Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Dec 4, 2013 08:56 PM

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #9 - 12/04/13 (Spoilers)

Let's Get Ready to Rummmmmble!!!! Yup - it's time for Restaurant Wars.

But before that, they're back in the house doing some cooking for themselves. Then they head off to the TC Kitchen - and only Padma is there. She tells them it's time for Restaurant Wars.

The guest judge is David Chang - he tells them not to plan on things going right; they should plan on everything going wrong. They draw knives to break into two teams of five.

Green Team - Sara, Carlos, Justin, Nina, and Shirley
Purple Team - Brian, Nicholas, Carrie, Stephanie and Travis

Stephanie whispers under her breath "I should have taken some Pepto!"

Each teams must choose an Executive Chef, and someone to be FOH. Padma also tells them that there will be a VIP table of Chase Sapphire Cardmembers (:::blah, blah, blah insert ad here:::). The VIP table and judges will be the only diners who will get to eat at both restaurants. Padma also notes that restaurateur, Danny Meyer, will be joining them, who will check with the diners and report back to the judges.

Each team breaks off to plan their restaurant. The Green Team goes with "modern American". Sara offers to make a brown butter financier as the dessert for her team, since no one else claims any pastry experience.

On the Purple Team, Travis said he served as FOH and restaurant manager at the last place he worked at, and when asked, he said he would be FOH for the Purple Team's restaurant. In the confessional, Travis said "Gays belong in the front of the house! Duh!" LOL They're going with a seafood theme.

The Green Team goes with Sara as their FOH, and Justin said he'll be the Executive Chef. Sara discusses what the style of the restaurant should be; how it should look. Carlos notes that they're spending way too much time on the style vs. the menu decisions.

They head off in the Toyotas to an open empty place called "The Foundry" - and it turns out there's no kitchen. They realize that they'll have to figure out the design of the entire place - including the kitchen. The Purple Team agrees to have Nicholas as the Executive Chef.

They they all go to an event rental place for tables, chairs, plates, everything needed. Justin and Carlos get into a bit of a dust-up, when Carlos notes again that they hadn't even discussed what everyone is making after Justin said he didn't want to make the same thing as Carlos. When Carlos said they haven't discussed dishes, Justin gets snippy and said "Well, we haven't discussed it yet, so drop it - we're going back to plates." He then got snippy with Sara as well about a type of bowl - silver rim or no silver rim? The Purple Team looks over and see what's going on with the Green Team.

Then the teams head off to shop for ingredients. The Purple Team splits up - Nick and Stephanie head to Restaurant Depot for bulk food items; Travis, Carrie and Brian were heading to Whole Foods "in their Toyota Rav 4" (WAY obvious voice-over). Carrie programs the GPS; Travis said "you'll be a soccer mom yet!" Carrie retorts "Shut your mouth! Do NOT make me pull this car over!" :-)

Shirley, Justin and Carlos and Nina are in Restaurant Depot, while Sara is in Whole Foods. Shirley notes that they hadn't planned their menu, but as long as every dish can link together using the modern America theme, it should be OK. (How the hell are they picking ingredient choices? This makes no sense whatsoever!) Sara's requested ring molds are unavailable at Restaurant Depot, so she's going to have to wing it.

Back at The Foundry, the Purple Team (now named "Fin") starts unloading their stuff from the event rental place. Nicholas starts planning out the kitchen with the equipment coming in. He notes as EC, if Fin loses, typically the EC goes home. So if he asks someone on his team to do something, he expects them to do it. Carrie asks him if he wants them to call him "Chef" - and he said yes.

The Green Team (now called "Found"), starts to unpack their restaurant equipment. Both teams start their prep. Travis reviews the menu for Fin; everyone seems to be working well together. Sara (Found) asks about the coffee service; Justin replies that they ordered a coffeemaker. Sara looks over and said "That little 12-cup is going to feed 125 people?" Justin said "Let's just be positive and turn out great food - my food is turning out great right now! Let's just focus on the food right now!" Nina notes that having a happy restaurant is like a happy marriage. The line cooks are like the kids; the GM and the Chef are the parents - if they're constantly fighting the kids will see it. She calls out "Leave the effin' egos at the door!"

Over at Fin, Nicholas tastes something of Brian's, and says "You're going to gel it, right?" Brian says yes.....but then realizes the gel he thought he was buying (agar-agar) ended up being xanthum gum. Major issue with the gel with flavor and texture.

They're done with prep - back to the house. The Purple Team find a King Cake in the kitchen and say they're not going to share with the Green Team. Meanwhile, the Green Team is elsewhere in the house, and Justin is telling everyone (mostly Sara) how he wants the tickets to be written up. He said he wants proper communication and executing. (RED FLAG! Sure sign there won't be proper communication!) He said if there are issues with the FOH, it can throw off everything.

The next morning, they arrive at The Foundry, and they have 4 hours to finish up. Prep, table numbers, demo plates up, staff informed and trained, steps of service in place - lots of stuff to finish in a very short time. Travis meets his staff up front - and they begin to set up their restaurant. Meanwhile, Sara goes up front to meet her staff, and their restaurant is already set up. She notes how tickets are to be written up, walks them through the tables, making sure they know which table is which. Anything can happen if they don't know what to do.

The demo plates are brought out for Fin, and Nicholas reviews the plates with the servers. Meanwhile, over at Found, Justin asks Nina what happened with the other smaller bowls with silver rims. Nina notes he said he wanted matching white bowls. He said "Yes! But also the smaller ones with silver rims!" His dish is going to look lost in the huge soup bowls.

Fifteen minutes to service. Guests show up at Fin, and staff begins to take orders. The Fin kitchen looks well ordered and starts serving. VIPs being arriving at Found: Tory McPhail (EC @ Commander's Palace - we've seen him before!), and some of the Chase Sapphire preferred diners, and restaurateur, Danny Meyer.

Over at Fin, the judges arrive: Tom, Padma, David Chang, and Gail Simmons. Tom C. notes that in this situation, ECs can find it hard to have control over people with whom they're competing; but David Chang said you can't run it like a democracy - you need to be a totalitarian state back there (the kitchen).

BRIAN - Scallop Crudo, Corn & Squash Relish with Purple Corn Gel. Gail said the gel isn't a good consistency; David said "it's just too snotty."

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Stephanie says that Nicholas has such a handle on expediting. "However he's doing it should never change for the rest of his life."

Over at Found, Danny Meyer asks the VIPs if anyone got a chance to study their menus. Nope, they didn't even get a menu. Meanwhile, the staff isn't filling out the tickets the way Justin needed them to be filled out. He talks with Sara, and she goes to discuss with the staff. At the VIP table, they tell Sara they didn't get a chance to see the menus. She apologizes and walks away....even as the person who asked about the menus starts to ask her something else. She continues to walk away. Danny Meyer looks a bit astonished.

Back at Fin:

CARRIE - Sauteed Gulf Shrimp, Chickpea Puree, Oregano & Lemon (and Shrimp Butter)
STEPHANIE - Linguini with Caviar, Oyster Cream & Fennel

Carrie's shrimp is a bit overcooked, and Tom said there was an oil slick underneath, but Gail liked the flavor. Stephanie's pasta is very well received - it was perfectly cooked. Padma said service has been great, and Tom sees that everyone is happy, and Travis is chatting with the customers.

Back at Found, someone ordered the snapper, but received another dish. Justin notes that the tickets are still screwed up - including the VIP table - only half the dishes have been served? The dishes are going to the wrong tables. Sara said there are a few issues with the FOH, but that the BOH seems to be having some confusion as well.

Annnd we're back at Fin, serving the judges.

NICHOLAS - Roasted Black Drum, King Trumpet Mushrooms, Oxtail, Kale & Hibiscus Reduction. David Chang said it's a delicious dish, and Gail notes he took a chance and went bold, and paired the drum with a deep sauce.

Finally, dessert.

TRAVIS - Olive Oil Cake with Greek Yogurt, Cherries & Pistachios. Padma asks if it's the same purple gel - Tom said "No! Taste this gel!" David said it's tight. Gail said the cake wasn't as moist as it could be, but it tastes really nice.

And the judges are done and head over to Found.

Meanwhile, the VIP table service is being messed up. Runners are confused, Sara's running food and busing tables. The judges arrive, Sara schmoozes them. Sara said "No matter how much the house is burning down around you, you have to put on the FOH mask and smile." Padma goes over to the VIP table and asks how it's going. She asks what time their reservations are at the other restaurant - Danny Meyer replies "In 3 minutes, and we just got our main course!"

Sara seats the judges, and goes into the kitchen and asks Justin to fire 2 of each for the judges - he said he can but he needs tickets. Justin notes that the service is still a clusterf*ck. David Chang said the Found menu sounds better and reads better, but whether it will taste better is to be seen. Gail said service at Fin was excellent, but since they've been seated at Found, no one has come to their table to take their order or tell them that food is coming, the way Travis did at Fin...and now they're just sitting there. Tom said "I don't know what's going on with Found, but I'm about to be lost." Padma calls out to Sara to check on their first courses. She goes in to tell Justin that Padma just complained, and he said "You haven't given me tickets!" She notes privately that she had given him a verbal fire and it should have been done ASAP. Justin said "A verbal fire? Not having a ticket for the judges in Restaurant Wars is ridiculous!"

Sara gets the apps for the judges, and walks out to deliver them. She puts them down and walks away. She never explained the dishes! So the judges muddle through on their own.

CARLOS - Red Snapper Crudo, Avocado Mousse, Pickled Baby Carrots and Fried Plantano. Gail said it's not a beautifully sliced piece of fish.

JUSTIN - Roasted Parsnip Agnolotti, Mississippi Rabbit & Collard Greens Broth. Tom said it was really bad, and David Chang agreed. Tom said "it's overcooked and undercooked at the same time. And if you're going to serve consomme, you don't serve it on a flat plate." David Chang suggested that he and Tom go back there and tell them "all of you, stand in a corner....we're going to do this!"

Things are still very confused in the Found kitchen. Dishes are being brought out to diners who already have food.

Sara brings out the next dish to the judges and asks if she can get anyone anything else - Padma says "Why don't you describe the dish?"

SHIRLEY - Olive Oil Poached Cobia, Blanched Ong Choy (fried with shrimp paste) & Salsa Verde. David said the fish is delicious, and the shrimp paste is the star of the dish.

Meanwhile, the VIPs show up at Fin. Danny Meyer asks how many are banking on a slightly better experience, and they all say they are hoping for better service.

Back at Found, Sara serves the next dish - and AGAIN walks away without any description of the dish! So Gail reads it off the menu.

NINA - Pork Tenderloin with Sunchokes & Trumpet Royale Mushrooms. Tom likes the dish, and Gail said it's the best dish from this team so far. Back in the kitchen, the cream is broken because of the heat. Sara said missing the whole component just means "it's a piece of cake."

The desserts come out - and WHAT a surprise, Sara describes her own dish without any prompting!

SARA - Summer Nectarine Brown Butter Cake with Moscato Nectarine Salsa. Even Padma notes that being Sara's dish is probably the reason this was the only dish that got explained voluntarily. Gail said said it's like a weird greasy cookie. But both Gail and Padma see that it's supposed to have mascarpone and ask where it is - Sara explains the heat in the kitchen and the emulsion broke. Another diner said the dish was "so sour, and not in a good way." When Nina asks "How did it go, Sara?" she replies "As well as it could."

Back at Fin, the VIP table asks Travis if he did dessert and FOH, and he said yes, that he did all of the prep yesterday, so they just needed to plate it. When he walks back into the kitchen to tell them they're done, Nicholas asked "how'd it go?" and Travis said "Great!" I think he's right!

Padma said that the vibe at Fin was much better, and Gail said the service in general was fantastic. Tom notes that Found's poor service *could* be BOH issues. Sara notes that her team is not confident; there were many sins committed.

They're back in the Stew Room, and the TV comes on. Padma thinks both teams got psyched out by Restaurant Wars. Gail said it's a very difficult challenge. David Chang said they're cooks; that's why you have to be critical of what's on the plate. Padma said it was clear one team did do a much better job, and one failed. And the TV cuts out - very* brief!

Padma comes in and asks to see Restaurant Fin. They're the winners!

Tom said that Travis did a great job as FOH - and Padma said the BEST FOH in *all* of the Restaurant War competitions! Tom said the room felt right, and Travis said that's part of being a chef. He asked how they worked in the kitchen. Carrie said they knew they had to put egos aside, and Nicholas was their boss. Tom said "Good training!" Carrie's dish was well reviewed, Brian's gels were total opposites, Stephanie's pasta was well made, and Nicholas's fish was perfectly cooked, and Gail liked the combo of the oxtail and the black drum; Travis' dessert was well balanced.

Who is the winner overall? It's Nicholas!

Restaurant Found is asked to come in. Padma tells them their restaurant was a disaster. Sara said she didn't see a disaster...once they got rolling, she thought it went well. Padma said "So you didn't intend to explain any of the dishes to us." Sara said "I guess it didn't occur to me." Gail said "But you talked us through *your* dish!" and Shirley gave Sara a "WTF" look. Sara thought she was prompted by the judges at that point and Padma said "No, I purposely didn't ask you to do so at that point, but you did tell us about that one."

Tom asked if they thought service went well in the kitchen, and Nina said it didn't. There was a breakdown in communication. Justin said his plan of attack was entirely different than what actually happened. Justin said "perhaps I should have trained the servers" and Sara came back with "There was disorganization in the kitchen." Sara and Justin go back and forth with issues - food going out to the VIPs in stages; lags in fire times; tickets that weren't written properly. But eventually, David said the food was what went wrong. Gail said Carlos' dish should have taken just a little bit of time to get out to the table; they waited a half an hour. Justin said by the time they got a ticket for it, yes, it was a long time. Sara said "I gave you a verbal fire for it!" (Padma's mouth is open at the total mess.) Padma asks why a verbal fire, and Sara said that was her judgment call, and she apologized (yet again!).

The judges discuss the dishes. Justin's rabbit was dry; Shirley's cobia was very well received. Nina's pork tenderloin was the favorite of everyone. When Padma asked "Sara, you made dessert?" she just nods. Gail asks "Do you want to tell us about it?" and Sara replies "Apparently, it's the only thing I did tell you about already." David tells her she knew the kitchen was going to be hot; if a component of the dish wasn't going to be on the dish, she makes everyone looks bad. Tom asks Sara and Justin that as GM and Chef, should it be one of them going home? They both said yes, it should be one of them.

The judges deliberate. David said Sara took on more responsibility, but Justin should have taken more of an authoritative role. Tom asks did Sara's lack of training cause chaos in the kitchen, and everyone said yes. But their food was also the worst in both restaurants. Back in the Stew Room - Sara thinks 100% it's her going home, and Justin thinks 100% it's him. Wouldn't it be interesting if both went home?

So who's being ask to PYKAG? It's Sara. As I think it should be. In her confessional as she packs up, she thinks the culinary side was what shot her in the ass, but as they walk out of Judges Table, Tom said the lack of effort in the front of the house contributed to the mess in the kitchen. So yet again, Sara doesn't realize what the issue really was.

OK, this was a LONG one! Previews for next week shows Hubert Keller! YAY! They're also "going home" - serving dishes from their own home? I hear "squirrel" is on one of the menus!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Excellent play-by-play by LW.

    Awhile back I took my wife to Daniel in Manhattan, Boulud's flagship. The meal was wonderful. We were invited to tour the kitchen. I was struck by how quiet things were. The calm and confidence in the kitchen was reflected in our dishes. Team Fin had a measure of that calm and confidence.

    1. I think Sara deserved the PPYKAAG for simply saying 'marscapone'.

      2 Replies
      1. re: John E.

        I agree. But she's not the only one.

        (Small spoiler alert)
        Tom also pronounces it like that in LCK.

        1. re: chefhound

          Everyone in LCK called it marscapone.

      2. I think they often try to cut the foh person some slack because they're chefs and had Sara put out a good dessert, it would have been Justin. She was a disaster out front and unfortunately for her it contrasted so greatly with Travis who has a lot of experience in foh. I will defend her on the verbal fire for the judges table. Justin "needing a ticket" to fire the first course for the judges? Really? The judges sit down and you're not firing their meal without a ticket? I don't get it.
        Nicholas did a great job - possibly one of the best EC's yet.

        11 Replies
        1. re: bobbert

          As soon as I saw Nick speaking about how much better the opposing team was, I was expecting what happened. The green team was not organized from the beginning.

          I think the reason the FOH worked out so well for the winning team was mostly about how well the BOH people were working together, and specifically Nick's expediting. Travis really stepped up however. I was impressised by his performance. He made Fabio look like Radhika.

          1. re: John E.

            That's what I thought of as well, John. Nicholas mentioned how many wins the other team had, and his was the underdogs. That's when I figured the Purple Team was going to win.

            1. re: John E.

              The Found team was not as organized, but Sara made it much worse by not making sure tickets were written up correctly and clearly. Total recipe for disaster.

              I didn't hear some of the talk as I was doing other things, but it appeared they focused on d├ęcor before food and I remember thinking they are toast.


              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                Yeah, when they kept talking about decor, I knew they were in trouble. I wish Carlos had been able to insist upon discussing the menu. But I don't think Justin was going to listen. Carlos mentioned the menu twice and was shut down both times.

                1. re: chefhound

                  I think that's the fault of the team as a whole. Justin's point is that they're shopping for decor and discussing menu at that time is too late, or something to that effect. They should've done their menu planning at the beginning but I think that as stronger individual chefs, no one was willing to bend. They simply decided to make their own food, loosely around the theme of modern American.

                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                    That is the restaurant ethos. The whole idea of fin dining is to have the perfect experience, visually and sensually. An experience that I have no problems trying but it bothers me when the food even takes a slight back seat to the overall experience. To me food is supreme, I can sit in the most dire and unwelcoming room and take bad service but if the food is sublime, all is forgiven. So to me, the whole emphasis on decor in restaurant Found is the tail wagging the dog. And I think the judges agreed.

                    There are many ways to look at this, it could be that there are those in the team who are hedging their bets because they know they don't have the chops, so they focus on the extraneous. Or the idea of the overall dining experience is so ingrained that they took their eyes off the prize.

                    1. re: Phaedrus

                      Or, I wonder if having so many winning chefs on their team, they thought they'd have the food part in the bag so didn't even bother trying to put together a good concept. As long as each dish tasted good, would they lose if it weren't completely cohesive?

            2. re: bobbert

              Sara was terrible, but I thought the Green Team BOH was totally sabotaging her. The comment about getting the judge's meals fired as soon as they got a written ticket had to mean that they just said, ^*#@ it/her. Unless she does it the way I want her to, it just won't happen.

              I believe that's called cutting off your nose to spite your face.

              And it was just emblematic as to how they functioned throughout Restaurant Wars. The Green team totally deserved to lose.

              1. re: chicgail

                If it had been me in charge of BOH for Found and tickets were coming in wrong I'd have gotten together immediately, corrected the issue and gotten on with service. If I wanted tickets for everything and Sara had given me a "verbal fire" order I'd have asked her to please bring a ticket. If a minute went by and I still didn't have it I'd have followed up...Nicely, but firmly.

                I don't know about sabotage, that would be throwing themselves under the bus as well and you never know who will be packing the knives.


              2. re: bobbert

                Tom seemed dumbfounded that there was no ticket for the judges. He didn't appear to cut her any slack for that.

                1. re: JAB

                  I noticed that too. Since they were in throwing each other under the bus mode I was surprised Sara didn't throw the bs card.

              3. Still on here, but had to pop in and say holy cow! How about that red dress wearing Padma!?!

                ETA great job Linda! I am able to follow things better at this point and the recaps get more and more helpful. I don't quite get the importance of verbal vs written tickets. In medicine, it is much more worrisome to take a vetbal order when it is risky, than to take one that is routine.

                9 Replies
                1. re: Shrinkrap

                  There was one camera close up pan from Padmas plate to her face. 3 seconds on the plate. 3 seconds on her face and what felt like 10 glorious minutes getting from one to the other. Yes, that dress was indeed red.

                  1. re: bobbert

                    Yes I was surprised Linda didn't mention the gratuitous shot of Padma's boobs. They were out in full force.

                    I agree with Chefhound about Sara's shocking and fake FOH. I really thought she'd nail it, and she looked good, but she was so stiff and then all the times she never explained things and walked away too quickly. It almost was as if she was told to do that, it just seems natural to explain what's on the plate.

                    I think it's ridiculous they had to supply the kitchen for their restaurant. That hasn't been the case in other years has it? I know too much in too little time is always expected of them but that's over the top.

                    1. re: Joanie

                      They did it in Seattle. I agree that they are overcomplicating what is already a classic, and difficult challenge.

                      1. re: Wahooty

                        I must say that I truly enjoyed the celebration of cleavage as much if not more than the food porn.

                        1. re: Phaedrus

                          I didn't notice the cleavage. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

                          1. re: JAB

                            :::Scheduling an eye test for JAB:::

                            1. re: JAB

                              For the record, I don't think it was the cleavage I noticed; it was more a general observation of how.... closely, for lack of a better word, the dress fit her. It was not when she was seated at the table, but when she walked in to Fin.

                              Tis the season for formal wear, and I am well aware of what it must take to pull that off.

                        2. re: Joanie

                          Believe me, the boobage was noticed; I figured I'd leave the mention to one of you. :-) It was pretty spectacular. If you've got it, flaunt it - and Padma does.

                          As for setting up their own kitchen - they had to do that last year, I believe - the kitchen was set up outside, IIRC, because I remember Tom (and maybe another judge?) walking around the tables and asking about having to set up the kitchen.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            Every time they show her rocking a red dress I hear that song ...

                            "...Roxanne you don't have to put on the red light. Those days are over you don't have to sell your body to the night. Roxanne you don't have to wear that dress ..."

                            Not sure why.

                    2. I thought Sara's performance was shocking. She had a patently fake, robotic FOH face and I was sick of her telling the servers to smile. They all had fake grimaces as they approached the diners.

                      Also, it's unbelievable that she didn't stop to describe the dishes. Has she never seen Top Chef? Dishes are always described to the judges along with the chef's name.

                      A poor performance all around.

                      Starting to really like Nick.

                      25 Replies
                      1. re: chefhound

                        Sara seemed to really get the wind knocked out after the Vietnamese food fiasco, probably figuring she'd lost her only shot to show off her Asian cooking and had nothing left to offer.

                        Travis, the other half of the Vietnam disaster, somewhat redeemed himself by comparison tonight. Not by cooking unfortunately.

                        1. re: ennuisans

                          I thought the judges liked Travis' dessert. But he also did an outstanding job with foh.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            Agreed, the judges definitely liked Travis' dessert.

                        2. re: chefhound

                          You would also think that after Padma *asked* Sara to describe the 2nd dish, she'd remember to do so with the third one - but nope, she walked away yet again.

                          I do love how they called Sara out on that at JT when she said "Oh, I must have been prompted" when she described her own dish.

                          Travis was really stellar with his FOH performance.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            Not only did she walk away, she kind of SPED away, almost as if she didn't want to be asked.

                            1. re: roxlet

                              Which just makes her a moron for not realizing that's part of what her FOH role was.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                I think she was just so stressed out about what was happening, she ran to the kitchen to keep food going out to the diners. She should have remembered that she was in a reality TV competition and not in a real restaurant.

                                Early on, I was sort of hoping Sara would do well in the competition. She's kind of a hometown chef because she's been in the Twin Cities for years (although she is really from Milwaukee), first working for Wolfgang Puck's 20.21 in Minneapolis. I think she is probably a good executive chef, but like many other contestants in the past, this Top Chef stuff is not really always about being the best restaurant chef.

                                1. re: John E.

                                  I agree that the competition got to her. She went from competent and likeable in the 1st couple of episodes to incompetent and really unlikeable. I for one am glad to be rid of her.

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    I, too, really wanted to like Sara, hometown gal, but I thought she came off as very aloof and disengaged in this episode and, I agree with whoever said (somewhere in this thread) that she seemed to lose her mojo (and get increasily less likeable*) after the lemongrass incident. I loved her quirkyness in the beginning and was totally rooting for her. By the end of restaurant wars, I was happy to see her go. Crap attitude. Not a team player.

                                    Funnily enough, there was an article in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune last week about how the viewers had not taken a liking to Sara.

                                    Maybe during restaurant wars she was really freaking out and overwhelmed and this aloof facade was her way of coping. Or maybe she's genuinely aloof and disengaged.

                                    And what was up with not describing the dishes? That was really odd. Or some kind of strange sabotage.

                                    I wish she had a blog or something and would explain herself.

                                    Sad to say, but she deserved to go home.

                                    I do not like Travis. All style and no substance and being crowned the best FOH ever just confirm that. He should have been sent home long ago.


                                    * or is that decreasingly likeable? Ha!

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      I just read Gail's blog--she calls Sara "Smug and distracted" vs. my "aloof and disengaged." Yeah, that works, too.

                                      Linda, thanks, by the way, for the terrific recap!


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        I don't like Travis either and I'm not sure why, but he did do a great job as FOH. Although he didn't win, being called out as best FOH ever is a helluva compliment. I was happy for him.

                                        1. re: KrumTx

                                          I don't like Travis, either, and wanted to see him do poorly at FOH. he did do a great job. It was his comment about gotta put the gay guy in front of house...duh that made me cringe. Get over yourself. You're gay, we get it and no one cares (which is a good thing). Cook and do your job, that's what people care about.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            I agree.

                                            Travis seems to think that being gay gets him extra points.

                                            I hate that.

                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                              He also seems to think it's somehow unique. He said he wants to be the first gay Top Chef. I'd be surprised if many of the top winners haven't been.

                                            2. re: chowser

                                              That's it! Has there been a single episode where he hasn't mentioned he's gay? As you say, no one cares. I have yet to hear Nick tout his status as a straight chef and how that qualifies him for BOH.

                                              1. re: gaffk

                                                I wonder if it's that he hasn't come out to his dad that it's a big deal to him? Between mentioning it often and his Asian guy fetish, it's just TMI. It doesn't bother me but I don't care.

                                                1. re: chowser

                                                  Funny. I had typed and then erased something along the lines of: He's young. He probably just came out (and not fully to his family). So he thinks his sexuality defines every aspect of his life.

                                                  (I erased it because I'm not young and not gay and don't want to be an internet psychologist ;)

                                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            This Minneapolitan completely agrees with The DQ. I can only add that it is sad she's the first Minnesotan on Top Chef. Hope she is not the last.

                                            Go Nina and Shirley. Would love to see an all gals fiinal.

                                            1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                                              I like Nina and Shirley, but I want Nick in the finals.

                                              I think I'd like a final four of Nina, Shirley, Nick and Louis. Although I kinda' like Stephanie too.

                                              1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                                                The women do seem to be stronger cooks in this competition. Nick really stood out this show and I like Carlos, though he has his missteps. But, the women seem to be cooking strong.

                                    2. re: chefhound

                                      Sara's been doing that fake robotic thing, IMO, for awhile now. When the whole thing about the tickets vs. verbal fire happened, I figured she was a goner.

                                      She never especially looked excited to be on TC, IMO. She's always had that "dont' touch me" attitude going on, at least to me.

                                      1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                                        Not surprisingly, the poll on the screen as to why Sara went home - for her cooking or attitude - was overwhelmingly (93%?) her attitude.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          And my first thought is, why bother being part of TC if your heart really isn't in it? The feeling I got from her elimination comment at the end was that even though she said "it was the hardest thing I've ever done" (paraphrasing here), it was more like "I've never had to compete like this because I've always been the best and I'm a bit snippy because I now have to compete."

                                          Or least that's how she came across to me.

                                          1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                                            Yeah, she said "none of it was easy" which just made me think she expected to come in and just sail through.

                                            I think smug describes her very well. Also the way she responds to criticism: her attitude usually comes across as "I don't think I did anything wrong, but you're the judges so I'm going to fake an apology."

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              Agreed. She never seemed to own any of her mistakes, her apologies always seemed to be "I'm sorry that you perceived/experienced it that way" rather than "I'm sorry I screwed that up".