We are greeted with another sunny Seattle morning, as the chefs debrief on the prior elimination. Josh confesses he isn't the least bit disappointed in John Tesar's departure, while Stefan is shown looking despondently off on the horizon as he smokes alone on the balcony. Maybe it's just that he lost his one smoking buddy. Meanwhile, Josie bellows "Asians represent!" and attempts to high five Kristen and Sheldon, who shrug her off like a bad cold.
Padma, Wolfgang Puck, and the glare from his teeth greet the chefs to introduce the quickfire challenge - which will involve ginger. Stefan proclaims that ginger has a lot of "antitoxins." I am pretty sure he meant "antioxidants", but there may have been something lost in translation. Padma gives us a heavy handed Canada Dry Ginger Ale promo (as they're sponsoring the challenge, natch) and tells the gang they have 15 minutes to prepare a dish that highlights the fresh, flavorful root. Madcap culinary hijinx ensue. Remember back in the day when ALL the quickfires were 15 minutes in length? Me too. I miss that.
Padma and Wolfgang try the eight dishes. Stefan works it hard during judging by chatting Wolfgang up in German. His polylingual flirtation does not curry favor, though, as the quickfire and immunity go to Brooke, for her ginger caramel squid with fresh lime & chili powder. She graciously accepts immunity, despite the fact that Chef Puck pronounces her name "Bwook."
For the elimination challenge, Padma brings in 25-time James Beard Award winner Danny Meyer. Josh is totally star struck and declares him the "best restaurateur in America." To no one's surprise, this is the Restaurant Wars challenge. But the rules are a little different this time. Each chef must create a dish that represents their complete restaurant concept, which will be served at Bite of Seattle. The two winners' concepts will move on to Restaurant Wars next week. Now the episode title makes sense - the Battle Before the War. Way to draw it out, Bravo!
The chefs return from ingredient shopping to discover their sous chefs in the kitchen - of course, it's a gaggle of eliminated contestants. Josie basically calls shotgun on Kuniko as soon as she's through the door. Micah asks, "Can I share Kuniko for a little bit?" and I am suddenly deeply disturbed and offended on her behalf. Sheldon is thrilled to snag Chrissy, his "Filipino sister", since he is making a traditional Filipino soup. Stefan pairs with Carla because "she is super fast and her butt is always cute." Pardon me while I watch Simone de Beauvoir roll over in her grave and Gloria Steinem throw up in her mouth.
Josh, who appears to have no sous chef, is dedicating his restaurant to his father (Bistro George), who he lost three years ago to cancer. He shares that his Dad was a steak and potatoes kind of guy, so he's preparing a sear of ribeye "straight forward - just like my Dad was."
Josie's concept is "305" (the area code of Miami), and she explains to Kuniko that she wants her guests to feel like they're coming into her home. I think I speak for everyone, Josie, when I say that we'd rather not step foot into your home. It's probably WAY loud.
Lizzie is drawing on Northeastern Italy for her concept and calmly tells Eliza (her sous chef) she needs to get started on two hundred dumplings. Yes, Miss Hannigan!
Tom comes in to check on the crew. He seems bummed out that Stefan is going Thai and not (his home countries) Finnish/German. Stefan counters that he's been "sloppy seconds" every challenge and is ready for a win.
Brooke tells Tom she's making a fancy version of matzoh ball soup (and having seen last week's preview I can confidently say uh-oh) - she's going with an "un-Kosher" theme, "Jewish food gone awry" - clever concept but I am now seriously worried for her.
Trays are wrapped, hugs are exchanged, and the chefs head off to bed before tomorrow's service.
We are forced to watch to an unfortunate montage of Stefan microwaving a Healthy Choice frozen meal, and Sheldon making a birthday phone call on his Obviously A Sprint phone. The grossness of the product placement is tempered by - and forgiven after we see - Sheldon's adorable three daughters and a clip of his fellow chefs presenting him with a sincere but slightly sloppy birthday cake (forgive me if I'm a bit critical when it comes to cakes).
On to service! The chefs bolt into the Bite of Seattle convention center locale and begin prep. Josh explains that his wife has been "harping on him" to go to New Orleans and thus if he wins $10K he might take her there, "assuming we have time after that baby comes out. Heh heh." Aaaaaand I no longer like you.
Dear everyone involved in the production of "Top Chef": We are not amused. Love, the women of the world.
All the chefs seems to be moving along, save Josie, whose coquettes are not done yet.
Guests and judges move into the astroturfed dining area. Danny Meyer recalls when he first met Tom Colicchio, at a similar food tasting event - cut to an adorable still shot of a very skinny, very tan, very non-bald Tom. Tom's experience over 20 years ago really does show how these food shows can take one chef and give them an opportunity of a lifetime.