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Top Chef: Season 9, Episode 10: Restaurant Wars

This episode was indicative of the season as a whole: meh. I had thought that the first episode premise of whittling 29 chefs down to 16 was going to deliver us a higher caliber of contestant. However, this crew is decidedly middling, and is providing for some uninspired television.

This week gave us every TC fan’s favorite event: Restaurant Wars. The primary difference between this season and prior ones is that instead of both teams opening on the same night, they did so on successive nights. The Boys ended up going first, and I think this proved to be a huge disadvantage, because this has been an exhausting season, and the prior BBQ challenge lead to a sleepless night. The girls had a day to rest, whereas the boys just had to keep hammering at it, and I think it contributed to their inability to execute well.

I loved that Chris referred to Restaurant Wars as Top Chef’s Kobayashi Maru (even if he supposedly mispronounced it). More pop culture geekery please!

That the women won ran contrary to what typically happens in Restaurant Wars (or any group challenge on Top Chef), because they were also clearly the more dysfunctional. The men were far more inclined to pull together, but as a group they were so off their game it didn’t matter. The women, particularly Lindsay and Sarah, were the kind of flaming bitches that typically torpedo a team’s efforts. I was literally yelling at my television when Lindsay went back into the kitchen for the umpteenth time. She was simply a disaster. It speaks to the strength of their food (and the weakness of the mens’), that there inability to actually work as a team did not sink them.

Grayson gets big props for being the only woman who had her head together and made an honest attempt to keep things moving. And what kind of delicious irony is it that the least team-capable, Beverly, won the challenge? Particularly when the Mean Girl duo could clearly not accept it, even though they put in a subpar performance.

Once again, Last Chance Kitchen proved more engaging than the main event. (Unlike on Survivor, where Redemption Island felt like a misfire from pretty much the get go). Perhaps it’s time to rename Nyesha “The Hammer,” because she once again dispatched her foe, this time using a combination of cunning (taking Tylor’s friend to be her sous) and execution. At this point, it would be quite disappointing if Nyesha doesn’t make it back into the main competition to prove her mettle.