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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #7 - 11/13/13 (Spoilers)

So there are 12 cheftestants remaining. That's a good number for musical chairs, isn't it?

Tonight's show starts back at the house with Nina sorry that Bene is gone. Carrie notes that Nina is the one to beat, as she's been winning a lot. The next morning, a doctor shows up at the house because Nicholas is very sick - probable strep, so he can be on antibiotics, but the doc says it's not a good idea for him to be around people or food.

The rest of them show up at the TC Kitchen - Padma notes that if Nicholas isn't well enough to show up for the later Elimination Challenge, he'll have to forfeit.

Kermit Ruffins is standing in the kitchen with Padma - jazz trumpeter, vocalist, and a chef. Improvisation is the Quickfire Challenge. Each cooking station has been pre-set with some of Kermit's favorite ingredients and cooking tools. They'll start cooking at one station, but when Kermit starts playing his trumpet, they'll have stop cooking and rotate around the kitchen. When he stops playing, they'll have to stop and start cooking again at whatever station they're next to. They have 30 minutes to create a dish, and the winner will have immunity in the next Elimination Challenge.

Kermit starts to play, they go round and round, and then he stops and they start cooking. As Justin said, it's not where you land first, it's where you land last. Kermit starts playing again, and they start walking around. Sara notes they can see the clock and see how much time is being used up in the musical food stations.

They end up back at their original stations for the third cooking session, but sure enough, Kermit starts playing again, and they end up at different stations for the fourth round. Justin throws away couscous at his fourth station, as it was pasty. These end up being their final stations.

The dishes (with the previous chefs at that station in parentheses) are:

Justin (Shirley, Patty, Shirley) - Marinated Tofu Salad with Crispy Bacon & Cucumber

Travis (Carlos, Carrie, Carlos) - Asian Inspired Steak & Potatoes with Soy Reduction

Sara (Carrie, Justin, Carrie) - Trout with Cabbage & Pepper Slaw & Deep Fried Cannellini Beans

Brian (Sara, Nina, Sara) - Duck & Mussels with Flavors of Asia

Patty (Louis, Stephanie, Louis) - Pork Chops, Tamarind Sauce, Shaved Red Onions, Mint & Jalapeno

Nina (Travis, Sara, Travis) - Liver with Serrano Chilies, Celery Salad & Coconut Curry Mustard Sauce

Stephanie (Brian, Carlos, Brian) - Braised Chicken & Clams with Red Bean Sauce, Green Apple & Red Onion Slaw

Carlos (Nina, Travis, Nina) - Pan-Seared Redfish with Cucumber Slaw, Red Beans & Butter Sauce

Shirley (Patty, Louis, Patty) - Shrimp Boil & Herb Salad with Parsley, Ponzu & Olive Oil

Louis (Stephanie, Brian, Stephanie) - Rosemary Okra, Rendered Pork, Confit Potatoes with Frog Legs & Queso Fresco

Bottom Group - Louis, Justin
Top Group - Carlos, Brian, Patty

And the winner is Brian. He thanks those that worked on his final dish, and he has immunity. Sara's a bit jealous that for a dish that she worked on, he wins immunity.

For the Elimination Challenge, they'll have to "band together" to create a potluck-style menu. Patty says she knows family style, but she's never heard of potluck - "is that a pot full of luck?" They'll be serving at Kermit's restaurant, Kermit's Treme Speakeasy. Kermit's invited lots of NOLA musicians to eat before they hit the stage. The cheftestants get to pick their own band members, and in a voiceover, Padma says that if Nicholas is cleared by the doctors, he'll join one of their teams. If not, he'll forfeit his place, and one team will only have 3 chefs.

Blue Team - Louis, Shirley, Sara and Justin
Green Team - Carrie, Nina, Stephanie, Carlos
Gray Team - Patty, Brian and Travis (and Nicholas if he's well enough to rejoin the competition)

Tomorrow they'll have 2 hours to cook in the TC Kitchen, and 30 minutes to finish their dishes at Kermit's kitchen. Kermit also invites them tonight to Vaughn's Lounge, where he performs and in between sets, he lights the BBQ and cooks for his fans.

They head out to Whole Foods shop for their ingredients. Nick calls into to his team's car to help formulate the dishes for the Gray Team and directs Travis as to which fish to buy while in Whole Foods.

They're back at the house - Nicholas is feeling better, but doesn't go out to listen to Kermit play music. The rest head to Vaughn's to dance, drink and have fun while Nicholas plays solitaire at the house.

The next morning, the doctor says Nicholas is good to go - he's not running a fever, but she warns him to stay hydrated. Off they go to the TC Kitchen to prep their dishes.

Nicholas takes on the role of major prep chef for his team, finishing a lot of the tasks. Brian notes he's doing a lot, but since he has immunity, he doesn't care. Stephanie says "Nick's use of performance enhancing drugs - it's a sensitive topic! If Nick starts to grow a mustache really quickly and his voice deepens, I'm going to call bullshit." :-)

They pack up their dishes onto racks to head over to Kermit's kitchen to finish their dishes in the remaining 30 minutes.

The musicians arrive and reminisce with Kermit. The judges arrive - Padma, Tom, Gail and Sue Zemanick, Executive Chef at Gautreau's. The dishes start to come out.

BLUE TEAM
Justin - Hominy Grits with Brown Shrimp, Roasted Okra, Fava Beans and Smoked Bacon

Louis - Grilled & Pickled Vegetables with Crispy Sunflower Seeds & Mustard Vinaigrette

Shirley & Sara - Glazed Beef with Charred Onions, Melon Pickles & Pickled Ginger Vinaigrette

Grits are good - lots of butter, but one musician says not enough seasoning. The grilled pickled veggies are well received by Tom and one of the musicians. Padma and Kermit like the beef.

GRAY TEAM
Brian & Travis - Togarashi Fried Chicken with Bee Pollen & Ponzu

Patty - Tomato Watermelon Salad, Szechuan Pepper & Goat Cheese Espuma

Nicholas - Barramundi & Red Drum Fricassee with Zucchini, Truffle & Yuzu Kosho

Travis & Brian - Caramel Glazed BBQ Ribs, Dehydrated Potatoes & Peanut Gremolata

Fried chicken was well received - nice and crispy, and flavorful batter, but the fish had no flavor whatsoever and is dry and overcooked. The ribs have a good heat, but Gail thinks that whatever was rubbed on the ribs was burnt. Sue Zemanick though the salad was refreshing, but thought better cuts could have been done on the watermelon, and Tom said it needed to be spiced up.

GREEN TEAM
Stephanie - Fried Baby Artichoke, Preserved Lemon & Anchovy Aioli

Nina - Semolina Gnocchetti with Sausage

Carrie & Carlos - Summer Tiramisu with Nectarines, Pistachios & Cheese

People liked the fried artichokes, and the gnocchetti was well received, although someone said it was like fancy Hamburger Helper - although the musician who said it said he likes Hamburger Helper. Kermit loved the tiramisu, as he doesn't usually eat sweets ever (Sue thought it was more like a trifle).

Tom notes to some of the musicians that they have to figure out which is the top set and which is the bottom set - does that mean a whole team is top or bottom, or a certain number of individuals? We'll see.

In the in-between, the cheftestants go over the do's and don'ts of a pot luck - don't show up at the potluck with the same dish as 3 or 4 other people have. There's always too much dessert, and salads are always coated in some mayo dressing.

They're back in the Stew Room, and the TV comes on. Tom said for the most part, everything was cooked and seasoned well. The Green Team's artichoke and gnocchi were liked; the tiramisu wasn't. The Blue Team served some overcooked beef, and Tom liked the pickled grilled vegetables. The shrimp and grits wasn't what people were expecting - everyone was expecting a sauce. The Gray Team's ribs were good, but there was too much rub on them, and the tomato & watermelon salad wasn't savory or seasoned, and the fish was dry and overcooked, but the chicken was great. Nicholas realizes now that he might have taken on too much.

Padma comes in and asks to see the Gray Team. Stephanie said it was weird, as usually the winning team is called first. Sure enough, they are the bottom team. Brian has immunity, so he's safe. The judges ask how they came up with their menu, and the cheftestants explain that Nick was on the phone collaborating with them, and they came up with a Chef's picnic. The fish and tomato/watermelon salad get criticized. Gail asks Patty how the Szechuan peppercorns were incorporated and Patty said it was dusted all over. No one could discern the Szechuan peppercorns, and Tom said that usually there's chili pepper incorporated, as one is numbing, and the chili part was missing. Travis and Patty note that the chili didn't make it to the plate, as there was only 5 seconds left, and Patty said it was her fault. When asked, Travis liked how his ribs were perfectly cooked, but both Tom and Gail said there was too much rub.

They are sent back for deliberation, but are asked to send in the Green Team - and they are the top team. There's really nothing said against any of the dishes, although Tom tells Carrie that coffee would have been proper in the tiramisu and that it would have worked with nectarines. Sue announces the winner - and it's Stephanie! YAY!

The judges deliberate again about the Gray Team's dishes. I'm thinking it's either Patty or Nicholas, and I really hope it's Patty. We're back and Tom reviews each dish, and turns to Padma to have her announce who's asked to PYKAG. :::Whooshing camera shots::: and it's Patty. So she's up against Janine in LCK.

Previews show Dr. John and a whole pig - this ought to be interesting next week!

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  1. Some thoughts:
    First, yet another great recap. It's really as good as watching the episode a second time.

    Didn't like the quickfire as the chefs were set up either good or bad and in the end it was more the set-up people that determined both the top and the bottom. Escoffier himself could have ended up in front of that microwave and there would have been nothing he could do. I do give Brian credit for giving credit to the others who proceeded him.

    I'm starting to like Stephanie's dry sense of humor.

    IMO, Nina is still the favorite.

    Have decided that I don't like the chefs seeing judge's table. It gives them an opportunity to work on their "story" if they know the judges are not happy with their dish. I think we have a better chance of more honest answers when the chefs don't know why the question is being asked.

    Like Linda, I too thought it was time for Patty to go. I actually was starting to like her but too often I thought her dishes were too simple, really not top chef material.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bobbert

      It was Patty's time to go a long time ago. She hasn't shown any Top-Chef-worthy skills at all. She seems to be making basic dishes in a half-hearted manner. I mean, can we get real? Watermelon Tomato salad? I could do a better job in my sleep. Making a simple beginner level salad will not win you Top Chef.

      That being said, none of the chefs have shown any particularly advanced skills. None of these guys could take on someone like Michael Voltaggio or Richard Blais. Bene roasted a chicken last week. Come on guys, surely you can do better. And if Nina makes another gnocchi, surely we are going to have to say, This is Top Chef, not Top Gnocchi!

      I think if they wanted the quickfire to be about improv, they should have introduced new ingredients to their dishes at random intervals. Now that would be a better demonstration of their improv skills.

      1. re: chefhound

        It looks like neither Shirley nor Patty did much with the tofu/bacon/microwave, so Justine was just screwed when he got to that station.

      2. re: bobbert

        Agree on not liking the Quickfire either. You either landed last on a really well thought out dish, or you were screwed because too many people didn't realize what the first cheftestant was aiming for. It's similar to the relay race, where a team has to work blindly on the same dish without knowing where the previous cheftestant was going with the ingredients. But then again, I guess that's the whole point of "Improvisation" - take it and run.

        1. re: bobbert

          I was calling for Patty to go in the 1st 2 episodes and she has just been getting by until now. Hopefully, without giving up too much, Tom really slays her in LCK.

        2. I had a roommate in college named Kermit. He was an odd duck.

          I believe this is the first time in the history of Top Chef that any contestant missed a Quick Fire.

          Stefanie actually smiled.

          Does Nina really have to use the words 's**k my d**k' in every episode? That makes her look low class to me. (I don't care who she is responding to, it is a low class thing to do. Expand your vocabulary.)

          30 Replies
          1. re: John E.

            Did Nina really say that again? I gotta pay closer attention. Wasn't her father president or prime minister of a country? My daughter's propensity to use colorful language often has me on edge at family gatherings. Nina's parents probably banned her from all state dinners.

            1. re: bobbert

              It might have been in the previews for next week's episode. I definately heard her say it and it did not seem to be bleeped, unless I was anticipating her saying it and heard it through the bleeps.

              I remember many years ago a storey my aunt told me about an altercation with two of her still young grand-daughters. One of the girls came upstairs crying to her grandma that her cousin called her a 'rock'. The crying girl told her grandma that she responded by calling her cousin a 'dickhead'. Apparently the mother of the foul mouthed little girl used that kind of language while driving her car with her daughter in a carseat in the back seat.

              1. re: John E.

                It was in the previews and didn't seem censored.

              2. re: bobbert

                I'm pretty sure it was a preview for next week's ep.

              3. re: John E.

                Yeah, she really has to stop saying that. Maybe once, in the heat of the moment but since she seems to be saying it again in the preview, it looks like just one of her stock phrases. Not classy Nina!

                1. re: chefhound

                  As I said last week, before it's all all, Nina may reveal herself to be a royal bitch (who can make gnocchi).

                  1. re: John E.

                    "Does Nina really have to use the words 's**k my d**k' in every episode?"

                    Actually, that's not what she said. I believe it was "suck *a* d--k."

                    Just saying ;-)

                    1. re: John E.

                      Even if they put a clip of her saying that in more than one episode she may not have said it more than one time. It's a pretty common practice in "reality" TV to use clips out of context or to reuse them in a completely different time sequence. A couple of clues: did they say it in a "confessional" interview that could have happened at any time? If not, did you actually see the person saying it or was it dubbed in as a voice over in a chaotic kitchen scene?

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Yep. Originally Nina's quote of "that man's faker than Pamela Anderson's breasts" seemed to pertain to Jason. Then an episode or two later it seemed to be her comment regarding Michael. For all we know her "suck my . . ." comment was made only once and used multiple times.

                        1. re: gaffk

                          That fake comment was only ever directed at Michael.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Out of context? Maybe it was just some friendly advice.

                          "Hey, Nina. This situation has me all tense. I need to relax. What do you like to do to relax?"

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Why don't you wait to see it before you come to her defense?

                            1. re: Worldwide Diner

                              I didn't "come to her defense" -- I stated a fact (that editors on these shows recycle sound bites) and said she "may" not have said it twice, then gave some pointers for people to make their own evaluation.

                              I must have missed the post where you told people to wait until they see it before attacking her.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                Other people have seen it and they didn't concluded it was the same sound bite. Why don't you watch both and if you conclude it's the same soundbite, then you can then tell us how manipulative the editors are in this case? We're only discussing Nina, not whether reality shows in general recycle sound bites.

                                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                  They saw it in a preview, which by definition is out of context. People don't even agree on exactly *what* she said, let alone the context of when she said it.

                              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                It appeared to be in the kitchen, in a preview. If she said it in the confessional it would be even lower class.

                                It doen't matter who it was who said such a vulgarity, it would show low class behavior.

                                He may have been boring, but Bryan on TC 6 showed the most class of any prominent TC competitor.

                                1. re: John E.

                                  Sorry. I don't buy that.

                                  Just because Bryan was suppressed most of the time doesn't make him classy. He was pretty nasty to Robin during the season. What he - or anyone - thought about her has nothing to do with with his behavior, which appeared to be pretty darn disdainful and insulting.

                                  1. re: chicgail

                                    Ahh, what am I forgetting? What did Bryan do to Robin? I'm not seeing anything in those links that Linda posted.

                                    1. re: chicgail

                                      I'm not remembering too many harsh comments from Bryan to anyone. Could you refresh my memory with specifics?

                                      1. re: chicgail

                                        i thought Bryan Voltaggio was mostly a nice guy, but his brother, Michael! his demeanor throughout the competition was nasty, angry, and arrogant. i recently saw him vying on Iron Chef USA and he's toned it down a lot, but in his season, as good a chef as he was, i thought he was a dick.

                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                          Not to defend him at all but, he had that sibling rivalry thing to deal with as well.

                                          1. re: JAB

                                            I think that is a more than fair comment.

                                            1. re: Firegoat

                                              even in their Thanksgivig Special Mikey was not passing an opportunity to give little digs at him

                                  2. re: John E.

                                    I don't know, I don't have a problem with it. Everybody has their favourite crude expressions and I feel like this is pretty standard in professional kitchens. (I don't work in restaurants but newsrooms are pretty raucous places too.)

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      Every episode? Wait...Aren't we looking at the episode 8 preview? Has it been eight times?

                                      If I wanted folks to talk about me, I would only say it two, MAYBE three times.

                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                        That was a bit of an exaggeration, but I'm sure you knew that.

                                        Once is too much and so far she has used the phrase (or something with the same meaning) twice. That is twice too much if she had any class.

                                        1. re: John E.

                                          Okay. I'll have to accept the "once is too much" for the "any class" catagory. I'm not a "class" expert but I do PLAY "classy" with my public television subscription.

                                    2. There was a previous Top Chef episode where someone got sick -- I remember it being perhaps in the semifinals? Fluids, some serious stuff. And there have been a few knife cuts.

                                      Didn't like the musical chairs -- if they are going to force someone to take over a dish, it has to be some sort of team or there is motivation to sabotage.

                                      When I compare this season's dishes to Richard Blais and Stephanie Izard (?) I'm not blown away. Perhaps the bottom has elevated, but is there still room for one or two to shine? We're several weeks into this season, and Nina, Carrie, Carlos, Justin, Shirley and a couple others have all had moments.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: nosh

                                        Angelo was sick in the semi-finals of Top Chef 7. I believe 'he who should not be named' helped him out in the preliminaries of the finals. Angelo came back to cook in the finale, but I don't remember him even being a factor in that competition. Ed might have won that year if he had simply done some research on cooking the foods of Singapore.

                                        1. re: John E.

                                          i've always thought that illness was the only thing that kept Angelo from winning, so I was glad to see him in the All-stars, and disappointed in his finish there.

                                        2. re: nosh

                                          When I compare this season's dishes to Richard Blais and Stephanie Izard (?) I'm not blown away.
                                          ~~~~~~
                                          This is exactly what I was thinking after the recap and before I dropped off to sleep. No one has really blown us away with a "Holy crap - how the hell did s/he pull that off in the time allotted?" dish.

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            Do you suppose people are "holding back" their great, innovative stuff for the finals (hoping they get there)? It seemed like one season on of the cheftestapants commented in an aside that he only had one dessert left that he knew so he was trying to save it

                                            1. re: Firegoat

                                              On a dessert, maybe. But why they hell only have one dessert in your repertoire, especially if you have no idea that you'll make it to the end?

                                              And if they're holding back the innovative stuff, that's just stupid. Put out lackluster food, you won't make it to the end.

                                              No - I just think that either we have a few sleepers, or the roster just isn't World Series material. Maybe some of them should grow some scraggly beards. I know a few guys (well, not personally know, but...) where that worked for them! ;-)

                                          2. re: nosh

                                            I'm not sure the bottom has elevated. Patty and Bene seems almost clueless in the kitchen. Maybe overall they're more physically attractive. Of the contenders, I think only Carrie and Justine are capable of wowing with creative techniques. The rest lacks range or creativity.

                                            1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                              The bottom certainly has elevated based on resumes. Patty and Bene are/have been sous chefs in some serious kitchens, positions they could not have gotten without some serious cooking chops. It seems that they either weren't suited to this type of competition (cooking in a restaurant isn't the same) or lacked the kind of creativity needed to excel when on their own and don't have an executive to edit their work. In many earlier seasons, the bottom chefs most certainly did not have that kind of resume. Whether it has elevated based on talent, well, that's one we can argue about.

                                          3. Thanks Linda!

                                            I always hated musical chairs! Mostly luck, right? Maybe not.

                                            Hasn't tomato watermelon salad already gone down in flames? Patty seems to have done this same scene before.

                                            Go Nina! Say it again! Say it again! ( said in the voice of Whoopie Goldberg as the hyena in The Lion King)

                                            "I got your low class right here!"

                                            (That was the hyena, not Nina) ♥♡♥♡

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                              Yeah, musical chairs usually ended up in a sore bum for someone who got butt-bumped out of a chair and landed on the floor. Often that was me. :-/

                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                "Hasn't tomato watermelon salad already gone down in flames?"
                                                __________________________________

                                                Ariane or whatever her name was won the ELIMINATION challenge with a tomato watermelon salad in Season New York

                                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                                  but then Ariane is a kick-a$$ chef! Owns and chefs at one of the top restaurants in Northern New Jersey.

                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    I loved her!

                                                    But the only watermelon/tomato salad I remember was hers and it did not go down.

                                                  2. re: C. Hamster

                                                    Ah!

                                                    Nobody did tomato and watermelon salad yet this year?

                                                    Maybe I was thinking of tomato salad+ tomato watermelon soup in the creole tomato episode. In any case, I don't believe I had heard of that combination before this season.

                                                    Wait! Apparently I have! More than once on Top Chef

                                                    "Adam Platt Wonders How a Watermelon and Tomato Salad Could Wow the Top Chef Judges
                                                    12/4/08 "

                                                    http://www.grubstreet.com/2008/12/ada...

                                                    "Grilled Watermelon & Tomato Salad with Charred Tomato Vinaigrette" Season 10, Episode 1
                                                    http://www.bravotv.com/foodies/recipe...

                                                    "Bison Burger, Watermelon & Tomato Salad" Season 7, Episode 3, Elimination Challenge
                                                    http://www.bravotv.com/foodies/recipe...

                                                    This recap mentions the TW salad in the Besh episode.

                                                    http://previously.tv/top-chef/youre-b...

                                                    "Finally Hawkman settles on a rather pedestrian tomato and watermelon salad with feta and avocado. She thinks this is the worst impression that she could make on someone who is "a stud" and whom she admires, as her head tilts crazily and she gazes longingly into the camera."

                                                    Is that Stephanie? Yes! Here is her dish; A watermelon and tomato salad!

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

                                                    Who is "Hawkman"?

                                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                      Didn't two people do something with watermelon and tomato in the tomato quickfire earlier this season? IIRC one was a watermelon and tomato salad and one was a tomato salad with watermelon juice.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        I think the second was Nina's soup, that she managed to get really cold.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Didn't Stephanie do a tomato-watermelon salad when she froze during the John Besh quick fire? The one she was embarrassed by because she went completely blank?

                                                        2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                          I have selective memory I guess. Sorry !!

                                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                                            I have no idea how I happened to remember such a minute point. It may have been she was making a point of how not good enough it was, that I thought tom-wat salad="not good enough". Sort of like the risotto rule.

                                                      2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                        Tomato-watermelon salad is wonderful, but it's not a good potluck dish because it can't sit without getting soggy. So not good in terms of the challenge.

                                                      3. "The rest of them show up at the TC Kitchen - Padma notes that if Nicholas isn't well enough to show up for the later Elimination Challenge, he'll have to forfeit."

                                                        When that was "said", the camera cut away from Padma and the line sounded pretty dubbed in. Same when she made the same announcement when elimination teams were chosen. I was assuming, even after just the first announcement, that no such hard-and-fast rules were announced at the time and they patched it in later. No proof, just going on reality-show intuition.

                                                        I thought the Quickfire was pretty stupid. When this sort of thing is done in a team context, as they've done a couple times, it's one of my favorites, but the complete random aspect of it here ruined it for me. Witness multiple people complaining about what Brian left them with, while he ended up winning. At least he was humble about it.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: dfan

                                                          It was definitely an overdub - meant to mention that in my OP.