The final six chefs on "Top Chef" were early to rise when head judge Tom Colicchio told them he was taking them to one of Chicago's most famous breakfast restaurants and that their quickfire challenge was to work the egg station. The chefs worried and acknowledged that cooking eggs is a huge challenge.
The restaurant's owner was going to determine the winner by deciding which of the chefs she'd be most likely to hire. Antonia was up first and seemed to handle it better than the rest of the bunch. Dale also appeared to function well with the pressure of the constant stream of orders in the diner. In the end, it was Antonia who won and got an advantage for the elimination challenge.
Tom announced that he wouldn't be at the elimination challenge and gave the group an address where they'd meet host Padma Lakshmi. It was a huge vacant space and Padma announced that "restaurant wars" was back and that two teams would split the space in half and share the kitchen. Each team would get about 35 diners. They would have a budget of $1,500 for food and $5,000 from Pier 1 Imports for decor. Antonia's elimination challenge advantage was that she could pick her team. She chose to work with Stephanie and Richard, with whom she worked on the "Wedding Wars" challenge, and created a rematch with the other team.
Antonia's team quickly got to work and decided to go with a "gastro pub" approach in a place called "Warehouse Kitchen." The other team named their restaurant "Mai Buddha" and opted for an Asian Fusion, family style approach. Lisa wanted to executive chef in that crew, but so did Dale and Dale won a coin toss between them to take the lead.
Warehouse Kitchen's menu was a first course choice of a beet and goat cheese salad; and linguine and clams. The second course was a choice of trout with cauliflower; and a lamb leg and loin. For dessert, they offered a gorgonzola cheesecake, and banana scallops. Mai Buddha's menu was a first course option of shrimp laksa; or pork and pickled plum pot stickers. It was followed by butterscotch miso scallops; or braised short ribs. For dessert, they offered halo-halo, which is a flavored ice; and mango sticky rice.
Antonia worried that her team put a fresh pasta on the menu and didn't get a backup pasta at the grocery store just in case the fresh stuff didn't work. Just then, chef Anthony Bourdain walked in to announce that he would take Tom's place in the challenge. Bourdain had a particular affinity for Asian food, in particular the laksa that Mai Buddha was planning to present. He said he had very high expectations for it.
One more twist: the teams were given one additional pair of hands and each had to choose one of the previously eliminated chefs. Mai Buddha picked Jen, and Lisa was very happy with that choice because Jen is a hard worker. Warehouse Kitchen picked Nikki so she could help make the fresh pasta.
Dale's avocado mousse was gray and he thought he might have dropped a brown avocado into it. It turned his mood and he and Lisa began to gripe at each other. As the Warehouse Kitchen team tasted their clams, they got grit and decided to clean the clams again to make sure things were perfect. On the other team, Lisa's laksa was getting awkward reviews from her teammates. Dale said it tasted like smoke, and Spike said it tasted sour and said Lisa should have asked him for his recipe, and said in his testimonial that he could not be held accountable for the food.
When the waiters for both teams arrive, Stephanie talked about wanting to make sure her servers were having fun because eating and drinking is supposed to be fun, "it's not meant to be stuffy and, like, wear a suit and tie." The edit then switched to Spike, in a suit, saying he had just changed and was ready to train his waiters. He gave them very precise instructions and jobs for how to set up the tables. Meanwhile, Mai Buddha's sticky mango rice was turning into mush.
Dinner is served: Padma introduced the guest judge Jose Andres, host of "Made in Spain" on PBS. Stephanie was excited to have him there. The judges got their first course and Bourdain said the clam linguine was better than what he would have expected. Ted enjoyed the goat cheese in the salad. The judges loved the presentation of the second course, and Bourdain was quite effusive with his praise. Dessert didn't earn such high marks, but the judges gave points for the effort.
At Mai Buddha, the judges quickly started mocking the decor, comparing the silver and purple linens to Prince's tour bus and Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler's microphone stand. Lisa was worried that she'd made her first "huge mistake" in the competition with her laksa. Bourdain said the laksa was "just too damn smokey." Padma enjoyed the dumplings on the pot sticker dish. Spike was giving Lisa and Dale some grief over portion sizes. On the second course, Bourdain dissed the scallops, saying "it's like Willy Wonka scallops." Another guest in the restaurant was caught saying, "I don't know what exactly we're eating." That's not good. Back in the kitchen, Dale was shouting out orders and they continued to bicker. Lisa threw out the first punch, saying that Dale had not fulfilled his role as executive chef by failing to make sure the food was perfect. Andres loved the halo-halo as a dessert, but Padma called the mango sticky an "atrocity," Bourdain added, "It's baby vomit with wood chips."
Judges' table: Padma asked to see Antonia, Stephanie and Richard from Kitchen Warehouse and congratulated them on their victory. Bourdain said he was impressed by the overall performance. Stephanie was named the winner, and got to bring a guest on a culinary tour to Barcelona.
Mai Buddha came in as the loser. Spike took some heat for his decor, because it raised for the food and that threw off their perspective a bit. Dale's butterscotch scallops were next to take a hit. He admitted they were a little sweet and Padma fired back, "a little?" Andres said that was the dish where "nothing seemed to work." Bourdain said it looked like a melted candy bar. Lisa's laksa was too smokey for the judges. The chefs all battled over who made the short ribs because they were the only part of the meal the judges seemed to like. The sticky rice was a sticking point and Bourdain called it "a pretty appalling dish." Dale was refusing to admit that he found the rice at Whole Foods (he did). Andres called them out on their lack of teamwork and said, "This is not what this business is all about." Dale said you're only as good as your weakest leak, referring to Lisa. And she shot back that you're only as good as your leader.
The judges praised Spike for staying out of the way of Dale and Lisa and doing his job well. The case against Dale went back to his scallops and his lack of leadership. Lisa's problems included the sticky rice and the laksa, which she'd made before. Bourdain noticed Lisa's body language and said she's not inclined to accept criticism.
The decision:: Padma asked Dale to pack his knives and go. Dale got emotional as he talked about leaving and said he knew going into it that he was going to go home.