Season 5 Episode 4

The French Connection Job

Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Aug 12, 2012 on TNT

Episode Recap

Toby Heath is the training chef at the Vargas Culinary Institute and comes in to complain to the owner, David Lampard. Lampard is meeting with some French crooks and is negotiating with the head man, Jean-Luc. They agree to $12,000 a kilo per shipment as Toby starts complaining, and Lampard has his henchman Rampone beat Toby unconscious.

Later, Eliot arranges for Toby meet with Nate and tells him what's going on. Toby explains that he teaches cooking to children from troubled homes but Lampard only recruits rich students so he can turn them into celebrity chefs. The cook tells them what he overheard and figures that Lampard is running drugs into the U.S. Nate talks to Eliot privately and suggests that the police deal with it. However, Eliot explains that when he was a soldier and a mercenary, it was Toby that taught him how to do something better with his life. Since Nate helped Eliot turn his life around, he wants Nate to understand the other man who did so.

As the team gathers, Hardison notices that Parker seems depressed. However, he runs off to get a new gizmo being shipped to him before she can respond. Nate tells the team that Sophie is at her new theater doing something and they go over Lampard's record. Hardison explains that he used to be a chef but went into investing and now offers exclusive culinary s. Lampard also loans money and forecloses on anyone who can't keep pay him back. According to his GPS records, Lampard has visited France several times but stuck to back alleys. Nate figures that Lampard is smuggling drugs into the U.S. and reselling them, and that he hides his profits along with his regular money somewhere in his restaurant. Realizing that they need her, Nate calls Sophie in and she reluctantly tells her students to take a break.

Sophie goes to the school and recruits one of Lampard's teaching cooks by offering him a job on a cooking/stripper show. Once he leaves, Eliot takes over as the new instructor while Hardison enrolls as a new student. Eliot is intent on teaching the students what cooking really means, and that it is a way of life. Meanwhile, Nate and Parker listen in and Nate realizes that Parker is depressed. He asks her what's wrong and she finally admits that everyone else has something that they love but she doesn't. Nate isn't sure how to deal with it and checks with Eliot, who has been checking the place. He hasn't found any drugs and irritably tells Hardison to do a sweep instead of playing with his new laser.

Eliot finds a freezer but Rampone comes in and tells him that Lampard wants to see him. They go to see the owner, who wants Eliot to open his new restaurant because of his "ninja vibe." Eliot warns that his students aren't ready but Lampard doesn't care, explaining that he wants them to be celebrity chefs, not talented ones. Meanwhile, Rampone checks on the freezer and discovers that it's malfunctioning... unaware that Hardison has sabotaged it. Jean-Luc returns and as Eliot walks by the mobster on the way out, he catches a whiff of an odor he recognizes. He then tells Nate that Lampard is dealing in something bigger than drugs: black winter truffles. When he gets back, Eliot explains that black winter truffles are worth big money, selling for the $12,000 a kilo that Toby overheard. Lampard has Jean-Luc provide them and then resells them to cooks in the U.S. They figure the truffles are in the hidden freezer and Sophie assures Nate that her new theater students can do the job he needs them for.

Later, Eliot is cooking at the Leverage team's restaurant and Parker comes over. She asks him how to teach her to like stuff but he irritably says that he doesn't have time.

Nate goes to Lampard's school and strolls through the kitchen oom where Hardison is showing off. When Rampone comes in, Hardison makes sure to tell him that Nate is acting sneaky and the henchman goes to investigate. Lampard has already found Nate, who explains that he's there to sell truffles to Lampard from a source within the U.S. The restaurateur says that he'll think about it but then secretly follows Nate

At the restaurant, Eliot tries to pass on his love of coking to Parker. However, she doesn't quite get it.

Lampard discovers that Nate is visiting Sophie, who is posing as an open-source farmer in a field set up to resemble a French truffle farm in Oregon. Nate talks to Lampard privately and the restaurateur offers him $250 a pound for the truffles. Nate points out that the market value is $5,000 a pound and offers to sell Lampard twenty pounds, and the restaurateur agrees.

Nate goes back to the team's restaurant and Toby manages to scrape up fifteen pounds of truffles from cooks in Oregon. They plan to track the truffles via the security cameras at the institute and then break into the freezer and steal Lampard's cache of money. Nate meets with Lampard and Rampone and the restaurateur agrees to the deal even though Nate was only able to bring fifteen pounds. He invites Nate to his grand opening the next night and Nate agrees, promising to bring Sophie with him.

The team watches on the monitors as Lampard and Rampone take the new truffles to the hidden refrigerator vault. Nate figures that they can get it during opening night, but will need to provide a food critic to distract Lampard. Eliot suggests that Parker do it but she worries that she can't. Eliot assures her that she can if she remembers what he's been teaching her, and Hardison sets her up as a mystery food critic that is only known online from a sketch and her crescent moon birthmark on her left wrist. They need someone to open the safe and with everyone else occupied, Hardison is the only one available. As they talk, Nate hears a commotion outside and goes out to investigate. He finds two of Sophie's students rehearsing a dramatic scene in the middle of the team's restaurant, and Sophie assures him that they're doing fine.

When the restaurant has its grand opening, Eliot is working in the kitchen with his students. Hardison keeps busy getting supplies until they're ready to go for the safe. Meanwhile, Lampard greets Nate and Sophie while Rampone spots Parker come in and identifies her from the birthmark. Lampard serves her personally but Parker shoos him away. Nate figures everything is going according to plan... but he's unaware that Jean-Luc and his thugs have pulled up outside. The mobster is unhappy that Lampard has severed their arrangement and plans to get revenge by having his men abduct his new chef, Eliot.

Since Parker is having trouble demonstrating how much she likes the food, Sophie coaches her via the earbud and instructs her into generating micro-expressions. When Parker has trouble doing it, Sophie works on having her bring up pleasant expressions about thinking of things she's stolen that she liked and things go better.

In the kitchen, Eliot knocks out Jean-Luc's first thug and tells his students to keep on cooking. When Jean-Luc realizes that his first man isn't coming back, he sends in another one. Meanwhile, Nate tells Hardison to go for the safe but the hacker discovers that Rampone is covering the entrance to the kitchens. Parker takes out a recorder and starts dictating her notes so that she doesn't attract Lampard's attention, and gives Hardison instructions for an alternate route disguised as food review comments. Meanwhile, Eliot knocks out Jean-Luc's second man and, listening in, takes Parker's fake suggestions to heart and spices up his dishes. As Hardison gets to the refrigerator-vault, Parker starts to feel something for the food.

Jean-Luc realizes that his second thug isn't coming back with Eliot and sends a third man in, and Eliot disposes of him as well. Meanwhile, Hardison opens the safe using liquid nitrogen and grabs the money. However, Rampone arrives and attacks him. Hardison bites the henchman and runs into the restaurant. Nate tells Sophie to begin the next step of the plan and she gets up and congratulates Lampard on his opening. She gives him a hug and encourages all of the guests to do the same. Since they're her students, they oblige, creating a crowd scene so that Hardison can escape. Lampard realizes that something is going on and runs to the vault to get his truffles. Outside, Jean-Luc gives up and drives away.

Rampone realizes that he's seen Eliot before and confronts him in the kitchen. Eliot tells his students to get out and then tells Rampone that he's going to pay for hurting Toby. They fight it out with knives and Eliot finally defeats the henchman. As he prepares to kill Rampone, Nate arrives and manages to get Eliot to let Rampone off with his life. When Rampone tries to punch Eliot, Eliot catches his fist and Nate knocks the man out.

At the airport, Lampard is trying to leave the country when two government agents, Palmer and Snead, stop him. They insist on searching his luggage and find the truffles. Lampard explains that he's a restaurateur but Palmer informs him that they're with U.S. Fish & Wildlife. They arrest Lampard for illegally exporting mushrooms and take him into custody, and he realizes that the team is nearby watching him.

Back at the restaurant, Nate and Eliot give Toby the money and he thanks him for restoring his reputation. He plans to use the money to open his own cooking institute and Eliot assures him that the team will keep an eye on it. Hardison gets a new toy by delivery and, while he haggles over the tip, Eliot wonders where Parker is. Nate tells him that she's on a little trip.

At a museum, Parker breaks in and simply stops to admire a statue.