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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #4 - 10/23/13 (Spoilers)

It's the first game of the World Series at Fenway Park! It's also Top Chef night! OK, here we go....

A brief review by Louis in the Stew Room about being in the bottom group and his first terrible review when he became a chef in San Francisco. He likes to get better from criticism.

Then Nick calls his wife to touch base with her and see how the kids are doing.

Emeril and Chef and owner of Baohaus in New York, Eddie Huang, show up at the house. Nina is convinced that Emeril has a secret bedroom at the house because he pops up when they don't expect it.

Emeril tells them there is no Quickfire today. He says there are a lot of cultures that influence the cuisine in New Orleans. Eddie notes that in the 1970s, many Vietnamese came to NOLA and invested a lot of time and energy in the local shrimping industry.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE - they will broken up into groups of five, and they'll be charged with coming up with their own Vietnamese menu. Travis is very happy - he cooks Vietnamese, his boyfriend is Vietnamese. They'll be serving some of the local Vietnamese who know the cuisine. One dish must highlight shrimp. Then Emeril said that he and Eddie are going to take them on a crash course of Vietnamese cuisine in NOLA to experience the Vietnamese culture themselves. Travis said "no offense to Eddie or Emeril, but I could give *them* a crash course in Vietnamese cuisine." A little cocky there, Travis!

They get on a nice party bus. They start to review their menus. The teams are:

Red Team - Shirley, Justin, Carrie, Patty & Nina
Green Team - Janine, Bene, Travis, Sara & Stephanie
Orange Team - Brian, Carlos, Nicholas, Louis & Michael

Nina notes that Michael is sucking up to Emeril about a Vietnamese bakery they're going to, and she said she thinks Michael is faker than .... Pamela Anderson's breasts. LOL!

They try the best bahn mi in New Orleans and literally break into lots of packages and try various foods. They then head out to D. Ditcharo Jr. Seafood Dock. At the shrimp docks, a shrimping boat comes in and offloads their catch with big hoses to suck them out of the hull. Shirley takes advantage of talking to the fishermen and asks about various recipes from fishermens' wives. Carlos, Janine and Michael ask a fisherman about how he cooks a shrimp stew.

Back on the bus, Carlos is showing his nerves about making Vietnamese dishes - he seems comfortable with the soup, so Nicholas tells him to figure out what he needs for the soup. They stop at Kim Anh's Noodle House, and get lots of dishes to try - Shirley is making sure that Patty tries everything since she's unfamiliar with Vietnamese food. Sara seems nervous with Travis on her team and him bragging about being the "expert". Travis said "Oh, in Denver, we use romaine lettuce for everything like lettuce wraps!" when Sara said the Vietnamese wouldn't use romaine lettuce. She said "We'll see tomorrow when this is all over and done!"

They go to an Asian market to shop. Thirty minutes to shop and $200 per team at Hong-Kong Food Market. Sara is taking things out of her teams' baskets if she doesn't think they'll work. Travis is wondering if she doesn't trust him.

Back into the kitchen at Tan Dinh Vietnamese Bistro, they start prep and cook. The Green Team seems to have lost their lemongrass and can't find it. Did Sara remove it? She removed SOMETHING - I rewound to check and I can't tell if it was the lemongrass, as her body was blocking whatever she took out and put back. Justin (Orange Team) said he bought too much lemongrass and if the Green Team would just ask for it, he'd give some up, but.... So the Green Team scratches using lemongrass.

Emeril and Chef Eddie show up to check on them. Eddie asks how the Green Team is going to make Vietnamese food without lemongrass. Travis said they don't use it in everything! He says in the confessional that "Eddie is Taiwanese/Chinese - he only knows a little bit of what he knows. Sorry Eddie - you're kind of a douchebag." Oh REALLY, Travis?

Both Eddie and Emeril try Carlos' soup and there are lots of nodding heads and Emeril says "Push it" - they both seem to like it, but Carlos isn't sure what they mean. Stephanie asks Sara about the rice, and Sara asks Stephanie if she rinsed the rice - Stephanie says 3x. Sara says "too much water" and pours some of it out.

Plating begins. The Red Team seems happy with their dishes. On the Green Team, Janine says she knows she's made a bad decision on her preparation of the shrimp, but it's too late now. Justin notes that the shrimp dish from Janine and Bene shouldn't be covered in sauce, as by the time it gets to the table, they'll be soggy.

The diners and judges arrive. Tom, Eddie, Padma, Emeril, and Gail discuss Emeril and Eddie traveling with the cheftestants to the different locations to learn about Vietnamese food.

First team out is the Orange Team:

Nicholas - Black Pepper Squid with Cabbage & Peanuts
Carlos - Fish Head Soup with Pineapple, Tomato & Tamarind
Brian - Gulf Shrimp and Pork Belly Spring Roll & Dipping Sauce
Louis - Beef Broth Pho with Raw Eye Round & Oxtail
Michael - didn't have a dish; he was supporting the entire team

They like Brian's spring roll; Carlos' soup needed more acid, but when Emeril and Eddie tried it in the kitchen, it was in a better place. The tomato made it taste like minestrone. Tom thought Nichola's squid needed more seasoning. The flavor for the pho was weak.

Next team up - the Red Team:

Nina & Carrie - Raw Beef Salad with Pickled Vegetables
Shirley - Vietnamese BBQ Shrimp with Creole Spice Butter
Justin - Beef Pho with Rice Noodles & Lettuce
Carrie - Lemon Custard with Caramelized Bahn Mi
Patty - no specific dish; she did prep and had a hand in every dish

Justin's pho is light years ahead of the first one. Diners liked it as well. Tom *loves* Shirley's BBQ Shrimp - he doesn't know if it's authentic, but it's really delicious. Carrie's tartare's flavor is good, but Tom didn't like the texture. Emeril asks Eddie if he's had a raw beef dish in all the Vietnamese dishes he's had - Eddie said yes, but not the way Carrie made it - he's had it as shaved beef. Carrie's custard is flavorful, but presentation is horrible and seems like an afterthought.

Finally, it's the Green Team's turn:

Travis - Grilled Pork Sausage Lettuce Wraps with Pineapple Shrimp Paste
Sara & Stephanie - Dim Sum "Duo" - Oxtail Rice Wrap with Pork & Shrimp Rice Wrap
Bene & Janine - Fresh Gulf Shrimp with Ginger Vietnamese Tomato Sauce
Stephanie - Coconut Coffee Macaroon with Vietnamese Coffee Flavors

Tom likes Travis's dish, but Gail said there's no balance in the sauce - it's too heavy with fish sauce flavors and it just smacks you in the face. Padma says "But I was happy to be smacked in the face by something." Gail replies "Nice. That's how you like it!" Padma asks if it would have been better with lemongrass, and Eddie wasn't sure.

Sara's oxtail dim sum had good flavor, but Tom didn't like the texture. Another diner said the wrap was good the ground meat was bland. Bene & Janine's shrimp was fried and covered in sauce - Tom said the sauce is too well cooked - it's not a fresh tomato sauce anymore. Padma notes that the rice seems like they oiled the water. Gail said Stephanie's macaroon is what she has every year at her Passover seder - and she really likes the coffee caramel. Eddie said this dessert was the best one.

Tom said overall, some chefs had a better idea of southeast Asian cooking; and others said "OK, I'm going to listen, take something from this, and make it my own or reinterpret the dish", and then finally, some just didn't get it at all.

In the in-between - the cheftestants do a Plank-Off in the Stew Room - and Shirley wins. LOL

Judges Table starts and the TV turns on: Orange Team's beef pho wasn't right, nor was the fish head soup, but Brian's spring roll saved that team. The Red Team - they liked Shirley's shrimp, and Justin's pho nailed the play of anise and ginger. T

he Green Team disappointed the judges. But Stephanie's macaroon was well liked. Eddie thought the pork sausage with dipping sauce was too sharp and over-aggressive in all the flavors since there was no lemongrass. And their red sauce miss was epic. The rice wasn't broken rice - it was shattered rice. Travis said in teh confessional "They didn't get our food at all, but I'm willing to stand behind our dishes." He said in the Stew Room "I'm telling you - it was all straight from central Vietnam."

Padma comes in and asks to see the Red Team - they are the winning team. And Eddie tells them that the winner is :::whooshing camera shots of cheftestants::: Shirley!

The judges ask to see the Green Team - they are the losing team. Sara said it was a heart breaker for them, especially since they they got to cook "our food". And she breaks out crying.

Tom asks how they ended up with a tomato sauce - Travis said he's had it 3x before in central Vietnam. Tom said "But if we went to Paris, and it was a Parisian food challenge, and yes, I'm sure I could find a McDonald's in Paris - but I couldn't take a McDonald's dish and say it was Parisian because I found it in Paris!'

Eddie said "Travis, you had this dish and you picked this dish to make vs. showcasing the other things you had to have seen - the fresh basil, the fresh culantro, fresh mint - I was expect this bouquet!" Tom asked if anyone was nervous making the dish, and Janine said she was, as she's got some experience with Vietnamese flavors, but she's never come across the tomato flavors. Bene's sweet and overcooked tomato sauce was discussed, and Janine's twice-fried shrimp, and Sara's bad rice all took hits. Tom asked why serve the rice? Sara said "We were stupid." Stephanie's macaroon was the only dish that seemed to be OK - liked by Eddie, but not so much by Tom.

The judges deliberate. Tom said on paper this should be a dream team, and they fell apart. The tomato sauce, the rice, and the shrimp were all bashed yet again. Back come the cheftestants; :::whooshing camera shots::: And the chef asked to PTKAG is Janine - her shrimp did her in. Sara is relieved it's not her. Janine heads to LCK.

Previews of LCK, which starts tonight - it'll be Ramon, Jason, Aaron, Bret, and Janine all seek redemption. And previews for next week show Padma's and Gail's Moms in the Top Chef Kitchen, and Lea Michele will be hosting a Halloween costume party.

And now back to the World Series @ 11:30pm - the Red Sox are up 8-1 - and I see the last strikeout of Game 1! A very good night! LOL

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  1. Nina May be right that Mike, aka sideshow Bob, is fake but he definitely has some talent.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Worldwide Diner

      ROFL at "Sideshow Bob"! Damn, that's a good visual, WwD!

      1. re: LindaWhit

        Nina is carrying a grudge against Sideshow Bob. On the other hand, I don't think Bob cares.

        1. re: Worldwide Diner

          I don't think Bob knows. He's too into himself to notice anyone else.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Oh, I agree 100% with that assessment!

    2. I was annoyed that only a few people pronounced "pho" correctly. Grrr.

      1. The irony here is that Huang and Francis Lam, who of course also appears on TC, wrote that fantastic dialog about white chefs and authenticity a few years back. While I have to grant Tom his McDonald's metaphor, I can't see how a tomato sauce in central Vietnam is inauthentic while an Asianized pot-au-feu (pho) is the real deal.

        But then Travis and his tomatoes weren't kicked out, Janine and her poor shrimp were. If everyone hated the rice so bad, that shrimp must have sucked.

        18 Replies
        1. re: ennuisans

          Thanks Linda. You have not failed me. I hope you don't, but I'd understand.

          Looked for LCK on demand, but not yet.

          Wow! Pho is pot-au -feu????? I have never had that, but I have pho almost weekly! The sprouts and herbs like cilantro, basil, and the chili, etc are tasty, but I love freaking out those who might share with the tendons and such.

          Still...it IS about the broth, isn't it?

          1. re: Shrinkrap

            Yep, just like the words "banh mi" are a "mispronunciation" of "pain de mie" - so much French influence in Vietnamese food.

            1. re: mariacarmen

              Not sure about that. Pho literally means powder in Chinese and the Vietnamese uses the term to mean noodles made from rice flour (powder).

              1. re: Phaedrus

                interesting. i'd always heard it as this story talks about it: http://vietworldkitchen.typepad.com/b... and also from Vietnamese people i'd met living in So. Cal. maybe it's a Vietnamese urban myth. it appears there is debate about this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pho

              2. re: mariacarmen

                Also not so sure about banh mi = pain de mie. Yes, the baguette and pate grew from French influence, but banh refers to all kinds of foods made from doughs - noodles, dumplings, crepes, sweets, etc., which is why each food name has a modifier. See list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A1nh

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  I think the word banh in general still could be derived from pain, but since adopted to refer to all things cake-like. But in the case of banh mi = pain de mie specifically, you're probably right. My personal favorite was banh flan.

                  1. re: eggzakly

                    Could be. I'm the furthest thing from a Vietnamese linguist (to understate the case dramatically), but I'd find it interesting to know when banh entered the lexicon.

            2. re: ennuisans

              < If everyone hated the rice so bad, that shrimp must have sucked.> I''m sure it did. Anyone who's ever overcooked shrimp for any reason knows it takes on the texture of a pencil eraser... (yuck). When she "reheated" the shrimp, I knew she was very probably headed for trouble.

              1. re: ChefJune

                Particularly when the other chefs in the kitchen looked askance at her doing that.

              2. re: ennuisans

                I respect the judges but whenever it comes to Asian food, I feel pretty iffy about it. I've had oxtail braised in a tomato lemongrass sauce more than once in Vietnamese restaurants. Maybe Bene's sauce had the wrong flavour but I don't think a tomato-based sauce was wrong or inauthentic. Maybe Tom and Eddie just aren't familiar with it.

                I remember having the same thoughts when Tom criticized Ed Cotton for rubbery skin on a chicken (or duck - can't remember which) in a challenge to make a dish for some international ambassadors and Ed had to make a dish for the Chinese ambassador. The skin is not supposed to be crispy on a Chinese tea-smoked chicken. The ambassador said it was done correctly - I think he said it was just like home. I'm Chinese and I've been eating rubbery-skinned chicken all my life. That's the way it's supposed to be, Tom.

                1. re: chefhound

                  I agree wholeheartedly. The skin on a Peking duck has to be crispy but all the ducks I have ever had growing up Chinese has been soft.

                  1. re: chefhound

                    I think that if the shrimp and tomato sauce dish had been a tasty dish and cooked correctly, Janine would not have been sent PPYKAG, even with tomato in it. Maybe Sarah and the bad rice would have been sent home.

                    1. re: John E.

                      Wasn't the bad rice part of the shrimp dish?

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I think it was, but Sarah seemed to take hit for the rice.

                    2. re: chefhound

                      I have to agree. Vietnam has different regional food traditions, and it seems like they were all judging the food against their experience of Vietnamese food in America, which is overwhelmingly Southern Vietnamese (just as for decades Chinese food in America was overwhelmingly Cantonese). I'll never forget the first time I had a northern Vietnamese dish called "Chả Cá Thăng Long" which had both butter and dill! Dill in an Asian dish? Who knew????

                      I also don't know why they couldn't have gotten an actual Vietnamese chef to judge instead of Eddie Huang. Apparently just being Asian makes you qualified to judge any Asian cuisine.

                      1. re: chefhound

                        If Tom ever went to Singapore to have chicken rice...

                        1. re: fame da lupo

                          He'd take it back to the kitchen and try to crisp up the skin

                      2. re: ennuisans

                        I'm not sure you can really grant Tom his McDonald's metaphor. I was thinking to myself finding a McDonald's in Paris is NOT the same as eating a tomato based dish in central Vietnam, in my mind at least. But Travis certainly was an idiot about it.

                        And I agree with the comment about Shirley's way of talking, not that she can probably help it. Have not seen Eddie Huang's "gangsta rap" persona, that would be funny.

                      3. i'm always amazed that people haven't had Vietnamese food (esp. chefs!), but i grew up in So. Cal. where tons and tons of Vietnamese migrated in the 70s - Westminster, to be exact, which at one time had the largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam. i didn't know there was such a vibrant Viet community in NOLA - makes me want to go even more.

                        i can't believe the green team didn't ask the other team for some lemongrass! although that one ingredient probably wouldn't have saved them. Sara was starting to bug - what gives her the right to take things out of the basket? - but then she volunteered herself as being at fault for the rice.

                        Hey Linda, did they actually say anise with regard to the soup? isn't it supposed to be star anise? i know they're similar but star anise is the one used in Asian cooking, right? certainly in pho....

                        this episode made me very hungry for Vietnamese food. think i'll be having some tomorrow.

                        as usual, thanks for the great write-up!!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mariacarmen

                          That was a definite rewind on my part, mc, as I was a bit backed up in the recap, so I kept rewinding to get what Eddie was saying. Yup - just "anise" was said. But I think they were talking about just the flavorings in the pho - and doesn't star anise give somewhat the same flavoring as anise?

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            yes, they definitely have the same properties. thanks for checking!

                          2. re: mariacarmen

                            "i didn't know there was such a vibrant Viet community in NOLA - makes me want to go even more."

                            It's been said that New Orleans is the closest you could get to having Vietnam in the USA - huge river delta with huge mangrove forests full of fish and shellfish (well, huge once upon a time in both places, unfortunately), teeming business of fisheries, French speaking, Catholic, tropical climate. It was great that TC did this challenge.

                          3. Great write-up LW!

                            Well, the green team, and Travis in particular, certainly got the loser edit. I was kind of surprised that he didn't PYKAG, but Janine really should have known better about the shrimp. The problems in that team were arrogance, ignorance, and plain-old pig-headedness, and I was completely surprised by Sara competing for chief know-it-all with Travis. It's become almost a TC cliche that when someone says that they've "got this," and that something is in their wheelhouse, that they'll land in the bottom group and likely go home, which was why I was kind of surprised by Travis living to cook another day. When making their decision to send Janine home, I guess that they figured an egregious cooking mistake trumped ignorance and arrogance. She can now go up the pretty faction in LCK!

                            1. Fantastic recap, as always. Anyone else look more forward to reading the recap than actually watching the show?

                              Travis, in this episode embodies what drives me crazy about the anglo mindset with regard to anything about other cultures. At the beginning of opening up the Asian market, people in my industry relied on the so-called China hands to smooth the way through alleviating misunderstandings stemming from cultural differences. Most old China hands were British ex-pats working out of Hong Kong. Some were very good, they had integrated themselves within Chinese society and understood the culture very well. And then there were the majority of them who are pretenders, arrogant, condescending, never wrong, and possessed of the imperialist tendency to making things up, rules, customs, stories because they could. Travis is exactly one of those people. Just because you have been in Vietnam three times doesn't make you an expert, just because you have a Vietnamese boyfriend doesn't make you an expert. I felt like he has been flying under the radar the whole time, just surviving, now that he's been outed, so to speak, he is going down.

                              I was really glad to see the Vietnamese theme. I am a bit defensive when it comes to Asian food traditions, I feel like people don't respect the food traditions of Asia because it isn't French or Italian. I loved it when Eddie Huang said that even though the Vietnamese food they had was cheap, it isn't easy, it takes a lot of knowledge and experience to get the flavors that makes up the Vietnamese taste. While I enjoy the application of French techniques to Asian dishes, I am a little dismayed that we have not seen Asian techniques incorporated into Western cuisines. Hopefully this will evolve over time, but I feel like there is a cultural snobbishness involved.

                              I see Patti and I see one lucky gal, she got put on a pretty decent team and she coasted on their backs.

                              Sara got to me when she started the Quien Es Mas Macho game with Travis.

                              Very happy to see that even though she got stuck on the green team that Stephanie's dish was the sole highpoint for the team.

                              Felt very bad for Janine, but she messed up.

                              39 Replies
                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                I would LOVE for Eddie or Emeril to respond via blog to Travis's two comments:

                                "no offense to Eddie or Emeril, but I could give *them* a crash course in Vietnamese cuisine."


                                "Eddie is Taiwanese/Chinese - he only knows a little bit of what he knows. Sorry Eddie - you're kind of a douchebag."

                                WHY in God's name would he say either of those comments? You hand the editors a douchebag line, you KNOW it's going to be included - especially when you're dissing two of the judges.

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  "Eddie is Taiwanese/Chinese - he only knows a little bit of what he knows . . ."

                                  I found that line very interesting. And it certainly made him look more like the douchebag.

                                  But it did make me think, their expert on Vietnamese cuisine wasn't Vietnamese - but he was Asian. Does being Asian give him more credibility or is non-Vietnamese non-Vietnamese regardless of what the "non" is made up of?

                                  If your mother-in-law is an "off the boat" immigrant and makes a tomato based dish which she's made her whole life in Vietnam, who is Tom to say "just because you had it in Vietnam doesn't make it Vietnamese" (paraphrased from what I remember) . . . .

                                  I find how one makes that judgement call very interesting - I'm not sure how I feel about that whole exchange.

                                  1. re: thimes

                                    Meanwhile, Chinese chef Shirley was worried about failing an "Asian" challenge even though the cuisines are barely similar if at all. What fun this is!

                                    1. re: ennuisans

                                      Yes, I think Hugh touches on this in his blog:

                                      "Is it just me or is it strange that Shirley tells us she will feel bad going home today, “especially cause I am Chinese.” I don’t think it would be heresy for me, as a kid from Ottawa, to go home on a Oaxacan cooking challenge, why should she feel the cultural need to represent an entire continent which comprises hundreds of cuisines? Weird. "

                                      1. re: gaffk

                                        Remember, Shirley is a ninja chef, or was it shadow chef?

                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                          You're right . . .Shirley *is* the shadow chef.

                                        2. re: ennuisans

                                          Vietnamese cuisine is definitely influenced by Chinese cooking (Cantonese).

                                        3. re: thimes

                                          Well, Eddie is a connoisseur of all cuisines. Read his autobiography and you will see what I mean. I am Chinese and I can tell you what I like about Korean, Japanese, Vienamese, and Thai cuisines, but there is no way I can give you a cogent analysis, Eddie can, he is a student of the cuisines.

                                          The only slight advantage I have over the average anglo is that the Vietnamese cuisine evolved from the Chinese tradition so there are common elements and basic tastes that are similar.

                                          1. re: thimes

                                            Hugh takes some shots at Eddie in his blog, which is up. Link is below.


                                            1. re: JonDough

                                              Loved this line from Hugh:

                                              "Eddie is the TV "sensation" and "chef" of such restaurants as Baohaus and Xiao Ye. He is known to be a proponent of rap, smoking weed, Four Loko, brightly-colored clothing, and well, he hates me. This should be fun."

                                              1. re: gaffk

                                                I hate to agree with Travis, but I also think Eddie Huang is kind of a douche. Although I have to give him credit for not doing his foul-mouth "I'm a hip Asian dude" schtick on Top Chef!

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  I'm going to reluctantly agree with you that Eddie Huang should get some credit for not doing his gangsta schtick on the show. I loathe his stupid hip hop persona and I'm glad he didn't really show it on this episode.

                                                  I really wholeheartedly despised his recaps of Top Chef Masters on Eater. They were so convoluted and full of incomprehensible nonsense that I was completely turned off. They were an insult to the Masters who deserved much more respect than to be recapped by this guy.

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    He did make that comment about "janky" and "ratchet" Asian desserts. That was def in line with the persona he presents in his (in my opinion) insufferable autobiography.

                                                    1. re: djquinnc

                                                      I haven't read it but insufferable is the right word to describe him

                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                              "Sorry Eddie - you're kind of a douchebag."

                                              Having watched Eddie on various shows, subscribed to his blog, and read his articles on this site (of which he never finished his series, unfortunately), I find him to be very entertaining... And a TOTAL DOUCHEBAG! But I don't hold that against him :-)

                                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                Perhaps, but it also doesn't make Travis any less a douchebag for saying so.

                                                If the Green Team won? He'd have more of a leg to stand on. As it was, he was teetering on the edge of douchebaggery for calling someone else out about being a douchebag when he couldn't put up a dish that at least helped keep his group out of the bottom.

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  I didn't say Travis wasn't a douchebag. Oh and also, he's not entertaining. Eddie has it all over him. Even when he's pretending to be a hardcore gangsta.

                                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                    No, I know you didn't. But I did. :-)

                                            3. re: Phaedrus

                                              Travis is your typical Asiaphile with the snotty attitude of a 20 something who has yet to be humbled. If this experience wasn't humbling for him then I'm not sure what would. I don't know how old he is but he seems young. He will probably only date Asian men for the rest of his life and know their culture better than them. I worked with a guy who insisted on eating everything with a chopstick. He even ate curry with a chopstick. As his co-workers (all of us Asian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean) kind of looked on with humor. Ironically he was from somewhere no one has ever heard of in Missouri and most of them are always from some remote American areas.

                                              1. re: trolley

                                                Remembering now a co-worker who wanted to impress us about his world travels by ordering nothing but a big plate of fried rice and eating it with chopsticks. Because that's the way it's done, don't you know.

                                                I've gone through phases like that (and am from Missouri) but now I eat my grocery store sushi with my hands and my cashew chicken with a damn fork. "Authenticity" is a treacherous path to go down.

                                                1. re: ennuisans


                                                  I like to eat Asian food with chopsticks because it forces me to eat slower....

                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    I just like eating with chopsticks . . . growing up my Dad would eat almost anything with chopsticks (salads, pasta, anything) - I'm afraid to admit it has rubbed off.

                                                    1. re: thimes

                                                      in japan we eat curry rice with a spoon, not with a chopstick. and for the record people thailand always use spoons. they were the only ones who weren't taken over by the chinese or so my thai boss told me.

                                                      there's a difference between someone who uses chopsticks for everything for whatever various reasons versus an asiaphile who uses chopsticks for everything just to prove a point :)

                                                      1. re: thimes

                                                        I use chopsticks whenever I need to, i.e. when I want to pick something up from a communal dish, but I prefer to eat with a fork or spoon. The deal is, I grew up using chopsticks and my manual dexterity as a kid was pretty poor. Most kids re-learn using chopsticks when their hands are stronger and can actually use it the right way, I never did so everyone thinks I have a really strange way of grasping them.

                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                          Well I feel better now. My own grip is so bad that even after maybe 10 years of using them, a server once stopped and asked if I needed help learning. It's too much of a pencil-grip for anything more delicate than grub-grabbing.

                                                  2. re: trolley

                                                    What makes anyone think that just because your boyfriend is Vietnamese and you visited Vietnam and ate something while you are there - that you are an expert in Vietnamese cuisine?

                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                      What if his boyfriend's Vietnamese grandmother was a crappy cook?

                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                        i was born and raised in japan but i don't even i would be considered an expert. just bc i'm japanese that doesn't automatically make me an expert. on to John E's point, what if they boyfriend and grandma sucked at cooking? my little cousin is a good example of that. he loves sapporo ramen and hamburger. he'll eat everything else but if it were up to him, it would be cup o' noodles everyday. just bc he's japanese and lives in kyoto, i would never identify him with an expert title of any cuisine maybe except for instant foods.

                                                        1. re: chicgail

                                                          At what point do you get to fairly call yourself an expert? Do we know how long he lived in Vietnam, what food he cooks professionally, etc? Just because he's NOT Vietnamese doesn't seem to be a fair reason to say he can't be an expert in that cuisine. I mean, Emeril ain't from New Orleans, but we consider him an expert in that cuisine, right?

                                                          I'm not saying Travis is an expert, just that I see lots of posts dismissing him as one, posts that I'm not sure are fair. Of course, even if he is an expert, his choice was dumb. Because even if that dish was authentic and Tom's McDonald's comment way off base, know your audience. The judges know "Vietnamese" food and are looking for that; they won't recognize a more obscure type of Vietnamese and you are the one who is going to get dinged for it.

                                                          1. re: LurkerDan

                                                            I think the judges know the sort of Vietnamese food you get in the US. I wonder how many of them have visited the country?

                                                            But I don't think it was a good idea choosing something that your audience can't identify with, no matter how authentic it was intended to be.

                                                            1. re: hal2010

                                                              I think that's why LurkerDan put "Vietnamese" food in quotation marks!

                                                        2. re: trolley

                                                          He actually ate with one chopstick?

                                                          No wonder everyone was staring at him!

                                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                                            sorry, english is my second language and literal translations happen from time to time. hashi or ohashi is singular in japanese.

                                                            1. re: trolley

                                                              That's ok!

                                                              I was laughing in my head about eating with a single chopstick. Sorta like eating off a knife.

                                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                True Zen masters eat with no chopsticks.

                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                    What is the sound of eating with one chopstick?

                                                        3. Louis, Travis, Patty, and Bene seems like they're outclassed. Louis is a nice guy but he seems to always suck. I'm not sure what to make of some one who declares he would only date Asian guy. In the old days, straight white men would date Asian women because of perceived submissiveness and some physical attributes.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                            Louis is sucking, but it's hard to describe him as "out-classed" because he's got a really solid, high-end background. As we've seen before (including on Top Chef Masters), some really skilled/talented chefs just don't do well in the competitive environment. It will be interesting to see if he continues to suck if they have some more fine-dining style challenges. The others really do seem to be outclassed.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              It also takes some chefs a while to hit their stride. At this point in Season 5, I would never have guessed that Carla was going to almost win.

                                                              1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                There's certainly a learning curve in dealing with these challenges. In a real professional cooking setting, you have a chance to experiment and tweak a dish and practice preparing it before you put it on a menu, and once on the menu, you have a staff to help prep and the opportunity to taste it before you serve it and refire it if necessary.

                                                                For Top Chef you have to develop a set of no-fail fall back techniques and flavor profiles that you can then adapt to the parameters of a challenge. With Top Chef Masters, we've seen that on numerous occasions even "Masters" fail to execute their dishes within the time constraints. In other words, doing well at Top Chef challenges -- especially quickfires -- may have very little to do with how well you cook in a restaurant.

                                                          2. Not a spoiler of LCK but during LCK Jason cuts a fillet out of fish and then throws away the rest of the fish. This kind of waste disgusts me. I will wait for more people to watch it before I make any more comments.

                                                            33 Replies
                                                            1. re: JonDough

                                                              Haven't seen the LCK, but that was in the preview after TC.

                                                              1. re: JonDough

                                                                I couldn't find LCK. Can anyone provide a link?

                                                                  1. re: JonDough

                                                                    thank you!

                                                                    Just watched it. Delighted with the winner.

                                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                                      Just watched it as well, and VERY glad to see who won the first LCK!

                                                                      There is a thread for the LCK eps as well:


                                                                    2. re: JonDough

                                                                      I wish they'd turn the lights up!

                                                                  2. re: JonDough

                                                                    I *thought* I saw that; then thought it must have just been skin or bones. That disgusts me as well. I think half the time what I make for dinner is heavily influenced by the left-over ingredients from a previous meal.

                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                      Unfortunately, when they're cooking for challenges it's not as if they can save something and use it in the next one the way you would at home, or even in a restaurant. I did like the Top Chef Masters challenge where they had to make a dish using what their sous chefs had left over from the sous chef challenge.

                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        It pains me a little to give 'he who should remain nameless' any credit, but in TC8 when Tom prepared a fish dish in something like 7-1/2 minutes and the contestants had that much time to prepare a dish, Marcel went for Tom's leftover fish carcass while everyone else went for the pantry. Tom only cut off one portion from his fish and it saved time.

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          Way to keep alive "he who shall remain nameless" ;)

                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                            What I don't understand is why these chefs don't do independent research before shopping. I'm all for putting a personal touch on another culture's cuisine, but the basics need to be covered.

                                                                            For the record, I had a soup with blood cubes and tofu puffs in Saigon that definitely made use of well-cooked tomato. So does the sour fish soup with pineapple and tamarind. I've also had beef stews that call for annatto, tomato and beer. The question to me is: why reach for lesser known dishes when so many fresh and delicious options and their variations are more familiar to American eaters? Herbs, sprouts, lemongrass, galangal, chiles, citrus, fish sauce, black pepper, ginger, star anise, coriander. Very few of the dishes put out by the chefs really highlighted these ingredients.

                                                                            I was shocked that nobody did a riff on the ubiquitous shrimp paste on sugarcane appetizer.

                                                                            1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                              I agree with you. I wonder how much of it is unfamiliarity with Vietnamese cooking. I live in the Twin Cities and while we no longer are near the top of the Vietnamese populations in the U.S., at one time we were second only to LA. Consequently, we have quite a few Vietnamese restaurants. I have only been to a few of them, but I think I may have been more familiar with the cuisine than some of those chefs.

                                                                              I remember when a lot of Vietnamese students began attending my school starting as early as 1976. Lutheran Social Services sponsored a lot of refugees and brought them to Minnesota. The succeeding generations seemed to have moved away to warmer climates however.

                                                                              1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                They don't have access to any research materials: no cookbooks, no internet access, etc. That's one reason they have them all living in the same house: to cut-off their access to outside sources. I remember there was a big to-do about the fact that someone on Project Runway had a pattern book -- he was disqualified.

                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                  I bet there is a rule saying they cannot go to the magazine rack in the store and look for information and/or recipes. I also think they mostly wouldn't have time to do that anyway.

                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                    I wonder how they enforce all this these days w/ smart phones. Honor system?

                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                      No phones. That's why they make a big deal about being allowed to phone home -- they have to go through production to get access to a phone and be monitored.


                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                        Ah! Thanks, everyone. I was unaware of the strict "no access" to reference materials. I only just started watching TC last season. I have also seen a season of TC Canada. It never occurred to me that when they're using their phones, they have to have permission. I DO recall Canadian contestants being allowed sanctioned time each on an iPad to research, occasionally. I guess I just didn't click in that they were never allowed to use their own devices for anything but calls home.

                                                                                        1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                          They actually have to give up their phones. I don't know if they give them their phones back when they want to call home, or whether they have to use equipment provided by the show. According to one of the articles I linked, they also have to surrender their wallet and license. I would guess that the former is to keep them from buying things outside the budget they've been given or that aren't authorized. I have no idea why they would have to give up their license, except that it might give away their identity if someone sees it while they're being sequestered.

                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                            I assume they use another phone to make calls since the wife seemed so surprised that it was her husband calling and would have recognized the number otherwise.

                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                              From the variety of cell phones used by the contestants, it would appear they are using their own phones. I wonder if they let the PPYKAG contestants get to watch TV, movies, read newspapers, etc. I recall reading somewhere that Jenn Carroll (TC 6) and Elia Aboumrad (TC 2) developed a friendship on TC 8. Of course, they had a lot of time together as they were the first two contestants booted out.

                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                The chefs that are still competing don't get TV. I think they don't get newspapers, either. The interviews I've seen they all talk about being really cut off from the world.

                                                                                                I think I remember that in the Top Chef ambassador's challenge they were allowed to do some research.

                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                  I realize those who are still competing get nothing. That's why we see them writing in notebooks. If it were me, I'd memorize a bunch of stuff and then as soon as I got time I would write down all I could remember about ratios and at least dessert recipes.

                                                                                                2. re: John E.

                                                                                                  They could be using a PA or producer cell phone, not necessarily one that belongs to the production itself, which is what I assumed.

                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                    I assumed it was their own phone because it seemed that they were all different types of phones, but you're correct, the production people would not all have the same kind of cell phone either. I think the one we saw in this episode looked like a flip phone.

                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                      I'd always thought the phones were just another product placement...

                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                        If it was my product placement, I'd want my money back!

                                                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                          I was thinking it was set up for future product placements. In some reality shows, they have the video conferencing w/ loved ones front and center.

                                                                                                3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                  Except that one of them is *usually* driving the Toyota Venza SUV, so they have to give the licenses back on occasion.

                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                    But in past seasons at least they've had to drive!

                                                                                                  2. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                                                    I have watched TC Canada and I vaguely remember the episode where they got to use the iPads for research purposes for about 10 minutes before they were taken away. I don't recall what the food was they were researching, but I do remember some not really getting much done in their research.

                                                                                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                        sure, but there seemed to be room to just set it aside instead of throwing it in a trashcan with who knows what else. I imagine that if it was left on the workstation, *some* camera person or what not would be happy to take it home.

                                                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                                                          Those filming days are really long, and perishables often sit out for too long. The crew is doing its job, not packing up leftovers and stowing them for later.

                                                                                          Although it apparently doesn't all go to waste: http://www.seattlemet.com/eat-and-dri...

                                                                                          "When you see something like a quick-fire challenge, they walk in, and there’s this big table piled high with various proteins, vegetables, etc. We would buy all that food and create the table. Subsequently [the contestants] didn’t use most of the best products. Since these challenges were often weeks apart, we would take any leftover product that would have spoiled back to the hotel and have dinner parties. For me that was one of the best perks; we’d go back to our hotel and eat caviar and foie and lobster. At the end of the day, we’d have to throw a lot of product away because it sat too long during filming. We always made sure the caviar was saved. Sometimes after filming, we’d be in the Top Chef kitchen cooking stuff up and take it all over to the hotel, have the lighting guys over, the camera guys. There are many different personalities on set. I met some really cool, interesting people."

                                                                                  2. There is something about Shirley that I find grating. She's obviously very skilled but when she talks, it's like nails on a chalk board. Travis is annoying, maybe because I've met too many heterosexual versions of him.

                                                                                    Other than them, I'm really liking a lot of the chefs this season.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                      As always, there seem to be a few contestants who are just getting by and have not shown us any particularly outstanding cooking.

                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                        I thought Sara came off bad on this episode.

                                                                                        1. re: JAB

                                                                                          I thought she came off much better than Travis. I don't buy that she put the lemongrass back, as suggested. I'm guessing it was just misplaced. What I don't like about Sara is petty--it seems like she's trying too hard to be that hipster 50's housewife.

                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                            I had already had negative feelings about Travis from the 1st episode so no change for me here. This was however the 1st time that I saw Sara in a negative light.

                                                                                      2. Bene just seems lost. Someone could tell him he should boil his socks and serve them to the judges and he'd think about it.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: hal2010

                                                                                          He reminds me of a deer in the headlights.

                                                                                        2. Damn you to hell On Demand! They didn't have this episode available but, they did have LCK available which meant that I now know who got told to PYKGH without having had the opportunity to watch this episode.

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: JAB

                                                                                            yeah, same thing happened to me. Annoying. But that meant I could go ahead and read Linda's recap, which has it's own advantages for when I eventually get a chance to watch the episode.

                                                                                            1. re: JAB

                                                                                              JAB, I'm pretty sure that you won't be able to see this episode On Demand until AFTER next week's episode has aired. I think that's the way they work.

                                                                                              They claim to have "full episodes" on the Bravo site, but when you pull the pop-down menu to "Full Episodes", nothing happens. Nor could I find them in a quick scroll.....just previews.

                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                nah, they usually have it up sometime on Friday or Saturday after it airs. Certainly by Saturday morning. I always hope for earlier, but that's typical. I wish they were a bit more predictable though.

                                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                  Ahhh, I thought they used to wait until they re-aired it in the 9 o'clock hour the following week just prior to the new episode. Then again, they're not doing that this season (yet) because the Millionaire Mansion Sellers or some such show is on before TC-NOLA.

                                                                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                    Yes, they're very inconsistent as to when they're available and whether they're available in HD or not. Odd.

                                                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    I watched it today via On Demand

                                                                                                    Past seasons it was sometimes up the next day.

                                                                                                2. Travis was right! The traditional Vietnamese tomato sauce dish is named sot ca chua.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                    i wonder if they executed it properly.... if it had "tasted Vietnamese" instead of Italian, i wonder if that would have sold the judges...?

                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                      I think if it had tasted good, they seem to overlook everything, including whether it followed the rules or not.

                                                                                                  2. Special thanks to Linda for being in Boston and changing channels away from the Red Sox to recap Top Chef. You really have to be from Boston to truly understand.

                                                                                                    Once in awhile something is prepared on Top Chef that I can cook very well at home. On rare occasions said dish is blown as in last season's undercooked turkey. Had that cheftestant not had immunity, she would have been sent packing. This episode, rice. I can cook rice. I can't say I'm "good" at cooking rice because there's only good or bad - no in between. Shrimp, on the other hand? Yeah, I can mess up shrimp. You blow rice, plain old RICE, you should be packing your knives.

                                                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                      Agree totally. Sorry Linda had to miss part of game one rather than last night's loss. Big thank-you Linda!

                                                                                                      1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                        My coworker (who was at BOTH games) said last night was more exciting - except that the Sox lost. I'll just have to take his word for it SINCE I WASN'T AT EITHER GAME! ;-)

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                          Sad face. :( Thanks for taking one for ...the team.

                                                                                                        2. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                          She didn't have to miss part of the game. She could have watched Top Chef, dvr the game and watch it after Top Chef. We watch the Texans on a hour plus delay every week.

                                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                            Breaking news, World Series game 6 is on Wednesday night, if the series lasts that long.

                                                                                                            1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                              James, I recap while the show is happening. No way I would stay up to watch the game in its entirety after TC recapping was done.

                                                                                                              So if the recap was going to be written (by me), yeah, I had to miss the portion of the WS game from 10:00 p.m. until I was done writing up the recap (which was about 11:25 p.m.). I'm OK with that.

                                                                                                          2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                            I agree ... props to Linda. I'm a Rangers fan and watched game one. (Go Sox. Sniffle.)

                                                                                                            Can Alzheimer's kick in at 46? I came to read this recap and can only picture two faces with the names (Nina and Firehouse Bob. Okay, one.)

                                                                                                            I'm ready for things to pare down the next few weeks and for the group challenges to end. Then I can remember their names and back-stories. Maybe I'm not paying close enough attention, but for me, TC really kicks into high gear when it gets to the top 8/9-ish.

                                                                                                            This episode sounds good, though, so I'll catch it Sunday morning.

                                                                                                            1. re: KrumTx

                                                                                                              I'm going to just say it....Nina is black....I think that makes her easy to remember. There. I said it.

                                                                                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                It's true I don't confuse her with the dishwater blondes -- all blonde chefs look alike to me. ;-)

                                                                                                                But also, she's stood out because she has done very well in the beginning. I also remember Carrie, for the same reason.

                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                  Absolutely awesome when you are recognized for both!

                                                                                                                  Go Nina!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                    I agree, I can't tell the blondes apart either

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                      I remember Nina and Carrie from doing well. In the first episode, I'd forget who was Nina and who was Patty because they're both from the islands but they soon distinguished themselves by performance! I also mixed up Aaron and Louis because they're balding, short haired bearded men.

                                                                                                                      At this point, there are probably half a dozen contestants I can't easily identify and have to try to remember who they are and what they've done in the past.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                      Nina is easy to remember although to me she is Saloosha.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                          Lol. I had no idea where Saloosha was, either.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                            The increased the total number of contestants and we really do not get a true sense of the personalities of the contestants because each contestant has so little camera time. Early on half the time we didnt even see all the dishes. It really makes the overall series less interesting. I didn't mind the concentration of Vietnamese because it really has been an influence on New Orleans in the last part of the 20th century (had a roommate in college whose father ended up in NO who was from Laos.. ). And I think the point about the cuisine being difficult to cook well was born out by how poorly most of the people prepared dishes. Trying to make Pho in 2 hours is insane given that the development of the broth is usually a 6-12 hour process not two. But this season overall has been a disappointment. Also do not like the fact that Collicchio appears to be taking a back seat at least early on. Maybe that is because NO is really Emerils city.. but still he is a compelling personality that makes the show flow a lot better than Emeril does.

                                                                                                                    3. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                      Historically, they seem to be harder on bad proteins.

                                                                                                                        1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                          I have never seen those before - they are very clever.

                                                                                                                          1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                            Love Eddie's comment to Bene in the comic. :D

                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                              Poor Bene. You'd have thought that his experience as Sous on TCM would have better prepared him for this. But as others have noted, he just looks lost.

                                                                                                                          2. Anyone want to chime in and tell me if this season has gotten off to a good/promising start? Considering coming back to TC...

                                                                                                                            35 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                              No. It`s the worst yet. Boring contestants and contrived challenges. Nothing really there except for a cute girl from Iowa and last week was supposed to be a SE Asian challenge, which would have been interesting if any of the contestants had a clue. This crowd seems like a pack of line cooks from Hooters with a couple of "fine dining" chefs tossed in for good measure.

                                                                                                                              1. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                                hal2010, your hyperbole is showing. It's most certainly NOT the worst. That is still held by TC5 with Hosea as the winner....ETA: when it came down to the interpersonal drama between the cheftestants. Although TC2 with Ilan and Marcel certainly could give TC5 a run for its money in that regard.

                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                  I would say worst as far as "contrived contests" that can only be held by Texas. What a ridiculous season that was.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                    True that, DGresh, I'll give you that - Texas was the tipping point for the contrived contests, and I think they realized they needed to get back to the food. (I've amended my reply to hal2010 with TC5 being the worst as it related to interpersonal drama.)

                                                                                                                                    For NOLA, I'm not sure how hal2010 can call the 4 episodes (so far) "contrived":

                                                                                                                                    Ep 1 - Preparing alligator, frog legs, or turtle in a swamp? OK, perhaps the location was contrived. But the three main ingredients are certainly representative of often-used meats for dishes that are often enjoyed in NOLA.

                                                                                                                                    Ep 2 - Working food trucks for Habitat for Humanity rebuilders.

                                                                                                                                    Ep 3 - Replicating classic Commander's Palace dishes.

                                                                                                                                    Ep 4 - Creating Vietnamese-inspired dishes due to the Vietnamese influence on the shrimping industry in NOLA.

                                                                                                                                    Part of the show *does* show off the city they're in. I think they've done a good job of that. Quite frankly, if they were in the TC kitchen for every episode? I'd find it quite boring. And I suspect there would be many who would be screaming "They're in NOLA! Why aren't they showing off the city?"

                                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                      I agree. Texas was the worst season, hands down, from the ridiculous group challenges to the mean girls taking over all the air time. It's what made last season so refreshing. As annoying as Firehouse Bob may be, he pales in comparison to the Texas season's girls.

                                                                                                                                      As hard as it was to see Hosea win TC5, that season had Stefan, and I loved that guy. Sigh....

                                                                                                                                      Overall, I'm enjoying this season. It'll be better when my brain can remember their names.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                          That was my question too, until I think I figured out it is a riff on the reference to "Sideshow Bob" which was a reference to Michael Sichel, one of the New Orleans chefs in the competition. He is the one with the dark, sort of wild hair. It seems that in the upcoming episode he is either hitting on or just annoying to Nina Compton. My bet is the latter.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: KrumTx

                                                                                                                                          remember the bicycle challenge? ULTIMATE FAIL in reality TV.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                              And the skiing challenge?

                                                                                                                                              And the ice pick challenge?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                                                                No, no, no, the real housewives challenge!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                  That was terrible. Clueless waste of good air posing and pretending and judging chefs. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                    They damn near lost me with that one.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                                                                  oh no! the ice pick skiing combo. that was a painful season with beverly and the bully lady.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                                                                    And never mind that Working with Heather Terhune challenge!

                                                                                                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                              You have it that bad for Hosea? ;>) The Dallas year was the worst by far.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                Paul was its only saving grace. Dramatically better chef than Hosea, and a very understated personality.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                                  No doubt. He rose above that season much to his credit.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                  I disliked the romantical bullshit between Leah and Hosea. I didn't want to see the overload on the personal stuff in the house. I wanted to see the cooking and competitions.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                    In addition to that, they would show odd dysfunctions in the house, eg. Robin and Eli's interactions. I don't care to see that type of drama.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                      Top Chef 5 was the first time I had seen the program so I didn't know what to expect. I actually was on Hosea's side during much of the competition, I was annoyed by Stefan's arrogance and was not charmed by Fabio. The American vs. the Europeans vibe was what made me hope for Hosea to do well. Something about Carla bugged me back then as well, the whole 'hootie hoo' thing was annoying. In the finale, I think Hosea did beat Stefan even though Stefan was clearly the better chef. Over the years my attitude changed so that I do like Stefan, Fabio, and Carla as chefs/TV personalities. I wonder what my attitude would have been if I had seen Top Chef from the beginning?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                        Carla is just a media who're. I hate people who aspire to d list celebrities.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                          I have not seen her show up recently, except on some animated TV commercial for some nondescript food product. If it were a really good commercial, I would remember it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                            The one where she and Rocco DiSpirito's heads are superimposed on kids' bodies? They look like humongous bobbleheads. LOL

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                            D list celebrity is both much better paying and much easier work than cooking. It's a good gig if you can get it.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                I followed Carla on Twitter until very recently, after I saw the Kraft commercial with Rocco, talk about jumping the shark, Yikes!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                  Mr Wiggles might have something to say about that.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                did you have to bring up the hosea/leah romantical stuff? OY!

                                                                                                                                                          3. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                                                            I have to disagree hal. Texas was the worst season with the most contrived challenges and meaningless inter-chef drama. Some chefs are clearly outclassed (I'm looking at you Bene and Patty) but others are obviously skilled and have been Beard nominees. I must admit, the Michelin-starred guy doesn't impress me, but I think that's because he apparently is uncomfortable with any cuisine that's not Mexican.

                                                                                                                                                          4. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                                            I think they're still in the weeding process but there are quite a few chefs who are putting out good interesting food. I like that they're not doing those stupid challenges, like the bow hunting, ice block chipping and it's mostly about cooking. They've also taken out the background drama, thankfully. They show a few good clips of the chefs hanging out, which is fun, but nothing more than a quick scene.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                              Just got around to seeing this last episode and, for the first time, I was really puzzled by the judging. I get it that the shrimp were poorly cooked, and maybe that tomato sauce didn't taste good, but attacking the guy for making a tomato-based sauce on a Vietnamese simply shows the ignorance of the judges. Spicy tomato sauce is pretty common: made Vietnamese way with lime, fish sauce, thai chiles, a bit of palm sugar, etc. Nothing "unVietnamese" about it. Maybe their version was crappy but this is the first time I've seen Tom attack a chef for the wrong reason.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                                                didn't Tom mention earlier in the episode that it wasn't the tomatoes, but rather how long they cooked down? I can kind of understand where he is coming from if it started to taste like a pasta sauce rather than something with the fresh flavor of tomatoes...

                                                                                                                                                          5. Marcel and Spike are taking on Zakarian and Guarnaschelli in a "grudge match" on Iron Chef . Season 12, episode 2. I thought I saw Nayesha, too, yes; she is a sou chef. Some sort of Halloween challenge.

                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                              Nayesha a Sou to Marcel and Spike? She's a giver.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                I probably won't be tuning in. I don't have a positive attitude about any of those chefs and am ambivalent about Nayesha.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                  Not to go too far off topic but I just caught the last part of Michael Voltaggio vs Flay on Iron Chef. Don't know if it was recent but I think Michael should have won. Flay made some pretty uninspired food. The judges didn't even give Voltaggio higher scores for creativity and presentation. The whole thing seems fixed. No way Spike and Marcel can win.

                                                                                                                                                                2. I LOVE that Shirley talked to the fisherman's wives.

                                                                                                                                                                  Because you know, they're bringing home shrimp everyday, these gals have figured out how to cook it for their past and present cultures. Butter it is!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Linda, I just realized that you have a dilemma this Wednesday night. I sympathize. Totally.

                                                                                                                                                                    Hounds, she's got a World Series home team potential win vs.TC. Maybe an encouraging vote to skip a week is needed?

                                                                                                                                                                    I say baseball game. Possibly someone could make arrangements to pick up any overlap time between the end of the game and the starting minutes of TC? Of course, I assume regarding the win. [Sorry, St. L. fams!]

                                                                                                                                                                    Best regards,

                                                                                                                                                                    Former Bostonian

                                                                                                                                                                    37 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                                                                      Of course it's baseball game. Has to be. We'll still be here Linda. :)

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                                                                        I agree. It has to be baseball!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                                          Nope, I believe LW is contractually obligated to recap TC, just as I am obligated to read it before I watch the episode ;)

                                                                                                                                                                          Just kidding . . .watch the game Linda and then celebrate with your fellow Bostonians when the Flying Hawaiian gets the game-winning hit. (Sorry, I'm from Philly and have to root for my favorite former Phil).

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                            Or, that former Minnesota Twin, Big Papi, could get the game-winning hit. (He certainly wasn't Big Papi while he was a Twin.)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                              I got his autograph on my Twins hat (I think I might have told you 20 or 30 times that Harmon was my neighbor growing up) and on a Sox hat. He was also briefly my boss' next door neighbor in Newton, MA

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                                                                                                I once rode in an elevator with Kirby and Tanya Pucket. That was before she found out for sure what a tool he was. Puckett held the door for me as we exited the elevator.

                                                                                                                                                                                (Did you live in Bloomington or Edina?)

                                                                                                                                                                                4 - 0 Things are looking good for the Sox.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                Or, that former Ranger - Mike Napoli - could have a walk-off grand slam. He was a beast in Texas. Was sad to see him go.

                                                                                                                                                                                I'll be channel-flipping between TC and the game, wearing out the 'Previous' button on the remote. It's a nice, stormy night - perfect for hitting the couch.

                                                                                                                                                                                Good luck, Linda!

                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: gaffk

                                                                                                                                                                                Contract, huh? Would that be like a baseball contract? You know - those "I play for the love of the game only" type of contracts. :-P

                                                                                                                                                                                I'm watching pre-show. I expect I'll switch over to TC at 10 p.m. Keep in mind, folks - I'm not a rabid fan. Just like when the hometown team(s) are in their respective Big Shows. :-) And the 2013 Sox have been an amazing team.

                                                                                                                                                                                Now - if my coworker (who got yet ANOTHER set of tickets from his MLB-employed brother) had offered me his other ticket? You all would SO be on your own tonight! LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, you have a "love of TC" contract . . . and I'm holding you to it.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                                                                            We could just do the thread without the recap in deference to this importance of the game to LW! If she feels it's necessary, she can come back and do the recap later, and maybe the mods will insert it into the header of the thread...

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                  I say tag-team recap for those of us who aren't baseball fans (no disrespect...I'd expect you people to do the same for me in the event of a Superbowl/Top Chef conflict). Those of us watching in real-time add details (and perhaps necessary snark) as they happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Could be fun...

                                                                                                                                                                                  Alternatively, I'll step up and volunteer to take the reigns this week. Although I doubt I can pull off a recap as detailed and snark-free as LW does...I'm willing to do what I can.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                                      DAMMIT! I guess it would be hard for those watching the west-coast feed to participate. Ah, well.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks all. I'm still debating. I'll be watching the game up to just a few minutes before 10pm EDT (still can't believe I'm typing "Eastern Daylight Time" but that'll change this coming weekend). I guess it depends on how far along they're in the innings and what the score is. I might need the respite of recapping if the game is driving me crazy. :D

                                                                                                                                                                                  The 2004 WS win was the Big One. Although winning at home will also be big, since it's been almost 100 years since the Sox have done so.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                    If Linda doesn't have a DVR we should pitch in a buy one for her. :)


                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                      As I've previously said, I *have* a DVR, JB. I just don't want to stay up until all hours of the early morning recapping the show after watching the game. :D

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                        Don't feel any guilt at all if you decide to do the recap Thursday. If the game is exciting, skip the recap. If the Sox appear that they are going to win the series tomorrow night, if it were me, I'd watch the game and do the recap the next evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Let me understand this correctly ... there is baseball in October?


                                                                                                                                                                                          confused in Philadelphia

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cwdonald

                                                                                                                                                                                            Now, now cwd. Today is the fifth anniversary of the Phils' win. That they immediately fell back to obscurity is just the Philly way.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cwdonald

                                                                                                                                                                                              Don't be silly. Of course there isn't. Anyone here in Seattle can tell you that. Yeesh.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                            Hmm, then maybe we can get you an expanded cable package that runs Top Chef at an earlier hour?

                                                                                                                                                                                            A few seasons ago our cable provider was running an East coast feed and then later the West coast feed. Was great for me as I could watch at 6 or 7pm instead of 10pm, which is really to late for me on a school night.


                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                              By tomorrow night? ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                              And what would that be - Atlantic Ocean Time?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                It would have to be when the show is aired in the Azores. :o)

                                                                                                                                                                                                By tomorrow night is a tall request, but I'll get the elves working on it.


                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh wait - fly me to the Azores and it's a DEAL! ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                                Pretty sure Bravo has only the two feeds, East and West, so I *think* this only works if you live on the West Coast. When I remember, I sometimes watch on the DirecTV at 7 pm, but usually I just watch the correct feed on the cable at 10 here on the left coast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                If you live in the East, watching the "wrong" feed just means it's on three hours *later*.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess I'll cancel that ticket to the Azores I was about to buy for Linda.


                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ok, now going way OT. Because of this little thread I've gone to google earth and done some searching for Azores. My god they are beautiful. I remember Bourdain did a show about it, but I don't remember it being so amazing. Especially you should look at the island of Flores, the western most part of Europe. It's over 11 hundred miles from Portugal and only a bit more from Canada. Lots of great photos on GE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've added it to my very long list of places I'd like to go.


                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                                                      No, I think you need to buy her the ticket so she can confirm this personally. When the high for the day will be 9F.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, I meant at home, so you could go someplace nice and warm.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                              OK, I saw something before I turned off the TV last night about St. Louis team being stuck at STL, but didn't stay to see what was up.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'll admit - I was hoping I'd wake up this a.m. to hear that the team didn't get out of STL last night and that Game 6 was delayed until tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                              But....it looks like they finally made it up to BOS around 11pm.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                You spelled that wrong....it should be BAHS not BOS. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Dee S

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm thinking the FAA won't change the Airport Code for Boston. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nope....but it would make sense now, wouldn't it? ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. What's up with Eddie suggesting that Vietnamese food tastes like feet? Yes, shrimp paste, fish sauce, and fermented sea food has a certain funk (as does cheese and other fermented products) but to liken those flavors to feet on national television makes you an asshole. He's the one that said "You have a whole nation on your back." Then he goes and comments "If you want to add Vietnamese flavor, I'm sure the owners would be happy to stick their feet in it for you."

                                                                                                                                                                                            Eddie - you are indeed a douchebag.

                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                                                                                                              oh, i kinda thought that was just a silly joke - like, dipping a person into a dish would impart their flavor, not necessarily a foot flavor.... stupid but not as horrid. or did he make some other Vietnamese food-funk comment i missed?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                                                Additionally, there is a slang term of "putting your foot in it" that's very positive. When you taste a particularly delicious dish, you could remark that the cook "really put their foot / feet in this". Although, I don't know that this was what Eddie was suggesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've never heard that expression used positively.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  But Urban Dictionary has it as a positive, though all other references (quick google search) have it as having negative connotations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: thimes

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Apparently an "African American" thing.




                                                                                                                                                                                                    "What I have also unearthed is a profoundly simply spell for crafting the sustenance and love experience that we all crave and need as humans. Simply explained, I put my foot in it. (Have I mentioned that I’m heavily influenced by my righteous African American elders?) Now, in British lingo, this is not a good move in the kitchen. More, it refers to a moment in time that denotes failure. For example:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    ”Many times afterwards the Baggins part regretted what he did now, and he said to himself: ‘Bilbo, you were a fool; you walked right up and put your foot in it.’” J.R.R.Tolkien, The Hobbit [2]"

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the links. I can imagine Eddie using this lingo given his propensity to speak HipHop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I re-watched the clip and it was his suggestion to Bene after he asked Bene what makes the tomato sauce Vietnamese. "If you need a little more Vietnamese, I'm sure one of the owners will put their foot in it for you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                      To which Bene laughed a bit too loud because I think he understood it literally as I did. However, I think you're right that he meant that Bene could ask the owners for tips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      But I still think Eddie is a douche bag. hahaha But so was "Captain Vietnam" (Travis).