Top Chef 3.8 – April in the Garage

Howie in Restaurant Wars

Sounds sort of romantic, doesn’t it? Well, maybe not. This week’s Top Chef featured one of the most anticipated events for dedicated viewers, the challenge called “Restaurant Wars.” The competitors are divided into two teams that each create an entire restaurant from the food served out of the kitchen to flowers on the table. One team chose April for their restaurant name. Some found it pleasant. I found it a bit fru-fru. The other team chose The Garage. Top Chef’s invited blogger, Andrea Strong, found it off-putting to think of a garage paired with food. For me, it was reminiscent of Memphis which has a way of converting old garages into good restaurants, and, I would think, for New Yorkers other than Strong, it may bring to mind the legendary Paradise Garage, still known to many simply as The Garage.

This week’s guest judge was Daniel Boulud, a legend for his work at Le Cirque and his namesake restaurant Daniel. He kicked off a QuickFire challenge sponsored by Red Robin restaurants in which the contestants were to create the perfect burger. No one seemed to utterly fail in this endeavor, but CJ came out on top with a seafood burger (a blend of scallops, shrimp and tangerine) by providing great texture and flavor “fireworks” according to Boulud.

The QuickFire win meant that CJ got to choose his team for the Restaurant War. He selected Tre, Brian, and Casey. I might have picked Dale instead of Brian, but he still made strong selections. That left Dale, Hung, Sara M., and Howie as the remaining team with everyone expecting fireworks there, but not of the flavor sort. As discussions for restaurant designs got underway, however, Sara and Howie chose to bury the hatchet and even shop together! Once again good will, a frequent companion of this season’s Top Chef, reigned supreme.

CJ’s team chose as their restaurant title Restaurant April. This was accented by a light touch in decor and a spring-like look. The restaurant’s food approach was described as New American Contemporary. The other team chose the title The Garage and Contemporary American Bistro as their food style. It seems there was little difference between the basic cuisines of both restaurants.

Although planning went well, both restaurants had some serious issues in the execution of their projects. Brian had a meltdown at the front of the house. Howie made overcooked, gummy risotto. Tre turned in overpowering smoked potatoes that ruined his dish, and Dale chose scented candles (a serious no-no, apparently) for the dining tables. In the end, with nearly every contestant having problems that could have resulted in elimination, no one was sent home and the teams were sent back to re-do their restaurants for another evening of service. It was a just decision as all of these contestants have proven they are talented and not much separates one from the other. Next week we see the second chance in action.

In a quick note, apparently Top Chef is becoming a good show for spotting the occasional unnamed celebrity. TowelRoad identifies for us an unmentioned Christopher Ciccone, with a speaking part, otherwise known as the brother of that other famous Ciccone, Madonna.

Photo © Bravo Television