Busy Philipps (star of Cougar Town, Freaks and Geeks, and my fantasies that we’re best friends) stopped by Top Chef Masters to challenge the eight remaining master chefs to a Restaurant War. She wanted a dining experience that would unify everything that’s great about Los Angeles cuisine. No, not green juice and sprouts. Ewwww. Busy’s talking Cobb Salads, hot fudge sundaes, amazing tacos you can get at the mall, and more. CHOCOLATE. Busy Philipps was very pregnant and just wanted to plop her face into some chocolate. Who would step up? (SPOILER and Split-Second Mae Whitman Sighting ahead.)
Sadly, the lady who stepped up the highest in an effort to satisfy Busy’s chocolate craving reached too high with a brownie the size of a brick. The judges pooh-poohed this poor, amazing-looking brownie to no end while I just sat there salivating (and considering a trip to the local frozen yogurt buffet because they totally have brownie chunks in the “salad bar”). Chef Lynn Crawford has been eliminated.
“It didn’t feel like a sundae. It felt like brownie à la mode,” complained Gail Simmons. So what, Gail? Did you like it? Can I finish yours?
Meanwhile, Top Chef veteran Bryan Voltaggio won rave reviews for his lower-calorie salmon-based spinoff of the Cobb Salad featuring dehydrated bacon and horseradish snow (the only precipitation L.A. can handle), despite his placement on the losing team with Lynn, Neal Fraser, and Jennifer Jasinski.
Jennifer was in full-on boss lady mode back in the kitchen even though she was supposed to be working the front of the house for Team Artisan. The diners weren’t impressed with her harried, businesslike demeanor and much preferred the looseness of David Burke, who bopped around as the ultimate equal-opportunity flirt for Team 72 and Sunny — Burke, Sue Zemanick, Sang Yoon, and Douglas Keane.
72 and Sunny provided much more drama in what was still a pretty staid and not quite riveting episode, with Sang (the eventual challenge winner for his strip loin with broccoli two ways, puffed tendon, and black bean ghee) aggressively barking orders at both the confused wait staff and Sue, whom he seems to have mistaken for a sous chef. These guys won the Restaurant War despite a huge disadvantage — thanks to the Battle of the Sous Chefs, they missed out on two hours of prep work assisted by their underlings.
At the end of the episode, we learned Douglas’ sous chef has dropped out; he didn’t want to “get into the details.”
Hey, look who showed up? It’s Mae Whitman, from NBC’s Parenthood (and Ann from Arrested Development)!
Line of the Night: “Do I like burgers? I’M PREGNANT.” –Busy Philipps
Runner-up: “They don’t make small condoms at Restaurant Depot.” –Sue Z’s quick retort re: teammate Sang
Not the WORST way to pick up a dude in Whole Foods: Accidentally barreling into him and then requesting “Oh! Can I have this next dance?” à la Lynn Crawford. I shall miss her hearty Canadian zest!
My current favorite term on summer cooking shows: “Mouth-feel”
And finally: I love how gourmet these “dread spreads” are in the waiting area during judging:
I’ll have all the wine, please. Plus everything else.
Your thoughts on tonight’s Restaurant War? Discuss! And DON’T WIGGLE THE F*CKING PLATE!