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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #12 - 01/01/14 (Spoilers)

LindaWhit Jan 1, 2014 08:36 PM

We're back! Down to 7 cheftestants. They toast themselves in the Stew Room. Nina realizes being on the bottom is a reality check; and she doesn't want to be there anymore. Carrie said while she's sad Justin is gone, she's glad she doesn't have to compete against him.

Stephanie calls her boyfriend the next morning. She had hired him at one of "her" restaurants (umm, not actually your restaurant, Steph!), to work as a line cook. She had a crush on him, so she got herself scheduled to work the line with him every Saturday night and things progressed from there. He stuck with her last season when she got booted the first episode, so she wants to prove to him she can win it.

Meanwhile, Nicholas is still upset that Carlos lied to the judges, and pretty much says so in front of Carlos as they're buttoning up their TC chef coats.

The head back into to TC kitchen, which is crawling with crawfish. John Besh and Padma greet them, as does a crawfish who has his claws raised as if to fight the chefs.

The Quickfire Challenge is to make etouffée. They want their interpretation of the dish, with Padma telling them all that the word means "to smother" in French. The winner will get immunity, and they have 45 minutes.

It turns out that Stephanie is allergic to shellfish - she can eat any seafood *unless* it turns red in water. Carlos gets her her shellfish so she doesn't have to touch them. She has an epi-pen handy, and Carrie has told her she will stab her in the back (with the epi-pen!) should the need arise. Nicholas also tells her that if she needs him to taste her dish for seasoning, she should let him know.

Carlos has never heard of etouffée, so he's making a Mexican soup that usually uses shrimp, but he'll use the crawfish. Shirley is going with a Singaporean style etouffée, and Brian is going with Korean flavors.

Nina - Italian Style Etouffée with Pici Pasta & Tomato Crawfish Broth (both Besh and Padma like Nina's dish)

Carrie - Spanish-Style Etouffée with Crawfish Broth, Chickpeas & Almonds

Nicholas - Crawfish with Shrimp Mousse Stuffed in Napa Cabbage with Brandy & Corn

Shirley - Singapore Chili Crab Etouffée with Crawfish Stock, Cucumber & Egg (VERY much enjoyed by Besh)

Brian - Etouffée with Gochujang, Corn, Peppers, Crab Meat, Crawfish Andouille & Pasta

Carlos - Soup with Crawfish, Guajillos, Garlic, Corn, Potatoes & Crispy Chorizo. Padma asked Carlos "what are you smothering?" and he doesn't know what she means. She redefines what Etouffée means (literally, "to smother") and Carlos said "I put some crispy chorizo in there."

Stephanie - Crawfish Bisque with Parisian Gnocchi & Poached Crawfish

Bottom Dishes - Carrie, Nicholas, Stephanie, Carlos
Top Dishes - Brian, Nina, and Shirley

The winner is Shirley - thanks to her husband, since she perfected the dish for him.

For the Elimination Challenge, Louisiana Seafood is having a party at the River City Plaza at Mardi Gras World. The cheftestants are to provide the food. John Besh said that local chefs are inspired by the bounty of what the Gulf provides, and they often combine lots of different seafoods together. They are to create a dish highlighting at least two different seafoods. Padma tells them they will have 3 hours to cook on location before 1000 guests arrive. The shock on the cheftestants' faces is palpable! And then Padma says "I'm only kidding! It's only 200!" Both she and Besh laugh at their relief. But John Besh has a surprise for them - he's going to take them to his home on Bayou Liberty tonight and cook simple Louisiana food for them.

Gorgeous mansion he lives in; he prepares various appetizers and dishes for them - old school Louisiana food. He has the winner, Shirley, taste a dish to tell him what else is needed - just a little more salt, she says, so he adds a bit more salt from the salt pig!

Brian asks Besh's wife if she grew up in Louisiana as well, and she says that she and Besh grew up together - they knew each other from kindergarten.

Besh asks them what is the best part and worst part of Top Chef; Stephanie notes that this is her second shot at Top Chef. She said you win some, you lose some, but her pride in her cooking has continued to rise. Besh said that some of the best chefs perform the worst, because they bite off more than they can chew, and that was always his fault - you overthink it. He said as you grow, you learn to cook from your heart.

The next day, they head off to the challenge. Brian asks Carlos "You're doing crudo? Better have sharp knives." He said "Any time crudo is thick, it doesn't eat the same. You saw yesterday at John Besh's house, they were all consistent."

They arrive at Mardi Gras World and run to the seafood truck to choose what they're going to cook with. Some take amberjack and tuna, some take swordfish and shrimp, some take wahoo, some take oysters and tuna, some take oysters and flounder.

Nicholas doesn't like the brinyness of his buckets of pre-shucked oysters, so he finds a tray of fresh unshucked oysters and starts to open them. He knows it'll take a very long time to prep his food. Meanwhile, Carlos says he knows during Restaurant Wars, the slices of his fish wasn't well received, so he's going to go as thin as he can. He looks to be butchering the cutting of the crudo using his knife, and asks Nicholas if he has a sushi knife he could use. Nicholas said no, only the one he's using. Then in the camera confessional, Nicholas said "Seriously? If you want to do sushi, shouldn't you have a knife that is sharp enough to do that? Why do you have to borrow mine?" Carlos says in the confessional "Nicholas, stop thinking about yourself, and start thinking about other people." IRONIC coming from Carlos.

Forty-five minutes to service, Carrie is pressed for time forming the fritters she's making, but she knows there's no safe area to hide anymore, so she has to pull it out. Meanwhile, Carlos asks Nicholas *again* if he can borrow his sushi knife. Nicholas is not super-thrilled with him asking, but he sees that Carlos is a bit behind so he cleans his sharp knife and hands it to Carlos, saying "this is very important to me - it was a wedding gift." Carlos' cuts seem to be going much better but he's still running out time. He thinks the only way to save time is to cut the portions in half, but he doesn't want to be sent home for serving too little fish.

The guests start to arrive and partake of the food, and then the judges arrive...Colicchio, Padma, John Besh and Hugh Acheson. Padma asks the other judges what the risk is for this competition - Besh said thinking about cooking for 200 people vs. figuring out the dish that would win. Tom C. said he'd rather fail in a big way vs. being stuck in the middle.

Stephanie has a long line, but she said when she figured out what dish she was going to make, she didn't think about plating. She's batch-frying her oysters a la minute so everyone had the same dish. The judges are looking at her line and realizing that she's backed up.

BRIAN - Grilled Swordfish, Shrimp & Sweet Onion Purée with Fennel Daikon Relish. Besh thinks he did a great job cooking the fish, with the bit of spice at the end, Tom C. also really likes his dish.

NICHOLAS - Oysters 3 Ways: Oyster Leek Soup, Oyster Champagne Emulsion, Oyster Green Apple Yogurt & Cured Amberjack. Hugh said it's technically sound, and tastes advanced, but both he and Padma say that it needs some acid.

CARRIE - Flounder Croquettes with Oyster Emulsion & Pickled Cucumbers. Tom C. asks her with beautiful whole fish, why did she purée it? She said she loves bacalao and loves fritters, so she had to go that way. As Tom walks away, she swears under hear breath and said she realizes that flounder is a delicate seafood and perhaps she didn't highlight the seafood well enough. Besh said the flavor is good, but Tom said he doesn't understand why she puréed the whole fish - you do that with scraps. Besh said the redeeming factor was the little salad on top. Tom said "Yeah, if we were doing the challenge for the Louisiana Cucumber Council, it would be great!" LOL

SHIRLEY - Tuna & Amberjack Ceviche with Aged Soy Sauce, Lime Dressing & Toasted Pecans (and Crispy Fried Shallots). Hugh liked the dish, bright flavors, and the pecans added a nice bite. Padma said she she also looked happy, and Hugh replied "Good food is cooked by happy people."

NINA - Marinated Wahoo with Salsa Verde, Tonnato Sauce & Pickled Vegetables. Besh loved the seared wahoo, Tom thinks the flavors are great.

CARLOS - Amberjack Ceviche with Rustic Peach & Shrimp Relish. Hugh thinks the fish was under-seasoned, and it needed a bit of acid. Meanwhile, Tom said the dish tasted good, but he thought the fish needed to be cut more thickly! LOL Besh thought the dish as a whole was good, but he didn't taste the fish.

STEPHANIE - Fried Louisiana Oysters with Tuna & Pickled Beech Mushrooms. Besh said the acid's good, Tom said the oyster is fresh, which is the toughest challenge. They both seemed to like the dish.

The judges do a bit of on-site discussion about how the chefs highlighted the Louisiana seafood, and Besh said the foods that were made spoke of the chefs and told them a story. Meanwhile, Nicholas walks over to Carlos' station and finds his special knife tucked back amongst the prep dishes. He pulls it out, and calls out to Carlos and said "Are you done?" Carlos puts his hands together as if praying and bows in thank you, and nods yes. Nicholas walks away. He said there's dried crusty pieces of fish stuck to the knife - Carlos didn't clean his knife. He said "if I go out of my way to let you borrow something you should sure as hell go out of your way to take care of my knife!" He's pissed off.

Nina asks "Did you get your knife back from Carlos?" Nicholas shakes his head and said it was just sitting out, crusted up with shit. Now it's all stained up. Nina says in the confessional "In the chef world, somebody's knife is very personal. It's an extension of you. I'd be pissed as well." Carlos comes over and says to Nicholas "You put away your knife, right?" Nicholas said "Yeah, I cleaned the shit out of it!" Carlos replies "I'm sorry - I can clean it for you!" Nicholas retorts "I've already cleaned it. I told you it was an important knife to me!" Carlos said in the confessional that he realizes he messed up; he didn't have time to clean up, yeah, it's his fault. But he's here to compete, and that's what he's going to do. Nicholas feels like he was taken advantage of and won't trust Carlos again.

In the in-between, Stephanie and Nina discuss how beautiful Padma is and that her hair is perfect. Stephanie said "I wear my hair in a ponytail every day, and I've been doing that for 28 years, and mine doesn't look that way!" They realize that Padma could hear Stephanie talk about her, as she just played with her hair. Stephanie said "Do you think we'd get in trouble if we just walked up to them and said 'Padma, your shorts look really great today; I love your shoes. You have a hair out of place. Please pack up your brush and go.'" :-)

They're in the Stew Room. The TV comes on, and Besh said they executed the use of the Louisiana seafood very well, but Tom said he would have liked to have seen more seafood on some dishes. Besh said he was surprised at how much raw seafood there was; they played that safe, ceviche card. But Padma thought Nina's was the most flavorful, and Besh was pleased she chose the wahoo. He also thought Shirley's ceviche dish was very good, as he could taste the different fish she used. Tom and Padma thought Brian's dish was excellent, and Hugh and Tom both liked Stephanie's perfect fried oyster. Besh said Carlos' shrimp, peaches, and habanero went well together; you just couldn't taste the fish. Tom said he watched Carlos slice the fish, and then watched him cut it in half. They ended up having a fruit salad with some fish in it. Tom thought Nicholas's concept was overthought with the champagne foam; Hugh said it was flat. Padma and Tom were surprised at Carrie's croquette. (I think we know how the bottom three are!)

Padma comes in and asks for Stephanie, Nina and Brian. They are the top group - and Nicholas is pissed. Padma notes that Stephanie seems relieved, and she is. Tom asked if she had thought about being in the land of fried oysters, and she said she hadn't thought it that far through when she conceived the dish. Besh said when he saw the fried oyster, he thought "really?" but that she pulled it off. Hugh said the salad element made the dish light.

Tom tells Brian that he could have had a bowl of the sauce and been happy. Besh thought it was gutsy to cook the fish a la minute for 200 people, and he pulled it off.

Nina wanted to highlight the seafood in the best way possible. Hugh said he liked the spicing on her dish, and appreciated her using the wahoo. Padma said the flavors were out of this world.

The winner, as announced by John Besh, is Stephanie! YAY! She looks to Nina with a big happy grin and says "I'm gonna puke!" She's very pleased that she did so well with this Besh challenge, as compared to her tomato challenge sorrows.

Nicholas, Carlos, and Carrie are sent in to hear the bad stuff. Carrie's croquette was perfectly crispy and crunchy, but when she did all the over-preparation to the fish, you no longer taste the inherent flavor of the fish, which was already subtle. Tom asks her if this was the best way to highlight the fish, and Carrie said she was trying to show technique as well. Tom said "This wasn't about technique; it was about highlighting seafood."

Carlos's peach and shrimp salsa was good, but the piece of fish was too small. Tom called it a peach dish, and not a fish challenge.

Nicholas had a good complexity to his dish, but to Hugh, it was a textural issue and an acid issue. Tom said the dish ate really soft. The apple was too small so the crunch was lost. Besh said the amberjack just appeared to be thrown in.

The judges deliberate. Hugh didn't like Carrie's sauce and didn't elevate the flounder. Carlos didn't highlight the amberjack or shrimp. Nicholas highlighted the oyster flavor, but the texture was his downfall.

They're back in front of the judges; whooshing camera shots; Tom reviews. Padma announces who's asked to PYKAG - it's Carrie. (Wow! I *really* thought it was going to be Carlos, considering how much he was highlighted in this episode!) Padma watches them walk away, and says she's going to miss Carrie in the kitchen. But Tom said she didn't highlight the seafood. (But then again - neither did Carlos! They got a a fruit salad, whereas at least Carrie's croquette was perfectly cooked! I'll be interested to read Hugh's blog on how this judging went - I still think it should have been Carlos to go home.)

The other chefs are disappointed to see her going. She heads off to Last Chance Kitchen.

Previews show Jacques Pepin in the kitchen with Padma, and it seems to be a French vs. Spanish competition.


  1. n
    nosh Jan 1, 2014 08:56 PM

    Another great recap, lindawhit. Especially considering you weren't expecting a new episode today.

    I am in last place in our three-member family Top Chef fantasy challenge, with only Brian (and Louis from Last-Chance Kitchen) remaining for my winner.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nosh
      cwdonald Jan 3, 2014 10:08 AM

      wow pretty soon you will get points for which contestant wins quickfire, or the elimination challenge. Fantasy Top Chef will sweep the nation.

    2. John E. Jan 1, 2014 09:05 PM

      I have a few early, random thoughts about tonight's episode of Top Chef...  (thanks Linda!)

      In the QF, why were the chefs cooking such enormous quantities of food? They need to present three plates. (I know, they are used to cooking restaurant food in quantity, but they need to remember why they are there.)

      At the beginning of the EC, in the confessional, Carlos said that Nick was only thinking of himself (imagine that, in a competition) and later in the confessional after the EC, Carlos said something to the effect that it is a competition and you have to look out for yourself. 

      In the eaely episodes this season I was turned off by Stephanie. She seemed to be a 'sad sack'. I suppose being eliminated early last year (she did not make it into the actual competition) and then having her roommate win the title made it difficult for her. Sbe must have been a real peach to be around for several months. Anyway, seeing her smile in this episode makes her more appealing.


      (Linda, have you been interviewed by the food critic of the Boston Globe yet?)

      4 Replies
      1. re: John E.
        LindaWhit Jan 2, 2014 06:24 AM

        LOL! No, I haven't been interviewed by Devra First. Why?

        And yes, Carlos is a contradiction in terms. He says things about others that he should also be applying to himself, but doesn't.

        1. re: LindaWhit
          Firegoat Jan 2, 2014 06:30 AM

          I work with a person exactly like that. She complains long and loudly about other people talking loudly or telling long rambling stories when she herself is a very loud person and, of course, tells long rambling stories that have no point. The first time I heard her complaining about others doing this, I thought she was trying to be funny .. but nope, she was dead serious. I'm convinced some people have absolutely no self-awareness. (I also will note this made me more self aware and I've started double thinking any story I tell at work and who the audience is. If in doubt, keep quiet.)

          1. re: LindaWhit
            John E. Jan 2, 2014 02:13 PM

            Maybe not the food critic, but your re-caps here and all of your 'followers' would be worthy of a story in the food section.

            1. re: John E.
              LindaWhit Jan 2, 2014 02:39 PM

              Aww, thanks. I'm just way more wordier than others who recap. I'm more giving a blow-by-blow account of the show vs. recapping at this point. :-)

        2. Shrinkrap Jan 1, 2014 11:09 PM

          Thanks Linda!

          Happy New Year everybody!

          I thought it would be Carlos too. Nick would have been awful. Can't believe it was Carrie. I feel used!

          1. Firegoat Jan 1, 2014 11:42 PM

            Hate to see it be Carrie that goes home. She just seemed so.... Normal. A very accessible chef.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Firegoat
              gaffk Jan 2, 2014 04:33 PM

              I liked Carrie too. But really, taking a whole fish and turning it into a puree for croquets?? As Tom said, that's what the scraps are for.

              1. re: gaffk
                KrumTx Jan 4, 2014 08:00 AM

                Carrie seemed to start the season as a front-runner. She really caved recently with the overly-simple dishes. Seemed like a nice person. Wish she could have kept up her good start.

            2. ennuisans Jan 1, 2014 11:50 PM

              Carrie got off to a great start in the season but has suffered from lackluster performances the last few episodes and was kind of invisible in the meantime. It's tempting to think that Tom kept Carlos for the drama factor, but ultimately I imagine he didn't see any potential for improvement from her compared to Nick and Carlos.

              I liked her. I'm sad, but happy Stephanie is coming along. I'm glad she and Nina got that great catty bumper about Padma's ponytail. They're my final two choices at this point, because I'm terrible at betting and won't even consider Nick and Brian.

              23 Replies
              1. re: ennuisans
                LindaWhit Jan 2, 2014 06:24 AM

                I really think Shirley will be in the finale with Nina. Don't know who the third person will be.

                1. re: LindaWhit
                  Firegoat Jan 2, 2014 06:45 AM

                  I'm hoping Nick makes it to the final, just because he seems like a really nice competitor. (may just be editing elves). If Louis survives last chance kitchen I wouldn't mind seeing him come back as well. I would be happy with a Shirley win.

                  1. re: Firegoat
                    LindaWhit Jan 2, 2014 06:52 AM

                    There you go - I'd like Louis, Nina and Shirley to be in the finale. I thought Louis went far too soon.

                  2. re: LindaWhit
                    gaffk Jan 2, 2014 03:01 PM

                    I'm OK with any of the remaining chefs in the finale. I'd prefer Nick make it and Carlos not. Not because of the friction beween those two: Nick's a Philly chef and I'm a homer, and I just don't like chefs with longish, greasy hair. (This last point caused a real dilemma in the last season of NFNS as the local chef had longish greasy hair.)

                    OK, I'm off to watch the episode now as I too watched the Rose Bowl last night.

                    1. re: LindaWhit
                      KrumTx Jan 4, 2014 08:02 AM

                      I'm pulling for Brian in the final. I still think he's a dark horse.

                      (Lookie, Linda - I remembered a name! Yay me.)

                      Thanks for the great recap, as always. Try not to freeze to death up there in Mass.!

                    2. re: ennuisans
                      chefhound Jan 4, 2014 12:56 PM

                      They cut the part with Stephanie and Nina talking about Padma in the Canadian broadcast. I wish I could have seen it.

                      1. re: chefhound
                        Firegoat Jan 4, 2014 12:59 PM

                        It is on hulu

                        1. re: chefhound
                          kmcarr Jan 4, 2014 01:00 PM

                          Bravo has the clip on their website. Here's the link


                          1. re: kmcarr
                            chefhound Jan 4, 2014 06:54 PM


                            1. re: kmcarr
                              happybaker Jan 4, 2014 07:13 PM

                              I LOVED that clip!

                              Stephanie has such a great sense of humor.

                              And I don't think they thought Padma was truly hearing them talk about her, I think they were being silly "Oh look, she heard us, she's playing with her ponytail..."

                              Just a great fun moment : )

                            2. re: chefhound
                              John E. Jan 4, 2014 01:45 PM

                              I was under the impression that the U.S. version of Top Chef was unavailable in Canada. I have watched TC Canada online. I wonder what the reaction would be if the contestants on Top Chef, U.S. version, had to buy their ingredients from a store owned by Tom Colicchio?

                              1. re: John E.
                                LindaWhit Jan 4, 2014 03:41 PM

                                TC Canada cheftestants buy their ingredients from a store owned by a producer and/or a judge? REALLY???

                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                  John E. Jan 4, 2014 04:39 PM

                                  chefhound would have more information than I do, but I remember the contestants shopping at a gourmet food store owned by Mark McEwan, the head judge.

                                  1. re: John E.
                                    LindaWhit Jan 4, 2014 04:46 PM

                                    Yeah, I'm not liking that at all.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                      John E. Jan 4, 2014 05:16 PM

                                      I watched all three seasons of TC Canada and for some reason I think they are held in Toronto. Of course they are a Food Network production and not the Elves. Maybe they shop at McEwans store with the susequent media exposure as part of his compensation package. As long as it is disclosed, it does not bother me. Actually, none of the product placement bothers me except if I think it is used in a ridiculous manner. (Diet Dr. Pepper?)

                                    2. re: John E.
                                      C. Hamster Jan 4, 2014 06:09 PM

                                      Yes. In at least one season they did have to shop at his store.

                                      I think he's slightly creepy.

                                      I saw the first two seasons via YouTube but can't find full seasons after that.

                                      1. re: C. Hamster
                                        John E. Jan 4, 2014 06:32 PM

                                        I just did a Google search "top chef canada season 3 youtube" and found all of them.

                                        1. re: John E.
                                          C. Hamster Jan 4, 2014 06:43 PM

                                          Really ??

                                          I watched the first few episodes and then couldn't find anymore.

                                          But last time I looked for them was probably late summer.


                                          When is season 4?

                                          1. re: C. Hamster
                                            chefhound Jan 4, 2014 07:10 PM

                                            I'd imagine you would have a hard time finding the older episodes. They have them on the Food Network Canada site but you would only be able to watch them if you had that service that disguises where you are (can't remember what it's called) because we can't watch stuff on American sites because of that geographic thing.

                                            We don't have as many seasons as the US. We don't have them with the frequency of the US because we don't have the population.

                                            1. re: chefhound
                                              John E. Jan 4, 2014 08:25 PM

                                              I just did another youtube search and found what appears to be all of seasons 1 and 2 as well as 3. I watched seasons 1 and 2 on a different, mirroring site (I don't recall which one)

                                              1. re: chefhound
                                                C. Hamster Jan 5, 2014 06:36 AM

                                                The older episodes were easy to find on YouTube

                                              2. re: C. Hamster
                                                John E. Jan 4, 2014 08:35 PM

                                                I just did another search and all I found was that they did casting last spring. I would guess it will be shown sometime in early spring

                                      2. re: John E.
                                        chefhound Jan 4, 2014 07:01 PM

                                        They broadcast Top Chef on the Food Network in Canada. Sometimes it's simultaneously with the US and sometimes they start later, maybe 6 episodes in (depends on what they're broadcasting, which sucks).
                                        I usually have to stream it if we're not synchronized with the US.

                                        McEwan's grocery store is a bit fancy, so I'm going to guess that it's part of a deal McEwan has made. We do have several Whole Foods here in Toronto.

                                  2. hambone Jan 2, 2014 04:03 AM

                                    It is always tough balancing was it the editors versus that guy is a douche.

                                    But Carlos has gone from friendly dude to awful butt wad pretty quickly.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: hambone
                                      JAB Jan 3, 2014 06:43 AM

                                      If he's getting a bad edit, he's providing an awful lot towards it the last 2 episodes.

                                    2. b
                                      bobbert Jan 2, 2014 06:30 AM

                                      Thanks again Linda, i was afraid there wouldn't be a recap this week.
                                      The aside with Stephanie and Nina talking about Padma was one of the highlights of the episode for me.

                                      I'm going to go a little rogue here and defend Carlos a bit. As shown in the quickfire he doesn't have a 100% grasp of English. Nicholas "stealing" his oven last week might have been a result of his limited English vocabulary. And I can't believe he wasn't going to clean Nicholas' knife this week. I think Nick grabbed it before he had the chance and then went all "he's disrespecting my stuff" on Carlos. Carlos appeared most appreciative. Knives are special to any cook, even non-professional me. I take great care of my knives. The hacking of the goose legs aside, I'm sure Carlos respects his and any other chefs knives. I'm also pretty particular about cleaning my knives. Sure, I'd expect a good rinsing prior to being returned to me but i wouldn't want much else. I'll do the rest.
                                      Go ahead, fire away...

                                      22 Replies
                                      1. re: bobbert
                                        LindaWhit Jan 2, 2014 06:54 AM

                                        No shots across the bow from me, bobbert.

                                        We all know that the editing elves can make things seem different than how they actually happened. It *did* seem, however, that service was over, and you'd think that Carlos would have taken care of Nicholas's knife soon after service was done - or when he was done slicing the fish. But we also don't know the time frame between end-of-service and when Nick went over to look for his knife.

                                        1. re: bobbert
                                          judybird Jan 2, 2014 08:55 AM

                                          As others have said, it's hard to tell if Carlos is really as bad as he's appearing - but I have to add, I don't like Nick and never have. He's just too whiny. He'd have been well within his rights to not loan Carlos his knife, but once he did, he should have stood over Carlos to be sure the knife was cleaned properly. Instead, he got all passive-aggressive about it - "Hey, Carlos, are you through with this knife now?" Then complained to everyone else for the rest of the show.

                                          1. re: judybird
                                            Worldwide Diner Jan 2, 2014 09:26 AM

                                            He'd have been well within his rights to not loan Carlos his knife, but once he did, he should have stood over Carlos to be sure the knife was cleaned properly. Instead, he got all passive-aggressive about it - "Hey, Carlos, are you through with this knife now?" Then complained to everyone else for the rest of the show.
                                            Unfortunately that's how I would've acted as well. It's a competition, I would be reluctant to loan my knife to a fellow competitor even if the knife had no sentimental value. Eventually I would lend the knife because it makes me look good on TV. However, if my knife isn't returned immediately in immaculate condition, I would whine like a little female dog. The point is to gain sympathy from viewers. Standing over Carolos would make me look like a douchebag. That strategy apparently didn't work with you but most people seem to think it worked fine.

                                          2. re: bobbert
                                            hambone Jan 2, 2014 11:21 AM

                                            Carlos' English is good enough to get what he wants.

                                            If I had borrowed someone's knife in that scenario, I would have cleaned it, dried it and returned it before hanging out and chatting with my other competitors. (I'd like to think it would be the first thing I would do after my last plate went out.)

                                            1. re: hambone
                                              bobbert Jan 2, 2014 12:30 PM

                                              He does appear to get what he wants and my first instinct would be to return the knife spotlessly clean as well but...

                                              Carlos tried, unsuccessfully, to explain that when he said Nicholas had stolen his oven he did not mean it the way he said it. Maybe, like most of us, I was ready to throw the BS flag on that statement. What got me thinking was how sincerely confused he appeared to be about the Etouffée even after Padma's attempt to explain it as simply as possible. I've known many non-native English speakers say the darndest things that were not even close to what they meant.
                                              Because of this and what appeared to be sincere gratitude towards Nicholas for the use of the knife, I'm going to stick to my initial thought that he would have cleaned the knife had Nicholas not picked it up first - sure Carlos should have said, "hey, let me clean that up first" but in the heat of the competition Nicholas already has it in hand and is asking if he's done.
                                              There's also the question of how each chef cares for his knife. My son has a very expensive Japanese knife that he has let my play with a little. He wouldn't let me clean it. Who knows - maybe Carlos cleans it using a method that he uses on his own knives and then we'd have Nicholas and Nina commenting on how he could have ruined the knife by using Dove instead of Palmolive detergent. I still like Nicholas, Shirley, Stephanie and I think of Brian as the big sleeper. Nina is very good but she grates on me a little and I think Carlos is getting a bad edit.

                                              1. re: bobbert
                                                hambone Jan 3, 2014 08:25 AM

                                                Fair enough.

                                                I have no trouble seeing a worked himself up through the ranks, English is my second language, guy flummoxed by "Etouffée" in the heat of failing a quick fire.

                                                Last episode, in the middle of service, he was getting put on the spot by Emeril and Tom and his natural reaction was, "Nicholas stole my oven..." My bet, this is not a language barrier thing it is an honor barrier thing.

                                                1. re: hambone
                                                  mariacarmen Jan 3, 2014 09:46 PM

                                                  i have to agree with this. as a daughter of immigrants, no one ever mistook my parents' problem with the english language as them being jerks. of course, there were no elves at work with them, but i don't think you can blame Carlos's attitude 100% on his language issues.

                                                  Tho i did think Padma was an ahole in not actually explaining what "smothered" means. maybe she doesn't know. smirk.

                                                2. re: bobbert
                                                  Hobbert Jan 5, 2014 06:05 AM

                                                  Yeah, he clearly had no idea what "smothered" meant and Padma didn't actually define that word. She just used it to define another word he didn't know. A field trip to a Waffle House should help him with smothered :)

                                                  1. re: Hobbert
                                                    ennuisans Jan 5, 2014 04:31 PM

                                                    Dammit now I want hash browns.

                                                    1. re: ennuisans
                                                      Hobbert Jan 5, 2014 05:33 PM

                                                      Haha good! I'm not alone.

                                                3. re: hambone
                                                  JAB Jan 3, 2014 06:49 AM

                                                  For real! What is this smothered of which you speak? No habla. Come on. His smarmyness makes Fabio look like a hero.

                                                4. re: bobbert
                                                  John E. Jan 2, 2014 02:23 PM

                                                  I am guessing that Carlos' English might be limited because he spends so much time in his kitchen with likely mostly Spanish speaking employees. Carlos came here illegally and is now legal (or a citizen) so it is also likely that he has been in the U.S. for more than 30 years and got amnesty from the Immigration Reform Act of 1986. He's 42 years old, so this is a distinct possibility.

                                                  I think Carlos should have at least wiped off the knife after he was done cutting the fish. Does anyone else find it ironic that Carlos was dinged for his fish being cut to thin?

                                                  1. re: John E.
                                                    bobbert Jan 2, 2014 02:57 PM

                                                    "I think Carlos should have at least wiped off the knife after he was dine cutting the fish. Does anyone else find it ironic that Carlos was dinged for his fish being cut to thin?"

                                                    Agree with both points.

                                                    1. re: John E.
                                                      happybaker Jan 4, 2014 07:16 PM

                                                      It wasn't that he cut it too thin - it was that he cut it - and then cut in in half, crosswise, seems to be the case.

                                                      So not that it was too thin, just that there wasn't enough of it.

                                                      1. re: happybaker
                                                        John E. Jan 4, 2014 08:21 PM

                                                        I think it was both. I just think the irony is interesting because he was dinged for slicing fish too thick earlier.

                                                        1. re: John E.
                                                          happybaker Jan 4, 2014 08:25 PM

                                                          Carlos is just workin my nerves.

                                                    2. re: bobbert
                                                      JAB Jan 3, 2014 06:44 AM

                                                      Put the cool aid down! ;>)

                                                      1. re: JAB
                                                        chicgail Jan 3, 2014 07:20 AM

                                                        Boy, JAB, you really don't like Carlos.

                                                        I might be biased because he's a local boy and I've eaten at his restaurant several times. It is excellent. On the other hand, I had no mercy for Heather (also a local girl) in a previous series.

                                                        I know they couldn't use it if he didn't say/do it, but I guess I just don't think he's necessarily gotten an entirely fair edit.

                                                        1. re: chicgail
                                                          hambone Jan 3, 2014 08:26 AM

                                                          But it is more than one edit at this point.

                                                          1. re: hambone
                                                            chicgail Jan 3, 2014 11:17 AM

                                                            I understand that. The MO of most of these reality competition shows seems to be to identify someone as the antagonist (from the perspective of the producers, it is essentially a drama) and then keep finding evidence for why viewers should hate him/her and root for - whomever else. It's true that they can't edit that way without someone saying or doing something offensive, but it is what they are looking for.

                                                            I don't know about you, but I like to think of myself as a pretty nice person most of the time. That being said, if someone who had mikes and cameras around me 24/7, they could probably build a a video that showed me as a raging witch if they wanted to do that.

                                                            1. re: chicgail
                                                              hambone Jan 3, 2014 04:18 PM

                                                              Two hours is all you'd need to make me look like an ass. (Ten minutes if I were driving.)

                                                              But yours is a fair point.

                                                              1. re: hambone
                                                                KrumTx Jan 4, 2014 08:03 AM

                                                                "Ten minutes if I were driving."

                                                                Ha! No kidding, right?

                                                    3. Firegoat Jan 2, 2014 07:38 AM

                                                      Hugh's blog is up... and it's kind of a disappointment, to me anyway.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Firegoat
                                                        bobbert Jan 5, 2014 08:39 AM

                                                        Yeah, Hugh's blog was pretty... OK. He was pretty tough on Nicholas.

                                                        1. re: bobbert
                                                          Firegoat Jan 5, 2014 08:52 AM

                                                          I admit I was disappointed. Really nothing that we couldn't already see or read about. He does not seem to like Nick.

                                                          1. re: Firegoat
                                                            Pookipichu Jan 5, 2014 10:18 AM

                                                            Hugh's posture, really is very good. But he didn't call out bad behavior, he took the easy road which is to gently poke fun at Eeyore.

                                                            1. re: Pookipichu
                                                              LindaWhit Jan 5, 2014 04:34 PM

                                                              NO ONE puts Eeyore in the corner!

                                                      2. ChefJune Jan 2, 2014 10:38 AM

                                                        I'm really disappointed. I didn't know they were airing a new episode last night. I guess they figured no one in their audience would be watching the Rose Bowl...

                                                        I could at least have gone back and forth.

                                                        1. chicgail Jan 2, 2014 01:37 PM

                                                          I'm especially annoyed with Padma. When she's scripted with her neutral questions (what are the pitfalls of this challenge, John?") she's fine, but when she's not scripted, she gets very patronizing.

                                                          When Carlos asked what smothered means (I took a different meaning to that exchange than Linda did), she responded by saying "etouffée is French for smothered. Not at all helpful and a little bitchy.

                                                          And my attention is always on her clothes. I, too, loved the bit with the girls talking about her appearance. In the QF she was dressed in a carnival barker outfit and then for the elimination she wore those short shorts. I think I have a real pet peeve about professional women wearing shorts for anything other than a picnic or a ball game.

                                                          Does she have great legs? Absolutely. Is she a peacock and a clothes horse. Uh, yeah.

                                                          18 Replies
                                                          1. re: chicgail
                                                            Debbie M Jan 2, 2014 01:48 PM

                                                            Yeah, especially when it was pretty clear that he didn't seem to understand "smothered."

                                                            1. re: chicgail
                                                              LindaWhit Jan 2, 2014 02:47 PM

                                                              chicgail, I think we're on the same page re: Carlos and Padma's additional "explanation" by her of what etouffée means. She just repeated that it meant "to smother" in French, and Carlos didn't understand the explanation she gave, as it was the word "smother" he didn't understand.

                                                              Padma didn't explain it as "something that covers," such as the stew that etouffée is covering the rice. I think Carlos would have understood that, but he also didn't ask for further explanation.

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                JAB Jan 3, 2014 06:54 AM

                                                                As we have all said a million times, knowing they would be in NoLa, wouldn't etouffée have come up in their research?

                                                                1. re: JAB
                                                                  LindaWhit Jan 3, 2014 07:12 AM

                                                                  I don't disagree with you at all, JAB. But we continue to hear each season that some of these cheftestants didn't research the local cuisine. So while it makes sense to do that research, it doesn't seem that everyone does it.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                    bear Jan 3, 2014 07:40 AM

                                                                    Oops, sorry for missing this and duplicating JAB's comments below.

                                                                    I don't dislike Carlos and am well aware of the editing skills of the elves. I don't dislike Nick either, but feel they both have a part in their conflict from what we can see. Carlos is being shown as a bit entitled and "oh, poor me" and Nick is looking a bit like a prima donna right now.

                                                                    I still don't feel tons of sympathy for Carlos' lack of understanding of the dish and the challenge since he clearly chose not to do part of his homework for the competition and étouffée is an integral part of NO cuisine. It was his choice, regardless of what other contestants have done in the past.

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                      sal_acid Jan 3, 2014 10:58 AM

                                                                      Indeed. This is part of the self-deselection process that weeds out the ill-qualified to be truly the TC. A leader would be prepared, a follower would not.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                        mariacarmen Jan 3, 2014 09:55 PM

                                                                        but it's so stupid that they don't, especially as they've seen a multitude of other cheftestants fail because of the lack of it. if we, the viewing audience, sees the merit in it, why wouldn't these chefs?

                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                      chefhound Jan 4, 2014 12:51 PM

                                                                      But John Besh did explain that étouffée was a stew that was served over rice.

                                                                      1. re: chefhound
                                                                        LindaWhit Jan 4, 2014 03:41 PM

                                                                        Good point, chefhound. So Carlos really had NO excuse. Except that he wasn't listening.

                                                                    3. re: chicgail
                                                                      DGresh Jan 2, 2014 06:27 PM

                                                                      Also didn't like Padma's choice (?) of clothing. It's pretty clear that she is there, among other things, as eye candy.

                                                                      1. re: DGresh
                                                                        chicgail Jan 3, 2014 01:45 AM

                                                                        I'm a girl and I tend to evaluate women's appearance from a much broader (pun intended) and more critical perspective than "wow, look at those legs! I sure wanna *%#@ that."

                                                                        If Padma is there just for eye candy, I would prefer that her role be limited to describing the challenge or introducing guests. If the Elves want to give her some credibility, perhaps they could consider having her dress like a professional adult (no reason she couldn't look good) most of the time rather than broadcasting her legs or her breasts as focal points.

                                                                        I suppose they think they are playing to increase men's viewership, but it does tend to lessen my interest in her opinion about much of anything. I'm not even especially taken by her wardrobe, It works for Heidi Klum on Project Runway, but that, after all, is a show about fashion.

                                                                        1. re: chicgail
                                                                          Debbie M Jan 3, 2014 12:25 PM

                                                                          During her first season (where, if I recall, she wore a fur vest, bikini top and short-shorts ensemble -- think it was an ice cream challenge on a beach), I read an interview with her where she said she chose her own wardrobe.

                                                                          1. re: Debbie M
                                                                            thistle5 Jan 7, 2014 01:40 PM

                                                                            That was breakfast on the beach for surfers, & her outfit actually made sense after a while (she was still cuter than Tom,who I have a soft spot for.)

                                                                        2. re: DGresh
                                                                          eggzakly Jan 7, 2014 06:21 AM

                                                                          Honestly, I don't think it's fair to criticize Padma for the clothing she wears. It's doubtful that she picks out very much for herself, most likely she is dressed by a stylist hired by the show. So any critique really should fall to the show.

                                                                          1. re: eggzakly
                                                                            Firegoat Jan 7, 2014 06:34 AM

                                                                            In an ask anything on Reddit, Padma says she picks out her own clothes for the show.


                                                                            She does have someone who shops for her, and helps her use clothes from her own wardrobe.

                                                                          2. re: DGresh
                                                                            Pookipichu Jan 7, 2014 07:35 AM

                                                                            I see Padma's outfit, take 5 seconds to register how horrible it usually is, then ignore her for the rest of the show.

                                                                            Does it grate on anyone else that she talks like she's underwater with marbles in her mouth? I can't understand half of what she says. I thought a host was supposed to be understandable without closed captioning.

                                                                            1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                              Phaedrus Jan 8, 2014 07:16 AM

                                                                              For everyone who bitches about Padma, I have three words: Katie Lee Joel.

                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus
                                                                                LindaWhit Jan 8, 2014 07:56 AM

                                                                                Thank you, Phaedrus. Those of us who have been watching since TC1 remember the complete and utter debacle that was Katie Lee Joel.

                                                                        3. John E. Jan 2, 2014 02:48 PM

                                                                          I have a question about how the production of Top Chef works. When the contestants are notified that they have been chosen to compete, at what point are they told where the competition will take place? Even if they only have a few days notice, shouldn't they have done some research on NOLA cuisine? If it were me, I'd at least know how to make étouffée, jambalaya, gumbo, and maybe some other creole and cagun dishes.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: John E.
                                                                            LindaWhit Jan 2, 2014 02:55 PM

                                                                            I think we've wondered that before, and I don't know if we've ever learned that from the various cheftestants in interviews. I'd like to think the show would give them at least 4 weeks to enable their restaurants to get settled without them being there.

                                                                            1. re: John E.
                                                                              KrumTx Jan 4, 2014 08:07 AM

                                                                              Hell, even if they kept them completely blindfolded until arrival, which is highly improbable, wouldn't you take the time between acceptance and arrival to at least familiarize yourself with the cuisines of major cities? There will never be a Top Chef Topeka/Duluth/Albequerque. Pick the big food cities and study up.

                                                                              It's a sign of plain stupidity or clear arrogance. I don't like it. As someone else mentioned here, that's not TC-winning material. Be a proactive leader.

                                                                              ETA: the brilliant sal-acid had the quote about being a leader:)

                                                                            2. gaffk Jan 2, 2014 06:36 PM

                                                                              Polite applause for LW. I finally watched the episode; LW's recap is better than the original.

                                                                              Hugh's recap was non-quotable. Next week is a team challenge. Too late for a team challenge.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: gaffk
                                                                                chicgail Jan 3, 2014 01:37 AM

                                                                                I would generally agree that it is late in the game for a team challenge, but given the animosity, at least between Carlos and Nick, it could be interesting, especially if they wind up on the same team.

                                                                                1. re: gaffk
                                                                                  JAB Jan 3, 2014 06:57 AM

                                                                                  "Too late for a team challenge." Thought and said the same thing when I saw that on the preview.

                                                                                2. b
                                                                                  bear Jan 2, 2014 07:29 PM

                                                                                  I'm not sure how I really feel about the whole Nick-Carlos oven-knife conflict, but I guess I'm curious to hear if anyone else is surprised that Carlos had no idea what an étouffée was. I certainly can understand the English language challenges throughout the competition, but it would seem to me that, knowing that the season was taking place in New Orleans, the contestants would figure that they would likely be challenged to use the local cuisine in a variety of ways.

                                                                                  A little pro-competition research seems like a no-brainer, unless I'm missing something. Étouffée is a pretty basic local dish.

                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: bear
                                                                                    bear Jan 3, 2014 07:12 AM

                                                                                    I forgot to add to the long list of thanks to Linda for all her hard work. I don't contribute often, but read faithfully after I catch up on hulu. I love the recaps and the comments!

                                                                                    1. re: bear
                                                                                      eggzakly Jan 7, 2014 06:35 AM

                                                                                      To me, Carlos seems like a chef who is extremely focused (and talented) when it comes to the Mexican kitchen, but doesn't have much experience in any other type of kitchen (which is ok, but doesn't play that well on a show like Top Chef). In that case reading up on NO food may not have made much of a difference.

                                                                                      But when it comes to the oven conflict it does seem to me that protein should trump plates - but it also seems to me to have been a something of a communication breakdown between the two of them.

                                                                                      1. re: eggzakly
                                                                                        JAB Jan 7, 2014 06:43 AM

                                                                                        Lets not forget that Shirley had already given in to Carlos in regard to the flat top. So, in addition to that he gets Nick's oven as well?

                                                                                        1. re: eggzakly
                                                                                          Pookipichu Jan 7, 2014 07:28 AM

                                                                                          Read Carlos's bio, he started by working at a country club serving continental cuisine then in a French kitchen. He's not the first chef on TC that hasn't gone to culinary school. His insistence on not changing a dish once he decides to do it is not due to lack of repertoire either in Mexican food or other cuisines, I'm sure he can cook many different cuisines. More likely, he's just self-centered, and selfish.

                                                                                          I still think it was majorly wrong of him to ask for the plancha after Shirley claimed it. One thing I'm not sure anyone has mentioned... the tilapia fillets he cooked only take a few minutes, if he was running behind, it was due to poor time management and he was trying to save himself by co-opting someone else's oven.

                                                                                          1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                            chicgail Jan 7, 2014 09:32 AM

                                                                                            I've eaten at Mexique, Carlos' restaurant several times. It is Mexican with a French twist. One of my favorite dishes there is French onion-poblano soup.

                                                                                            Carlos may be "just self-centered and selfish" or he may be scared, insecure and not very flexible. The resulting behavior would be very similar. We'll never really know.

                                                                                            1. re: chicgail
                                                                                              Pookipichu Jan 7, 2014 09:43 AM

                                                                                              I don't think he's a bad cook Chicall, his food probably is delicious and wonderful, but even if he's scared or insecure, he's been more than inconsiderate, he's been selfish.

                                                                                              He has a lot of years under his belt, a lot of experience, a lot of recipes, he also has shown diverse dishes over the course of the challenges, it's not like he can't be flexible. The plancha incident really soured me on him and then he topped it off by asking for someone else's oven and the shady comment to the judges about his oven being stolen. Frankly, I don't think he's scared or insecure, he comes across very confident.

                                                                                              1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                chicgail Jan 7, 2014 01:47 PM

                                                                                                You could be absolutely accurate in your assessment, pookipichu. I don't know.

                                                                                                I don't want to get all psychological, but I do know that it's not at all uncommon for people who insecure to make sure that they don't look that way and come off as very certain or as know-it-alls or as intimidating. It hides what they don't want people to see and keeps them safer.

                                                                                          2. re: eggzakly
                                                                                            LurkerDan Jan 7, 2014 07:59 AM

                                                                                            Re the oven conflict, I agree that protein should trump plates, to a point. But as I understand it, Nick had been using that oven the entire time, had his whole plan mapped out. The communication breakdown seems to have come because Carlos had not planned well. What if Nick was using the oven for something else and not plates? If you know that you will need an oven, as Carlos surely should have, you should figure out which oven you will need and communicate that to others. I suspect Carlos didn't really know that he needed an oven until he suddenly decided that he needed an oven. I think he originally thought he would cook his fish on the plancha, then realized that time constraints demanded finishing them in the oven, but not finding an oven, he went back to his original plan.

                                                                                            1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                              Pookipichu Jan 7, 2014 08:57 AM

                                                                                              Tilapia fillets don't take long to cook. Based on the thickness of his fillet I'd say 4-5 min tops. Bottom line, he didn't manage his time well and wanted to impinge on someone else.

                                                                                              1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                JAB Jan 7, 2014 09:00 AM

                                                                                                For the 2nd time in the episode.

                                                                                        2. Joanie Jan 3, 2014 09:22 AM

                                                                                          My only comment is I don't understand Stephanie's obsession with Bish and his freaking hair.

                                                                                          Linda, do your reviews get longer as the seasons go on?

                                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Joanie
                                                                                            DGresh Jan 3, 2014 09:39 AM

                                                                                            I absolutely agree. His hair is nothing special IMHO. And while he's not unattractive, he's nothing to write home about.

                                                                                            1. re: DGresh
                                                                                              John E. Jan 3, 2014 01:22 PM

                                                                                              Besh does have a nice home however. I likes that part of this episode. I appeared he has a Peugeot pepper mill.

                                                                                              1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                girloftheworld Jan 4, 2014 11:24 AM

                                                                                                in person he is much more attractive....his eyes are amazingggggly blue and his personality doesnt come across on tv...

                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld
                                                                                                  LindaWhit Jan 4, 2014 03:42 PM

                                                                                                  You've met him, girloftheworld?

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                    girloftheworld Jan 5, 2014 10:03 AM

                                                                                                    When we were at August he was there and stopped by our table and talked for quite a while.

                                                                                                    1. re: girloftheworld
                                                                                                      LindaWhit Jan 5, 2014 04:35 PM

                                                                                                      Wouldn't one of his restaurants be a great place to stage? :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                        girloftheworld Jan 7, 2014 04:11 PM

                                                                                                        hehe we are going to Nola for my sisters BDAY dont think that August wasnt on the list of letters I sent!!

                                                                                              2. re: Joanie
                                                                                                hambone Jan 3, 2014 10:05 AM

                                                                                                phew.... I'm hetero but thought I was able to tell good looking versus not in guys.

                                                                                                1. re: hambone
                                                                                                  sal_acid Jan 3, 2014 10:59 AM

                                                                                                  Acheson seems obsessed with his hair.

                                                                                                  1. re: sal_acid
                                                                                                    hambone Jan 3, 2014 04:20 PM

                                                                                                    There are about fifty strands of hair on that man's body which need to be removed!

                                                                                                2. re: Joanie
                                                                                                  LindaWhit Jan 3, 2014 04:20 PM

                                                                                                  I'd have to do a word count on past seasons' posts, Joanie, but it certainly seems to be the case this season, doesn't it? :-)

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                    John E. Jan 3, 2014 04:29 PM

                                                                                                    Linda, when did you start to do these recaps? I think since you got the DVR you have included much more detail.

                                                                                                    1. re: John E.
                                                                                                      LindaWhit Jan 3, 2014 05:08 PM

                                                                                                      Good point, John. The DVR has definitely made it easier to get the details.

                                                                                                      I've been in the condo since April of 2011; before that, I sat at a small desk in my living room in the apartment and live-recapped. I think I did that for a year or two? So maybe I've been doing that since 2009 or 2010? I'd have to search on past seasons of TC recaps.

                                                                                                3. Berheenia Jan 3, 2014 10:54 AM

                                                                                                  Saved watching this episode for the "snow day". Is it just me or is the Padma pedestal showing a few cracks? The chatty/catty ponytail talk was a surprise and then there was Hugh's blog:
                                                                                                  Padma schools Carlos with the real meaning of the term étoufée. She just learned it a couple of minutes ago and feels the need to show off this newfound weapon.
                                                                                                  Carrie leaving was not a surprise as she seems to have lost the momentum she had in the earlier episodes and has been coasting for a while.

                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Berheenia
                                                                                                    happybaker Jan 4, 2014 07:22 PM

                                                                                                    You know, I didn't see that Padma ponytail talk as catty at all. Two really great female chefs, who, while very attractive in their own right, are not models, commenting on the almost impossible beauty of the gal who semi-rules their world.

                                                                                                    It felt like comfortable play and good for them for having the energy to do so!

                                                                                                    1. re: happybaker
                                                                                                      Berheenia Jan 6, 2014 08:18 AM

                                                                                                      If you're going to quote me I said chatty/catty

                                                                                                      1. re: Berheenia
                                                                                                        LurkerDan Jan 6, 2014 08:44 AM

                                                                                                        You used the word "catty" and happybaker disagreed with the application of that word. I doubt happybaker would have posted had you just used "chatty", but you chose to add "catty" to that. Own what you said or withdraw it as not representing what you meant, but don't claim that you were misquoted, because you weren't.

                                                                                                        1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                                          Berheenia Jan 6, 2014 08:47 AM

                                                                                                          I disagree. Chatty was the first adjective ....

                                                                                                          1. re: Berheenia
                                                                                                            happybaker Jan 6, 2014 10:16 AM


                                                                                                            Yes "Chatty" was the first adjective. And if you'd left it at that, I would not have said anything. No need!

                                                                                                            But you did add "catty" which has a totally different meaning, and which, to me, did not fit the tone of their discussion.

                                                                                                            1. re: happybaker
                                                                                                              chicgail Jan 6, 2014 11:52 AM

                                                                                                              It must be the extreme cold weather. We sure are splitting hairs here.

                                                                                                              1. re: chicgail
                                                                                                                LindaWhit Jan 6, 2014 12:07 PM

                                                                                                                The static electricity does that to my hair all by itself.

                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                  John E. Jan 6, 2014 12:52 PM

                                                                                                                  I'm afraid to touch a light switch.

                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                    LindaWhit Jan 6, 2014 04:46 PM

                                                                                                                    My cats hate when I pet them. I try and avoid touching their noses, as I can see the spark fly from my fingertips. However, I don't have the raven hair and ruby lips, although I have been called a Witchy Woman on occasion. ;-)

                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                      John E. Jan 6, 2014 05:44 PM

                                                                                                                      So you're telling me I could rub my feet on the carpet and touch our cat's nose?

                                                                                                                      I think I'm going to have to get the humidifier going. Either that, or make a big kettle of pasta (every day).

                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                        LurkerDan Jan 6, 2014 08:10 PM

                                                                                                                        I think I read somewhere that touching the wall first discharges the electricity. So far it seems to work. Though I'm too addled to remember it most of the time.

                                                                                                                        1. re: LurkerDan
                                                                                                                          John E. Jan 7, 2014 12:07 AM

                                                                                                                          But that would not be as fun. (We're still only at -18°.)

                                                                                                                2. re: chicgail
                                                                                                                  happybaker Jan 6, 2014 08:44 PM

                                                                                                                  Nope. Look at Lurker Dan's reply.

                                                                                                              2. re: Berheenia
                                                                                                                LurkerDan Jan 6, 2014 02:17 PM

                                                                                                                Catty is a negative word, saying chatty/catty doesn't make it not negative. If you didn't mean to describe their talk as negative, it isn't a big deal, just acknowledge that you made an incorrect choice of words to describe how you viewed the talk; don't take someone else to task for disagreeing with the meaning of words you actually used.

                                                                                                                And my hair -- such as it exists -- is full of split ends!

                                                                                                      2. p
                                                                                                        Pookipichu Jan 3, 2014 11:48 AM

                                                                                                        Regarding etouffee, John Besh described the dish in detail, if any of the chefs, language barriers or otherwise, did not understand what "smothered" means they could have created a dish similar to the one that John described, a rich gravy over rice.

                                                                                                        So enough with the English as a second language excuses, Shirley has been in the US for 9 years, Carlos 23 years, how is she able to function, i.e. succeed without accusing people of stealing and then blaming the misunderstanding on language barriers. She could have easily called out Carlos for bullying her out of the plancha station last episode but she didn't.

                                                                                                        I don't think Carlos is getting a bad "edit". He's done and said some questionable things. Asking for the plancha station after Shirley called it was in poor taste. Then asking to borrow Nick's knife when he didn't have a knife sharp enough to thinly slice fish. In both instances, he could have simply made different dishes. If he's ever watched the show, he knows that chefs have to modify or scrap their ideas on the fly in nearly every challenge. He chose not to adapt, and to instead interfere with and inconvenience other competitors.

                                                                                                        In a similar vein, I don't think Nick is getting a good "edit". He's coming across very poorly by the editors bombarding viewers with his whiny talking heads. How is that a good edit?

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                          eggzakly Jan 7, 2014 06:41 AM

                                                                                                          It seems to me that Carlos gets very insecure whenever he gets pushed out of his comfort zone (Mexican food), there's nothing wrong with that, really, but it's not exactly ideal for a show like Top Chef that is basically all about being pushed out of your comfort zone.

                                                                                                        2. w
                                                                                                          Worldwide Diner Jan 3, 2014 01:49 PM

                                                                                                          The story Stephanie told about hiring her boyfriend and then working with him in order to "develop" a relationship sounds creepy. It's called "sexual harassment." She also seems to think every guy is hot (but I suspect that's just some on air ass kissing for networking purposes).

                                                                                                          20 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                            DGresh Jan 3, 2014 02:08 PM

                                                                                                            I immediately thought sexual harassment also

                                                                                                            1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                              John E. Jan 3, 2014 02:11 PM

                                                                                                              We don't know if she sexually harassed him or not.

                                                                                                              1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                LindaWhit Jan 3, 2014 04:22 PM

                                                                                                                Exactly. She said she asked to be scheduled on the same shift he worked on Saturday night. How is that sexual harassment? Yes, I know we don't know the whole story. But that's the point. Automatically assuming sexual harassment without knowing the whole story is just assumptions.

                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                  Pookipichu Jan 3, 2014 04:33 PM

                                                                                                                  It's only harassment if you don't like it :) It reminds me of that SNL skit where Tom Brady plays an office worker greeting a female co-worker in in his underwear. No problem. A different co-worker innocently compliments her hair. Sexual harassment.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                                    bear Jan 4, 2014 05:05 AM

                                                                                                                    Having a crush on someone you work with is not sexual harassment if you act like a grown-up. It's inappropriate, unwanted attention that is the problem.

                                                                                                                    I think Stephanie is just trying to be light-hearted and likable for the audience. It's worked for me. I don't necessarily think she's the best chef there, but I really like her and always root for her to do well.

                                                                                                                    1. re: bear
                                                                                                                      Pookipichu Jan 4, 2014 08:06 AM

                                                                                                                      My point was, attention had to be unwanted to be harassment, the fact that she and her boyfriend are together suggests the attention wasn't unwanted. Even innocent comments could feel harassing if coming from someone "undesirable".

                                                                                                                      1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                                                                        bear Jan 4, 2014 09:33 AM

                                                                                                                        Sorry, Pookipichu, I should have responded to WWDiner's post, not yours! Your example is pretty funny.

                                                                                                                      2. re: bear
                                                                                                                        Worldwide Diner Jan 4, 2014 11:12 AM

                                                                                                                        What about employment discrimination?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                          bear Jan 4, 2014 11:54 AM

                                                                                                                          I guess we just had a different reaction to the segment. I didn't hear any details about their relationship or lives that led me to think that something was (or wasn't) amiss.

                                                                                                                          1. re: bear
                                                                                                                            Worldwide Diner Jan 4, 2014 12:05 PM

                                                                                                                            It's only her side of the story...now that the world knows she hired someone she wanted to screw, you don't think the rest of kitchen will see favoritism, whether real or perceived? I don't dislike her, just thought the whole situation a bit creepy.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                              bear Jan 4, 2014 05:07 PM

                                                                                                                              Here's a little more info in an Eater interview with Stephanie. The interviewer brought it up and she said they weren't dating while he was a line cook. It's a fun read about the episode in general.


                                                                                                                              1. re: bear
                                                                                                                                happybaker Jan 4, 2014 07:33 PM

                                                                                                                                That is a GREAT interview!

                                                                                                                                She's a hoot.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                C. Hamster Jan 4, 2014 06:16 PM

                                                                                                                                Creepy but not sexual harassment (which is a form of employment discrimination).

                                                                                                                          2. re: bear
                                                                                                                            DGresh Jan 4, 2014 11:44 AM

                                                                                                                            Yeah I was being mostly facetious but she wasn't working "with" him, she was his boss. And most large companies have an explicit rule about no romantic entaglements between a supervisor and someone under his/her supervision, because of the possible perception of favoritism.

                                                                                                                            1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                                              Firegoat Jan 4, 2014 12:42 PM

                                                                                                                              I admit, if this was reversed, and one of the guy chefs saying this, I would probably be pretty offended.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat
                                                                                                                                happybaker Jan 4, 2014 07:35 PM

                                                                                                                                Yes but - reading the interview, she was pretty respectful. Looks like she had a bit of a crush, worked with him, but did not make a move until years after.

                                                                                                                                If I worked with someone who liked me enough to ask to work with me - but gave me my space - and then stayed in touch after, to see what would happen... That would be a good thing, not a bad.

                                                                                                                        2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                          mariacarmen Jan 3, 2014 10:00 PM

                                                                                                                          um, yeah, they've been together for two years now. sexual harassment usually does not lead to relationships.

                                                                                                                      3. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                        C. Hamster Jan 4, 2014 06:15 PM

                                                                                                                        It's not sexual harassment unless the interaction is unwanted. Which it seems that it wasn't

                                                                                                                        1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                                                                          bear Jan 4, 2014 06:25 PM

                                                                                                                          And as Stephanie said in the Eater interview I posted above, they didn't date while she was his boss.

                                                                                                                          1. re: bear
                                                                                                                            teezeetoo Jan 5, 2014 05:02 AM

                                                                                                                            Linda, thanks for the wonderful work. I really look forward to seeing your "short stories" of what happened. This group is pretty likable but also pretty forgettable so I haven't been "glued" to the shows because I can't think of something anyone has cooked (except Shirley's reminds you of home dish) that makes me run for my recipe box so I can try it out. Somehow, the cooking has seemed mundane and other than the amazing fish which I'm so glad is still coming from the gulf and the rivers, New Orleans hasn't generated the food excitement I expected.

                                                                                                                      4. Firegoat Jan 6, 2014 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                        I think at this point I would like to see a shirley win. Was watching some back episodes while cleaning house and she just sparkles with enthusiasm.

                                                                                                                        1. Firegoat Jan 6, 2014 11:11 PM

                                                                                                                          Near as I can tell from personal experience, catty means that you lie in wait behind chairs, plants or other objects and leap out and jump on unsuspecting people. Later you may or may not crawl into their lap and refuse to get off.

                                                                                                                          1. Firegoat Jan 7, 2014 07:21 AM

                                                                                                                            Looks like the finale is going to be in Hawaii. Haven't they done Hawaii before? I am excited to see that Morimoto will be coming on as a judge in one upcoming episode.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: Firegoat
                                                                                                                              John E. Jan 7, 2014 01:25 PM

                                                                                                                              They had the finale in Hawaii in season 2.

                                                                                                                            2. John E. Jan 8, 2014 01:32 PM

                                                                                                                              I have an observation that occurred to me last week but I forgot to mention it.

                                                                                                                              Why do the contestants make such enormous quantities of food for the QF? they need to create three plates, but I saw some chefs using 20 quart kettles in a 30 minute cook off.

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