PLATES, KEVIN.  Plus they were generic enough so who cared?  That was not a good look for Kevin but I'm not going to make excuses for him.  If he bit off more than he could chew and was testy about it as a result, that was on him.  But quite honestly, I wasn't surprised at him flying off the handle like that.  I have never seen in him what others have loved and could easily see him being self absorbed like a petulant artist that just has to have everything conform to his vision of things and gets so tightly wound that he could come unglued accusing someone of stealing his ideas or whatever.  Plus, I give Malarkey more credit than to knowingly steal someone else's choice of plates.  Obviously even Kevin doesn't give him enough credit to be beyond that, which is sad.

Now mind you, by contrast I think Bryan V. is a total sweetie inside and out and I could never see him barking at anyone like that (I hope I don't get proven wrong, LOL).

Haha, I can see that - it was a wise decision to keep Malarkey in line by using his skills in the best way possible.  I have a friend and handyman like that - I have to keep him occupied in ways that utilize his skills effectively and don't allow his ADD to push him off the rails.  But I do tend to give Malarkey at least SOME credit for controlling himself.

Or an accompaniment - Cracker Barrel.......😁

Which for some reason reminds me of "Country Captain", LOL.

Or rely on it to win "Restaurant Wars" on "Top Chef".

All of this. I've always felt there was something a little off about Kevin. This episode did nothing to make me lose that impression.

 

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I gotta admit that while everyone seems to think Kevin is a great guy and a great chef (not necessarily in that order), I never quite got the "great guy" vibe and simply assumed I was missing something. Which happens enough that it wouldn't surprise me. 

I think my biggest concern with this season is that Gregory is just showing all the awesome in every single way (cooking, plating, playing well with others, just being Gregory) that his front-runner status is so very strong that I figure there's no way he can win because there needs to be some big upset and that will break my heart. He is my all-time favorite Top Chef contestant (Kwame and Sheldon share a close second).

Looking forward to when we retire to the west coast next year (if the pandemic doesn't get us first) and toodle up and down the Pacific Coast ... visiting whatever restaurant Gregory owns is at the very top of my wishlist. I actually hope he DOES have KANN happening at that point ... while we are not Haitian, there is a huge Haitian connection to our family (actually, two of them) and I think the menu sounds amazing (though I couldn't do the fish, I'd gobble up pretty much everything else). 

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He knew that going out was what the judges wanted, but he was behind and had food to get out.

Kevin also knew his curry wasn't as good as it was previously. He didn't want to have to explain why.

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On 5/7/2020 at 11:21 PM, Bastet said:

The Country Captain:  Those menus did look ‘80s (and, I know this was in a talking head, not on the menu, but “the plantation South” makes me uncomfortable, not hungry, Kevin), and it just didn’t come together – problems on every level, and some of them inherent to deciding to do family style in a challenge in which customers (eating for free and wanting to be on TV) linger too long even when they have courses designed to keep them moving.  Kevin was the right one to go.

Agree.

Kevin’s entire concept, which seemed to be Southern plantation meets grandma’s house, was extremely unappealing. The floral decor was atrocious, the  menu graphics incongruous, and even the plate style was ugly.    The menu choices, obviously, were questionable. 

Kevin falling on his sword wasn’t humility. The only thing he admitted he did wrong was not correct other people who were doing the wrong thing. In other words, “I lost because my team was bad.”  
 

It was obvious that as the leader of the losing team who botched his signature dish, he was going to be out. The holier-than-though self-sacrifice act was just that — an act to make him seem heroic after he failed as a chef and a leader. 

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I think too often folks in restaurant wars think their first pick needs to be the best remaining chef available or who they like the most when in reality the first pick should either be the best chef who is not a restaurant lead or the best front of house that is not a restaurant lead.  So unless Gregory was going to do FOH himself, picking the person he thought would be best FOH was wise.

Reading this post I was thinking about that very talented young chef a couple of years ago who opened a very high end and limited menu in DC and failed after a couple of months.  Most of you know who I mean.  What happened to him?

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I tell you, Restaurant wars makes me so extremely anxious that I can barely watch it. There is something about it that interests me, or I would just skip it, but then I have to play Words With Friends on my ipad and just peek at it while it's on. I can't stand it when they are in the weeds and Tom and Padma are sitting there, all impatient.

I watch other competition shows, and while I hate to see my favorites mess up on , say Project Runway, it doesn't make me anxious in the same way. Weird.

That said, i heaved a great sigh of relief when it looked like Greg's team had done well. I could tell right from the start that Kevin's plan to make 12 dishes was going to backfire and I groaned when he said that his star dish didn't turn out as hoped. Kevin isn't my favorite, but he did seem to be on the short list to win. He still could, i guess, but I am rooting for Gregory or Michelle. 

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This season's Kevin is quite different from the Kevin of his original season.  Maybe it's going through a divorce and then a rigorous treatment for cancer, but he's definitely changed.

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On 5/8/2020 at 9:01 AM, Rai said:

AND. Speaking of CRINGE. Last week, I was uncomfortable with Kevin evoking the spice trade for his inspiration, given how easily that references colonialism and slavery. This week, he straight up called it "plantation cooking," which is such a yikes in this day and age. I just would not advise calling out that influence at all. And again, it calls into question the optics of booting Eric's concept that openly acknowledges the slave influence on American cuisine in favor of promoting a while guy's "plantation cooking" concept. "Grandma's house"? Okay. "Plantation cooking"? God no. Please do not.

Totally agree with this. I found use of the expression "plantation cooking" actually shocking, --reminded me Paula Deen and her plantation themed weddings. I wish that Kevin had been challenged on this--its troublesome and I think its extremely important to acknowledge the origins of the food he was serving. The show missed an opportunity. And particularly since they passed on Eric's similar but far more evolved concept, I found it even more disturbing.

I seriously disliked both Malarkey's and Karen's FOH styles. When I go to a restaurant, I am so not interested in having the staff insert themselves into my meal. Malarkey looked like a cartoon. And Karen and her "friggen" -- that would have really bothered me if I were the diner. 

Gregory's win was extremely satisfying. I loved what Tom and Stephanie said, how it made them want to explore Haiti and its cuisine and just get into the kitchen and cook. Can't think of a higher compliment for or from a chef.

I loved Stephanie's graceful takeover of the expedition. And kudos to Lee Anne for not making it a thing. (Having loved Lee Anne and her blog years ago, I'm disappointed that she is bugging me so much. She always seems to be playing a part here -- in this episode it was the stressed out and put-upon expediter. 

I am heterosexual and always have been, but I have a huge crush on Melissa. She is so beautiful and elegant and cool!

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On 5/8/2020 at 5:43 PM, Miss chi chi said:

I agree with everything @HurricaneVal Said about Gregory owning this RW. I was terrified for him when he picked his team and thought he royally screwed up. He's my fav so I was pretty scared, but he knew exactly what he was doing! 

Im not a Makarkey fan but I don't think he knew those plates were Kevin's. There were place settings on every table.

Did Kevin's grandma grow up on a plantation? 😁😜

 

 

I said I hated Malarkey last episode, I am reformed. Brilliant decision on Gregory’s part. The true star was Gregory tho, how he pulled his team together and made everything work! I think I cried a little when he won, what a sweet soul he is!!! 

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2 hours ago, spiderpig said:

Reading this post I was thinking about that very talented young chef a couple of years ago who opened a very high end and limited menu in DC and failed after a couple of months.  Most of you know who I mean.  What happened to him?

Kwame Onwuachi is up for his second consecutive James Beard award this year, albeit in the writing division, for his book, Notes From A Young Black Chef.  In 2019, he won the award for Rising Culinary Star. 

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6 hours ago, ProudMary said:

This RW was different in that the judges viewed the restaurants as belonging to Gregory and Kevin. They weren't only the Executive Chefs. Each restaurant was theirs. 

Open Table was the sponsor for an overall $40,000 prize to the winning RW team. Stephanie won $10,000. All four chefs had a lot to be happy about with that victory!

I think she won like a years worth of Open Table services for her non existent restaurant in the quick fire. 

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52 minutes ago, Fostersmom said:

I think she won like a years worth of Open Table services for her non existent restaurant in the quick fire. 

There was no quickfire in this episode, but while Padma announced when they were choosing teams that the winning team would split $40K “courtesy of Open Table” and both would use OT for their pop-ups, when the winners were announced she mentioned the year’s worth of OT as well. So Stephanie still got her $10K. 
 

Frankly, I wonder about the terms and utility of the OT prize, since I know it’s the most expensive (to restaurants) of the various reservation and customer management systems, which is why not everyone uses it.

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Kevin seemed scarily wedded to his concept of Grandma's food.  No, there couldn't be fewer sides because Grandma wouldn't do it that way.  Those plates were perfect for Grandma's vision.  He had to keep on top of everyone to make sure it was the way Grandma made it.  Shudder

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1 hour ago, HyeChaps said:

Kevin seemed scarily wedded to his concept of Grandma's food.  No, there couldn't be fewer sides because Grandma wouldn't do it that way.  Those plates were perfect for Grandma's vision.  He had to keep on top of everyone to make sure it was the way Grandma made it.  Shudder

A boy's best friend is his (grand)mother.

Edited by Ashforth
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Well, it's hard to root against Gregory, right? He combines a great, positive vibe with delicious sounding/looking food. That fish looked amazing. Also, chicken thighs. All good. I understand that Malarkey is a lot for some people, but I like him. And he said something in one of the earlier episodes about combining cooking with joy- "No one wants to eat your struggle food." And I totally agree with that, that stress/bad vibes can come through in the dish/atmosphere. And the reverse. I am a little tired of Padma and the judges treating Malarkey like crap. 

I just don't understand why they picked Kevin's concept in the first place. I grew up in Florida and in the 70's it was a big treat to go eat at a cafeteria style restaurant (I want to say it was called Morrison's) and that is what Country Captain reminded me of. You would walk through the line and grab little bowls of a bunch of different things. I loved it, but I was seven years old. I thought all of the food that came out from Kevin just seemed similarly dated.  For Bryan Voltaggio, it seemed like Kevin set him up with a chance to shine with a shrimp dish and then Melissa and Karen, not so much. Also as far as Karen-I think she can be an imaginative chef. I am not clear in this instance if that mushroom recipe came from her or Kevin? And I would be horrified if I were front of house and my recipe were stewed mushrooms? I would feel set up for failure. 

I liked Kevin on his original season. His head has seemed a little swollen this season. 

I still really like Bryan V but I think he's better cooking his own food and the show is not really a great format for him. I might be giving him the cute guy pass. 

For me, LeeAnn is the headscratcher. Nuts in the salad is worth a compliment? Really?

 

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44 minutes ago, Heathrowe said:

 

For me, LeeAnn is the headscratcher. Nuts in the salad is worth a compliment? Really?

 

This struck me as really odd as well. Everyone puts nuts in their salads these days. It's hardly original or unique. 

Edited by wlk68
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15 hours ago, ProudMary said:

Kwame Onwuachi is up for his second consecutive James Beard award this year, albeit in the writing division, for his book, Notes From A Young Black Chef.  In 2019, he won the award for Rising Culinary Star. 

In other words he is doing relatively o.k.?  Financially is not the only way to be doing well. He has the respect of his peers. 

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11 minutes ago, catrice2 said:

In other words he is doing relatively o.k.?  Financially is not the only way to be doing well. He has the respect of his peers. 

While his first restaurant folded, his second — Kith/Kin — was doing great before the pandemic. One of the best meals I’ve had here in a long time (Mom Dukes Shrimp!!!! It’s referenced in his outstanding book). Really hope it will reopen. It’s on my very short list of DC area restaurants I want to dine at one last time before we move to the West Coast next winter (providing we all make it that long). 

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I was very sad to see Kevin eliminated, but it was a fair decision. Why did he insist on so many dishes? It's always the deaths spell in these competitions. Focus on fewer dishes so they can all be well executed. Plus so many sides, gets confusing. Shrimp as a side? Just because your grandma did it, doesn't mean you should do it, especially on RW.

Plus, his teammates were uncomfortable with that concept, and made it clear to him. So, yes, the blame lies squarely upon his shoulders, and he should have been eliminated, as he was.  I think he was gracious to the end, took the blame like a champ, and hope he finds his way back into the competition.

 

My dream top 4 are Kevin, Bryan Voltaggio, Gregory and Melissa.

Edited by Norma Desmond
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On 5/7/2020 at 11:21 PM, Bastet said:

I had to pop over to the Live Chat thread while this was airing to ask the same thing - it was that Malarkey would be front of the house.

I LOL at Padma’s “May I ask why?” when Gregory picked Malarkey as his first choice.  (Wanting him for FOH makes sense, but “Um, what?” was my instinctive reaction, too.)  

I also may have done a little clap for more Stephanie Izard; I really like her.                           

I like the free reign, and numerous shopping options they got this time, but until producers start hiring trained service staff, Restaurant Wars is never going to be a truly great challenge.  And they should have more help setting up the dining room.

 

 

 

This is one of my issues with Restaurant wars. I don't think a great restaurant is determined by how well the executive chef can carry a plant, put together furniture tables, hang wall pieces and (un)load a truck. Hire temp labor.

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Let me say this - I was born into, raised on and still cook southern food.

In honor of all of the mothers, aunts, sisters and grandmothers, who cooked for nights and days, taught and passed down their "secrets", not just on holidays, but every day - Happy Mothers Day. 

I understand what Kevin was trying to do. Give the diners what his grandmother gave him.

Edited by sATL
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Is there something going on with Brian V?  Personally or Professionally ? he doesn't to seem to have the fire and leadership he used to.

Actually - it feels like he is phoning it in... happy to be in the middle. I am not used to seeing him that way... I am used to him being in the top

Edited by sATL
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On 5/8/2020 at 11:11 AM, Fostersmom said:

Naming a restaurant after a dish just doesn't make sense. Has anyone ever gone to a restaurant named after one particular dish? Not even Red Lobster is an actual dish and Subway and Burger King are general categories of food. The name also didn't match the decor at all.... unless Kevin's grandma is living in a tacky 80's night club. Was there pink neon lighting? 

I can't believe Kevin never even went out to the judges table once and I can't believe the judges never mentioned it. If anything, that was a big indication to the judges how in the weeds he was. 

 

This is a good topic to think about and fun game to play.. hmmm...not to say I've been to a lot of restaurants...

does it count if the owners name is before or after the signature dish ? I'm thinking Caribbean places are sometimes named after a dish or cooking method..

Edited by sATL

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8 hours ago, catrice2 said:

In other words he is doing relatively o.k.?  Financially is not the only way to be doing well. He has the respect of his peers. 

That was the point of my post. I was going to add, "So, I think he's doing just fine. 😉 " but thought it would be overkill. Guess I was wrong. 😞

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On 5/9/2020 at 12:58 PM, Fukui San said:

I went and looked up the recipe for Country Captain and it's a thoroughly unremarkable chicken curry dish. It's just your standard curry but add bacon and raisins. The fact that they went gaga over it last week and not this week means that we should really be demanding the brand of curry powder Kevin used last week that was unavailable this week.

well... we all have been there with hand-me down recipes... Grandma could have made her own blend, mixed two brands,  used the store brand from Piggly Wiggly,  while Kevin was shopping in Whole Foods.  I think he lucked out on the 1st day - paying more attention to what he was doing.

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On 5/9/2020 at 12:24 PM, Rahul said:

curry powder does not a curry make!

I am totally a philistine, but my basic, generic, grocery store brand curry powder is my favorite.  It isn't special, it is very mild--yet flavorful, because, curry--but it is wonderful on roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, and chicken.

I have used other curry powders, some brought to me from India by my niece who knows I love to cook.  And they were awesome.....tasty....made everything sing.  But my utilitarian, middle-of-the-road, squat little grocery store plastic jar of very inauthentic curry powder is my go-to.  I know what it tastes like.  I know its profile.  I know how much is going to be great, and what else will work with it.  

But I'm a home cook.  I like to cook, and I'm good at it.  But I'm not a chef.

I can't understand how--at that level--Kevin could cook his Country Captain dish based on a commercial sauce or powder, and then use a different one for RW and not get it that he wasn't going to get the original dish, without the original ingredients.  A chef should know, FFS, that two jars labelled curry, even if both say "yellow curry" are not going to taste the same.

Again, I'm a philistine , but even I know that Hunts ketchup tastes differently from Heinz, Heinz yellow mustard tastes differently from French's yellow mustard, and Best Foods (Hellman's) mayonnaise tastes differently from Kraft mayonnaise.  And those differences will make a dish taste differently.

Kevin was screwed the moment he depended on a commercial spice blend that was different, and therefore unknown.  He would probably have been OK if he hadn't repeated the dish from the first time, but he named the freakin' restaurant after the dish, and made it the focus.  Gregory was smart to elect not to repeat the judges favorite.  Either you exactly reproduce it and be accused of "resting", or you enhance it and be accused of cheffing it up, or you screw it up and eternally disappoint.

(For the record, chez HurricaneVal, it is Heinz ketchup, French's yellow mustard, Best Foods mayo, and McCormick's curry powder.)

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On 5/8/2020 at 3:21 AM, TwopLurker said:

Leanne got redemption for the wedding cake that sent her home in her first season!

I'd forgotten all about that. It is pretty ... sweet. The judges so often hate the dessert courses in these challenges and so many of the chefs resent having to make them, I was glad to see Lee Anne rock this and so many people praise that dish. Rum raisin ice cream is gross though, fight me, and I still kept wishing she'd made a brown sugar or a coconut flavor instead.

On 5/7/2020 at 10:48 PM, Irlandesa said:

It was smart for Kevin to take responsibility but ultimately what did his restaurant in was his choice to do so many dishes.

Agreed. And his determination to put such focus on the Country Captain dish, knowing that it would be scrutinized to all hell. His little speech was nice, eventually, but Padma basically told him the faults were on his shoulders and asked if there were any reason why he shouldn't take the blame. There was no other way for him to answer that.

On 5/8/2020 at 8:01 AM, Rai said:

Speaking of CRINGE. Last week, I was uncomfortable with Kevin evoking the spice trade for his inspiration, given how easily that references colonialism and slavery. This week, he straight up called it "plantation cooking," which is such a yikes in this day and age.

Yes to this all. I wasn't puzzled by Kevin's menu at all but I was irritated (I hesitate to say offended) by it for sure. I can't recall where exactly he's from, but his concept and the spread he ultimately ended up with put me immediately in mind of a very specific kind of old school, upper- and middle-class white Southern sensibility. In certain certain circles it was a huge boon to have a girl or two who could throw down in the old way, but who was also familiar with all the nouveau mid-century fads. You can still find that kind of thing -- chicken liver canapes, "curry" gravies, French-style stews with southern ingredients -- alongside stuff like pimento cheese and fried chicken at a lot of little tea rooms and cafes that sprang up in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. When he kept mentioning his grandmother, I sucked my teeth. Once he said plantation,  I was out.

Food-wise, the dish I most wanted to eat was Melissa's potatoes in raclette, so that's me summed up, but I was much more intrigued by Gregory's menu as a whole; the chicken, fish, and cod patties all sounded delicious.

Malarkey looked ridiculous in his hat, but he and Stephanie both were pretty awesome in their roles. I'm glad the prize was shared even though it was ultimately Gregory's vision, skill, and cool head that led them to victory. He impresses me more and more every week.

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On 5/9/2020 at 6:14 AM, LucindaWalsh said:

 

I have only gotten half way through your post but I had to stop and tell you that I have been waiting all season for someone to make me stop internally saying "can't you guys see that Kevin is a hidden jerk?? He is that dude!" So I am glad that you are out there seeing what I see.

 

I'm with you guys. I thought I was missing something...

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On 5/9/2020 at 12:37 PM, PamelaMaeSnap said:

No joke. This whole concept had me and Mr. Snappy gasping for breath, we were laughing so hard, as we imagined the menu at a restaurant that featured our respective grandmothers' specialties. Not a place anyone would want to go, trust me. 
 

Oh man, now I'm imagining creating a restaurant around my grandma's cooking. It would include such hits as:

-Pot roast that is somehow both dry and moist. And possibly reheated from last Passover.

-A "vegetarian" entree that is just the vegetables fished out of the chicken soup.

-Cabbage stuffed with mystery meat.

-Dessert is instant coffee and baked goods made with sweet 'n' low. 

I love my grandma, she's an absolutely kickass human being...but yes, all those things were served at the holidays. The best is still when I came home from college as a vegetarian and she so proudly put together a plate of chicken soup vegetables for me (with bits of chicken still hanging off it!). My mom (who was not super thrilled about my newfound vegetarianism) leaned over and whispered "just go with it, and I'll make you eggs when we get home."

Actually, come to think of it, I'd love to see the chefs have a challenge where they have to take a mediocre or terrible meal someone made and recreate it into something delicious, without breaking from the spirit of the original (so if the recipe were chicken soup, the chefs could make soup variants but they couldn't make a roast chicken instead)

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I enjoyed some of my grandmother's cooking, but certainly not all. And some of the side dishes were just a plate of sliced tomatoes and green onions with a salt shaker.

I would never say that my grandmother, either of them really, should open a restaurant. Unless that was a restaurant of picking up fried chicken from somewhere and making your own sides.

You can cook with love and have it be in honor of those who raised you without ACTUALLY making the food they made. Kevin knows that. Back in his season finale, they had to make a dish inspired by the mother's food. Kevin made a crispy chicken skin that looked great, Bryan did something with sardines and Michael made cream of dehydrated broccoli (which sounded awesome.)

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6 hours ago, Lois Sandborne said:

Rum raisin ice cream is gross though, fight me, and I still kept wishing she'd made a brown sugar or a coconut flavor instead.

I am like you in that I always hated rum raisin ice cream, until I had some at Devon House Ice Cream in Jamaica. Then, I understood why people liked it--it was amazing! I have never eaten it since, as I know any other version would suck.

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On 5/9/2020 at 3:24 PM, Rahul said:

It really bugged me that as a Top Chef competitor on an all stars season, Kevin's understanding of curry is no better than the average American. Ask any Indian and they will tell you--curry powder does not a curry make! He really shouldn't be perpetuating that misinformation.

 

Agreed. I married into a South Indian family, and almost every "curry" we eat usually consists of shredded coconut, chilies, and curry leaves.

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14 hours ago, Lois Sandborne said:

I'd forgotten all about that. It is pretty ... sweet. The judges so often hate the dessert courses in these challenges and so many of the chefs resent having to make them, I was glad to see Lee Anne rock this and so many people praise that dish. Rum raisin ice cream is gross though, fight me, and I still kept wishing she'd made a brown sugar or a coconut flavor instead.

Lee Anne wanted to make another flavor of ice cream, but Gregory insisted that it had to be rum raisin.

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10 hours ago, questionfear said:

Oh man, now I'm imagining creating a restaurant around my grandma's cooking. It would include such hits as:

-Pot roast that is somehow both dry and moist. And possibly reheated from last Passover.

-A "vegetarian" entree that is just the vegetables fished out of the chicken soup.

-Cabbage stuffed with mystery meat.

-Dessert is instant coffee and baked goods made with sweet 'n' low. 

I love my grandma, she's an absolutely kickass human being...but yes, all those things were served at the holidays. The best is still when I came home from college as a vegetarian and she so proudly put together a plate of chicken soup vegetables for me (with bits of chicken still hanging off it!). My mom (who was not super thrilled about my newfound vegetarianism) leaned over and whispered "just go with it, and I'll make you eggs when we get home."

Actually, come to think of it, I'd love to see the chefs have a challenge where they have to take a mediocre or terrible meal someone made and recreate it into something delicious, without breaking from the spirit of the original (so if the recipe were chicken soup, the chefs could make soup variants but they couldn't make a roast chicken instead)

I've been there....like the time my best friend and I discussed how much I love a good lasagna and I had been vegetarian since were were in elementary  school and my husband and I went to visit and  she had made me an extra meat one! I ate as much as I could and was sick in the bathroom all night...

 

I think your idea is a great challenge.  Seems like they did that on a different show..if not, they should!

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In rewatching the episode, I'm not a huge fan of this setup.  Where essentially because no matter what its either Gregory or Kevin goes home, since everything falls on them.  Its essentially a one v one match up with three assistance.

Like its interesting that even though Karen screwed up a lot, it was pretty evident that she wasn't going to go home. 

Robhasapodcast did a podcast on this top chef episode.  One of them suggested that they should actually pick the bottom 2 (Stephanie and Leanne's) and essentially see if they can rescue a poor concept as restaurant wars.

Edited by seltzer3
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My aunt showed me how to make her amazing hot mustard potato salad at least 5 times and when I made it, it was never right. We couldn't figure out where I was going wrong. We finally realized I wasn't using FRENCH's mustard @HurricaneVal. 

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39 minutes ago, Miss chi chi said:

My aunt showed me how to make her amazing hot mustard potato salad at least 5 times and when I made it, it was never right. We couldn't figure out where I was going wrong. We finally realized I wasn't using FRENCH's mustard @HurricaneVal. 

Hmmmm this may be what I am doing wrong with my mom’s potato salad! ALSO, my sister insists that miracle whip is the key which, I hate...and it’s not gluten free-so I have no choice, she’s got celiac. Be ill, or eat potato salad...your choice!! I try. I don’t remember my grandma’s cooking as much as my mom’s fried chicken, which I will never do...too much work and mess, and it will never be good enough. 😢 

My sister is also vegetarian (not Vegan) @QUESTIONFEAR, your story is hilarious! Try being vegetarian  and GF I am always on the lookout! 

Edited by JD5166 · Reason: Because Vegan and vegetarian are not the same thing.
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On 5/10/2020 at 8:04 AM, HyeChaps said:

Kevin seemed scarily wedded to his concept of Grandma's food.  No, there couldn't be fewer sides because Grandma wouldn't do it that way.  Those plates were perfect for Grandma's vision.  He had to keep on top of everyone to make sure it was the way Grandma made it.  Shudder

I had visions from the movie "Psycho" after I read this.  Then coincidentally, I caught it yesterday evening on PBS!

On 5/10/2020 at 11:57 AM, Heathrowe said:

I just don't understand why they picked Kevin's concept in the first place. I grew up in Florida and in the 70's it was a big treat to go eat at a cafeteria style restaurant (I want to say it was called Morrison's) and that is what Country Captain reminded me of. You would walk through the line and grab little bowls of a bunch of different things. I loved it, but I was seven years old. I thought all of the food that came out from Kevin just seemed similarly dated. 

I remember Morrison's in DC back in the '70s from when my family used to drive down to visit relatives in NC and FL.  Only I think at least some of their food would actually be more in style than Kevin's food right now because it was just so down home and authentic.  Like stuff from a good rib shack or chicken and waffles place off the beaten path.  Or a truck stop from back in the day.  We always stopped at them because back then the food was AMAZING.  And right now that food would be in demand.  Kevin tried so hard to recreate grandma's house that his restaurant literally looked like one down to all the the fussy details.  I almost expected doilies.  There is dated and then there is respecting tradition and reproducing classics, and his entire concept seemed to lean more toward dated.

Like I don't know what he was thinking with those starters.  They didn't look like down home/grandma's cooking to me.  They looked more like 1980s fancy restaurant food.

Speaking of the curry powder, I checked online and most recipes for Country Captain, even from The New York Times and Saveur call for a pre-made curry powder.  I think that's probably because this is not authentic Indian cooking, it's southern US cooking which borrowed from Indian cooking at a time when people more often used pre-made spice blends rather than create their own.  So now to recreate the recipe as it was probably originally made, curry powder is more authentic.

Edited by Yeah No
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