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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.

EGG ON TOP
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.

SMOKED
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.

BACON
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

KALE
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.

            http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/seaso...

            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.

                                  http://articles.latimes.com/1991-06-2...

                                  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. :)

                                      jb

                                      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.