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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #3 - 10/16/13 (Spoilers)

Reinvention of worst food trends, Commander's Palace, and Paul Prudhomme. Shouldn't be too shabby tonight!

Reviewing the dishes in the Stew Room after the end of last week's episode. Nicholas defends Jason. In the mansion the next morning, Louis calls his son. Then into the Top Chef kitchen, and Padma and Emeril welcome Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine Magazine.

Padma introduces the next Quickfire Challenge by saying that there are some food trends that you just wish would go away. Dana Cowin was asked to pick four food trends she hates the most.

There's a knife pull for those bad food trends. They are: Bacon, Smoked, Eggs, and Kale. They are to create a dish that reinvents a popular food trend. The challenge is an Elimination Quickfire. Someone will win immunity, and someone will be going home. They have 30 minutes to make their dish.

They are flying through their prep time. Overdressed dishes, undercooked pork, and barely able to finish plating are all concerns.

Nicholas - Quail Egg, Scallop, Truffle Juice & Duck Egg Vinaigrette.
Nina - Quail Egg on Confit Potatoes with Leek & Potato Purée
Carrie - Soft Boiled Eggs with Chili Flakes & Lemon Zest on Green Beans
Shirley - Rice Congee wih Shirred Egg, Soy Sauce & Sesame Oil

Both Carrie and Nina got good comments from Dana.

Sara - Tuna Tataki with Arbol Chile Vinaigrette
Michael - Cold-Smoked Oysters with Mignonette
Janine - Roasted Pork Loin with Chipotle Smoked Caramelized Apples
Louis - Smoked Trout with Lime & Olive Oil Vinaigrette

Louis's dish didn't seem to have enough smoke in it.

Bene - Seared Tuna in Bacon with Honey, Vinegar, Jalapenos, & Corn
Brian - Bacon with Scallop, Ginger, Honey & Sugar Snap Peas
Travis - Bacon Pho Broth with Seared Scallop & Sweet Carrot Purée
Carlos - Bacon & Halibut with Apples, Tomatoes, Avocados & Bacon Vinaigrette
Stephanie - Pasta with Lightly Candied Bacon & Flash-Fried Sweet Potatoes

Patty - Kale with Toasted Garlic, Chili Flakes & Shaved Parmesan
Justin - Kale Steamed with Lemon, Andouille & Anchovy Syrup & Parmesan
Aaron - Fried Kale Dredged in Soy, Mirin, Rice Vinegar & Yuzu Sauce
Bret - Kale Juice & Gazpacho with Kale Salad

They liked Patty's dish, but Aaron's was very salty. And they didn't like that Bret made a salad when they were specifically asked not to do so.

Favorite Dishes - Nina, Shirley, and Stephanie. And the winner is Shirley! She gets immunity.

Least Favorite Dishes - Bret, Aaron, and Louis. The one who is going home is Aaron. He's bummed to have let down his Chef, Chef Takashi. And it doesn't seem that he gets to go to Last Chance Kitchen - no mention is made of it.

Padma tells them about their Elimination Challenge - they'll get to work in Commander's Palace. They will eat at Commander's Palace tonight. Later tonight, they'll find out exactly what their challenge is. (And if they've watched the show before, they'll probably be required to recreate dishes that they eat tonight!)

Tory McPhail, Executive Chef of Commander's Palace, comes in and introduces himself ot the cheftestants. Sure enough, he tells them that tomorrow, they'll be charged with recreating some of the dishes they'll be trying tonight. They need to get the dishes exactly right, both in taste and presentation.

Dishes they try:

Shrimp & Tasso Henican - created by Chef Jamie Shannon
Black Skillet Seared Trout - created by Chef Paul Prudhomme
Veal Chop Tchoupitoulas - created by Chef Emeril Lagasse
Strawberry Trio - created by Chef Tory McPhail

They'll be cooking in the groups with whom they're seated. Chef Jason from the CP kitchen will actually be cooking each dish as well, so there will be a side-by-side comparison. And Chef McPhail tells them that the creators of several of the dishes, Emeril and Paul Prudhomme, will be two of the judges.

The next morning, they get ready to head to Commander's Palace. They go crazy in the CP kitchen trying to get things done.

The judges arrive, and Lally Brennan and Ti Martin, proprietors of Commander's Palace, greet them. Tom Colicchio, Hugh Acheson, Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, Dana Cowin and Padma, along with Tory McPhail, are seated with Lally and Ti.

Back in the kitchen, they're ready to plate. Nina accidentally starts to plate on Michael's plates. He dumps off her okra from his plates onto the table and Nina is pissed off.

FIRST COURSE - Shrimp & Tasso Henican (Nina, Michael, Travis and Bene). Bene seems to hit the sauce flavors the closest to the original. Michael's plating is spot on, although he overcooked his shrimp. Travis's sauce needed to be thicker, and Nina blew it on the presentation, but her shrimp were impeccably cooked. Dana said that if you could take Nina's shrimp, Bene's sauce, and Michael's presentation, they'd have a very good copy of the original.

SECOND COURSE - Black Skillet Seared Trout (Nicholas, Carlos, Janine, and Louis). Hugh and Tom both note that there are wildly varying seasoning issues. Tom said everything is under-seasoned. Janine's fish seems to be the best cooked of the four. Nicholas's dish is dark on one end, and light on the other, has a lot of sauce, and very under-seasoned. Louis's dish is under-seasoned, dried, overcooked. Carlos missed some seasoning and the fish was too burnt.

THIRD COURSE - Veal Chop Tchoupitoulas (Shirley, Bret, Patty, and Brian). Brian's dish is close, but his Brussels sprouts are raw. Patty's presentation is the closest, and her chop is well cooked. Shirley's chop is overdone for some people, and Bret's sauce is the best, but there is no sear on the chop - Emeril says there's no love. Hugh and Tom give each other looks across the table as they critique slightly differently on the veal chop course. Hugh's ready to roll up his sleeves and duke it out right now. :-)

FOURTH COURSE - Strawberry Trio (Stephanie, Carrie, Sara, and Justin). Sara's beignet is greasy, and there's no white chocolate on Tom's dish. Carrie did great on the cocktail and the biscuit. Justin seems to have nailed the entire dish, and Stephanie's cocktail is well received, but her biscuit is deemed better than the Commander's biscuit by several, including Tory McPhail - he asks for her resume!

The Dessert course is deemed the best by all of the judges, and Chef Tory McPhail is very proud of all of them. Dana Cowin says she's a whipped cream whore, and Tom said that has altered his opinion of her forever.

They're back in the Stew Room waiting for the monitor to turn on to see the initial judging. Tom notes that the desserts were the best dishes. Justin and Stephanie's dishes are discussed - Tom's beignet from Stephanie was soggy and dense, but she's totally surprised to hear that Hugh said her biscuit was the best of the offerings.

The shrimp dishes didn't have a good sweet and sour balance, although Michael's presentation was on the mark. Issues with the veal cookery, and Emeril had a sloppy plate. The fish dishes were all under-seasoned.

Padma comes in and asks to see Stephanie, Justin, and Nina - they are the top group!. Stephanie is overwhelmed that she's in the top group, as she's not a pastry chef. And the winner is Justin!

The bottom group is Louis, Carlos, and Bret. Everyone's dishes were under-seasoned. They asked Louis if he made the blackening seasoning - he said yes, he made it for the entire group. Tom said that explains that's why everything was under-seasoned. Louis never tasted his own food when plating. Tom was surprised that not one of them chose to make their own dish in total on the fish course, including the seasoning. Bret's veal was overcooked. He said time ate him alive and had difficulty finding room on the grill. Tom said it's a competition - he needed to make room on the grill so his chop could be properly cooked.

The judges discuss the dishes. They're all surprised that Carlos and Louis never tasted a small piece of the blackened fish. Bret's veal dish - Hugh said his was steamed perfectly (obviously not the way it was supposed to be cooked!). Tom said his was both - no sear mark and was overcooked. I'm thinking it's going to be Bret and his veal chop.

:::Whooshing camera shots:::: Tom reviews; Padma decrees. Yup, it's Bret who's asked to pack his knives. Back in the Stew Room, he said to the others that he knew his plate wasn't Top Chef quality and they made the right decision.

Previews - crash course in Vietnamese food.

And that's it for tonight's show! Latahs, ladies and gents!

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  1. I have been holding out on this judgment, but I feel it's time to say it...either Michael is getting the dbag edit...or Michael is just a dbag. I'm applying occam's razor to that one.

    Sad to see Bret go...if only because he's so gosh darn pretty.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Wahooty

      Bret's TOO pretty. And I think the latter for Michael. But that's just me.

      1. re: LindaWhit

        I agree with you regarding Bret's appearance. I kept thinking I know this guy from somewhere. Maybe I'm crazy but he looks like Rodrigo Santoro, the actor!

        1. re: shellsbutt

          Yep! Especially with the glasses, he looks like he could have walked out of Love, Actually 10 years ago. Santoro played Karl, Laura Linney's crush.

          1. re: lsmutko

            OMG, that's IT!!!! I couldn't figure out the name, and until you said the movie and his character's name....yes, exactly! They're long lost twins!

            1. re: lsmutko

              Love Actually is one of my all time favorites. I have to watch it every Christmas! Laura Linney's character was so clueless and I always scream at the tv. Sigh. What a missed opportunity. Maybe Bret will stick around with Last Chance Kitchen.

          2. re: LindaWhit

            Occam's razor and whatnot. ;)

            Hugh's take:
            Michael is happy crazy. He really does march to his own drum, which plays really loudly in his head all the time. It’s a little demon character with a tam drum playing a ten second loop of nonsensical hippy jazz. A therapist has been notified.

            “I’m rollin’. My smoker’s blowing smoke.” This line should be sung by 2 Chainz, but it is just Michael. Pay no mind. This man does nothing in solemn, stoic fashion. If he is smoking food, he will yell and holler and make the smoke go everywhere, while annoying everybody in the room. He’s not a “hunker down over stove and get the food done” type. He’s more of a “LOOK AT ME. I AM CRAZY” type.
            Michael is all coy when the judges make the rounds. He made an oyster topped with a maniacal smile.

            Also, LW, your recaps would require a lot less effort if you just took the Hugh Acheson approach:
            Other people make other food. Cite list if you are curious. Or just pay attention to the show. I cannot hold your hand in this.


            1. re: LindaWhit

              I don't think Bret's that pretty. I think Louis is pretty cute, but apparently not that good a cook.

            2. The food trend competition is so convoluted. I don't get how calling them out as tired made the results any different, except for calling out the kale salad dish.

              If Stephanie doesn't win a round soon she's going to have a heart attack.

              5 Replies
              1. re: ennuisans

                "If Stephanie doesn't win a round soon she's going to have a heart attack."

                I think she's lightening up a bit. She actually cracked a smile toward the end of the episode. Maybe the beta blockers are kicking in?

                1. re: ennuisans

                  Stephanie is this season's Richard Blais. She's so overly intense compared to Kristin's calm.

                  1. re: chowser

                    She might have some similaries to Blaise as far as demeanor is concerned. She might have to show more to see how her cooking stacks up.

                    1. re: chowser

                      Let's see if she can cook as well as Richard Blais. That'll be the real test.

                    2. re: ennuisans

                      Stephanie’s one of my fav’s – somewhere between “I think she’s gonna go far” and a little crush on her.

                    3. Thanks Linda! Liked the food trends idea, as did the hubs. We almost didn't recognize Prudhomme. Hubs says he had a gastric bypass. And "that's how they look". Meh. I've had patients turn out all ends of a spectrum. Not many in between.

                      I missed the details of Hugh's challenge to Collichio. I sort of felt Hugh was sympathizing, no?

                      What would each of us have done about Bret's grill situation? Who would toss the okra like Michael? Who would kick his ass?

                      "Let's see if you can guess! Oops! "
                      Botox AND chemical peels! I know...off topic...

                      Can you taste a spice mix independant of a dish? I didn't really understand what happened with that team. I'm watchng a second time right now, and I have to be sitting in my office in about eight hours.

                      Also, I like the idea of a "shadow chef". And Hugh's blog. You go, boi!

                      Interesting that I didn't like him, at first.

                      And can I just give a shout out to "Look What happens Next"? I usually cringe when it comes on, and turn quickly, but I even liked the CSI reference. I used to live and die by CSI, but didn't realize the Cheers guy was on it.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                        DH looked it up last night -- Prudhomme apparently his weight by old fashioned dieting.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          I recall a PP quote saying that a major weight loss tip was to stop tasting a whole spoonful of a sauce a hundred times a day.

                        2. re: Shrinkrap

                          It certainly seems like Michael didn't have to dump the okra but I think he has a right to do it. Michael seems "high" to me all the time.

                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                            Everyone has a "right" to be an inconsiderate asshole. Most just choose not to go that route.

                            1. re: chowser

                              That's not my point. He has the right to dump the okra, because he exercised that right, he's an asshole. If the okra wasn't on his plate, he can't dump it regardless whether he's an asshole or not.

                          2. re: Shrinkrap

                            re Paul P. -- I don't think so. Shortly after his wife passed away (quite some time ago) he was very sick and lost a ton of weight, which he's never regained. I also don't think he's ever really regained robust health. But I'm not aware of his having bypass surgery. That would have to have come recently, and I don't think he was heavy enough to need it.

                            He's a really nice man.

                            1. re: ChefJune

                              Chef Prudhomme is a very nice guy.
                              He has an older cookbook called "A Fork in the Road" where he took many Cajun recipies and lightened them up and made some downright healthy.

                              1. re: ChefJune

                                I see. Maybe that's where "that look" comes from. "Cachectic" is what comes to mind, but not exactly. I remember seeing him on some show where he apparently couldn't stand up to cook; he was seated at a stove I think. I thought it was because of his weight, but I guess it was because he had been very sick.

                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  Trying to find out more about Paul P and his illness. In one interview he said he weighed 450 pounds before he started losing. Do you mean he lost some of that as a result of his illness, and he had much less to lose when he started trying?

                                  I don't see a date, but here is the interview.


                                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                                    Interesting article. The date I saw was June 27, 1991. Thanks for finding and posting that!

                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                      Watching that Seinfeld where Jerry says he confuses Prudhomme with Dom Delouise. And Al Roker with some other weather guy.

                                  2. re: Shrinkrap

                                    Prudhomme looked like someone who had lost a lot of weight not on a diet but because he had some awful wasting disease. He did not look healthy and seemed sick and very low energy. Don't know his situation of course.

                                    Edited to add that I posted this before reading the posts above that he had in fact been sick. Poor man - I hope he is OK.

                                  3. i knew Brett was going home. i'm ok with it. i'm rooting for Carrie, but glad Stephanie's biscuit won.

                                    does that aussie chick have to make some bowel movement/bladder incident reference every time? her pants are getting awfully soiled....

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                      She does do a lot crapping and pissing in her pants. Must be an Aussie thing. :)


                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                        Love it MC! I of course am rooting for Carrie too - she is Sous Chef at a resto in the Ethan STowell Group that is opening soon here in SEA; Spanish food with a local ingredient focus.

                                        It was all hush-hush of course that she was off all summer doing TC. So far, they have NEVER mentioned SEA in regards to her, only her "Iowa roots', which we here are all getting a little sick of.... she has cooked here for nearly 5 years allready.

                                        Love her gamin face, smile, and easy demeanor - oh, and her cooking chops.

                                        That Aussie chic needs to stop making 'porn-worthy' comments. Isn't that Padma'sjob-thingy? To make sexy sound bites?

                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                          I'm confused; I get that while she was gone it might not be said what she was doing; but why would the show keep it quiet now?

                                          1. re: DGresh

                                            Iowa plays better than Seattle. Makes her an underdog. Better for the ratings.

                                            As far as the Ausie and the sexual innuendos are concerned, my bet is its all in the edit. They interview the chefs for quite awhile. One slip of the tongue (see how easy it is) and that's what makes it on air.

                                            1. re: bobbert

                                              She probably has mentioned cooking in Seattle, but it has not made it to the final cut yet. Maybe it will in later episodes. Her hometown only has just over 100 residents. I wonder if she lived in town or out on a farm? I suppose in town otherwise they would have mentioned the farm thing.

                                      2. hey, i know we're not going to talk about LCK here, but is it up yet, anyone know?

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                          I believe the first round will be on 10/23 Maria.

                                        2. Stephanie is really growing on me. I think failure last season really got her to figure out who she is and made her a better chef.

                                          I thought Patty made a nice recovery from a shaky start, but then again this is what she does for her job: figure out how to execute her boss's ideas. She did however have to figure out the flavor profile though.

                                          You can kind of see the people who are trying to go under the radar emerge. Travis, Carlos, Nicholas, and in a way Sarah.

                                          I was kind of waiting for Justin to emerge and he has this time.

                                          I think Carlos is gone next, he seems pretty weak on all counts. And I was pretty incredulous that they did talk themselves into splitting the dish up. It is playing not to lose rather than playing to win.

                                          I didn't taste the dish but I would think the underseasoning of the fish and the laziness it involved far out weights a badly grilled veal chop.

                                          1. I felt like the premises of the Quickfire and Elimination Challenges needed to be switched. I found it so boring to watch the EC to strictly be "recreate this dish to the best of your abilities". Not that I think save-the-food-trend would make a good EC, but it was far more interesting to see what they made instead of who produced the best replication.

                                            I had no love (or hate, though did not find him attractive) for Bret, but it was nice to see him go out owning up to his mistakes. Also good to see hometown girl Stephanie get more camera time this episode, although during the QF I was nervous she was getting the loser edit. :)

                                            1. My main problem this time is that I'm still having a difficult time figuring out who's who, and putting the right names to everyone. I don't know why I'm finding this so difficult. I wouldn't have known Bret, for example, if I had tripped over him!

                                              Thanks for the recap LW. It does help!

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                Several of them stand out for me:

                                                Stephanie, because she's a local gal.

                                                Michael, because he's one of the NOLA locals who didn't do well with making gumbo for Leah Chase. And because he seems to be a little cray-cray.

                                                Nina, because she's done really well with her dishes.

                                                Bene, because of his name and the fact he got dumped on-slash-ignored in the 2nd episode (and that he was one of the sous chefs on the most recent season of TCM)

                                                Janine, because her accent stands out.

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  Maybe I overstated-- the woman with the short hair who won both challenges, Nina, the Aussie woman, the cray-cray guy, and those are the ones I could pick out out of a line-up!

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Yes, great name. And also the woman with the 40s style who reminds me of the woman who had been on Project Runway with the 40s style. Maybe they're cousins. ;)

                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                        Hah! I thought the same thing about Sara and the Project Runway sewtestant!

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          and if anyone watched the latest season of Masterchef Australia there was also another Rosie the Riveter , seems like a ruse to be easily identifiable

                                                        2. re: roxlet

                                                          I thought the same thing about Project Runway, but figured no one can be both a designer AND chef! :-) There's just not enough time in the day...

                                                2. I have a few random comments about last night's Top Chef competition.

                                                  During the QF, Dana Cowan said, “...one single iteration, kale salad and kale chips." Isn't that two iterations of kale?

                                                  Brett, why do a kale salad when you were told NOT to do a kale salad?

                                                  Stephanie needs to crack a smile, at least once. Making homemade pasta is no longer daring.

                                                  Nina's father helped St. Lucia to gain independence from the U.K., and she is also sent to the U.K. to attend school?

                                                  Janine, never admit on television that you crapped your pants. (I was under the impression that pretty blondes don't even fart.)

                                                  Based on what I saw, I would have sent Louis packing for cooking a bad version of blackened fish and for making the bad seasoning for everyone. I'm with the judges on this one, why would everyone rely on one person to prepare the seasoning? This was not a team challenge. Brett was said to have the best sauce and not all of his chops were over cooked.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    Re: Nina's father, St Lucia gained its independence while he was Prime Minister. They had been self governing since 1967 as part of the West Indies Associated States. Queen Elizabeth is still the Head of State... and the island maintains close ties to the UK.
                                                    There are not many educational opportunities in St Lucia, beyond what we in the US call high school. I was not surprised to hear that she was sent to England for finishing school, since her family could afford to do so. I'm rooting for Nina, because I love St Lucia, and the food there. I can see how she's incorporating that heritage into her dishes.

                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                      I too was confused by the team/non-team aspect. Was it Aussie girl who said she was making the potatoes for everyone, and other people on her team were doing things for everyone? Then I got confused when lots of different people were trying to put veal chops on the grill. Seems like doing anything "team style" is just a bad idea.

                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                        I don't remember Janine doing potatoes for everyone, I might have to watch it again. I think the contestants were a little confused. Of course in their restaurants, they work as a team with other cooks. This EC was about four groups of contestants with each group cooking the same meal, but they were not competing as groups or teams, everyone was competing against everyone.

                                                        Frankly, I didn't care for this episode all that much. Maybe it's because there are so many contestants that I don't have any favorites yet and there is no demon in the group, except for maybe Michael.

                                                        I will say this, I am guessing that Top Chef will have consecutive female chefs as winners for the first time. The women so far seem to be cooking better than the men.

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          I just re-watched it (wasn't sure if maybe I got the blondes mixed up; as a brunette they all look alike to me :) But yes, Aussie girl said "I'm am making the potatoes for everyone, Carlos is going to prep all of the vegetables, Nick is going to be working on the crawfish (sic), Louis is making sure our seasoning is on point, we're going to prep as a team, and when it gets down to cooking, we're all on our own"

                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                            What kind of potatoes did she make? They don't really show much cooking in these early episodes.

                                                        2. re: DGresh

                                                          It was Janine who made the potatoes and they looked like mashed potatoes. I don't know why they called it a team challenge at all. It was only a "team" in the idea that they were all making the same dish. I had thought the best team would be safe, etc. but it was an all man out for himself type competition.

                                                      2. I dunno', I think Aaron will be part of LCK. I don't think they mentioned LCK when Bret was eliminated either.

                                                        I, too, would have sent Louis home--his spice mix made 4 less-than-stellar dishes. Plus I thought he had the loser's edit in the beginning when he was shown talking on the phone to his son.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: gaffk

                                                          Will be interesting to see if they have 4 or 5 in LCK next week.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Yes, it will. Though I don't think any of those eliminated so far will be able to run the table to get back in.

                                                          2. re: gaffk

                                                            +1 on both of your Louis observations.

                                                            Classic variation on Tom's traditional death-knell question "Did you taste your dish?" x 4.

                                                            1. re: WNYamateur

                                                              Yeah, I thought Louis was done for when I saw him featured at the beginning, too. He's really a very accomplished chef: a year at The French Laundry, plus two other restaurants in San Francisco that earned Michelin stars under his watch. But he clearly was not having a good day.

                                                          3. Just read the Eater recap. I think they're getting worse. And factually inaccurate to boot!

                                                            Where is Max Silvestri?
                                                            Eater, please give him whatever he wants to come back.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: chefhound

                                                              Agreed . . . not a single chuckle in that. I think the coment regarding how funny the article was must be related to Leiby.

                                                              1. re: gaffk

                                                                Seriously, how do we start a petition to get Max back?

                                                                1. re: chefhound

                                                                  I'll sign in a heartbeat! Max was hilarious, the new Eater columnist is hardly worth reading.

                                                              2. re: chefhound

                                                                However, the Amateur Gourmet's recap is up and does provide a few chuckles.


                                                                (I don't think it's as good as last week's though).

                                                                1. re: gaffk

                                                                  I do love the ending though.

                                                                  "Sloppy Plate, please pack your knives and go."
                                                                  "My name is Bret."
                                                                  "Not anymore. Guards!"

                                                                  The expression on Padma's face is perfect.

                                                              3. From Hugh Acheson.

                                                                I get all ballsy and say that Stephanie’s biscuit is better than Commander’s. I am four strawberry cocktails in at this point, so believe nothing I say… I then challenge Tom to a cook-off but he wimps out.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                  Tom is really good at maintaining what is called a "limited range of affect". There is a better expression, but I can't think of it. Unflappable! I think that's it!

                                                                2. Reading the Amateur Gourmet's take on this reminded me of something that struck me as strange in this episode. When they're told what the EC is going to be, Carrie made a comment to the effect that she can't make her own dishes taste the same every time, let alone another chef's dish. Huh? How can you be a chef and not be able to deliver a dish consistently?

                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                  1. re: gaffk

                                                                    I think she was joking in a self-deprecating fashion. Seems like her style.

                                                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                      Yeah, it's still too early in the season for me to have a feel for any of these chefs' styles, but you're probably right. As others have said, I still can't tell who's who--except crazy NO Mike and Nick (because he's local to me). I can recognize the Aussie girl and the girl from Iowa, but I can never remember their names.

                                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                                        In TC 6 it took me about a half-dozen episodes before I remembered which Voltaggio brother was Michael and which was Bryan. I could tell them apart of course, but I couldn't remember which name went with which chef. The interesting thing about this season, is they all seem like decent cooks. There were a lot of contestants in past seasons who seemed completely overwhelmed. I guess Patty might still be in that category. We'll have to see what she does next.

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          Patty, and I'm not so sure about Bene.

                                                                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                            I can't wait to see how his sloppy joes will be received.

                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                            Yeah, when they start with 19 chefs and there's only about 40 minutes of content, it's tough to keep up.

                                                                            Oh, I do know Bene though. But that's just because he was just a sous on TCM.

                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                              Brave of you to admit that about the Voltaggio brothers. I once said I got their names mixed up in the beginning and was slammed for how different they are and something like how any moron could tell them apart.

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                I remember at one point thinking the Voltaggio brothers were twins!

                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                  Oh, I did get slammed back when TC 6 was on. I certainly could tell them apart. I didn't get them confused for their looks or their cooking style, I just could not remember which name went with which brother.

                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    my teenage kids, who only see top chef when walking through the family room to the kitchen, laughed at me for not being able to tell the Voltaggio brothers apart!

                                                                          3. The fish was poorly seasoned but Janine got it right. I'm surprised they went the way they did by having someone who'd never made cajun food before make the spices. And, then not taste it??? I think Janine gets credit for being the only one to get it right.

                                                                            I like Justin and his humility but think the season's women are much stronger. At least, at this point they are.

                                                                            1. Excellent summary by LW.

                                                                              Random thoughts:

                                                                              The core judges are getting a bit stale. Their comments/criticisms are predictable.

                                                                              Paul Prudhomme is an icon. He may not be eloquent in a sound bite sense but his thoughts are important. Astute judges should have engaged him more, drawing out his knowledge of local cooking and history. This was an epic fail.

                                                                              The remaining chefs are talented. They deserve more camera time, the judges deserve significantly less.

                                                                              Lose the Dr. Evil cam where cheftestants are subjected to the cc ramblings of the judges. Spontaneity is a victim here - it becomes repetitive in final judging.

                                                                              just my $0.02.

                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                                                I found Paul Prudhomme's "particpation" a bit sad. I'll admit .I am now old and remember when he was younger

                                                                                1. re: gaffk


                                                                                  I ate his food when he cooked at Commander's. My wife and I went to K-Paul's soon after it opened. K planted a gold star on my head and gave me a kiss after we finished our first meal there and walked down the stairs.

                                                                                  Good times.

                                                                                  1. re: gaffk

                                                                                    He's an icon and should have been more prominent in this episode. Maybe we'll see more of him throughout the season! There were highlights in different settings that included him. I really look forward to seeing more of him.

                                                                                    Paul Prudhomme and Justin Wilson are my go-tos for Louisiana cooking. Never a miss on any recipe I've made.

                                                                                    1. re: Dee S

                                                                                      Has he lost a LOT of weight? I remember him from TV shows and commercials in the 80's or 90's as the first and only Cajun Chef and he was about 400 lbs. I wasn't sure if I was thinking of him or Dom Delouise.

                                                                                      1. re: hal2010

                                                                                        Pics from his "Louisiana Kitchen" cookbook, another from 2008, and a screen shot from this TC episode. He's lost a LOT of weight.

                                                                                        And Prudhomme and DeLuise are most definitely long-lost twins. :-D

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          I have the "Louisiana Kitchen" cookbook. It's worth the price just to look at his creations, great pictures. Now, if you think Paula Deen likes butter.....

                                                                                            1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                              Thou shalt not corrupt the Top Chef threads, dear James. ;-)

                                                                                  2. Did anyone else find Emeril's reminiscence of his interview with the Brennan matriarch touching? I did.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                      Yes. In our house, we call this short segment the "humor segment". Emeril's was charming.

                                                                                    2. Last week's advice for those competing on Top Chef was to familiarize themselves with the local cuisine before showing up.

                                                                                      This week's advice: if you should find yourself at judge's table and are asked "...did you taste your food?" and you didn't....

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                                                        That's funny. But ...

                                                                                        All replies to Tom's "Did you taste your food" come down to 3 answers:
                                                                                        1. No
                                                                                        2. Yes, and I thought it was okay
                                                                                        3. Yes, and I didn't think it was okay, but I served it anyway.

                                                                                        You're screwed either way. I don't think lying can help.

                                                                                        I use this all the time with software delevolpers: "Did you test this?". Same 3 answers.

                                                                                        1. re: WNYamateur

                                                                                          Go with choice 3 with a twist. Add something like, "I thought it was a little (under/over seasoned, etc.) and tried to fix it but... something happened, yada, yada, yada".

                                                                                          Basically, double down. When you've been possibly caught in a lie, lie some more.

                                                                                          1. re: bobbert

                                                                                            Rather than lying or not lying, for how often it happens, it seems to warrant a tattoo for all contestants before they get there--"taste and taste again."

                                                                                      2. I have to agree with Dana Cowin that bacon is so over. I can't stand it when people say "it's great. It has bacon in it." It's so easy to throw bacon in a dish. I love bacon but I'm tired of seeing it in everything.

                                                                                        I still love kale and eggs on top though.

                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: chefhound

                                                                                          I agree that bacon is overdone, but at least I like bacon. I don't like eggs, so the egg on top fad to me just means that a lot of interesting-sounding dishes have been ruined.

                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                            Ruth, yes a fellow egg not liker!!! The wifeacita and I just fed on some small Texas town meat market bacon, plus some jalapeno cornbread she concocted, bacon not overrated at all.

                                                                                          2. re: chefhound

                                                                                            Kale salads are awful. I love bitter greens but tough greens served as a salad is just bad. Never really cared about the gratuitous eggs or bacon. I like smoking if it imparts some complementary flavor.

                                                                                            1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                              I've had some very good kale salads, but the kale has to be chopped up pretty small. A hunk of raw kale bigger than half-inch dice is unpleasantly chewy, and smaller is better.

                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                Hah! i love all three of these "played" ingredients and would happily eat them together. in fact, i thought one of the chefs would do that - bacon-braised kale with a fried egg on top - heaven!

                                                                                              2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                i've been doing the "massage" your kale salad method - rub with lemon and olive oil, really work it in. i make a giant bowl - keeps in the fridge all week, gets a little more tender each day. great with caviar lentils and sherry vinegar. of course, i do pick out the woodsy parts.

                                                                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                  Good for you. It sounds like a lot of work just to eat a salad. I rather sauté my kale with garlic.

                                                                                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                    Yes, I love kale and while I don't hate the kale salad, I also don't quite get it. The great thing about kale is that it can hold up to extended cooking times without losing flavor or falling apart. Love it in beans and stews.

                                                                                                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                      I chop kale fine and sneak it into beans, lentils. The flavor is kind of strong for my family's tastes but it's too cheap and healthy to disregard.

                                                                                              3. re: chefhound

                                                                                                I love cooked kale and bacon together :-). Add eggs and I'm in heaven. I'm starting to differentiate the contestants a bit more this season. And I'm enjoying the threads here, which I've never followed before. Nice job by Linda in providing such a solid jumping off for discussions.

                                                                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                  There needs to be a warning that these threads are addicting. I can't remember when I started following them but I've been glued since.

                                                                                                  Agree on the bacon, eggs, kale. That would make a good breakfast, lunch or dinner!

                                                                                              4. Oh Linda's recaps do make me want to watch! Sadly, despite having a cable tv subscription (bundle was cheaper than internet alone), I have no tv. And top chef is not currently available online

                                                                                                Keep the good work coming, Linda. I think I'd enjoy it a bit more if I could also watch the episodes, but at least this is something!

                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                  I am sure you could find a working TV at a thrift store or free on Craig's list.

                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                    Oh, I could have a tv. It's amazing how many people offer up one of their own old tvs when they find out I don't have one. Just a choice to go without. I assume I'll be able to watch Top Chef at some point after the current season.

                                                                                                    1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                      Can you not get Food Network Canada in the US online? They are showing the current Top Chef eps...

                                                                                                      1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                        I get the "not available in your country" message. But thanks for the suggestion!

                                                                                                        1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                          Dang, I thought that only happened going south, sorry!

                                                                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                            I don't know how it works but there are sometimes ways to work around those international restrictions, proxies and such.

                                                                                                  2. re: debbiel

                                                                                                    Linda does the only recap that's factual and w/out snark. Not that there's anything wrong with snark... But, if I read snark before seeing an episode, it would color my view as I watched it.

                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                      Oh, give me a cheftestant like Ilan or Hosea, and I'll snark. BELIEVE me I'll snark. :-P

                                                                                                      But thank you, chowser. :-)