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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #2 - 10/09/13 (Spoilers)

I do believe gumbo is on the menu tonight! Then perhaps a visit to a food truck. :-)

We start back in the Stew Room as they hash out who went home. And then Padma walks in. She tells them it's time for their first Quickfire! Yup, it's gumbo - they are to make a gumbo inspired by their heritage. They'll get a lot more time to make the gumbo - they get to start their gumbo back at the house, and will have 15 minutes back in the TC kitchen the next day to finish the dish.

Leah Chase, chef/owner of Dooky Chase, is the guest judge, and the winner will get immunity in the Elimination Challenge. They start at 10:30 p.m. and there are crockpots everywhere in the kitchen and throughout the house. The roux that is being made by various chefs are gloriously dark and beautifully smooth. Michael Sichel from Galatoire's doesn't like his gumbo and dumps the entire thing at 1:30 a.m.

The next morning, they take their crockpots and get into the TC kitchen to finish their gumbo. They are still plating as Padma helps Leah Chase into the kitchen.

Michael - Drunken Chicken Gumbo with Dirty Rice
Shirley - Braised Pork Belly Gumbo with Mexican Rice & Italian Salad
Janine - Australian Curry Gumbo with Macadamia Nuts & Coconut Milk
Aaron - Hot & Sour Asian-Syle Gumbo with Prawns & Sushi Rice (Leah teaches Padma how to eat the whole prawn, including the head)
Justin - Pork Rib Gumbo with Okra, Shrimp & Deviled Egg
Patty - Puerto Rican Mofongo Style Gumbo with Sofrito & Pork Belly
Bret - New England & Miami Inspired GUmbo with Fried Clams & Butter-Poached Lobster
Carrie - Iowan-Trinidadian Gumbo with Coconut, Green Mango & Corn Crumble (Leah says "interesting" to the dark forest green gumbo, and Padma just raises her eyebrows)
Carlos - Albondigas Chipotle Gumbo with Bone Marrow
Jason - Polish Inspired Gumbo with Whipped Potato, Cabbage & Shaved Beets
Nina - Plantain & Yuca Based Gumbo with Poached Egg
Louis - Moroccan-Inspired Gumbo with Lamb Shank, Root Vegetables & Sumac
Sara - Crab & Silken Tofu Gumbo with Toasted Forbidden Rice

(Looks like we didn't see gumbo from Brian, Bene, Nicholas, Travis, and Stephanie.)

Least Favorites - Jason, Michael, Patty
Favorites - Aaron, Carrie, Shirley

The winner is Carrie's - and she thought her dish was disliked by both Leah and Padma!

Now it's Elimination Challenge time. NOLA chef, Susan Spicer, arrives to join Leah and Padma. Padma said that New Orleans is a food town, and it's also constantly evolving, and that's led to food trucks becoming very prevalent. They'll work as teams to create a menu for their truck. They'll be feeding volunteers for Habitat for Humanity who are continuing to help rebuild New Orleans after Katrina.

Leah said they lost everything, and any truck with food was warmly greeted by everyone helping to rebuild. Leah was 83 years old when Hurricane Katrina hit, and people said she should quit. She said the Pope quit, but there was a lot of work still to be done, so she continued.

Padma divided them into 4 teams - two of 5 people, two of 4 people, and sent them outside to their food trucks.

YELLOW TEAM - Aaron, Carlos, Travis, Carrie & Brian
CONCEPT - a Taco Truck

BLUE TEAM - Jason, Patty, Nicholas & Bret
CONCEPT - the Surf Truck (seafood)

GREEN TEAM - Louis, Sara, Shirley & Stephanie
CONCEPT - Mediterranean

RED TEAM - Justin, Bene, Janine, Michael & Nina
CONCEPT - South Florida & Caribbean (I think; never got a real good idea as they were all over the map with a "concept" - harbinger of things to come?). Bene gets ignored with all of his ideas (which were just as all over the map)

They head off to Whole Foods to shop - 30 minutes, $1,500 to spend. Back to the house for a night off. Michael starts a crawfish boil - and Jason throws one into the pool and names him Rocky.

They have 2 hours to cook, and the trucks show up at two work sites. Bene continues to be pushed aside by the chefs on his team. Over at the other site, Nicholas and Jason on the Blue team are making sure that dishes aren't overthought by Patty and Bret. Jason will be a front person, so he makes the decision to roll his salmon roll ahead of time. Jason talks to some of the women who lived in the 9th Ward and are helping out via Habitat for Humanity because they were helped by others.

Padma, Tom, Gail and Susan are walking through the area that's being worked on, and Padma notes it's great that people are still volunteering to help. Gail says that there are still 50,000 houses to be rebuilt. Padma and Susan head to one work site, Tom and Gail head over to the other one.

YELLOW TEAM - TACO TRUCK:
1. Travis & Brian - Dorado & Shrimp Ceviche with Tomato
2. Carrie & Aaron - Beef & Pork Curry Empanadas with Watercress & Mango
3. Carlos & Aaron - Tilapia Tacos with Chipotle Aioli & Cabbage

Padma & Susan liked Carrie's empanada dough and Brian's ice cold ceviche.

BLUE TEAM - SURF TRUCK:
1. Jason - Salmon Hand Roll with Quinoa, Honey Mustard Miso & Cucumber
2. Nicholas - Grilled Shrimp with Melon-Sungold Salad & Crushed Wasabi Peas
3. Bret - Coconut Ceviche with Red Snapper & Bay Scallops
4. Patty - Tuna Slider with Crispy Pancetta, Avocado & Tomato

Tom is wondering why the hand roll was made so far in advance, as it should still be crispy and Jason's isn't. Gail said Bret's not-so-cold ceviche with piping hot plantains is odd, and Tom said it wasn't well seasoned. Patty's slider wasn't easy to eat, and Tom said he's not sure he'd use a tomato out of season. Then they show Patty saying "It's a simple slider, but it's executed perfectly." Ummm......

RED TEAM - SOUTHERN & CARIBBEAN
1. Janine - Green Gazpacho with Pickled Shrimp
2. Justin - Lobster & Crab Fritters with Corn Puree & Bacon Jam
3. Nina & Bene - Jerk Chicken Sandwich with Mango & Crispy Plantains
4. Michael - Ricotta with Burnt Honey, Stone Fruit & Toasted Coconut

Lot of ginger in Janine's soup, but it was enjoyed. Justin's fritters were really enjoyed - Tom said the batter extras looked like funnel cake. Michael's ricotta dessert was really enjoyed.

GREEN TEAM - MEDITERRANEAN
1. Stephanie - Crispy Chickpeas with Watercress & Radish Salad
2. Sara - Tuna Burger with Sprouts, Avocado & Watermelon Rind Pickles
3. Shirley - Spicy Lamb Salad with Cucumber & Asian Pear
4. Louis - helped with everything and did the chilled watermelon amuse bouche

Padma liked the falafel, and thought the tuna burger could use some salt, although other diners seemed to like it. Susan liked the lamb dish as well.

It ended with Tom and Gail back at the Yellow Team's Taco truck, so it *looks* like all of the judges got to try all of the trucks' food dishes. The TV comes on in the Stew Room so they can watch what the judges thought of their dishes. The Yellow and Green Teams' dishes had the favorite dishes, and the Red and Blue Teams had dishes that weren't cohesive or were made to be "easy", as Tom said.

Padma comes in to the Stew Room to tell the Yellow Team they won the challenge. They go to Judges Table to hear the overall reviews (impressed with Carrie's dough made on the truck, Aaron's empanada filling, and Carlos's lightly battered tilapia for the fish taco). Susan Spicer says that the one outstanding dish that showed a clear understanding of technique and was very appropriate for this challenge - Carrie's empanada! She gets a double win. Tom tells Aaron that the filling was great, but the pastry was what made it stand out.

The Blue Team is sent in as the bottom group. Before they go in, Jason said "If they're constructive, I'll be nice. If they're rude, I'll be rude back!" Oh yeah - like THAT always does a cheftestant well in front of the judges! Eeesh.

Padma asked how they thought they did, and Bret was surprised they were there. He had heard that other teams ran out of food, and the Blue Team had more than enough food to serve. But Tom and Padma noted that that was a *problem*, not a good thing, as the diners were going back for seconds for the winning truck's dishes, even though everyone was making the same number of dishes.

Gail told Bret his piping hot tostone that was too hot, so it warmed the ceviche.

Tom asked Jason what he likes when he gets a hand roll, and Jason responds "Crisp, refreshing, and you can eat it with your hands." Tom asked if he delivered, and Jason said he did not. Jason said he realized he should have rolled them to order, and he did so so he could interact with the guests. Susan asked why he sacrificed his dish to stand out front, and Bret said when it was decided to be a Surf Truck, Jason said he looks like a surfer. Padma and Susan laugh. Tom asked if Jason knew it would hurt the dish by pre-rolling, and he replied no, he didn't. (Ummm, didn't he say before service that he realized that the rolls were losing their crispness?) Patty got called out for a not-in-season tomato on her tuna slider.

The judges rip into all the dishes after the Blue Team leaves - each dish has an issue with it and it could be anyone going home (although I think Nicholas is the safest).

Decision time (after the :::whooshing camera close-ups::::) - Padma tells Jason to pack his knives and go! (Patty just squeaks by yet AGAIN.) Jason says in the confessional that he thought he would be Top 5. He says he's not a good loser; he's bitter and angry, so that will fuel him to fight his way back to the top in Last Chance Kitchen.

Previews show a knife draw, and it's an Elimination Quickfire, and they'll be at Commander's Palace. And that's all she wrote for this episode. Time to hit Post and then do some proofreading before heading to bed. Night all!

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    1. re: Worldwide Diner

      Loved the bit about her rolling out the dough with an ice-cold bottle of wine. Something very New Orleanian about that. ;)

      1. re: Wahooty

        It was a terrific idea for hot weather. Someone should sell a rolling pin that has liquid inside that can be frozen. It would be great in the summer anywhere!

        1. re: roxlet

          http://www.fantes.com/rolling-pins.html

          Stay Cool
          Fillable Rolling Pin

          11-1/2" long barrel,
          2-7/8" diameter,
          22" long overall,
          Stainless steel barrel,
          High impact plastic parts,
          End cap unscrews for filling,
          25 year limited warranty
          Made in China
          Fill with cold water from the tap,
          Reduces surface temperature by about 20°F,
          Stays cool several hours without condensation,
          Water also weighs it down for easier rolling.

          $42.99
          #121927

          1. re: LindaWhit

            If you have a marble pin you can always stick it in the freezer overnight. It helps in the summer but I always wish it stayed colder longer.

            1. re: thimes

              I used to have a marble rolling pin, but I found it really unwieldy. I prefer a French or a tapered rolling pin myself. I don't much care for the ones with the handles, which is probably why I didn't like the marble one!

            2. re: LindaWhit

              Well, I guess I'm not such an original thinker! That's cool -- literally!

              1. re: roxlet

                At first I thought the metal might make the dough stick, but I guess it doesn't, since it's keeping the rolling pin so cold. It doesn't *say* you could freeze it, but I don't know why you couldn't.

            3. re: roxlet

              The cold wine bottle works really well. Mostly I don't roll out dough (bake) in really hot weather, anyway. But my 24-inch long rolling pin rolls out dough in a hurry, and with minimal strokes. :)

              1. re: roxlet

                Actually, the rolling pin my grandmother always used (and swore by) was an aluminum one that was meant to be filled with ice. She never used it that way, because apparently the damn thing leaked obscenely, but she swore she couldn't roll out a pie crust with anything else.

                1. re: roxlet

                  My mom has one like this http://www.rubylane.com/item/540452-1... the one end unscrews and you can add in ice and water. Could probably freeze it too.

                  Basically, if it was available in 1975 and made by Tupperware, my mom probably has it. She had a "Tupperware Shower" before her wedding.

                  1. re: juliejulez

                    Everything old is new again. I'll bet that Ms. Midwestern grew up with something like this at home.

                  2. re: roxlet

                    My mother had a plastic tupperware pin way back when. It was hollow with a screw cap at won end so you could fill it with ice water.

                    There is a big problem though with icy cold rolling pins in humid environments. They build up condensation which then gets transferred to your dough, throwing off the water/flour ratio.

                2. re: Worldwide Diner

                  I love that iowagirl "liked" your post, WwD. :D

                  1. A couple of quick comments...

                    Why would any chef compete in New Orleans without attempting to learn how to make gumbo?

                    I knew McFly was in trouble when he decided to roll all of his salmon rolls ahead of service. The women were coming up to McFly for reasons other than his food.

                    I wish Patty had been given the PPYKAG instead of McFly.

                    The Elves attempted to make this episode appear to start with a QF on the same night as the judging after the first elimination challenge during the first episode. The judging of the first elimination challenge happened a day after the serving of the food in the swamp.

                    20 Replies
                    1. re: John E.

                      McFly had to go, but the Puerto Rican should follow soon.

                      1. re: Worldwide Diner

                        Completely agree. He was called out in the Quickfire for having a bad dish and then again in the Elimination.

                        Maybe he's not as good or good-looking as he thinks he is.

                        1. re: chefhound

                          I don't think he's that good-looking anyway! Looks too Aryan, if you know what I mean --particularly with that haircut.

                          1. re: roxlet

                            He might look that way, but he is of Polish descent which pretty much puts his ancestors in the old country at odds with your perception.

                        2. re: Worldwide Diner

                          I agree he made a PPYKAG mistake in the EC. I just think he is a more interesting personality to have on the show than Ms. Vega.

                        3. re: John E.

                          I thought the exact same thing last night - what chef goes to a cooking competition in NOLA without learning how to make gumbo? Geez!

                          I was so pleasantly surprised to see Marty go. As the season progressed, I could really see him getting on my nerves. Patty will be gone soon.

                          The girl from Iowa is so refreshing. I would love to have tried her QF dish. It looked like some St. Patrick's Day dish ... So green! Corn crumble sounds amazing.

                          1. re: John E.

                            Another viewer who is just shocked that these chefs did not prepare for NOLA cuisine before they competed.

                            And I am shocked that Jason is gone. I thought they'd keep him around for awhile just to bug people.

                            1. re: gaffk

                              I do think Tom and the judges decide on what mistake is the worst and makes the dish less palatable. Ms. Vega has gotten lucky these first two episodes. I don't think it is possible for someone to start the first LCK to make it all the way through. The odds are just too long.

                              1. re: John E.

                                Agreed on both counts.

                                In a way I feel bad for Jason. He's had so much success at such a young age, I really don't think it occurred to him that he'd be eliminated so early.

                                Then again, he comes off as such an arrogant SOB . . .

                                1. re: gaffk

                                  He chose to feed his ego instead of feeding good food to the volunteers and judges.

                                2. re: John E.

                                  Are we sure that there's going to be a LCK this season?

                                  1. re: JAB

                                    Yes, Tom C. told the first cheftestant out last week that he'd have a chance to get back in via LCK.

                                3. re: gaffk

                                  Do the chefs know ahead of time where the season will be taking place? I know we as viewers had some warning but I'm not sure how far in advance of filming the location is made known to everyone. (I wonder this because I too am shocked)

                                  1. re: thimes

                                    Yep, at least according to Tom's blog. This week's still hasn't been posted, but in last week's blog:

                                    "So many of our contestants had never cooked with these proteins, and they can seem daunting to the uninitiated. Not that our chefs shouldn’t have expected to encounter them at some point during their sojourns in New Orleans -- how could we not have expected them to cook with something like alligator, with the whole season set in this town? So personally, I’d have studied up a bit in advance of coming. But that’s just me."

                                    1. re: thimes

                                      I'm also always surprised when a chef on this show doesn't know how to use a pressure cooker. If it were me, and knowing the difficult time constraints, that's one thing that I'd study up on right away!

                                  2. re: John E.

                                    +1, for the 2nd week in a row, I wished that it was Patty who had to PPYKAGH. If I were Jean Georges or David Burke, I'd be embarrassed.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      Of course I didn't taste the roll, but I thought someone else should have gone home, perhaps warm ceviche guy.

                                      1. re: DGresh

                                        I agree, if only for entertainment's sake. Of course, if the judges really thought it was the worst dish, then I'm gkad they made that decision. I would not wish the TC judging to become like that on Master Chef.

                                        1. re: John E.

                                          If it came down to the person who would bring in the most viewers, Jason would have stayed. If your read comments, he's very unpopular and would have made a great villain. Even Hugh wanted to mentally poke him w/ pins.

                                    2. You rock Linda. All the "heavy lifting",and THEN some.

                                      Women are rocking too." I love a kitchen full of women!" Of note; Carrie's Trinidad family does not look like MY Trini family, but I know it's all good.

                                      So is St.Lucia! I think they liked Nina's dish, even though her team was one on the bottom. Wishful thinking?

                                      Lot's of "Asian influence".

                                      So the tuna dishes where tuna slider, and tuna burger? I felt tuna vs tuna was interesting.

                                      I don't like the curly hair guy from NOLA; I felt like he was he was being too disrespectful to Bene, although Bene didn't seem to mind. Didn't he sort of get disrespected in Masters? Wasn't he the show pony or the show goat? Maybe it's an elf thing.

                                      Padma said "you want me to put the whole head In my mouth?"....was it just me, or was that supposed to be racy? Padma; you don't have to put on the red light, OR the red dress.

                                      Padma said something was odd, and Leah said somethng like "it IS odd." Can't remember,but was that about the winning dish? Anyway, I liked her delivery.

                                      I THINK she also said "why did you use those beets?"
                                      Surfer dude's response: "you like beets? Me too.". Huh?

                                      "I'm surprised this is not a Top Chef wet T shirt contest".

                                      They gave surfer dude the "I hope he get's cut edit". Was it realy his idea to be out front? I just watched again, and 7t seened liked he thought it was a goid idea.

                                      I think the team got a "should have been Food Truck Wars " edit.

                                      Padma was like "Duh....think about that!" (there was food left because people didn't eat it). That wasn't neccesary at that point, was it?

                                      The "I'll be back through LCK" attitude is new, or maybe that's just him. Does Nick know about this relationship?

                                      1. Thought the same thing with Aaron: you're in NOLA for crying out loud, what are you thinking not learning about gumbo and po boys and bread puddings and etouffee's? Duh!

                                        I was kind of hoping Jason would develop into a decent villain this season, oh well.

                                        I guess I am not very clear on what constitutes a gumbo and whether everyone can agree to it. While I liked the idea that they all came up with their own spin on the dish, some of them were way out there, while the bearded NOLA went with the traditional, which is really kind of lazy and taking a chance at the same time: Leah Chase does this all the time and if your gumbo is just very good, it wasn't going to pass muster.

                                        1. I...WILL...NOT...READ THIS THREAD UNTIL AFTER I HAVE CAUGHT THE EPISODE ON DEMAND!