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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #1 - 10/02/13 (Spoilers)

We're back! And we're in one of the best food cities in the United States. LONG overdue, IMO.

Let's get the cheftestants out of the way:

Aaron Cuschieri - Executive Chef, Slurping Turtle, Chicago, IL
Benedetto Bartolotta - Indulge by Bene, a catering and event planning company in New York City
Bret Pelaggi - originally from Boston, now in Miami, no restaurant noted
Brian Huskey - R&D Chef: Paiche, Picca, Mo-chica, Pasadena, CA
Carlos Gaytan - Executive Chef/Owner, Mexique, Chicago, IL
Carrie Mashaney - Chef de Cuisine, Aragona, Seattle, WA
Janine Booth - originally from Perth, Australia, now in NYC working on opening her own restaurant
Jason Cichonski - Chef/Owner, Ela Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA
Justin Devillier - Chef/Owner, La Petit Grocery, New Orleans, LA
Louis Maldonado - Executive Chef, Spoonbar and Pizzando, Healdsburg, CA
Michael Sichel - Executive Chef, Galatoire's Restaurant, New Orleans, LA
Nicholas Elmi - originally from MA, now in Philadelphia, PA and ready to open Laurel.
Nina Compton - Chef de Cuisine, Scarpetta Miami, Fontainebleu hotel, Miami, FL
Patricia Vega - Sous Chef, David Burke Fishtail, NYC, NY
Ramon Bojorquez - Sous Chef, Nine-Ten, La Jolla, CA
Sara Johannes - Executive Chef, Shoyu, MSP Airport, Minneapolis, MN
Shirley Chung - born and raised in Beijing, China, now in CA, no current restaurant (but has worked for Batali, Keller and Andres)
Stephanie Cmar - Sous Chef, No. 9 Park, Boston, MA
Travis Masar - originally from Colorado; no current restaurant

And we're off! Chefs arrive by various conveyances at a gorgeous mansion. Jason C. is "Philadelphia's "sexiest chef". Janine isn't a dumb blonde. Bene is hoping he's the first Top Chef gay chef. Shirley notes there are 19 beds. Carlos was just recently awarded a Michelin star.

Tom and Padma show up at the house. Pamda asks, "Nervous?" Someone says "I want to cry; I want to pee!" Tom asks if they're ready to cook, and says he wants them to tap into the local influence.

Padma notes there will be no Quickfire - they're going right into the Elimination Challenge. They will be cooking in the middle of the Louisiana swamp, using a local delicacy. Tom starts throwing beads, and the proteins are alligator, frog legs and turtle. Two hours to shop and prep today; two hours to prep and finish in the swap. The Dinner Lab, an exclusive dining society, has invited 100 guests. They will be handing out beads to those chefs with their favorite dishes. The 3 chefs with the most will be eligible for the win; 3 with the least will be on the block to be kicked off.

The two that competed in Padma's Picks (Michael and Justin) will have immunity, since they've already competed to get into the TC competition. Padma gives them info on local shops to source their food before going to Whole Foods. They all head off in one Toyota or another.

Some go to Perino's Seafood, some go to A&S Seafood, some go to Today's Ketch Seafood. Then all show up at WF to finish shopping, and then back to the TC kitchen to prep. Someone cuts themselves, someone adds mushrooms to Carlos' pot of butter by accident, there's a huge fire over the sauté pan of another. Jason has to clean 20 lbs. of frogs legs in 2 hours. Time moves quicky, and Janina gets noted as being gorgeous cooking in shorts and sandals. (Sandals and sharp knives don't go well together!)

Tom enters the kitchen, and soon after he arrives, Jason cuts himself. He talks with Sara for a bit, and asks her why she came on the show. She said she was hiding behind her previous employer - it was Wolfgang Puck, and she's expecting to run into him here on TC. Tom said she won't run into him tonight. She said "No, you're bad enough!" Tom notices that Carrie is avoiding him, but he eventually catches up with her. She gets through the convo with him, but she's very nervous.

They wrap up and head out for the night. The next morning, up and at 'em and there's a welcome basket in the kitchen at the mansion. Emeril shows up with beignets. He recognizes Stephanie Cmar, saying he's glad she's back (He was the judge who booted her from last season before they even got into the TC kitchen!). They head out to the swamp. Brian notices there's no kitchen. All of the tables and burners are in a pile - they have to build their own kitchen workplaces and cooking space.

Patty wanted to stuff her 'gator with andouille sausage, but she realizes it won't be enough for 100 people, so she changes her plan to make a gumbo-flavored pan sauce and is starting from scratch. Nina thinks her curry is too spicy, so she makes a chutney to counteract the spice. The judges arrives with the diners on a pontoon boat - Padma, Tom, Emeril, and Curtis Stone are the judges.

BENE - Turtle Croquette w/Cauliflower Puree and Shiitake Mushrooms
NINA - Curried Turtle Meatball, Chayote Slaw & Chutney with Raisins
JANINA - Bacon & Alligator Confit with Tomato Jam & Lemon Frisee
AARON- Pickled Eggplant with Turtle Confit & Turtle Ragout with Tagliatelle Pasta
SHIRLEY - Turtle Soup with Goji Berry & Chinese Broth
CARRIE - Poached Frog Legs with Oyster Emulsion & Cold Zucchini Salad
CARLOS - Alligator Rillette with Fennel & Pickled Red Onion Relish
MICHAEL - Fried Alligator with Sauce Piquant & Slaw
SARA - General Gao's-Style Deep Fried Alligator with Smoked Chilis, Sweet & Sour Sauce & Pickled Vegetables
RAMON - Braised Turtle with Thai Dashi
PATTY - Cajun Style Alligator with Yuca Puree
JASON - Frog Leg Croquette with Roasted Eggplant, Fennel Salad & Pickled Cherry Puree
STEPHANIE - Frog Leg Butter Confit with Spinach & Watercress Puree

The show the diners handing out the beads, and Nina is overloaded with them. They're back in the Stew Room, and all of a sudden, a TV comes on - the cheftestants get to watch the judges debate their dishes! Padma notes that Nina's, Sara's and Carrie's dishes were the most liked by the diners, and dishes from Shirley and Janina were also well received. The bottom dishes were from Aaron, Patty, Carlos, Ramon, and Bene.

Padma comes in and asks to see Nina, Carrie and Sara. They have the top 3 dishes. The winner is announced by Curtis - and it's Nina! Padma asks them to send back Patty, Aaron and Ramon. (Carlos and Bene squeak through.) ::::Wooshing camera on all three bottom chefs:::

Aaron realizes that his pasta was inappropriate for a swamp party. He wasn't thinking about cooking in the swamp, and Tom says he HAS to think about stuff like that! Emeril said he was expecting lemongrass and chili flavors in Ramon's dashi, and it wasn't there - it was like water. Ramon said he was worried about cooling down the dashi the day before, and he said he added ice to his original base. Shocked face from Tom says it all. Padma asks Patty to explain her dish - it was supposed to be a roulade, but she broke it up, and said at the end, it was just pounded out alligator meat. Tom said if she was a home cook and it was served to him, he would have been happy. But looking at the competition, it paled in comparison to other dishes being served.

They go back to Jury Room, and Patty's crying. Someone asks "Would you like to have a glass of wine?" and she exclaims "Oh sure!" The judges debate the dishes. Aaron didn't execute, but Tom didn't think it was as bad as the other dishes. Patty's dish had a mistake, and Tom said she seemed lost. Emeril said about Ramon's dish "How do you ice a dashi? It's not a cocktail!"

They're back in front of the judges :::whooshing camera shots::: Padma asks Ramon to pack his knives. But there IS a Last Chance Kitchen, so he still has a chance.

Previews for the upcoing shows - I see Hubert Keller, lots of drinking, David Chang, Leah Chase, New Orleans jazz, Lea Michele from Glee, John Besh, Jacques Pepin, and some drama. It's going to be a great season!

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  1. Nice summary, as usual.

    We have a family Top Chef competition -- any ideas about eventual winners or quick losers?

    1. Welcome back Linda! And welcome back Top Chef. This looks like a killer season.

      And as someone who habitually catches things with his feet in the kitchen I can concur, it's no place for sandals when sharp knives are in play.

      1. Yaaaay! Here we go! Go Linda! Go Nina!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Shrinkrap

          I am so thrilled to see St Lucia represented on Top Chef! Nina's dish looked delicious. this season is going to KILL me, New Orleans is one of my favorite destinations, St Lucia one of my favorite places to eat. :-D

          thanks SO much Linda for the excellent recap!

        2. thanks LW! fab as usual. (You might want to add frog legs as a protein to your OP - tho we get the idea later on.) i was rooting for Carrie, glad she's still in. Nina seems very good too. three women for the top three - great!

          1 Reply
          1. re: mariacarmen

            Thanks mc. I swore I only heard the 'gator and turtle as proteins, but then they later were talking frog legs.

          2. Hmm, am I the only one who's wondering if I need to watch this season? Maybe it's Top Chef fatigue with Masters just ending, but I feel like the contestants are picked for looks and the days of having a couple older chefs or chefs from unestablished places are gone. I know Linda lists two as unaffiliated but I thought it was a bunch of generic pretty 27 year olds (with a couple exceptions).

            I am curious whether I know the band Aaron was in, didn't see anything on a quick search. Any scoop on that?

            15 Replies
            1. re: Joanie

              Thanks as always Linda! Joanie, that was my initial impression as well. Why the preoccupation with looks and sexual orientation? I also believe that Patricia should have been told to PYKGH instead of Ramon. She doesn't seem mentally prepared.

              1. re: JAB

                I figured they felt sorry for her because she cried. Awwww.

                1. re: DGresh

                  I think she was saved because she had an "acceptable" excuse. Plan A (roulades) wasn't working so a deconstructed roulade was substituted. When Tom said it being good from a home cook, I knew Dashi on the rocks guy was going home, because Patty''s dish must have at least tasted ok.

                  1. re: autumm

                    Tom Colicchio's comment from his Bravo blog:

                    "As for whether Patty or Ramon should go home, Patty’s dish was not as weak as Ramon’s. Her mistake was in not making enough of her original dish for 100 people, but she corrected that mistake in time, smartly reworking the dish to serve everyone. Her problem was that in doing so, she simplified the dish to a degree where it was not as advanced a dish as we would expect from a Top Chef contestant. But it wasn’t flawed. Ramon’s was flawed, and flawed is worse than simple but basically OK. Ramon's dashi was watered down by his addition of ice to the point of being nowhere. This was a major flaw in execution that Ramon did not remedy, which is why he was eliminated."

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      I can't imagine that anyone, even a non-cook, thinking it would be fine to add water to cool down a dashi. There are so many ways he could have cooled it down quickly--putting it into a shallow pan, even.

                      1. re: chowser

                        He was running out of time. He didn't think the dashi should go into the refrigerator at the temperature it was because it would be in the 'danger zone' for too long. His problem was he didn't give himself enough time to get it into the refrigerator in an acceptable manner.

                        1. re: John E.

                          I heard the part about the danger zone but he also had it in a large container. There was a chef a couple of seasons back who put his soup in very shallow pan to get it cold in a short time. I get that they're in a time crunch/stress situation and might not think of some solutions but adding ice is no solution, obviously.

                          1. re: chowser

                            He had it in the large kettle in which it was cooked. I think it all goes back to timing, and of course the ice wasn't the solution. The interesting thing is that I have sometimes cooled down soup with ice cubes. I make my own stock which is quite gelatinous and concentrated. I will usually add water, but sometimes I will skip the water, make the soup, and add ice to cool it down. Of course it depends on the kind of soup I am making.

                          2. re: John E.

                            Separate it into smaller containers and put them in an ice bath and into the fridge.

                            Putting ice cubes into any hot liquid, dashi, tomato sauce, chili.


                            That's something that the Kraft message board folks would post about.

                          3. re: chowser

                            He could have filled some zip lock bags with ice and put the bags into the dashi. No water in the dashi, but still a fast cool down. I've used frozen bottles of water in large juice dispensers when at the beach for picnics/BBQs. You even have the bonus of bottled ice water once they start to melt (just make sure to wash the juice off the bottle so your hands don't get sticky).

                            1. re: KailuaGirl

                              what a great idea, KG - I'm going to steal it.

                              1. re: KailuaGirl

                                They would have had to be Glad bags...

                                This is what I was thinking at the time. Frozen water bottles work great. In a pinch, ice in a few Glad bags! Missed opportunity for product placement.

                                1. re: KailuaGirl

                                  That was my thought as well. It's a pretty common tip for icing down beverages.

                        2. re: JAB

                          My guess is if she doesn't get it together in a hurry, she'll be gone soon. I thought Ramon's error was worse than hers, though. Who adds ice to dashi? Talk about ruining flavor...

                        3. re: Joanie

                          usually the blog Minxeats has a fun recap but she stated she's out too.

                        4. I must admit that I suffered from TC fatigue. I didn't watch any of the TCM shows nor any of the other noise. But, I caught the ad running on TV and I decided to DVR the first episode, and the opening sequence got to me. Then this morning, I get to see our friend LW doing her fantastic job as usual. So, I am back in.

                          I will have to agree on the cheftestants, too generic, too much of the same generation, along with the same ethos and self involved attitudes.

                          1. Yay for Linda. And thanks for clearing something up and providing relief for this Chicago girl rooting for the local boys. I had confused Aaron (Slurping Turtle) with Ramon and was sad that he had gone home.

                            The cheftestants do seem to be prettier than usual, but maybe it's just the Elves emphasizing looks for this go-round. We shall see how that develops. I did wonder why the Australian chef was cooking in short shorts and my guess would be more camera time. She got it.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: chicgail

                              If I were cooking in NOLA, I'd be in shorts often!

                              Unless I was making a lot of bacon for brunch...

                              1. re: hambone

                                Not in a swamp . . . I'd be covered from head to toe (in lightweight, loose fabric of course). I am a mosquito magnet; a few years ago I was in a marshy area in shorts and I was brutally uncomfortable for weeks thanks to the welts on my legs.

                                1. re: gaffk

                                  Skeeters the size of small birds down there.

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    I once bashed a cockroach with the metal foot of a floor-standing ashtray in a TV room in Fort Polk, Louisiana. Hah!

                                    The sombitch just sat on the floor oozing stuff. I went back to the movie. Later, the giant bug got off the floor, stretched his legs and, I swear, gave me the finger before he ambled off.

                                    Bugs are tough in Louisiana.

                                    1. re: steve h.

                                      Great story . . . and my experiences in the south lead me to believe it.

                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                      Yep. That link to the behind the scenes story talks about cycling the crew out for bug spray sessions. I don't think the chefs were so lucky?

                                      1. re: gaffk

                                        If they are going to be cooking the critters from the swamp, it's only fair that the critters get fed too.

                                2. re: chicgail

                                  Re: cooking in shorts, It didn't appear to me that they got time to change from what they arrived in. The Philly guy Jason C was still in his pink shorts when he fell in the top chef kitchen during prep.

                                3. I'll agree with Joanie and Phaedrus that there is TC fatigue Syndrome going on with TCM ending only last week. I was *this* close to throwing in the recapping towel.

                                  Re: Phaedrus's comment re: self-involvement - so far, only Jason C. seems to put off the "I'm cooler than everyone else and I'll win" vibe. As Nina said about him (I think this was in previews for upcoming episodes), there's a fine line between confident and cocky. Jason is cocky.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    I didn't drink that Jason was that good-looking, but his bod was...

                                  2. Great recap, thanks! The first couple episodes are always hard for me to get into since no contestant has established themselves to the audience yet. Therefore stupid things stand out to me over the actual cooking.

                                    The shorts and sandals thing was silly. I'm not sure why the producers let her do that, unless they were hoping for a severed toe. I got preoccupied by an offhand comment made by one of the dudes (was it pretty boy Jason C.?) citing Emeril as "starting it all" and, "putting New Orleans on the map." Really? Paul Prudhomme would like a word with you! I couldn't stop yelling about it through the whole episode.

                                    I knew Patty was in trouble when she said she wasn't used to creating her own dishes, just cooking the food of others. She works for David Burke, so I don't doubt she has technical skills. But if she's struggling to be creative when given her own space, I don't see her going very far.

                                    I also was puzzled by the ice down method for Ramon's dashi. Couldn't he have put the dashi in smaller airtight containers and put on an ice bath for storage till the next day?

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: EGtheOG

                                      Now, EGtheOG, stop being smart and practical (re: ice bath/smaller containers for the dashi). There was STRESS! There wasn't enough TIME! The BRAIN has gone to mush to think that smartly! :-P

                                      And I thought the comment re: Emeril "starting it all" would more refer to him being the first national renowned chef amongst the "general public" (i.e., the Food Network-type people) to put NOLA on the map for food - you know, the BAM! crowd.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        I chalk the Emeril starting it all comment to the "Nothing exists before me" attitude of youth.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          No, you're probably right. It just rubbed me the wrong way for a professional chef to say something that could be construed as I took it. Could also be the elves at work. I'll blame the two glasses of wine for my outrage. :)

                                          1. re: LindaWhit


                                            there are interesting excerpts from this book kicking around the interwebs, one of which discusses the Emeril phenomenon and its denouement.

                                        2. Thanks for a great recap, LW! I so appreciate coming here and reading it, and others' comments, it has become an integral part of TC for me!

                                          1. Rats! I forgot it was on. Does anyone know when this episode is on again this week? Time Warner channel guides are hopeless.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: Berheenia

                                              Berheenia, I went to TVGuide.com, input my ZIP Code and my cable package, and then did a search for "Top Chef". It shows Ep #1 being repeated on Saturday, 10/5 @ 6:00 a.m.

                                              Maybe you can do the same for your area?

                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                zap2it.com is also pretty good for finding repeats, as you can customize your location. Go to TV Listings, set your preferences and search. It helps sometimes if you know what channel number the show you're looking for is on as occasionally it will say what you're looking for isn't on when you know it is. You can click through manually to see if it is there as well.

                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                  Ahh, yes. Took a couple of click-throughs to find the "upcoming episodes", but yup - that works as well - but it doesn't differentiate between seasons. NOLA is mixed in with TC8-All Stars.

                                                  But it looks like Ep #1 NOLA will also be on on Sunday morning @ 8:30 a.m.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    Weird, it's separate for me when I'm logged in.

                                                  2. re: grayelf

                                                    Thank-you also. I was able to find Bravo in TW online menu using the old keyboard command control F. Need to think about streaming. None of my young friends or kids have cable anymore.

                                                  3. re: LindaWhit

                                                    Thank-you! I was able to pinpoint it on the laughable menu TW provides. Spoiled by Comcast but I admit I get so annoyed with our new service that I fail to use the tools provided by the internet and got frustrated when the query produced so many spin-off episodes. Still amazed my favorite little indy food show has turned into such a huge industry.

                                                2. Great Recap and Thanks, Linda!

                                                  Even though I totally forgot that it was on ... GRRRR

                                                  I watch them On Demand. They are usually available the next day. I wish they were on Hulu.

                                                  Admittedly I have not seen anyone of these chefs in action (aside from Stephanie who puts out some pretty good food),
                                                  I think I have to root for someone whose restaurant is in an AIRPORT.

                                                  But if Stephanie does win, another feather in Barbara Lynch's cap!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                                    For those of you that are patient and not on cable, the first episode just went up on Hulu yesterday or today.

                                                  2. Another great recap, Linda! As soon as TC was over I came to my computer and went to Chow to see if you'd posted yet. I was so relieved that, once again, you're willing to shoulder the burden for us! I think I look forward to your recaps at least as much as the show itself! There sure were a lot of "pretty" chefs, as others noted, mainly young and slender people, with the requisite blondes thrown in.
                                                    I can't wait to read Max on Eater (hope he's posting again, too). That's where I'm going next! :-) When I looked at Bravo's page in the middle of the night Tom and Hugh both had their blogs up. I was too desperate for sleep to read them yet so don't know what they said, but I was happy to see Hugh back with us. I'm sure he'll have some amusing snark and snappy comments.

                                                    17 Replies
                                                    1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                      My favorite bit of Hugh snark this week:
                                                      "There are a lot of good hairdos happening and a lot of good genes, but rule No. 1 will always apply: if the first impression that people have of you is that you are a douchebag, then you are probably a douchebag. Jason will no doubt take umbrage with my statement, at which point he will have to look up the term umbrage."

                                                      It's a shame, I wanted to root for the Philly boys, but they're not very likeable.

                                                      And agree with others--there are an awful lot of young, good looking chefs this season. And I find it hard to take a chef who wears daisy duke shorts and flip flops seriously.

                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                        ROFL! OK, so Hugh thought the same thing about Jason as many of us did. :-)

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          "...rule No. 1 will always apply: if the first impression that people have of you is that you are a douchebag, then you are probably a douchebag. Jason will no doubt take umbrage with my statement, at which point he will have to look up the term umbrage."

                                                          Hugh Acheson
                                                          October 02, 2013


                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Huh, I wonder why my post was removed--it was just quoting Hugh's blog, same as John E. And bemoaning the fact that the Philly boys come off as unlikeable.


                                                            1. re: gaffk

                                                              Not a good start to this season for us.

                                                              1. re: gaffk

                                                                Weird. I did just explain to them that you had only quoted Hugh Acheson. I'm hoping they return the post to its original state.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  Whoops. That was a mistake on our part -- picked the wrong option when clearing a Flag on the post. We've put it back now and we apologize to gaffk and everyone else we confused.

                                                                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                    Wow, somebody flagged that post? Jason is the one who used that term describing himself. SMH.

                                                                    But thanks for the restore!

                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    And LW's magical pull with the mods continues :)

                                                                    1. re: gaffk

                                                                      While we hate to deny the magic of LW, anyone alerting us to such an obvious mistake on our part would have got the same result!

                                                                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                        :::waving my magic wand:::: Poof! You're a good Chowhound Team. :D

                                                                        Thanks, Mods.

                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                      Huh . . . Didn't see your reply, but I'm *sure* it was very offensive ;)

                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                        Sorry, we don't see any reply from you to gaffk's post. We didn't remove anything, so try submitting it again?

                                                                  3. re: gaffk

                                                                    My gosh, I love Hugh. What a quote!

                                                                    Thanks, LW, for the recap! I missed the show but will catch it next week (assuming they'll still run the previous week's episode just before the new one. I'm one of the few people on the planet with no DVR.)

                                                                    ETA: just checked DirecTV. It's not on immediately prior to the new episode. Looks like 7:30am Sunday for me (central).

                                                                    1. re: KrumTx

                                                                      Yeah, I meant to say that it wasn't on the hour before the new episode, as they'd done in previous seasons.

                                                                      1. re: KrumTx

                                                                        This is the schedule I got from Comcast. I hope it helps.

                                                                        Top Chef S01/Ep. 01

                                                                        Top Chef S01/Ep. 01
                                                                        5a CDT Saturday, 10/05/2013
                                                                        7:30 CDT Sunday, 10/06/2013
                                                                        4:30p CDT Wednesday, 10/09/2013

                                                                  4. I will say there are some good looking cheftestants this year, but I refuse to prejudge and will wait to see if they can cook. Resume wise this is one of the strongest groups we've seen.

                                                                    I see nothing wrong with cooking in your shorts. As long as you don't burn anything, it's all good...I'm talking about the food.


                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                      Shorts, perhaps not. But bare feet in sandals with what looks like little traction if there's water or something on the ground? I sure as hell wouldn't.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        I just read that Janine in the Daisy Dukes is opening a restaurant with a Top Chef alumni. Which former TC contestant would you think.....? Yep, it's Jeff from TC Season 5.
                                                                        (Apparently there was a photo of them together on last night's premier episode of TC 11, but I missed it.)


                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          I *just* read that as well. :-)

                                                                          And realized I misspelled her name 3x in my OP - probably because I used to work with a "Janina." But I got it right the first two times, including in the initial listing.

                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                            Plus we have Nina on the roster, too.

                                                                            1. re: momjamin

                                                                              I know. I'll have to have this list at the ready for next week to make sure I spell her name correctly. :D

                                                                    2. Was anyone else sad that Tom wasn't eliminating chefs as they were prepping? Or are the competitors this season just so good that they didn't commit any unforgivable offenses?

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: drew13000

                                                                        They started out with 19 chefs. The last two seasons they started out with 29 and 24 contestants and made them cook their way onto the show. This year they had an online contest to get two local NOLA chefs to compete.

                                                                        1. re: drew13000

                                                                          When Tom eliminated chefs, they weren't contestants yet. They were competing to be contestants but he's never eliminated contestants. It seems like this final 19 are pretty high caliber. As said at JT, the offenses were pretty mild and in other seasons would have made them safe. It does seem that way if slightly overcooked pasta lands you in the bottom three.

                                                                        2. As the "Daisy Duke" shorts and sandals go (I think they're just regular shorts that are in style right now--young girls wear them that short), it seems like they weren't given time to change. They showed up in those clothes and were sent right off shopping and cooking. That's why Jason was still wearing those colored Bermudas. Note to Jason: Sexy does not translate to being a good cook. And, why is it that women who are good looking seem to have to make an effort to say not to underestimate them despite their looks and guys never do. "Despite my six pack that I so proudly broadcast, that doesn't mean I can't cook."

                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            i thought she was wearing shorts the next day too...

                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                              Could be--I didn't notice. Working outdoors in the heat of NO, what would a chef wear? I didn't look to see what they were all wearing but shorts don't seem that unusual of a choice, although skimpy sandals would, if she were wearing those again. They were flats, at least. I've seen some on TV in high heels that look painful. I only noticed the pink Bermudas because we have a joke in my family about colored khakis.

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                Shorts are not very safe in the kitchen, no matter the temperature. Most chef pants are soft cotton, and pretty absorbent. I sure wouldn't want burns -- not even fleck burns -- on my thighs... and the flip flops? well that's just plain stupid and unsafe in any kitchen.

                                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                  That's why I thought they weren't given time to change before heading to the store and kitchen. The few chefs I noticed were wearing the same clothes that they came in. I think they were flat strappy sandals, not flip flops, but if they weren't told they were cooking, they were wearing what they were wearing. Cooking outdoors, I wear shorts. Maybe I'll have to watch it again to see what people were wearing.

                                                                              2. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                I just watched parts of it again with my husband (his first time). She was wearing jeans the second day. The first day, they all had the same clothes on when they were cooking as they did when they arrived. So, Janine didn't intentionally put on short shorts and strappy sandals to cook. I don't particularly like or dislike her, fwiw. I just thought it was interesting the number of people who commented on the inappropriateness of her attire in the kitchen. And, while her shorts were short, they're actually pretty long for girls/women that age (I know because I fight the fight w/ my daughter when she goes out).

                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                  Agreed, if they were all in street clothes, why do we need the comments about what she's wearing? I'm actually glad that it was just that - I was getting frustrated at the idea of a woman who vocalized her issues to be taken seriously because of her looks not adhering to the traditional (and practical) dress code in the kitchen.

                                                                                  1. re: EGtheOG

                                                                                    i agree too - it just seemed that she was preoccupied with her looks herself.

                                                                                    1. re: EGtheOG

                                                                                      I wondered if she was asked a question about that. We never know what leads to the monologues. But, she felt the need to downplay it while Jason played it up. It just seems like there is a double standard. Who knows at this point? She could be full of herself and I could end up disliking her. But, at this point, I'm not sure. I just don't think the comments about her shorts in the kitchen were fair because it's not like she was told she was going in the kitchen and then dressed the part.

                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                        Well, for me, I forgot that it was an immediate challenge after Padma and Tom showed up that they were unexpecting, so my comments were based on that forgetfulness.

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          The only reason I noticed is that Jason was still wearing the pink Bermudas. It's not THAT unusual so I don't know why I remembered that detail.

                                                                                        2. re: chowser

                                                                                          I agree with you. I'm going to reserve any judgement on either of them until I find out about their cooking. I too believe that a lot of what is said in the 'confessionals' is about what the producers attempt to get them to say.

                                                                                          I will say this about Jason. He needs a new haircut. During most of the first episode I was trying to figure out who he reminded me of. I finally figured it out.

                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                              I just caught a re-run. You are so right about the resemblance!

                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                He certainly does look like McFly, but how is that a bad thing? Personally, I really like his haircut.

                                                                                                1. re: dcr33313

                                                                                                  It's a personal opinion of mine, but I never indicated I thought it was 'bad'. I don't think the hair drooping in front of his eyes and on his cheek is a good look. Did you notice in the movie that a successful George McFly had a different haircut?

                                                                                              2. re: chowser

                                                                                                Definite double standard. It's unfortunate: Jason is loud and proud about being Philly's sexiest chef, Janine worries she has to work harder to prove she's not just a pretty face.

                                                                                      2. Can one of you Chicago folks find out what band Aaron was in? I'm very curious. It looked like they had some balls in the little bit of a clip they showed.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Joanie

                                                                                          From a 2004 article - more Christian than punk, it seems:


                                                                                          Scroll down to "Part Time Band Biography", just above the pic of Ernest Borgnine.

                                                                                          But that's the only reference to him being in a band that I can find.

                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                              Wow, that must have taken some digging. Thx.

                                                                                              Christian rock, yikes. I do know some loud Christian bands but rock n roll is the devil's music, haha.

                                                                                          1. What does everyone think of the new twist of letting the chefs watch the judges discussing their food?

                                                                                            18 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: chefhound

                                                                                              I'm reserving judgment to see what is actually shown in future episodes. This one seemed rather benign - it seemed they really just stated the top 3-5 and bottom 3-5 before Padma came in to ask to see Nina, Carrie, and Sara.

                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                It does take the suspense out of it for the contestants. They know when they're being called in which they are.

                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                  That's what I thought as well, chowser.

                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                    One advantage to the chefs is that, if you hear they didn't like your dish, you have a few moments to prepare your defense. Whether or not they'll take advantage of it is another matter.

                                                                                                    Also, there's something about this change that, to me, seems to make the JT segment flow more smoothly, but I can't put my finger on it.

                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                      There wasn't much suspense in this episode anyway because of the beading.

                                                                                                        1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                          always better to get layed than beaded

                                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                      I hope they don't keep this up. It didn't matter in this episode because there was already a lot of commentary on the number of beads Nina had and how few the others had.

                                                                                                    3. re: chefhound

                                                                                                      i wondered if they judges would temper what they're saying, knowing they were being watched by the cheftestants. unless of course, they didn't know that, and it was an Elven idea...

                                                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                        I think it definitely will. Of course we don't see the footage that ends up wasted. But I would like to see someone just go off on a particularly bad effort, i.e. go off on something that deserves to be ripped and see the reaction, especially when it occurs with a chef that is particularly cocky.

                                                                                                      2. re: chefhound

                                                                                                        I didn't much like it, for the reasons already stated, and hope it isn't some product placement for Big-Ass TV Co!

                                                                                                        1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                          I discovered they are going to continue the practice of allowing the contestants to see the judges comments via close circuit television like they did in the first episode.

                                                                                                          Somehow I missed a Q & A with Sara in the St. Paul newspaper. There are hints that the female chefs will do well in TC 11.


                                                                                                          (I could have replied to myself with this information a few posts below this one, but I thought that would be weird.)

                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                            Product placement. We'll see at some point which TV/medium they use to do it.

                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                              Are you referring to the TV that is available for the contestants to view the early comments from the judges? Top Chef has always had product placement. I guess I'm not understanding how this change in judging has to do with product placement.

                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                I mean the showing JT on the TVs gives them another medium to bring in product placement. We might eventually start seeing ads for that.

                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                  "Chefs you can watch the deliberations on this wide screen high-definition LED courtesy of Sanyo."

                                                                                                            2. re: John E.

                                                                                                              I don't like this because now they're all going to be glued to the TV screen in the Stew Room instead of interacting with each other. Meaning there will be less of the horseplay and games - singing and making instruments out of cookware, the time they made a bed from the Glad Family of Products, the casino, Stew Hockey, etc.
                                                                                                              On the other hand I can't imagine it will cut down on the drinking or the fighting, and maybe that's the idea. Boo.

                                                                                                            3. re: chefhound

                                                                                                              It's just goofy. Cheftestants watching the judges on a TV screen as the judges blather on how some contestants are worthless in the extreme reminds me of similar scenes in 1960's/1970's movies like bad Bond stuff, Our Man Flint or a Mike Myers sendup.

                                                                                                              I can just imagine the bald-headed Tom Colicchio placing a well-used pinky finger into the side of his mouth and demanding One Million Dollars from a captive world.

                                                                                                              They should lose the Dr. Evil cam.

                                                                                                            4. I just read the Eater recap.

                                                                                                              Where the hell is Max? There's a new recapper Alison Leiby -- we'll give her a chance -- but she isn't as funny as Max, so far.


                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                not by a long shot, though she appears to be trying to sound like him...

                                                                                                                ETA: HOWEVER, LW, this proves your first impression was correct - she also states that they only mentioned two of the proteins up front - allegator and turtle.

                                                                                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                  OK, ::phew!::: I'm so glad to know my half century + brain cells are still functioning reasonably well. :-)

                                                                                                                2. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                  Big shoes to fill. I couldn't even finish reading it. I don't know if she's trying too hard or that's just how she writes but it's not funny, just kind of awkward.

                                                                                                                  "Jason cut his finger while chopping. He feels bad that this is Tom's first impression of him, but I feel bad that he's hurt and maybe he needs a bandage, or some Advil, or a woman to comfort him and maybe kiss his finger or his mouth to make him feel better."

                                                                                                                  1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                    Think Max would be as impressed with Janine as with Kristin?

                                                                                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                      I'm sure she is the reason he's not doing the recap. Couldn't bear the thought of getting his heart broken again. :)


                                                                                                                  2. Nice work LW, you're in mid-season form ;-)

                                                                                                                    Good cast this year. Let the chips fall where they may.

                                                                                                                    1. Well, I thought I had posted this before, but apparently not...

                                                                                                                      Did anyone note the look of incredulity on TC's face when Curtis said that he disagreed with him? I thought it was pretty funny, because the reaction was really out there.

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                        Over the course of this series, I have always had the impression that Tom dislikes when other judges disagree with him. Or at least the impression that the Elves want the appearance of Tom disliking when other judges disagree with him.

                                                                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                          My first thought was that he was incredulous because it was Curtis.

                                                                                                                        2. Now that Linda has gotten me back in the groove, I was wondering about the level of the contestants.

                                                                                                                          It is obvious that the level of culinary skills have improved dramatically in the contestants, they are getting better. So the mean is much higher, i.e. the contestants are better on the average.

                                                                                                                          It seems to me, based on a single episode, that the lowest level contestant, i.e. the worst pick of the litter is better this season than the last few seasons. The reason I say this is that the early eliminations in my mind had always been no brainers, that they all did something egregious. But Ramon's error, was one of judgement, putting the dashi in the ice which really screwed up the flavors but they did not comment on the rest of the dish. It might be that the dashi error really messed up the quality of the dish that they did not even mention the rest of the dish.

                                                                                                                          Just thinking out loud.

                                                                                                                          1. another fine performance by Ms.Whit. more lazy work from the producers and editors not just for the broadcast version, but on the network site for the show as well.

                                                                                                                            specifically, note Ms.Whit's list of the courses served -- only thirteen are listed of the nineteen that entered the competition. looking on the network site, you will find photos of all nineteen dishes, and the chefs' names, but there are four that weren't on the final cut for the broadcast and are not even given a description or explanatory caption. [Devillier, Maldonado, Elmi, Masar] so four chefs didn't get their work shown (other than the slide show), nor even described on the show's website, consigned to virtual oblivion. preferable for them no doubt to being one of the three that were judged as the worst.

                                                                                                                            this week's panel of judges was a welcome relief from the very mixed bag recently endured on TC-Masters.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: moto

                                                                                                                              They do the same things with the Quick Fires in the early episodes. I wish they would show every contestant with their dish.

                                                                                                                              1. re: moto

                                                                                                                                Ahh, I meant to count the dishes last night while recapping and meant to see if all of them were listed, but forgot. Here they are:

                                                                                                                                Bret Pelaggi - Gumbo

                                                                                                                                Brian Huskey - Lettuce Wraps

                                                                                                                                Justin Devillier - Unknown dish

                                                                                                                                Louis Maldonado - Unknown dish

                                                                                                                                Nicholas Elmi - Unknown dish

                                                                                                                                Travis Mascar - Unknown dish

                                                                                                                                Ummm....based on the pictures, I can see why some of them were passed over for even seeing on screen. Louis Maldonado's dish - what is that? I mostly see radish!

                                                                                                                              2. If I was older I could make a drinking game out of this show..
                                                                                                                                divde the party into teams.
                                                                                                                                when Janie mentions Austrilla drink
                                                                                                                                when Shirley mentions moving to america being born in china drink
                                                                                                                                When Sara mentions Wolfgang Puck drink

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                  I'm watching it now on OnDemand and have an immediate and strong dislike for Mr Pink Shorts!

                                                                                                                                  I'll post more after I watch the hole thing.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                    If you were older? I could play only if I were a lot younger!

                                                                                                                                  2. Didn't Tom say that "Mr. Sexy Chef from Philadelphia" got blood in the food when he came for the kitchen visit? Was that remedied? We never saw any followup on that

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                      I think Tom just leaned over and said "You need to fix that" when he saw blood on the chopping block. Not sure it got into the food.

                                                                                                                                    2. The look on Tom's face when Ramon said he put ice in his dashi was priceless!!!

                                                                                                                                      1. Nice recap LW; esp. thanks for the who's who of Cheftestants, and the recap of dishes they made. Your awesome!

                                                                                                                                        It was a good show. Editing better this year, it seems to me.

                                                                                                                                        I am a huge NOLA fan, so looking forward to this even more than I did last years in my town of SEA....

                                                                                                                                        Good first night - excited for the season!

                                                                                                                                        The dude who got the boot deserved it; why wouldn't you put your dashi in an pot in an ICE BATH, not ice IN the dashi? Stupid deserves what it gets.:)

                                                                                                                                        Hope Carrie Mashaney, our home-town chef Exec. for soon-to-open Aragona goes FAR!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                            ROFLMAO! at "Paula Deen preps her dish" - and the shot is a plate of several sticks of butter. :-) And I love the pictures of Judges' Glare. :D

                                                                                                                                            Very well done.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                              Loved the pics at the beginning of Padma looking so goofy, then eating the spicy dish. The Amateur Gourmet done good. I hope he does a weekly recap!

                                                                                                                                            2. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                              Hysterical. I loved the "ruh roh" picture of Ramon with his pitiful 2 strings of beads.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                  That is awesome. Much thanks for posting.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                    That was great. Sorry I wasted an hour watching the show, because that pretty much summed it up.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                      That was great. Usually Grub Street and Eater do a funny recap too, but without the cartoon!

                                                                                                                                                    2. Thanks to ennuisans on this link: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/919198

                                                                                                                                                      who posted a Reality Blurred article about the backstory of how the show is shot and run. Very interesting!


                                                                                                                                                      1. Finally saw it and I have to say that I am kind of glad they aren't listing everyone's age.

                                                                                                                                                        1. The Amateur Gourmet's recap is seriously funny!

                                                                                                                                                          Ooops, sorry! For some reason, all those other posts about the recap didn't show up when I posted this. Something weird with CH updating?

                                                                                                                                                          1. While there is usually at least one chef from the Bay Area, this is the first time there's been one whose food I've actually eaten. I had a really nice birthday dinner at a restaurant where Louis Maldonado was the chef. And then it closed two days later! (bad location) Plus he was both the chef and the pastry chef there (responsible for one of the best desserts I've had in many a year), which may stand him in good stead.

                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                Cafe Majestic. He then did several years as chef de cuisine at Aziza (during which time it's had a Michelin star). He keeps a low profile, so I didn't realize he'd worked at The French Laundry and I'd forgotten he was the chef at Cortez when they got a Michelin star.

                                                                                                                                                                Since he was barely seen in the first episode it looks like he's going to fly under the radar for a while, but he's clearly one of the most experienced and talented cheftestants in this season.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                  thanks. i didn't know Cafe Majestic (maybe before i moved here) and i've still never been to Aziza.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                    Cafe Majestic, as well as the adjoining bar, was pretty interesting a few years back. Handsome room. It's since fallen off my radar. Maybe time to revisit.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                                                      The cafe itself was closed for a while, only the bar/lounge was open. But apparently the cafe has reopened recently as an Italian restaurant with a generic menu. It is a beautiful, elegant room, but the location is still not great.