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Jan 21, 2009 06:39 PM

Top Chef - Restaurant Wars - *Possible Spoilers*

OK, i just had to get this up while the line was fresh in my mind. my vote for best quote of the season, courtesy of Fabio:

"i'm in the front of the house. we could serve monkey ass in an empty clam shell, and we'll still win because i'm in the front of the house."


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  1. Oh, my god, you beat me to the punch. I was laughing so hard, my husband ran downstairs because he thought something was wrong. Monkey ass!!!!!

    1. What's with Jamie saying her concept is sustainable food and then she cooks chilean seabass in her quickfire?

      23 Replies
      1. re: Ericandblueboy

        Caught that - sustainable sea bass. Also thought the Leah/Hosea clip with the little sucking noises were gross. I hope Leah goes home.

        1. re: Ericandblueboy

          Someone on TWOP dug around and it turns out that the Whole Foods 'Chilean' sea bass is actually a farmed fish and considered to be sustainable because no fisheries are depleted as it is produced.

          1. re: beachmouse

            <the Whole Foods 'Chilean' sea bass is actually a farmed fish and considered to be sustainable > I don't think you will find anyone connected with sustainable fishing agreeing with that line! Never mind that almost all farmed fish contains high levels of toxins. I'm reading that section of Marion Netle's book, "What to Eat," right now, and she corroborates all the fears I have about farmed fish (with RARE exceptions).

            People want to eat Chilean Sea Bass (and chefs want to cook it, because it is so easy to use) that they will buy any tale to justify it. Really a shame.

            1. re: ChefJune

              From the Monterey Bay Seawatch site:

              "In March 2004, one small fishery for Chilean seabass [Glossary] (South Georgia Patagonian Toothfish Longline Fishery) was certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Because the amount of certified product available in the U.S. is such a small portion of the overall chilean seabass fishery, Seafood Watch® reminds consumers that the majority of Chilean seabass found in U.S. restaurants and markets should be avoided until the larger issue of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing is fully addressed. Legitimate sources are required to have the MSC "Chain of Custody" certification and should be able to produce that when asked. Without proof of this certification, consumers should not purchase Chilean seabass."

              I guess you have to ask for the MSC certficate - perhaps WF has that.

              1. re: applehome

                I found this article pretty informative: (and yes, it says the WF gets their CSB from that certified sustainable fishery). But it also points out:
                "Chilean sea bass takes nine to 10 years to reach maturity and has a lifespan of 40 years. A sustainable fish like the sardine, by contrast, matures in less than 15 months."
                What this says to me is that if you're really, really serious about "sustainable" food, you probably still wouldn't serve chilean seabass.
                Jamie was one of my favorites, but sadly, I now think she's just using "seasonal", "local", and "sustainable" as buzzwords without really understanding them. Didn't she also say something on the trip to the farm last week about how she hadn't really been to a farm?

          2. re: Ericandblueboy

            Jamie also said that her concept included local food. I'd say that her definition of "local" is a little bigger than mine, if she's using the Whole Foods sea bass from South Georgia Island.

            1. re: Nettie

              Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but Jamie picked the chilean sea bass from the Top Chef Pantry. We don't know where Leanne got it from. Regardless, I agree she could've picked a better "protein".

            2. re: Ericandblueboy

              All they have to do is revert to the original name, Patagonian Toothfish. "Chilean Seabass," was a marketing name. Put Toothfish on the menu, and their numbers will increase.

              Same for the "Orange Roughy." Remember him. Originally, he was the "Slimehead." I'll bet that the oceans would be filled, if the name was turned back.


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                I did know re: the Toothfish/Chilean Seabass name conversation, but didn't know that Orange Roughy was once called a Slimehead. That name would probably give me pause.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Ah, the magic of Madison Ave (or where ever the copywriters were located).

                  I suppose that for fully sustainable marine life, one would possibly limited to crab, shrimp, talapia some salmon and catfish. Crabs also pose a bit of a problem. I'm sure that there are some species, that I have missed, so others can freely add to that list.

                  Now, I love crab, shrimp (even raised in pools in the AZ desert, catfish, some preps of talapia, I have yet to embrace non-Pacific/Alaskan salmon - maybe the preps there too? Still, I would hate to completely give up my other seafood.

                  I'm also curious why, say talapia is considered sustainable, and many people look at beef, as something else. Guess that that is a personal thing.

                  As commercial "seasons" have been imposed (and probably for really good measure), I've seen a lot of other fish, once considered bait, or trash-fish, appearing on menus, around the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the preps have been great. As a child, we'd never have eaten "those" fish, but now it's a totally different stroy.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    <I'm also curious why, say talapia is considered sustainable, >

                    WHO considers tilapia "sustainable?"

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      US farmed raised tilapia is sustainable, according to the Monterey Seafood Watch:


                      Blue Ocean Institute:


                      1. re: chowser

                        Unfortunately, Top Chef is not very sustainable. I’m still reeling from last season’s the monkfish cleaning challenge.

                        I’m glad to see such a spirited discussion on here about sustainability and people knowledgeable about our recommendations.

                        Tilapia make good candidates for farming, as they provide more protein than it takes to raise them. In the U.S., most tilapia are farmed in closed inland systems that guard against escapes and pollution. However, in many other countries, tilapia are often farmed in open systems where escapes and pollution are a bigger threat. We thus recommend avoiding tilapia from China or Taiwan.

                        I also want to add that that imported shrimp should be avoided and crabs are generally good choices with the exception of imported king crab.

                        Humberto Kam
                        Monterey Bay Aquarium

                        1. re: seaotter

                          too bad tilapia often tastes like swamp muck, to me

                          1. re: thew

                            Yes, I've had a few preps, that left something to be desired. OTOH, it seems that more chefs are developing recipes and preps, that show the fish well.

                            It's not unlike looking at a lot of the Cajun recipes, that were developed to work with the flavors of some fish, that were just not that good, by themselves. That's on of the reasons that some pretty heavy spices were used - they just did not have that many "game fish," and other sources of protein to use, so they had to adapt.


                          2. re: seaotter


                            Thanks for pointing that out. Often, one (such as I) only gets part of the story.



                            1. re: seaotter

                              I've found your list very helpful, and used to carry it with me in my wallet. It took me a while to remember things like sea scallops, no; bay, yes. Keep up the good work.

                              Do you have information on chilean sea bass from Whole Foods? They had an MSC label on them, the last time I was there. I asked and was told that it was sustainable, though frozen. I love it but haven't had it in years because of overfishing.

                          3. re: ChefJune

                            Talapia can be farm-raised and thrive in crowded conditions. Going back about 3 decades, Disney World started their own talapia farm (part of the Ocean Exhibit), and have been serving from their farm ever since.

                            Now, for some, it might well be a "define sustainable," but I have considered "farm-raised," and not wild to be part of that definition. Am I incorrect here?


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              "Farm raised" does not automatically equate to "sustainable." Some fish farming creates pollution and has other effects that are detrimental to other fish populations. No easy answers.

                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                Thank you. That is an aspect that I had not considered. I guess, in this arena, I'm an easy mark for PR.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  A few years ago, I carried around the Monterey Seawatch list because it's hard to remember, esp. with ones where the farm raised are okay but only from some locations. The same goes with where it's been caught. At this point, I know the basic fish I get and what's on the safe list but there's always the question when I see something new on the menu. But they have it in a small, wallet sized print out.

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    Have not seen that. I am afraid that I have dealt in generalities. There is obviously much more that one can and should do.



                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      Frodnesor is correct. Farm raised does not make it automatically bad or good. How much wild fish is caught to feed the farmed fish, pollution or chemicals from the farm going into the environment, and escaped fish affecting the local ecosystem are some of the factors that influence whether a fish is deemed sustainable. I’m afraid there are no easy answers or rules of thumb.

                                      Please excuse the plug, but in addition to the wallet cards, you can also access our recommendations from mobile devices with internet access by going to or download our iphone app.


                  2. This isn't turning out how I thought it would. I so wish one of the others from the Sunset Lounge team was going home!

                    1. That was the BEST line of the entire season!

                      As for the team who's in the bottom - I'm *really* disappointed. However either one of the two deemed the worst should go home, for sure.

                      I just wish it was Team Sunset Lounge. I really wanted Radhika and Jeff to do well. Leah - I'm *so* done with her.

                      Oooh! Previews of next week - we get All-Stars from previous seasons - can't wait! "Culinary Boner" Andrew is back! LOL

                      20 Replies
                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Yes, Leah and Steffan should both go! I thought that Carla should be the one to go tonight. Those desserts just didn't cut it. Although, I do think she makes the show interesting and has a great personality.

                        1. re: acervoni

                          what do you mean Stefan should go? he was the reason they won!

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            As much as I love this show, the judges are so, so contradictory about what they want. One challenge, it's only about the food. Next time, it's about who's more like a Top Chef -- meaning someone who could run a kitchen well. The loser tonight won because she didn't take charge, not because of the food. She made no food. (That's an umbrella problem I have with "Restaurant Wars" -- not to mention the constant comparisons to opening a real restaurant, which are completely specious. This is putting together a menu of a few dishes and picking out some tchotchkes at Pier 1. It's not "opening a restaurant." Sheeeesh.)

                            I would never, ever work for a Stefan. As a chef, he might assemble a competent kitchen staff, but he'd run off good talent constantly with his nasty personality. I'm lucky to be friends with a few truly great chefs, and they are all excellent, personable people. They can be demanding with their staffs, but they're anything but arrogant. I know some nasties make a name for themselves, but the real giants are respected, and often loved.

                            Chefs command -- not demand -- respect. It's the "No A-Hole Rule," as the book says. There's a fine line between lovable rogue (Bourdain) and just a total jerk.

                            Speaking of which, Toby Young is embarrassing. He's not nearly as insufferable as last time, but man -- he's not even good with words. You can see the gears turning as he comes up with his lame zingers. What's the opposite of "pithy?"

                            1. re: dmd_kc

                              "I would never, ever work for a Stefan."

                              Maybe he wouldn't be so bad if he was clearly the boss of the kitchen. Here he is constantly knocking heads with his competition. I think he would STILL be arrogant, but it would be tempered a lot by not having to be "the cock" (as Stefan would say).

                              Toby is SO lame. He didn't see much camera time except to make the Elvis comment. How dated is that? He's been dead 30 years!

                              1. re: dmd_kc

                                "One challenge, it's only about the food. Next time, it's about who's more like a Top Chef -- meaning someone who could run a kitchen well. The loser tonight won because she didn't take charge, not because of the food."
                                But isn't that the purpose of this specific challenge, Restaurant Wars? Part of Top Chef is leadership skills - and that one of the major focuses of this challenge. Radikha didn't have it. Everyone was on their own, doing their own thing. It was *her* restaurant and she didn't even plan the menu - didn't seem to have much of a say in it! She even said she made Jamie Chef de Cuisine, and Jamie was running the kitchen and being expediter. Anytime Radikha was in the kitchen, she hovered; she wasn't doing anything. And she should have been out front. The fact that the judges left without her being there to say goodbye speaks volumes.

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  Oh, I think they sent the right person home. She's too indecisive to win. I liked her a lot, but that doesn't mean she belongs in the final three.

                                  Of all these people, Carla's the one I want to hang out with, and one of the ones whose food looks pretty consistently good to me.

                                  1. re: dmd_kc

                                    I just don't think I have a Final 3 fave anymore. I had liked Radhika, as you did, but she just didn't seem to have the consistency to run a restaurant - although her food often looked very interesting.

                                    Carla - just don't like her personality. She's always too "ON!" for me. Her desserts look good, for the most part, but some of her food just doesn't cut it. Jamie has grown on me - her steadiness in the kitchen last night was good to see instead of her earlier whining. But she's gotta step AWAY from the damn scallops.

                                    Fabio's fun, but I haven't been overly impressed with his food. Stefan remains an arrogant ass, IMO and while his food sometimes looks good, there are other times that it just doesn't appeal to me.

                                    Jeff? He's the one I had had the most hope for improvement, but he continues to overthink things and go for too much "stuff" instead of just keeping to clean flavors.

                                    Leah? I want her gone. 'Nuf said. And Hosea? I thought he was good, but he's been thinking with his other brain and that's going to fail him overall, I think.

                                    Final 3 will probably be Jamie, Stefan and - I kind of hope - Jeff.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      again though - jamie didn't do these scallops, jeff did. jamie did some apparently good lamb and curried carrot soup. i happen to love a good scallop but what intrigued me was the chick pea cake - which the judges also said was great. i actually thought the food at sahana (minus the desserts) looked very good.

                                      1. re: AMFM

                                        I know she didn't do the scallops - I'm just saying I'm tired of her almost always reverting to scallops as the "protein" (said tongue-in-cheek <g>). I'd love it if they banned scallops from TC6 next season.

                                        And I agree - Sahana's menu definitely looked to be the better food, which is one reason why I was disappointed they weren't the winning team.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          I am pretty much over the lamb too. It seems to be in every episode (with the scallops). I'm surprised they haven't done lamb and scallop desserts yet!

                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                    Leadership skills are important, but in Top Chef, only two contestants are tested for leadership. To be applied fairly, they all should be given the chance. It seems that one takes a much larger risk being the leader. Knowing that, I would hope I would not win the quickfile for the dubious honor.

                                    1. re: MartinDC

                                      I was thinking the same thing. Heck of a QF to win. The fact is that the two 'owners' are going to be looked at the closest. What do you win? A fifty/fifty chance to be eliminated.

                                      For some reason I keep thinking of the line: "...So other than that Mrs. Lincoln what did you think of the play?"

                                      1. re: Withnail42

                                        except i still think her COOKING made a good impression on the guest judge. may help her in the long run.

                                  3. re: dmd_kc

                                    I thought I was the only one who didn't like Toby. His zingers are very juvenile - like stuff I heard in middle school.

                                    1. re: dmd_kc

                                      Well, front of the house in Restaurant Wars invariably makes or breaks the team, IMO. That's been pretty consistent. And I think Radhika was told to PYKAG mostly because she was sucky front of the house.

                                      As for Stefan, I think he's awesome. Everyone else is mumuing about their angst and their personal feelings (Leah makes me gag) and he's like "Get over it. Let's cook. Let's cook what's best." And frankly, he gets the job done. Is he arrogant? Yes, in that he thinks he knows what's best -- he's not really a team player in that he's not good at taking input from other people. But frankly, he seems to be right a lot of the time. And I haven't really seen him be mean the way Spike was last season.

                                      1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                        I concur. I'm enjoying Stefan immensely.

                                        Of course, I really enjoyed Steven and Marcel as well...

                                  4. re: acervoni

                                    It's obvious you don't like Stefan due to his personality. You can't give him any credit for winning challenges and that's sad. This is a show about food, not popularity.

                                    1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                      Yes it is a show/contest about food and, if I was actually tasting the dishes, I might think he was the best chef. Unfortunately, I can only watch the show and think that it would be a better hour of television if he wasn't there.

                                  5. re: LindaWhit

                                    when Fabio made the monkey ass comment, i realized that he's this season's Andrew in terms of quotes. i'm excited for next week - should be fun!

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      Please, some of us are at work and it is inappropriate for me to laugh this loud within earshot of others! I will use the term "Culinary Boner" in the future.


                                    2. - Leah should have gone home this week - she owes Stefan in a MAJOR way, and Radhika got sort of screwed.
                                      - Sunset Lounge is a *really* lame name. it had nothing to do with their concept, and it wouldn't even pique my curiosity as a potential diner.
                                      - did anyone else notice that Jamie was involved with a SCALLOP dish again? but hey, at least Fabio didn't make ravioli.
                                      - and finally, the pseudo-romantic nonsense with Leah & Hosea is gag-worthy, and i was nauseated by that sofa scene with the kissing noises. as Fabio might say, this is Top Chef, not Top Hook-up!

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        I took note that Jeff did the scallop -- until almost the end, I assumed Jamie did it ;-)

                                        1. re: momjamin

                                          oh i noticed it wasn't jamie's too! but they do go over well on restaurant menus!

                                          i agree. sunset lounge was the worst name ever. and no at all asian. i actually think leah owes fabio the most because while the desserts were apparently (and looked) fab - it was fabio who sold that restaurant. his quote was correct in my opinion!

                                          1. re: AMFM

                                            So, I might be misremembering something, but did Hosea in an interview say with a straight face something to the effect of, "I'm sure no one has ever come up with the Sunset Lounge name"?

                                            (I kinda wish we were getting to see him w/o the Leah distraction -- his competition with Stefan and a sly sense of irony could be much more interesting.)

                                            1. re: momjamin

                                              i'd bet he's watching and realizing how much a girl (and i am one so i don't mean to knock girls in general) has thrown him off his game...

                                              1. re: momjamin

                                                momjamin, Hosea's comment was more to the effect that no one on TC has ever come up with such a solid concept for Restaurant Wars before...which almost made me laugh as hard as Fabio's monkey ass line.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Right. Vaguely Asian NEVER occurs to the cheftestants!

                                                2. re: momjamin

                                                  Kim, the Television Without Pity recapper, said Sunset Lounge is the name of the bar attached to the truckstop. Couldn't agree more.

                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                    And someone in the forum posts area added a description than just "bar attached to the truckstop" - but that's not something we probably want described here. ;-)

                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                        I was thinking Buffet in the tacky part of Vegas. (OK, the more tacky part)

                                                    1. re: AMFM

                                                      Problem with the name Sunset Lounge is that it gives critics the chance to use the name against them, as in "The sun will soon be setting on this lounge."

                                                    2. re: momjamin

                                                      i know she didn't actually cook it, but she was guilty by association because it was her team. i'm willing to bet she suggested it ;)

                                                    3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      At first I thought Jamie was doing top scallop again but then Jeff said he seared the scallops.

                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                        When I saw the scallop I assumed it was Jamie, but Jeff took credit for that one.