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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #11 - 12/18/13 (Spoilers)

We're going back to college! Wait...I didn't go to a real college! Oh well. The cheftestants can experience it.

Brief review in the Stew Room; Nina's sad Travis is gone. Brian says as long as you don't make a big boner mistake, you're not going home. But with only 8 now, winning immunity is going to be that more important.

They arrive back the next morning at the Top Chef Kitchen, and Padma is there with Questlove, musician and restaurateur. Their Quickfire Challenge starts out with a NOLA drum line parading through the kitchen, with a rack of poultry drumsticks. They have 30 minutes to prepare a dish using any of the drumsticks available - first come, first serve. The winner gets immunity.

They rush to get their choices; Shirley takes a header, but Nicholas helps her up instead of grabbing his protein...which Shirley promptly takes (duck) leaving Nicholas with quail. Meanwhile, Carlos dumps half of his protein on the floor and leaves it there, to which Nicholas gives a disgusted look.

Crazy preparation, including Carlos hacking away at the bone of his goose leg to try and make it more presentable on the plate - he doesn't succeed in hacking off the excess bone.

Carrie - Squab Legs Marinated in Thyme, Juniper & Cocoa Powder with Fig Mostarda

Brian - Chicken Soup, Chicken Skin Crackling with Parsley & Thai Basil

Shirley - Crispy Duck Leg with Szechuan Chili Salt & Mint

Nina - Jerk Guinea Hen Charred with Juniper Berries & Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Stephanie - Fried & Grilled Turkey Leg with Sriracha & Sour Cream Buttermilk Dressing

Nicholas - Twice-Fried Quail Legs with Sesame Sauce Rolled in Gomaiso (Bravotv.com recipe name banner said "Twice Fried Quail Eggs..." Ummm....NO.)

Justin - Chicken Drumettes with Smoked Aioli, Herb Salad & Sorghum Vinaigrette

Carlos - Fried Goose Leg with Cranberries & Apple Salad (Oops - Padma got a bit of bone in her bite!)

Least Favorite - Nicholas, Justin, Carlos
Most Favorite - Carrie, Nina, Brian

The winner? Carrie! (And Nina looks bothered by not winning)

For the Elimination Challenge they're headed to LSU Freshman Orientation. They will take over the dining hall on campus and 500 freshman will need to be fed. They can use all the ingredients and equipment that the dining hall staff uses every day. Carrie's relieved she has immunity for this challenge! Padma tells them that the winner will get a Toyota RAV 4. And tonight they'll stay in the dorms. They are to head home and pack an overnight bag and then head to the school.

While packing, Nina asks Carrie what she studied - first, it was French & German, but she didn't like it, so then went to culinary school....from which she dropped out. Meanwhile, Brian's excited to head back to school - he was a tennis star at UCLA.

In the car, Brian relates a drunk college story where his arm went through a window and he needed 110 stitches. Shirley said she just wants to take a nap, but Brian just goes on and on...and she now realizes how people feel when she talks a lot! LOL

Two freshman meet them to take them on a tour of the campus, introducing them to the live tiger on campus and bring them to their dorm rooms. Stephanie says memories of living in a dorm is coming back to her - small and stale rooms. Carrie doesn't know how to make the bed - her husband takes care of that. Shirley makes it, Carrie climbs into bed, and Shirley kisses her on the forehead and wishes her a good night and tells her don't let the bugs bite!

The next morning, they're up and at 'em and into the campus kitchen. Nicholas suggests they need to check out the stations and form a game plan and see what's available to them. They divvy out the stations, and then the ingredients. Justin notes that once someone calls out an ingredient, it pretty much means no one else can use it.

Then the discussion/mini argument of Carlos requiring his dish (fish) to be done on the plancha (big flat-top grill that Shirley had already claimed) starts up. Shirley says that Carlos' true personality starts to show...he's only out for himself.

Nicholas "marks" his oven so he knows it's available to him throughout the service. Shirley is now over at the pizza oven instead of the flat top grill, and she's stressed and pissed off.

Tom arrives to check on their status. Nina is having problems making a corn puree, as they only have a cocktail blender instead of an industrial blender. She's worried about how coarse the puree is. Justin notes that he thinks several of the dishes are going to get slammed, as he doesn't expect the college kids to be pumped up about some of the dishes.

The cheftestants end up getting their own lunch lady servers. And the students arrive and they begin serving. Nina is scrambling trying to get her fried chicken done. Carrie's cold broccoli salad station is empty - she said "It's not my fault the college students are stupid and don't want to eat their broccoli!" Brian has a long line waiting for his shrimp cakes.

Out of the blue, Carlos says "I need to cook my fish" to Nicholas, who is using his oven to warm his service plates. So Carlos has to cook his fish on the plancha the entire way through - which puts him behind in service.

Stephanie decides to put her grilled cheese sandwiches *in* the bowl of tomato soup. (She had noted before she didn't have the cheese she was hoping for - the cottage, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses are not typical grilled cheese sandwiches, but she would make do.)

The judges arrive - Gail, Padma, Tom and Emeril.

SHIRLEY - Roast Beef with Potato Puree & Fire-Roasted Tomato Relish

NINA - Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sweet Corn Puree & Pickled Onions

BRIAN - Shrimp Cake & Spinach with Chipotle Aioli

NICHOLAS - Roasted Pork, Parmesan Grits and Bacon Brown Sugar Gravy (DAMN that sounds good!)

Brian's shrimp cake sounds like it's going over well. Shirley's roast beef and tomato relish gets raves. Tom had asked Nina how many times she had fried the chicken; only once. Tom said "Ohhh, I would have gone with twice fried!" Nina said "Well, you try it, Chef!" So once Tom and Emeril try it, Emeril notes "I see what you meant about frying the chicken." Tom said "The breading is falling off." And people didn't like the corn puree - not a lot of flavor. Nicholas' pork could have been seasoned more, but the bacon relish was good.

CARRIE - Marinated Broccoli Salad with Herbed Yogurt Sauce & Pita Bread

JUSTIN - Marinated Gulf Shrimp, Cauliflower, Asparagus & Garlic Puree (Justin's food server has a beaming smile - love it!)

Justin's shrimp dish didn't have a lot of seasoning. Gail wondered to Padma if Carrie copped out because she had immunity. Padma was glad she gave them vegetables, but Gail expected more from a chef at this point in the competition.

STEPHANIE - Spicy Tomato Soup with Pimento Cheese Sandwich

CARLOS - Seared Tilapia with Chile Ancho & Mexican Coleslaw

Carlos doesn't have anything ready for the judges; Tom calls out "Come on, we're hungry!" Carlos tells Tom and Emeril that Nicholas "stole his oven" to heat his plates and apologizes. Nina hears this and is shocked that Carlos told the judges that Nick was "stealing stuff". "That's SO f**ked up!"

After they get their dishes from Carlos, Tom said to Emeril "With a line of people, you need to serve food fast!' Carlos's dish was well received, however. And Tom liked Stephanie's soup, but both he and diners didn't like the sandwich in the soup, as it fell apart when you picked it up.

Tom shows up at Nina's station when she's making more corn puree in the back. Tom says to her food server "So they're getting half the dish; that is NOT good!" Tom and Emeril go ask Nicholas about Carlos saying he stole his oven. Nicholas tells them "That's not true!" and in the confessional, he said "Really! That's interesting! I've been cooking with that oven all day, so how did I manage to steal that from Carlos? I like to cook with a lot of integrity, and if you want to question that integrity you'd better do so to my face!"

In the Stew Room, Nina said it was the toughest service. Stephanie is worried about being on the bottom, and does a bit of ad placement asking for the rest of the Terlato wine to be poured into her glass and said that it has become a safety blanket in the Stew Room. (She calls it the Kill Room.)

Nicholas said "Apparently I stole Carlos' oven" and publicly calls out Carlos for what he said to Tom and Emeril. Carlos said "I really needed an oven!" and Nina said "You should have said something!" Carlos claims he did, but it was the *timing* of the request that is the issue. Carlos said "I didn't say it in a mean way!" In the confessional, Nicholas said it was petty and that there's no reason to even say that to a judge. Nicholas tells Carlos "I roasted my meat in that oven; I turned the oven down, I put the plates in the oven to warm, and then you came over asking to use the oven, and I said no, I'm using it. And then I'm being told by a judge that you said I stole your oven. So for me, you're sandbagging me." Carlos said he would never do that on purpose and he feels bad.

The TV comes on. Brian's croquette was good, and Shirley's roast beef was enjoyed by Emeril...and he said he liked the way she used the wood oven - you know, the one she was forced to use when Carlos said he needed the plancha to cook all of his fish! Carlos's dish was late to be served, but the food was good. Stephanie's soup was good, but the grilled cheese in the soup was wrong. Justin's dish was bland, and Nina's fried chicken breading fell off, and she ran out of the corn puree. As for Carrie's vegetable dish, Tom said if she didn't have immunity, she'd probably be in the bottom. And she says she is very grateful that she had immunity.

Padma comes in and asks to see Shirley, Brian and Carlos. Nicholas quietly says "Dammit!" And as Carlos walks out of the Stew Room, he turns around with a grin on his face, almost like a "nyeah, nyeah, nyeah" look. Wow.

They are the top three dishes. Padma asks Carlos how it went for him today, and he said "It was really smooth." Umm, what? They liked his dish, but didn't like that it took 15 minutes to get a plate of his food. Brian's station was popular; Emeril said that the spinach made it, and Tom noted that most of the students he talked to said that was their favorite dish. Shirley said the only station that no one wanted to be on was the pizza oven (notice how SHE didn't throw Carlos under the bus?). Tom said it was smart that she didn't just view it as a pizza oven. Her dish was perfectly cooked and well seasoned, and her wood oven-roasted tomato relish was perfect.

Emeril announces the winner - and it's Shirley!

The judges want to see Stephanie, Nina and Justin. They are the least favorite dishes. Tom notes to Nina that the challenge included serving consistent dishes, so even though she was making more of it, her server was putting out dishes without corn puree. Gail said it was the weakest part of the dish. Tom said the students who didn't get the corn actually got a better dish, as the chicken wasn't put on the watery corn puree.

Stephanie's dish should have dialed back the cottage cheese in the quantity. Gail said it doesn't melt the way that other cheeses do. Justin says "With all respect to the other chefs, I could have probably knocked out an easy shrimp roll or something and probably crushed it, but I tried to cook the food I usually cook." Gail said "Did you go to college, Justin?" And he didn't. Gail replied "If you had spent 4 years in a college cafeteria, you would have known." Justin said "I was being way too..." and Padma said "Cheffy?" Yup. That was it. They leave while Judges deliberate.

Tom notes Nina's consistency was not good. Emeril said his corn puree wasn't bad, but Gail's was. Tom said "her corn puree was 49 shades of gray - one more shade and it was a novel!" Padma said Justin's dish was bland. Gail said "Justin was *very* consistent - consistently flavorless!" Stephanie's soup was good, but her grilled cheese was a mess. The cottage and feta cheeses just don't melt, and putting it in the soup made it a soggy mess.

Back in the Stew Room, Nina raises a glass to herself saying it was a pleasure working with them, but Nicholas said no one knows who's going home yet.

Back in the Stew Room - Tom reviews; Padma decrees. And it's Justin who is asked to PYKAG. He notes in confessional that it shows he's stubborn; he was unwilling to compromise on ingredients, and it failed him. But he's going to turn elimination into lemonade and run the table in LCK, and rejoin the TC kitchen in the finale and say "What's up, mo-fos? I'm back!"

Previews - it seems to be all about fish. Stephanie is in trouble with her plating, Carlos thinks Nicholas is only thinking about himself when Nicholas won't lend him a sharp sushi-grade knife....might that be a case of pot, meet kettle?

* * * PROGRAMMING NOTE! * * * -- There is no new Top Chef on Wed., 12/25/13 or Wed., 1/1/14.

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  1. Thanks so much, Linda! My TiVo crashed 27 minutes in and took over 10 minutes to reboot, so your recap is how I'm "watching" the show this week. Given your detailed descriptions of the action, it's plenty good enough.

    1 Reply
    1. re: davis_sq_pro

      Aww, thanks, d_s_p! Just made a few minor fixes, and I'm off to sleep. :-)

    2. You know, I don't want to pre-judge Carlos based on a preview (I know it might be a red herring) but based on his behaviour this week and the preview, I'm not liking him so much any more.

      I've been pro-Carlos so far but even without the oven thing, I thought he was particularly difficult about the plancha. And then to get sulky about the oven after making such a stink about getting the plancha...

      Somehow I don't think Carlos would have been able to turn his dish into a win the way Shirley did if he was forced to take the pizza oven.

      And about the preview: Why doesn't Carlos have sharp knives? And if what the preview suggests is true, this would be the second time that Carlos is slicing fish poorly. I'm not a chef but my knives are always sharp. It just makes prep so much easier and enjoyable.

      Hats off to Shirley for being able to completely change her plan from fried rice to roast beef without blinking and then pulling out a win.

      11 Replies
      1. re: chefhound

        chefhound, that's exactly what ticked me off about Carlos in this ep. He was *determined* to have the plancha, which Shirley gave up. But never said anything about also needing the oven....until he needed it.

        1. re: chefhound

          I'm not defending Carlos. I think Carlos doesn't have a sushi knife (not just any sharp knife) so he wants to borrow Nick's.

          1. re: Worldwide Diner

            I've never made sushi. Do you need a special knife?

            1. re: chicgail

              "One unique trait of sushi and sashimi knives is their single beveled edge. These knives are sharpened so that only one side holds the cutting edge and the other side remains flat."

              I'm not a sushi chef - can't tell you whether one "needs" a sushi knife. I happen to have one but I don't make sushi at home and I've never used it (twas a gift).

            2. re: Worldwide Diner

              After having thrown him under the bus in the previous episode.

              1. re: JAB

                that term is sooooo over used... lets use tossed him to the gators

            3. re: chefhound

              Maybe none of his knives are sharp enough because he uses the to hack on bones.

              1. re: John E.

                That almost caused me physical pain. With all the effort I put into maintaining my knives, I cringed each time he hacked the bone.

                1. re: John E.

                  LOL, I think that technique might work before they're cooked.

                2. re: chefhound

                  He whined until Shirley gave up the Plancha because he HAD to have that, then he whined that he needed the oven. Everyone had one station not two. I'd like to see Shirley win, actually, and I really like Carrie and Nina.

                  1. re: chefhound

                    I've been Carlos neutral until this episode and the preview of the next episode...

                    Bravo to Shirley. What looked like very basic meat and potatoes must have tasted much better than it looked. However, where was the complete poetic justice of her winning and Carlos told to PYKGH?

                  2. Eliminade. Elemonade. I'll work on it.

                    1. "Let's hate Carlos" edit!

                      Thanks Linda!

                      And ohs nose! Nina on the bottom! THAT was close!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                        I don't think that they had to work hard for that edit.

                        I know, Nina on the bottom! I was saying her chicken component was good, Stephanie's soup component was good and Justin's was bad just all around...

                      2. Wow Justin has a big chip on the shoulder. He never went to college and he never went to culinary school but he thinks he's better than everyone else. However, he has been on the bottom consistently for the last few weeks, often not knowing that his food just wasn't very good. Can't improve if you don't understand what went wrong. I was hoping he could turn things around, but that just did not happen.

                        Since when did carlos become such a prima donna?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                          Maybe he's not "such a prima dona." Maybe the elves needed to create a villain.

                          I agree that what we saw was not impressive, and they couldn't use it if he didn't say it, but I'm not yet ready to throw the towel in on him..

                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                            Yea, if Carlos wasn't going to go home...

                          2. Thanks Linda! It really is like rewatching the show a 2nd time.
                            At first I thought Nicholas was being the dick with the oven as I was having a difficult time with the "you can't cook your food in here because I'm warming plates" but the more I thought about it, Carlos was showing way too much of an entitled persona. 1st, the flat top, then the oven.
                            Alright Shirley! After losing the flat top and having to change from her original plan (beef fried rice which I think she would have killed) to come up with a plan B and win was great.
                            Whatever happened to flipping a coin for such things?
                            Nina's puree did look nasty.
                            Stephanie: I've been thinking real hard and still can not think of worse cheeses to use in a grilled cheese. Go to plan B yourself next time.
                            I was OK with Carrie's decision not to battle for prime food/station. I thought it a noble move. Didn't help her cooking reputation much but I'm still good with it.
                            Toyota finally ponied up a car!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: bobbert

                              Yeah, I can't even believe that Stephanie went with cottage and feta cheeses in a grilled cheese sandwich. When she was shown cutting one into quarters to put into a soup, the cheese curds just squished out. I didn't even see any melting.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Pimento cheese is a spread, usually made with grated cheddar and mayo. Did she just grab All the Cheese and think she could make a workable, meltable spread? She seemed to be a big fan of cheese.

                                1. re: momjamin

                                  I think that's what she did, momjamin. She was mixing the cheeses together by hand, and it just looked like a curdled mess.

                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                  That was the most foul looking grilled cheese I have ever seen. And it was funny to me, because grilled cheese wasabout the best thing my colleg caf did.

                              2. I can't quite figure Brian out. Has he been flying under the radar on purpose? I thought he was one of the weaker chefs but the judges and others love his food.

                                Of the remaining contestants, only Stephanie seems weak compared to the others. I don't see anyone as a shoo-in to go to the finals.

                                1. I would have pictured Brian as a grunge student, not an athlete. That tennis photo of him was awesome. An athletic scholarship to UCLA is a pretty damn big deal. Good for him!

                                  I'm really liking Brian - a solid chef with a bite of sarcasm. His persona reminds me of Edward Lee.

                                  Agree with the poster who said these recaps are like being able to watch it again. Thank you, Linda, as always!

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: KrumTx

                                    I also was surprised at that tennis photo. Not the image would have had!

                                    1. re: KrumTx

                                      I was surprised too! Especially since he implied he was a heavy drinker. And just getting INTO UCLA is tough these days ( they get something like 75,000 applications a year; I think the most in the country)!

                                      PROFILE OF ADMITTED FRESHMEN FALL 2012

                                      Did he say "I passed up" a scholarship?

                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                        Shrink, I didn't hear that part about passing it up. I may have just assumed he was on an athletic scholarship when I heard tennis and UCLA.

                                        75,000 applications per year is astounding! A lot of kids in my area grow up wanted to attend the University of Texas, but they won't even consider you if you're not in the top 10% of your class. It's quite the change from a couple of decades ago when a state-school admittance was a guarantee if you carried even a passing high school grade.

                                        1. re: KrumTx

                                          It was 99,559 applicants for the Fall 2014 class. They usually admit about 20 percent of applicants (lower admit rate in state), and the average admit has a 4.2 GPA.

                                          Mods; this is still about Brian!

                                      2. re: KrumTx

                                        Brian's really growing on me . . .I loved his drunken arm injury (well, OK, not the injury, but the way he was laughing about it). I suspect he gave up his tennis scholarship because of the NCAA's drug testing policies ;)

                                        But his food has been looking good.

                                      3. Good to finally get caught up. Have been avoiding these threads and LW 's wonderful recaps until I had seen all of the episodes.

                                        Have to say I like Carlos but he was certainly portrayed as a real weenie on this episode. Personal I thought Brian's dish seemed more interesting.

                                        Overall have been impressed with the quality of the cooking this season.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. Dear God ....

                                          A grilled cheese sandwich made with cottage cheese?

                                          Who in their right mind would do that?

                                          1. * * * PROGRAMMING NOTE! * * *

                                            There is no new Top Chef on Wed., 12/25/13 or Wed., 1/1/14.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              Well, crap. Now I'll have to re-learn names on 1/8.

                                              1. re: KrumTx

                                                LOL! There's only 7 of 'em left, so it shouldn't be *too* hard.

                                                Interesting stats from Wikipedia on their contestant progress on their wins/highs/lows/QF wins. Shows they're all relatively even, with Brian the only one without an EC Win.

                                                Nina - 2 Win / 4 High / 2 Low / 2 QF (incl Team Lakshmi QF)

                                                Carlos - 2 Win / 4 High / 0 Low / 1 QF (Team Lakshmi QF)

                                                Stephanie - 1 Win / 3 High / 3 Low / 0 QF

                                                Nicholas - 2 Win / 2 High / 2 Low / 1 QF (Team Lakshmi QF)

                                                Shirley - 2 Win / 1 High / 0 Low / 2 QF

                                                Brian - 0 Win / 2 High / 3 Low / 2 QF (incl Team Lakshmi QF)

                                                Carrie - 1 Win / 4 High / 0 Low / 2 QF

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  Interesting stats. I think Nina, Nicholas and Carrie have the best shots, with Brian as a possible dark horse.

                                                  It's taken a while to learn names. I've been bemoaning my fading memory. Was telling my sister this week that I needed a new coffee maker but I couldn't find the word for carafe (I want a glass one, not a thermos-type.) I just kept saying, 'You know, that thingie with the handle thingie that holds the coffee."

                                                  Forty-six is doing a number on my basic memory skills.

                                                  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my fellow Top Chef posters. It's a pleasure to meet up with you guys each week. See you in the New Year!

                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                That's a long layoff . . . Hope you don't get rusty LW ;)

                                                Have a wonerful holiday season and happy new year!

                                              3. There is no realistic way to edit Carlos whining to Tom and Emeril as anything but a punk move.

                                                This season there seems to be a lot of "I call." I wonder if the producers push that for dramatic effect. 'Cause if I were there it would be Paper/Rock/Scissor or reaux chambeaux.

                                                1. I guess I'm old. I never heard of Questlove before now. Of course, I'm not really in the Hip Hop demographic.

                                                  Stephanie's turkey legs cannot be cooked to tender in 30 minutes without using a pressure cooker.

                                                  Carlos is lucky he did not wreck his chef's knife when he was hacking at that goose leg. That's why every cook needs to own a cleaver. 

                                                  I think that tiger needs to go to a zoo with wide open spaces instead of that small cage.

                                                  Not since Angelo made 'Ants on a Log' has a  contestant punted an EC like Carrie did. The fact that  Carrie didn't know how to make a bed is even more sad than her broccoli. 

                                                  Justin said nobody would be interested in cold broccoli. It appears they were not interested in cold asparagus either. How could an underseasoned shrimp dish be 'chefy'? 

                                                  If Justin really was a cook at that cafeteria, he would be wearing a beard net as well as a hairnet.

                                                  I thought the mascot's reaction upon seeing Padma was kind of funny.

                                                  Shirley must have cooked that eye of round to perfection because that is not a great cut of beef. She said she wanted to win the car and give it to her parents. I think her parents are in China. I suppose Toyota could arrange for the car to be picked up there, maybe not.

                                                  If every chef got their own cooking station for their protiens, then Carlos was out of line. If he needed both the flat top and the oven for his dish, then he should have cooked something different. He also should not have complained to Emeril and Tom. That was a chickenshit thing to do. 

                                                  I have noticed that this season there does not seem to be a villain (this episode notwithstanding). 

                                                  Tom and Emeril thought Justin's dish was even worse than Carrie's broccoli. 

                                                  10 Replies
                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    agree on so many points.
                                                    why carrie couldn't come up with something better than essentially steamed broccoli with some kinda sauce is beyond me.

                                                    and yeah, the tiger just made me sad. Even the mascot made me sad, by proxy

                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                      A lone male tiger in a cage with no companionship made me very sad.

                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                        I looked it up, the tiger has a 15,000 square foot habitat with a run ing stream and pool of water. I'm still not a fan of these kinds of enclosures.

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          Awww Mike has it pretty good...as all the "mikes" have been born in captivity and not harvested from the wild... and he is handled under strict regulation... he doesnt travel to out of town games anymore because they found out it was too stressfull.. and he is treated better than that big ol longhorn Texas has....

                                                          1. re: girloftheworld

                                                            Hmmmm....well it could make a great movie.

                                                      2. re: John E.

                                                        He's evolved well beyond his Hip - Hop roots (pun intended). His band the Roots is the band for the Jimmy Fallon show and I believe Jimmy Fallon is going to be taking over the Tonight Show.

                                                        1. re: JAB

                                                          Ahhh....OK, I thought he looked familiar!

                                                        2. re: John E.

                                                          "I thought the mascot's reaction upon seeing Padma was kind of funny."

                                                          I must have missed that but, you should have seen my wife's reaction to my reaction of seeing Padma.

                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                            I think the biggest surprise I had on this episode was that I assumed a relatively high percentage of the students would be vegetarians - and instead there were apparently none, or at least none shown. When I was in college about 25% of the students on the meal plan were vegetarians, including me - of course I did go to school in California:)

                                                            If Carrie's pathetic broccoli and dip dish and Stephanie's tomato soup and nasty grilled cheese had been the only vegetarian options at a meal, there would have been a sit-down strike in the dining hall in my day. Awful.

                                                          2. Carrie should have been in the bottom 3. It should not have mattered that she had immunity. That should have come after the fact that her dish was one of the worst.

                                                            I'm not absolutely sure if that was the case but it sure seemed like it. It seemed like they excluded her because she couldn't have been eliminated and that would have diminished the drama at Judge's Table. However, that sucks for whoever is 4th from the bottom.

                                                            And now that the group remaining is getting smaller, there's a significant difference between 3rd vs 4th from the bottom.

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: seamunky

                                                              It sucks for 4th from the bottom, but only for the time that they have to wonder whether or not they are going home. It doesn't change the end result.

                                                              1. re: seamunky

                                                                I was surprised Carrie wasn't called out, the judges do bring people with immunity to the elimination which means it's a 1 out of 2 chance of going home for the others. Which seems a tad unfair, wonder if they're changing that. On the other hand, I agree with Bobbert's comment "I was OK with Carrie's decision not to battle for prime food/station. I thought it a noble move. Didn't help her cooking reputation much but I'm still good with it." But she could have done something more exciting. On the other hand again, with so many vegetarian kids, I would have thought more would have given her dish a shot.

                                                                I can't imagine cooking for 500 people by myself. How can you fry chicken for 500 and cook 500 pieces of fish? It seems like that was barely taken into consideration.

                                                                I was hoping Brian would win, it seemed to be such a popular dish and a shrimp cake with actual pieces of shrimp sounds delicious.

                                                                1. re: Joanie

                                                                  Yeah, I plan to make shrimp cakes sometime soon. Cheaper than crab.

                                                                  If I were Carrie I would have done some kind of spicy corn and black bean salad, or maybe a riff on hummus with a spicy bean or eggplant puree and some kind of flat bread. The brocolli just looked incredibly boring.

                                                                  1. re: Joanie

                                                                    I was thinking that by the nature of the challenge, Carrie did the noble thing in basically sitting out the EC. She decided not to fight for ingredients (remember, someone said once a chef picks an ingredient no one else can have it - i guess there were limited quantities) or a station because of the immunity. She could have been an ass and also needed the flat top or the oven or the shrimp, etc. but she might have ended up screwing someone else. She probably could have done a better job regardless. If it were a straight up challenge without the battle for product or station, I'd like to believe she would have done a better job.
                                                                    The judges might have brought her out as an "addition" (a 4th) to judges table to chastise her but...
                                                                    Actually, wasn't Josie at judges table with her raw turkey and told she'd be packing if she hadn't had immunity? That might have been a team challenge. Since I'm long past 46, i have trouble remembering these things.

                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                      Josie was out there with the entire team I believe, not just the bottom three.

                                                                  2. re: seamunky

                                                                    Yeah, I found this very inconsistent. I remember more than once someone with immunity being called in (and called out) at JT, and told they were lucky to have immunity.

                                                                    The same should have gone for Carrie.

                                                                    1. re: WNYamateur

                                                                      However, in the past, they didn't have the TV screen in the Stew Room to allow the cheftestants to view some of what the judges said prior to calling in the bottom group.

                                                                      This time, Carrie *heard* from Tom that she would have been in the bottom 3 had she not had immunity. So it would have just been superfluous to have brought her into Judges Table.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        Linda, I hesitate to argue with you - you're my hero.

                                                                        While it would not have affected Carrie, it would have affected whichever of the other three that would have been spared.

                                                                        1. re: WNYamateur

                                                                          Argue away, WNY! :-)

                                                                          But IIRC, when Josie was brought in to be told she *would* have been the one to go home had she not had immunity, there were a total of four people there. So the other three were still up for elimination. I also can't recall if this was a team effort, but I think it was, which is why she was brought in anyway.

                                                                          But they *could* have done the same by bringing in Carrie - even though this was an individual challenge. Although that would have set a new precedent by bringing in someone with immunity just to ream them out.

                                                                  3. What's the deal with 'twice fried' chicken? I have heard of twice fried french fries of course (the only way to properly do it) and of course there were Janine's twice fried shrimp. I cannot recall anyone mentioning twice fried chicken before this episode.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      "What's the deal with 'twice fried' chicken?"

                                                                      I was curious about that as well. I wondered if it was supposed to keep the crust from falling off; the chief complaint.

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          Okay, and extra crispy is nice. Real nice. And twice fried potatoes make a lot of sense to me if they taste good, AND shorten the time needed between prep and serve. I think you can do the first fry, then hold until almost ready to serve, is that right? But for this challenge, would twice frying chicken have helped her win?

                                                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                            I don't think twice-fried chicken would have helped her win. Her corn puree was still pukey looking, and Shirley and Brian both had very strong dishes.

                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                        Korean chicken is twice fried. It makes it super crispy and delicious.

                                                                      2. Am I the only one that was disappointed in the college setting? Here they are in one the great food cities in the world and they go all lunch lady on us? That and the super fast editing, which was not unique to this episode, but seems much worse this season, is making it harder for me to follow along on what they are making and how the interactions go together. Only makes Linda's recap that much more amazing. You got skillz girl.


                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                          Only due to the pause and rewind buttons on the remote, JB. :-) But thanks.

                                                                          As for the college setting, they *did* have a pretty decent selection of food items. This just seems to go hand-in-hand with the "make do with what you have" challenges in the past.

                                                                        2. Last week I said I liked everyone except Justin but after this episode I'm not so sure. As for Nick if he is such a "gentleman with integrity" why does he have to keep saying it? Carlos is definitely looking bad but when Shirley said 'that Carlos' true personality starts to show...he's only out for himself' well duh, as if she isn't! Isn't this supposed to be a contest? Speaking of contests, what is with Carrie? Her dish was a joke. She should have stayed in bed. Gail should have too after her condescending remarks to Justin about not going to college.

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                              I think Berheenia means what I wrote in my OP:

                                                                              "Gail said "Did you go to college, Justin?" And he didn't. Gail replied "If you had spent 4 years in a college cafeteria, you would have known."

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                I didn't think that was so condescending. Gail was just saying that he'd know more what would have worked for college kids if he'd eaten the stuff himself. On the other hand, I can see him wanting to try a dish that isn't dumbed down to cafeteria style (not that he was so successful with that).

                                                                                1. re: Joanie

                                                                                  That's the manner in which I thought it was said as well, Joanie.

                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    I agree, but I also see that it could come across as condescending to someone who didn't go to college; "you don't know the "trouble" my privileged life has afforded me"

                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                      I was surprised my reaction wasn't shared by many of you but I've moved on. And it appears that Justin has a thicker skin than I do too. He gave really positive interview after he PYKAG and said he had a blast and would love to do it again.


                                                                                      1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                        By "my reaction" you mean Gail as condescending? OTOH, how many of us are sharing Gail's college experience? I imagine many other college experiences, many of which don't include a residential, eating on campus experience. Most people don't have that.

                                                                          1. So about those shrimp cakes. Any thoughts on how to reproduce? Just sub shrimp for crab? Do you think it needs more binder than crab since shrimp is not as moist?

                                                                            1. Linda, I love your reviews so much! Thank you. I usually have to record the show and watch it later. I used to catch up on the weekend, now I watch ASAP so I can check this thread.

                                                                              I just wanted to note that my digital tv schedule (verizon fios) and Bravo's website say that there is a new episode on New Year's Day.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: hippiechickinsing

                                                                                Thanks, hippiechick, for the compliment! And I just checked TVGuide.com; still nothing on a new TC. Then again, they're not known for being as up-to-date as they should be. I just checked Verizon FiOS onlinje and it does show a new episode on New Year's Day (night). I'll have to keep an eye on it and send out the TC Bat Call closer to airtime if it's a real new airing. Thanks!

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  Merry Christmas Linda, all is quiet in the E. household, the mice are all put to bed.

                                                                                  Our Comcast shows a new episode on 01/01/14 "Mississippi Mud Bugs". It looks like the QF is going to be crawfish etouffee.

                                                                                  My only trip to NOLA was in October so I could not get a crawfish boil but I did get to eat crawfish etouffee. We also ate at Besh Steak (and I certainly did not have steak, but I wish we would have ordered the bone marrow).

                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                    Yes, my local newspaper also shows a new episode of Top Chef tonight at the usual 10 eastern time.

                                                                                      1. re: nosh

                                                                                        Yup - TV Guide online shows it as another John Besh episode with etoufee, but doesn't show it as a NEW episode. So I'm getting ready. :-)