Restaurant Wars is one of our favorite parts traditionally during any Top Chef season; this year, it was especially dramatic just because of A) the elimination and B) how it came about.
Let’s not waste any time here since there is a LOT to say in regards to Claudette, who the edit really took a turn for the past two episodes. She’s not wrong when she boasts that her food is unique, but she doesn’t seem to get the problem. That’s not enough. The lack of responsibility she’s taken on the past two challenges is pretty shocking. During Restaurant Wars, she was happy to only partially expedite, and didn’t take it upon herself to do the real job of executive chef: Tasting everything. She allowed the other chefs to struggle with some of their food. Did she do that intentionally, knowing that Chris would try to take the blame for it and she could walk away with her hands clean? It felt like it, but that didn’t really work for her. Instead, she just came across in front of the judges like she was trying to shirk any ownership of the job.
We get that Claudette wasn’t the team leader and it was a job that Chris put her in; yet, she didn’t object to it at the time. While we don’t love her attitude at times with some of the other chefs (or the way that she speaks about some of them in confessionals), we do know this: Not tasting food before it goes out is something that even we know, and we’re someone who watched this episode after eating leftover tacos we made in five minutes. We’re no chef.
Claudette’s team, which had the restaurant name Common Place, struggled really from the start in that there wasn’t really all that much of a cohesive vision. There was no clear menu, the food wasn’t good enough, and Fatima’s service wasn’t anywhere near as good as Joseph’s on the other side. Mustache Joe is super-lucky that Claudette performed worse than him overall since he easily could have went home after serving three pretty-poor dishes.
Why Conifer won
The other team, which was “led” by Carrie (who named Bruce executive chef and Bruce owned it), did a brilliant job. They created a cohesive menu, and from there worked hard to execute it and also deliver to its patrons a lovely meal of consistent food with great service from Joseph. The latter won Restaurant Wars for great service plus smart, well-done dishes. It may not have been flashy, but you don’t have to be flashy to win Restaurant Wars. You just need to understand your role, not fight, and get the job done. Bruce, for example, handled the executive chef role perfectly. He was controlling because he understood it was the right thing to do.
We would have been super-angry to see Chris go just because he was so willing to fall on his own sword for appointing Claudette. The way that she acted towards her team in this episode, plus her failures in tasting the food, made her elimination an obvious one — and the right one for the judges to make.
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