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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #8 - 11/20/13 (Spoilers)

It's about the PIG. A whole PIG. Thatsalotta PIG!

Quick review in the Stew Room. We find out that Patty had only been cooking for 3 years. Sara calls herself a gooch, meaning bad luck for every team she is part of, they're on the bottom or the middle.

Back at the house, Travis notes to Stephanie that she needed the win. The next morning, they arrive at the TC Kitchen and Dr. John is there next to Padma.

For the Quickfire, they won't be making a dish. Padma tells them they'll be making a favorite condiment found all around the world - hot sauce. Dr. John says he's looking for "hip tang." Brian's confused as to what that is. Dr. John: "If it has flavor nicety of the highest order, and it has tang nicety that mixes in? Killer sauce! I hit it, can't quit it!"

They have 45 minutes to make and bottle their perfect hot sauce. The winner will have immunity in the next Elimination Challenge. Off they rush to the pantry to gather their ingredients. Carlos says "all the pressure will be on me, being the only Mexican chef. I work with chilies all the time, so everybody assumes it's going to be an easy win for me." However, he later states that he only used one pepper in his sauce - a habanero. He asks Nicholas about his sauce - Nicholas said in the confessional that he had his first ulcer when he was 20, and so he's not that fond of hot sauce. He was very nervous person in his 20s, so he's looking to make a balanced sauce.

Some are going Mexican, some are going Asian, some are going Caribbean.

Brian - Jalapeno & Serrano Hot Sauce with Lime & Yuzu Juices. Dr. John has no preference on color; looking for the hip tang. Dr. John said it's kind of different, and that's a good thing.

Shirley - Hot Sauce with Habaneros, Serrano Chilies, Ginger & Pineapple. Dr. John says "off the hook."

Carrie - Trinidadian Inspired Pepper Sauce with Habaneros & Green Mango. The heat hits first, but he's wondering about the tang.

Nicholas - Sweet & Sour Hot Sauce with Smoked Apricots, Vinegar & Coffee. Dr. John gives a "hip tang."

Louis - Fresno Chili, Distilled Vinegar, Maple Syrup & Chili Powder. Dr. John doesn't have a handle on this one at all. Louis isn't sure if it blew his mind, or what.

Stephanie - Peach Vinegar & Habanero Hot Sauce. Another "off the hook; I kind of like it."

Carlos - Yucatan-Style Sauce with Mango, Passion Fruit & Habanero. Dr. John said Carlos was wise to the ways of hot sauce.

Nina - Caribbean Hot Sauce with Habaneros, Ginger, & Apple Cider Vinegar. It's definitely hot.

Justin - Pepper Hot Sauce with Fermented Anchovies. Dr. John digs the anchovies.

(Sara's wasn't shown, nor was Travis's sauce)

Bottom group - Nicholas, Carrie, Nina
Top group - Brian, Justin, Carlos

And the winner is? Brian. He get immunity again, 2nd time in a row.

The Elimination Challenge - it's time to PIG OUT with a Boucherie. In comes a whole hog along with Toby Rodriguez (artist/butcher/chef) and guest judge, Chef Donald Link. A Cajun/Creole boucherie is where a community comes together to break down an animal, and everyone breaks off to use different food items. The 11 cheftestants will butcher a 300 lb. hog. Toby tells them that teamwork during the butchering is very key - so he hopes they all get along.

Padma tells them they'll have 5 hours to cook at Bayou Barn with over 250 guests. Each will serve one dish, but all eleven are responsible to making sure the entire hog is used. Toby and Donald Link will give them a taste of an authentic boucherie this evening by cooking dinner.

They all gather around to break down the hog. Nicholas, Travis, and Justin will be doing the majority of the butchering. Sara says she's taken down a few hogs in her career, but Louis notes that all she is doing it telling Nicholas what to do vs. jumping in helping to break it down.

After they've figured out what cut they're taking, they're off to Whole Foods to shop for the rest of ingredients. Back to the house where Toby and Donald are there cooking them dinner with some sous chefs. They dig in, talk with the chefs who cooked for them. Lots of family reminisces. Turns out that both Carlos and Justin will be making tacos with their pig parts. (Justin grew up in California, so he was familiar with Mexican food.)

The next morning, they head off to the Bayou Barn to start cooking. There's a China box, and a huge smoker-grill. Justin builds a huge fire on his grill, and several people go over to start using it. He complains, Nina tells him she'll remove her pressure cookers on the fire. She uses the "suck a dick' term to him, and Justin isn't happy. Stephanie sees a huge alligator just beyond a bamboo fence and freaks out.

Louis notes that the boucherie is friends and family getting together to share a pig. Back home, he's rather anti-social, just working. But here he's made more friends in the past few weeks than he has his entire life.

Tom Colicchio and Donald Link show up to ask the chefs what they're making. Shirley's Chinese New Year is very similar to the boucherie, and Donald Link is going to be interested to try different flavors.

Justin's grill goes VERY hot - and even though he tries to tame it down with lots of water, his pork starts to overcook. Then Brian checks on his pork in the Cajun oven (same thing as the China box, I believe), and his pork also looks overcooked on the outside, but once he checks it, he's happy. Nina realizes her dish is rather underwhelming, so she adds cayenne, and hopes she doesn't overspice it.

The guests arrive and begin to eat, and are loving the food. Tom and the judges show up, and Tom calls out "Can we cut the line?" Someone calls back "No!" and Tom swears and starts laughing.

Brian - Porchetta with Oyster Mushrooms. Padma likes it.

Sara - Pork Dim Sum with Crab & Shrimp Har Gow. Tom likes her dumpling.

Justin - Wood-Roasted Pork Breast Taco with Pork Liver Salsa Verde. Donald Link said the tortilla was good, but if you're going to cook something a long time, it needs some fat to baste it; otherwise, it's going to be dry.

Carlos - Pozole Verde with Fried Chorizo Tacos. Hugh said it's not the typical boucherie cooking, but Tom said the idea is the spirit of it, and it was delicious.

Shirley - Jiaozi Dumpling with Pork, Grilled Kidney & Crispy Pork Fat Salad. Padma said her dumpling was delicious. Guests said hers was the only dish with cracklings...how can you have a boucherie without cracklings? (referring to the other dishes)

Louis - Slow-Grilled Pork Leg with Spring Onions, Shiitake Mushrooms, Melted Corn & Popcorn. As Hugh is walking to get on line, someone whispers to him "This is the best line!" Tom also notes someone said it to him as well, but it's not the best one, according to Tom. The pork was very well cooked, per Hugh, but everything else was rather confusing and didn't work.

Stephanie - Pork Brodo with Braised Pork Belly & Summer Vegetable Pickle. Padma likes everything except the pork belly, and both she and Donald Link love her broth.

Travis - Cajun-Style Pork Ramen with Pork Bone Broth & Collard Greens. Hugh asked if he made the ramen noodles, and Travis admits he didn't. But both Hugh and Tom like his dish.

Carrie - Crispy Trotters with Snap Peas & Pickled Onions. Tom tells Hugh he thinks they're going to have a tough time figuring out who wins, because he really likes Carrie's dish.

Nicholas - Tete de Cochon with Summer Beans, Lemongrass Vinaigrette & Wheat Berries. Donald notes it's a very rich and heavy dish, and Padma said Nicholas was smart to give some brightness to the veggies. Donald really likes it.

Nina - Braised Pig's Head Ragu, Roasted Corn & Mustard Greens. Tom likes it - he said the heat builds on it - doesn't hit you all at once. Padma asks Toby assistants how they did - they said based on what they showed them last night, and what the cheftestants did today, they did really well.

In the in-between, both Carlos and Nina note that Stephanie overthinks too much about her food, and she is so nervous about everything. Stephanie agrees that she's a mess.

Back in the Stew Room, the TV comes on. Tom notes that this was some of the most enjoyable food in all 11 seasons that he's had. The best dishes came from Shirley, Nina, Brian, Carlos. However, Padma notes that Justin's meat was rather dry - it was one of the last pieces when they got there - Tom said perhaps they were getting the "dregs". Justin notes "It wasn't dry! It was brisket! There was plenty of fat!" Tom didn't like the corn in Louis's dish (although Donald did), and Padma notes that many guests were going back to get the popcorn. Donald said the popcorn was great, but unnecessary. Travis' ramen had good flavor but there were flaws in the dish. Hugh notes that Stephanie's pork belly was rather flat.

Padma comes in and asks to see Nina, Shirley and Carlos. They are the top group. Tom tells Shirley that he would travel with her and her mother for 3 days to go to her grandmother's house for her dumplings. Tom tells Carlos he wants his posole recipe. Tom tells Nina that Shirley and Carlos went with really traditional dishes, but Nina's dish came out of left field. He says if this isn't a national dish of somewhere, it should be - perhaps Ninastan?

Donald announces the winner, by a very slim margin - Carlos is the winner! The judges now want to see Justin, Louis, and Stephanie. They are the bottom group.

Justin is surprised that he is standing there. Padma notes that her meat was bland and very dry. Justin feels like it was a well-cooked piece of meat. Tom notes that *none* of the dishes were bad, and they were all delicious. Tom said he and Hugh ate Justin's dish first, and it was good. So it's an issue of consistency. For Stephanie, Donald notes that there was good flavor - but it was all in the broth. The pork had been drained of flavor. Louis's dish had the popcorn - Donald said it was unnecessary. Tom said the skin on the corn kernels were too thick. Hugh said there was just one too many ideas on his plate.

They leave while the judges deliberate. Hugh notes that there wasn't enough passion in these three dishes. Stephanie's dish really lack the most heart and soul. Justin's dry pork was the issue. Louis's problem was too much stuff on the dish, but at least his pork was delicious.

:::Whooshing camera of the cheftestants::: Tom reviews; Padma announces. And it's Louis who is asked to PYKAG. He's off to LCK against Janina.

Previews show Restaurant Wars! And it definitely is going to be an interesting one.

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  1. Obviously Nina us a good chef but she likes to blame others for her own mistakes. She thinks Sideshow Bob is a douchebag because he dumped the stuff she plated on his plates. She tells Justine to suck a dick because he doesn't want others to use the fire he spent an hour to build. It's an entitlement attitude that I don't appreciate.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Worldwide Diner

      I thought the look on her face as they walked out after a winner was declared said a lot. She was clearly *pissed* that she didn't win. And later she made some comment like "they said it was really close" and someone else said "give us a break, you can't always win" or something like that. It just seemed inappropriate for her to be bitching about not winning.

      1. re: DGresh

        Thanks for posting that, DGresh. I went back and listened three times to see what Nina said, but couldn't make it out, so I left out her comment and Nicholas teasing Nina saying something along the lines of "C'mon - you can't always win! Leave a few for the rest of us!" They all laughed, but I think you could tell Nicholas wasn't particularly pleased with her comment either.

        1. re: LindaWhit

          Nina has won two Elimination Challenges. Carlos has won two Elimination Challenges.

          Ok, one of Carlos' wins was a team challenge.

          1. re: John E.

            Nina has also been in the "High" group 4x, and she won a Quickfire. So I understand why the rest of them look at her as the one to beat so far.

        2. re: DGresh

          She's a competitor and clearly likes to win. I can't fault her for that. I'm wondering if she'll start a grudge against Justine.

          1. re: Worldwide Diner

            I think it's ok to be upset. But to bitch about it in front of the others is tacky.

            1. re: DGresh

              I would agree she does not struggle to hold things in. I did not see the look on her face, but I doubt she she was smiling, or saying "thanks for the opportunity!"

              She was bitching about it? What did she say?

        3. re: Worldwide Diner

          My opinion of Nina has diminished after this episode. She's obviously used to getting her own way. Will make for some interesting dynamics in restaurant wars. They should put her in charge of the front of house!

          1. re: hal2010

            "She's obviously used to getting her own way."

            What makes you say that?

            1. re: Shrinkrap

              Because when she doesn't she complains and swears.

              1. re: Shrinkrap

                What makes you think she isn't entitled? Please address the examples we've seen on the show.

                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                  I'm sorry. I have to come up with examples showing some one ISN'T entitled?

                  I think that's new.I don't have examples. I was thinking innocent until proven guilty. But yeah; not always.

                  I am working with the examples offered, not necessarily this episode. I don't know what she said, and did not see the "face" she made. What did she say? Did her facial expression indicate she was entitled? It was late. I will watch again.

                  Maybe saying "Suck a dick" = entitled? Entitled to WHAT? I'll take the food stamps; thanks.

                  I'll accept that is swearing. She complains (not sure of the example here; maybe "it was close"?); That means she is used to getting her way? When my kids were younger, they complained. Heck; They STILL do! I'll be honest; I complain too! I might even be complaining right now. So that means I am used to getting what I want?

                  Maybe it's the swearing? That makes me think you are saying getting what you want is evidenced by swearing. That has not been my experience. Not saying your wrong. I just don't see that as my first interpretation.

                  But whatever. It's entertainment!

                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                    I said address the examples I gave. They indicate she's entitled. I think I write clearly. I have no idea why there is any misunderstanding.

                    1. re: Worldwide Diner

                      Okay; your examples are " She thinks Sideshow Bob is a douchebag because he dumped the stuff she plated on his plates. She tells Justine to suck a dick because he doesn't want others to use the fire he spent an hour to build."

                      I see. You seem to write clearly, but I didn't read it clearly in this context. I hit reply on, and was responding to, your more recent post; "What makes you think she isn't entitled? Please address the examples we've seen on the show." I can see you might have no idea why.

                      You write "They indicate she's entitled." You might be right about "entitlement". That judgement just doesn't come as easily to me. That might be your area of expertise. It is not mine.

            2. re: Worldwide Diner

              I agree that Justin (no 'e' at the end) had the right to that fire. Besides that, the other contestants were putting pots and kettles on the fire. Go fire up a propane burner for that, there appeared to be dozens of them.

            3. Thanks Linda!

              I got nothin' other than.......Go Nina!

              1. Actually watched in real time.

                What kind of accent did Toby have? It was very odd.

                Did you hear Donald pronounce it bruSHetta not bruSKetta? What is it with these chefs screwing up what now are pretty basic terms?

                I like Justin and Louis and hoped it would be Stephanie going home. It does sound like it was a good nite overall.

                Sara makes a good front of house person at a quick glance of next week's preview.

                1. After Tom said that it was the best overall food that they had ever had on TC, I wanted them to not eliminate anyone this week, the way they sometimes do on Project Runway, and then send two home the next week. A reprieve, to be sure, but they admitted that they were really uncertain about who to have PYKAG. That being said, the idea of popcorn on pork is really pretty unappealing, and I don'k know what Louis could have been thinking.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: roxlet

                    I was kind of hoping for that as well, rox. Both Padma and Tom said "there was NO bad food!" and they hated sending someone home for good food.

                    1. re: roxlet

                      Well, if next week is Restaurant Wars, they kinda have to have an even number...

                      1. re: roxlet

                        "After Tom said that it was the best overall food that they had ever had on TC,"

                        I find that hard to believe and rolled my eyes... from what I saw it really was pretty lame when you compare it to the snow white feast... and having tasted Paul Quis food... there is nooooo way....

                      2. I DVR the thing and as I was shoveling down my morning oatmeal I was confronted all the heavenly vision of pork, lovely, unctuous, delicious pork. Now I am at work and wishing I can go get me some pork. BBQ for lunch it is.

                        No wonder Patty was so nervous. Wow, three years?!!

                        I have seen other chefs wander about not knowing what they were doing or not knowing exactly what they wanted to do, they usually went home. Stephanie was really lucky she didn't go home. I do like her though. Her perfectionist nervousness is endearing and kind of reminds of Richard Blais, although I don't think she has the same skills or imagination.

                        I wanted to try all the dishes, but the pozole and Shirley's dumplings as well as Nicholas' dish was the most enticing.

                        20 Replies
                        1. re: Phaedrus

                          I agree, Phaedrus. This was probably the only TC show where I wanted to try everything - but Shirley's dish sounded amazing.

                          1. re: Phaedrus

                            Good performances all around. I'm surprised that Justine didn't know that some of his pork was dry. Was that as a result of the raging fire that he had? When I saw his presentation plate, it didn't look fatty and moist.

                            I appreciate Stephanie's honesty or is it her neurosis?

                            1. re: Worldwide Diner

                              When Justin said his pork was "fatty" in the Stew Room, I thought "That's not what we saw in the beauty shot of his plate." And the description of his dish alone implies it's a lean cut of meat: "Wood-Roasted Pork Breast Taco..."

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/895427

                              http://bbq.about.com/b/2009/06/11/som...

                              "Recently we got the Pork Breast. This thin cut of pork comes from the picnic shoulder just behind the front leg. It is a lean cut of pork that is perfect for marinating and grilling. Now this is kind of a tough cut so definitely marinate it first then cook it hot and fast being careful not to over cook it. This is still new so many places don't have it yet, but I know you can find it at Costco under the name Brisket Griller (how's that for marketing)."

                              I'd be very interested to know what cut Justin chose. I don't recall him saying so, although I wasn't trying to keep track of who took what. But perhaps his "low and slow" cooking method doesn't work for this cut of meat? Although Tom and Hugh both enjoyed his dish and said their meat was moist.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                In the Stew Room Justin said his cut was "pure brisket."

                                Thanks again for a great recap, Linda!

                                1. re: KailuaGirl

                                  You're quite welcome. And yet, the beauty shot did *not* look like brisket to me. It looked very lean. And IIRC, Padma had difficulty biting through a bit of a large piece of pork from Justin's dish - it seemed lean there as well.

                                  So perhaps he did get the pork breast and not brisket. I don't know.

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    I'm just re-watching the episode and it looks like pork belly when he is initially prepping it in the TC kitchen. He's talking to Shirley and cutting the meat into chunks. It looks very fatty. It looks like a side of bacon.

                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                  You can't really do low and slow using that piece if equipment.

                                3. re: Worldwide Diner

                                  "Was that as a result of the raging fire that he had? "

                                  My thought exactly: cooked too fast and unevenly. He should have recognized it and made sure to save the best for the judges.

                                4. re: Phaedrus

                                  I was thinking the exact same thing re. Stephanie and Blais. Not as talented though very good, a bit more subdued but just as neurotic.
                                  I thought Justin was safe because those who ate his dish early didn't seem to have the dryness issue - it's good that judges seem to split up and try things in different orders which helps make it more fair. When Louis said popcorn I was trying to figure where that fit in.
                                  Actually, when I saw Travis at the Whole Foods checkout with all those packages of 10 for a dollar ramen I was thinking rut row, that's not going to work out well.
                                  I liked the quickfire but my issue is with the judging - not just this one. I like Dr. John just fine but it became clear that "hot" hot sauce wasn't going to cut it. I always question it when someone who isn't primarily a food person hands out immunity.
                                  And then there's Nina. Girl can cook but how about just sticking to your standard f-bombs? I think Freud would have loved to spend some time with her.

                                  1. re: bobbert

                                    Didn't get a good look at the ramen. What did Travis buy?

                                    1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                      It looked like those packages that every starving college kid lives on. He only used the noodles and made his own (apparently very good) sauce but when Tom and Hugh asked and Travis said he did not make them, I was thinking gone but they loved the flavors.

                                      1. re: bobbert

                                        I was thinking he bought real but premade ramen noodle but I didn't get a good look. I don't even know if Whole Foods carry real ramen noodle.

                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                          I'm not sure as it was pretty quick an I didn't record the show but there sure looked like a shitload of those little ramen noodle packages. Anyone out there get a better look?

                                          1. re: bobbert

                                            Definitely a shitload of packaged dried ramen - lots of "crackling" as he loaded up his cart with packages. All I remember was a lot of red packages, but it wasn't Maruchan.

                                            I can look again tonight when I get home if no one else notes which aisle he got them in or what brand.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              I'm re-watching. I paused and stared at the screen. I'm quite certain that they are not ramen noodles. Squinting at the packages, I'm certain they say chow mein noodles!!

                                    2. re: bobbert

                                      You'd think Whole Foods would have a refrigerator section of fresh Asian noodles. Using packaged ramen noodles just isn't Top Cheffish at all! I can see not wanting to make his own - too time consuming - but at least buy fresh ones.

                                      1. re: KailuaGirl

                                        You would think, but none of mine do.

                                        1. re: smtucker

                                          I'm really surprised. Maybe because I'm in Hawai'i? All the supermarkets have fresh noodles, but I'd expect WF to have them all over the Mainland, too.

                                          1. re: KailuaGirl

                                            I'm not surprised. I hate Whole Foods, but that is a discussion for another thread!

                                    3. re: Phaedrus

                                      i totally agree - everything looked delicious!