Top Chef Masters Season 5, Episode 5: Restaurant Wars!


Reprinted with permission from

Sue, Sang, Douglas, and David’s Sous Chefs lost the Battle of the Sous Chefs. That means the four will be on the same team for the Real Chef’s Challenge. Neil’s Sous Chef won the Battle of the Sous Chefs, so Neil will have immunity in the Elimination Challenge. Which is Restaurant Wars! Whee! Restaurant Wars is presented by Busy Philipps of Freaks and Geeks and Dawson’s Creek fame. She wants the restaurant of her dreams, which is everything good about Los Angeles under one roof. Since Neil, Jennifer, Bryan, and Lynn’s Sous Chefs won their competition, their team will have two hours of prep time from their Sous Chefs. The other team will have to do the prep work themselves.

First things first. Names? Concepts?


David, Sang, Douglas, and Sue name their restaurant 72 & Sunny based upon Los Angeles’s only season, which is kind of a cool concept. Jennifer, Bryan, Neal, and Lynn bore our ears with Artisan, with a local ingredient theme.

Curtis and Pregnant Busy Philipps drop in on the chefs during their prep, and Busy threatens to stick her face in the middle of a pile of chocolate. Thankfully, Curtis shuffles her out before she can do too much damage. Chopping, slicing, mincing, blending, and decisions are being made right and left. David Burke is running the front of the house for 72 & Sunny, and Jennifer is running the front of the house for Artisan, along with preparing two of the team’s dishes. The 72 & Sunny team decides to let one of the servers do the expediting, which is a bizarre move since it leaves quality control in the hands of some random guy.

The critics arrive at Artisan, and Curtis introduces Jennifer to Gail Simmons, Ruth Reichl, Francis Lam, Dana Cowin, and Busy Philipps. The first dish out is Jennifer’s cauliflower tahini soup, followed by her citrus salad with avocado and chevre. The judges were a little confused by the texture of the tahini and found the salad confusing. Next is Bryan’s cobb salad inspired salmon with dehydrated bacon and horseradish snow. The next main coarse is Neil’s traditional New York strip steak. The judges are in love with Bryan’s salmon dish. While they enjoy Neal’s steak, it is deemed predictable. For dessert, the critics are served Lynn’s brownie and Neal’s olive oil cake. Neil’s cake is called “lackluster,” and the banana ice cream on Lynn’s overly-rich brownie has a strange flavor.

Over at 72 & Sunny, David is flirting with every last guest. The first dishes to come out are Douglas’s slow poached salmon with ginger sisho, and Sue’s quinoa salad with radishes and vinaigrette. The critics find Douglas’s salmon dish to be oddly squishy, and they are unimpressed with Sue’s ordinary salad. David and Douglas’s snapper on corn puree with garlic and chorizo has a bit of a bite, but it is no match for Sang’s strip loin with broccoli two ways which is called all sorts of wonderful words like “heavenly” and “special.” For dessert, David prepared a panna cotta with spiced honey and Sue made a chocolate malt semifreddo. The judges enjoy both of the desserts, with extra props to Sue for essentially creating an upscale s’more.


After all of the bellies have been filled, the critics declare 72 & Sunny the winners of Restaurant Wars. David’s service gets top marks, as does his panna cotta. But it’s Sang’s black bean and broccoli strip loin that earns yet another win. Slow clap for Sang who is crushing the competition.

Jennifer’s salad and soup receives criticism involving the word “leathery,” which is never a good thing in food or cosmetics. Also, Lynn’s brownie was too big and sweet and didn’t feel like a sundae. Bryan’s cobb salad was a bright spot for the critics. It’s Lynn that gets the boot as she is shipped back to Canada.

Next week, the chefs come face-to-mask with Yo Gabba Gabba, which I think is Swedish for, “Shut Up Kids Shut Up.”

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