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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #14 - 01/15/14 (Spoilers)

Po' Boys! They're on the menu tonight.

The five remaining chefs are in the Stew Room. Shirley is crying; Nicholas doesn't feel good, but he said it's a competition, and he's cooking to win.

The next morning, they head back to the TC kitchen. They arrive, and Chef Roy Choi (king of the food trucks) is there with Padma. Padma says that just as L.A. is known for their tacos, NOLA is known for Po' Boys. They are to create their own unique and personalized gourmet Po' Boy. They have 20 minutes, and the winner will get immunity.

As a chef, Shirley's always done fine dining; she's never made sandwiches. She wants to showcase her technique, but at the same time, the po' boy has to show who she is. She's going Chinese, Carlos is going with a Mexican al pastor, Nicholas is going New Englandish with shrimp, Brian's going with a lobster Korean theme, and Nina's going with a Caribbean theme.

Nicholas - Fried Shrimp Po' Boy with Mayo, Sriracha, Fennel & Pancetta. Roy asks about the shrimp seasoning, and Nicholas tells him what the seasoning was.

Shirley - Sauteed Catfish Po' Boy with Mirin, Ginger, Garlic Glaze & Cabbage Slaw. Padma notes the catfish isn't overdone. Meanwhile, Roy is breaking apart Shirley's po' boy and investigating the ingredients, but doesn't say much.

Nina - Fried Mahi Po' Boy with Mojo Aioli & Pickled Onions. Again, Roy opens the sandwich and digging into individual ingredients after asking Nina if there was any crunch in the sandwich (the pickled onions were her crunch).

Brian - Asian-inspired Lobster Po' Boy, Gochujang Aioli & Yuzu with Pickled Napa Cabbage. Roy asks why gochujang, and Brian says his background is Korean.

Carlos - Al Pastor Po' Boy with Guajillo Chilies, Pineapple, Onions & Roasted Garlic. Roy said he's very particular about al pastor; it's not from L.A. Carlos doesn't know what he means: "He's telling me he's from L.A. Well, that's great - I'm from Mexico!"

Roy tells them all that they all sort of missed the boat on their po' boys. He said they "had a cook's dream with a po' boy bread in New Orleans, and you had a chance to tell their story, and you f*cked this sh*t up." He said if they were in his kitchen, this would be when they would go into the walk-in and they would start straight-talking. He said they were thinking too much as chefs; they need to start finding their soul in their food.

He tells Carlos there was a lot of flavor lacking in his al pastor. Nicholas's po' boy was too salty, and didn't have a balance of mayonnaise throughout the sandwich. Brian's po' boy didn't taste of the gochujang; Brian thought it was balanced, but he guesses that Roy wanted the gochujang in his face.

Shirley's pickled veggies were great, the little hints of black vinegar were fun, and the catfish was cooked perfectly, but it didn't represent her as a Chinese woman - it was a little pedestrian. As for Nina, he said the sandwich didn't pop for him. The ingredients were good, but everything fell to the middle, when he should have been dancing.

Padma said that some of what they did was good, but when sandwiched between two pillows of bread, it got a little bit lost.

After all of that, Roy said the winner was Shirley. She was able to show a balance of flavor and a little surprise in her sandwich. She gets immunity - so she's in the Top 4. Roy said he hates to come off negative, but he wants them to take his words and let them kick them in their ass so they can find their flavors.

Padma asks them to welcome Jon Favreau. He's recently added chef to his resume. He teases them and tells them they'll have to cook their dishes from anything they can find in dumpsters in the French Quarter. He tells them about the movie he's working on - "Chef", where the main character has lost his voice and is cooking food he no longer connects with, so he opens a food truck and travel across the country with his son. And that's where he finds his passion and rediscovers his culinary voice.

Roy explains he found his voice by losing everything he had, and opening his first food truck, he re-found his voice. Shirley can identify with Roy , as the last year hasn't been as passionate for her as it should has been.

Padma tells them to create a dish representing a turning point in their career that led them to discover their culinary voice. They'll serve their dishes at Cafe Reconcile, a local charity that teaches at-risk youth culinary skills to get a job in the future.

They'll have 2-1/2 hours to cook at the Cafe. Jon Favreau tells them that he's still doing research for his movie, so invites them to join him, Emeril and Gail Simmons at NOLA food trucks. They head out that evening to try various food trucks' dishes. Jon asks if anyone had found their voice, and Brian explains his low point where he got burnt out. Spending 24 hours in a men's correctional facility after a DUI woke him up, and he was reinspired by working with Ricardo Zarate.

Gail said for the first half of their careers, they're executing someone else's work, so that moment where you're allowed to create something that comes from you, it's a pivotal moment.

Emeril asks Shirley what her moment was - she explains it was at the beginning of this show when Emeril introduced them to the shrimpers. She said she was hoping being on the show would help her find her voice, and she has. She doesn't want to be a shadow chef; she wants to be Shirley Chung.

That night, back at the house, they put a paper towel drawing of Roy Choi up on the dartboard (which Roy said he thought they might do back during the QF challenge!) and they take turns tossing darts at the picture.

The next morning, they run into Whole Foods to get their ingredients. Nina notes that Scott Conant was her inspiration, teaching her that sometimes simple is the best way. Nicholas seems to be going with 4 or 5 different preparations of carrot. He said it's an original dish he thought of in his restaurant, highlighting one flavor - his transition from classical to contemporary cuisine. Nina notes in the confessional that Nicholas's downfall is that he over-thinks things and puts too much on the plate, and he has a short fuse. That could be trouble in the kitchen.

Carlos said he's making a braised pork belly with chipotle-tamarind glaze, something he created in his restaurant that was very popular, so it proves he can cook.

They head to Cafe Reconcile to prep and cook. Nicholas immediate sets up his pots on the stove; Carlos asks if "these are your pans", and Nicholas said yes, those are my pans, don't touch them. Carlos said "Can I put one of them over here?" (Nicholas had taken 3 front burners, and Carlos was asking if he could move *one* pot to a back burner).

Nicholas said "You can do whatever you want, just don't touch them." So Carlos moves one pan based on the "you can do whatever you want" , and he moves one of Nicholas's pans. Nicholas said "I SAID don't move my f*cking pots! If some one moves my pots again, we're going to have a problem!" and moves them back. So Carlos moves a pressure cooker to the back burner. Way to totally contradict yourself, Nicholas!

Nicholas is pissed that Carlos moved his pots when he claims he told him not to do so. Carlos said in the confessional that it doesn't hurt his feelings; he's there to cook. Nina is having problems with the pasta as it's too hot in the kitchen, so it's sticking or the pasta is breaking. So she changes her dish from a filled pasta to a fettuccine, as it's easier to work with in the heat.

Tom Colicchio and Jon Favreau come in to see how the chefs are doing. Tom asks Shirley about her dish, and she's portioning out snapper. Tom asks "do you want to leave the fish out in the hot kitchen? Oh, you have immunity, what do you care?" Shirley said "I don't look at immunity as having immunity at all!"

After Tom and Jon leave, Nicholas notes he has to break down tuna, juice carrots, reduce carrots, make a carrot top puree, make a carrot oil, make a quinoa (which he ends up burning, because he said either he didn't turn the heat down on the oven or someone turned it up. The camera shot after he puts the quinoa in the oven shows the oven at 500 degrees - so guess what Nicholas, you didn't turn the heat down!) With no quinoa he has no texture on his dish.

The guests and judges arrive, and Emeril discusses how he got involved with Cafe Reconcile. Almost 2000 students have graduated from the program, and several of them work at Emeril's restaurants.

SHIRLEY - Seared Snapper with Crustacean Broth, Silken Tofu & Napa Cabbage (with Fennel & Leek). Tom said it's really delicious, and Emeril said the fish was perfectly cooked. The kids in the program, who are the servers today, are trying the dish in the kitchen. One of them says "My Grandma's fish is the best - but this fish is better!" Another says "Your mama don't make it like this!"

NINA - Fettuccine with Charred Calamari, Pine Nut Gremolata & Crab Meat. Jon Favreau said she got the calamari right; Tom said the calamari is right, the pasta is perfect; at this stage of the game, Tom says, "this is how they should be cooking. Seasoned right, cooked right, flavorful, this is it."

BRIAN - Chicken Anticucho with Twice Cooked Potatoes & Feta Walnut Pesto. Padma asks if it's chicken breast; Gail said yes. Padma said his dish is interesting; Gail notes it's heavy, it's intense, it tastes good, but it's muddled. Emeril said "It tastes good, but it's chicken breast!" Tom said it's so boring - Emeril even got a undercooked potato, despite them being twice-cooked.

CARLOS - Braised Pork Belly with Sweet Potato Puree & Chipotle Tamarind Glaze. Emeril liked the addition of the the citrus segment, and you can taste every flavor in his dish, and Tom notes everything as a purpose. A server in the kitchen ask "What is this?" and another says "Pork belly. This is great!"

NICHOLAS - Yellowfin Tuna, Several Preparations of Carrot & Fennel Pollen Dust (preparations include carrot top puree, fresh carrot top, carrot top oil, carrot in saffron reduction, shaved fresh carrot). He notes he wanted to do some crispy quinoa, but it didn't work out. After Nicholas walks away, Jon Favreau asks "And this was inspired by the comedy of Carrot Top?" LOL Padma said the sauces are great, the dish is very sophisticated. Emeril and Tom both think the dish is very underseasoned. Tom is disappointed about the slices of plain raw carrot - how about braising or glazing them? He also said the texture from the quinoa would have added a lot. In the kitchen, after tasting the dish, a server says "I mean, it's not nasty or anything; it's just gooey."

They're back in the Stew Room, and Padma comes in asking to see all of them. ::::Whooshing camera shots:::: Emeril tells them they inspired the students, not just with their cooking skills but the way they worked in the kitchen.

Padma asked Nina how she felt about her dish; she explained that the kitchen was too hot to create her filled pasta, so she switched to the fettuccine, and feels it worked out well. Tom tells her the pasta was perfect, Jon said she slow-played Tom and him in the kitchen, lowering their expectations, but when the dish came out, they were pleased. Emeril said the lemon flavor was a good balance.

For Brian's dish, Gail tells him her vision of anticucho is super clean; she felt his dish was heavy. Emeril notes the raw potato, and Tom asks why a boneless/skinless chicken breast? Brian said he didn't know what type of kitchen they were going into. Tom stopped him - he said if you don't know what type of kitchen you're going to be cooking in, buy the whole chicken with bones and skin, then you can take the bones and skin off. He said the chicken had absolutely no flavor.

Tom tells Shirley that if this is her voice, he likes the sound of it. Gail said she kept going back to the broth, it was breathtaking. Emeril said the fish and skin were perfect. Jon Favreau said the only negative was that they were all tipping their bowls to get every last bit of broth.

Carlos said this was one of his few signature dishes, so he was ready. Gail said "You were waiting to pounce with this one!" Tom said everything had a purpose, everything made sense. Emeril said he's eaten a lot of sweet potatoes; these were really good.

Padma asks if Nicholas' day had gone as he wanted it to have gone, and Nicholas said it didn't. He explains about the quinoa mishap, and Padma asks what he thought happened, and he didn't know. Tom said it has to be frustrating; he's there, he's one of five, but he keeps having these mishaps. Gail said he the sauce and oil were great, but the fish was disconnected. If there had been that other element, it would have tied it together. Emeril was looking for texture. Tom said the dish would have been better without the fish - just a nice burst of carrot. (Personal note: I'm thinking if there was no protein at ALL? Tom would have ripped Nicholas a new one for serving a dish made of carrots.)

As the cheftestants walk away, Emeril notes quietly to Tom "Nicholas was pissed off." Back in the Stew Room, Brian said "It's obviously Nicholas or me." Nicholas replies "If you [Brian] goes home, I would be unbelievably surprised."

The judges discuss - Shirley's dish seems to be the top dish for Tom, Emeril and Gail, but Padma and Jon both think Carlos' dish was equally great. Jon was impressed with Nina's improvisation style of her pasta dish. Gail said there was nothing superfluous on that plate. Brian's b/s chicken breast just grates on Tom, and Emeril's raw potato was a detractor. Nicholas's day in the kitchen seems to have been the most difficult. Tom said you're down to five people, and you just throw something in the oven and forget about it? And Padma notes "It's not like he was cooking the tuna for a long time!"

Jon Favreau announces that Shirley is the winner! Tom tells Carlos that his dish and Nina's pasta dish was just a little bit behind Shirley's, and they're all safe. The judges discuss Brian and Nicholas's dishes. The online vote shows Nicholas as the one to go home by 80% to Brian's 20%.

Padma tells Brian to PYKAG. Wow - REALLY? I really thought Nicholas was going home! As they leave, Tom notes that Nicholas looked surprised; and Jon said he'll be interested to see what Nicholas brings, as he realizes he got a second chance.

So Brian heads over to LCK, where in the preview, Tom gives him crap for using b/s chicken breast during the LCK competition. Brian notes "I had a brain fart!"

Previews for next week show Emeril saying "the winning dish will be featured in all of Emeril's NOLA restaurants."

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  1. This episode definitely felt heavily "elfed". Watching the show, it was totally reasonable to assume that Nicholas was going home. It was so heavy that towards the end, I started to think - there's no way Nicholas is going home because they've made it seem so obvious this whole episode that he's going home.

    My only thought though would be that there are some "chefy" mistakes that read worse to the judges than they necessarily would to a lay person. And that the choice of the boneless skinless chicken breast, to a professional chef would be viewed as a more aggressive offense than the faults from Nicholas.

    1. A few early thoughts...

      Nick, you did not send Stephanie home, Shirley did.

      I don't remember an episode where the QF judge said the contestants food missed the mark as much as did this one. I remember Bourdain asking Tom what kind of crackhouse he was running (TC2), but that was an EC.

      Nick was correct on the pots. He got to the stove first. It is a competition.

      Brian was penalized for using chicken breast. Chicken breast confit? And then frying the chicken? He chose that protein. What was he thinking?

      Nick should have had a back up plan. If it were me, I'd have some sort of back up in mind for all of the elimination challenges if possible.

      Nick's error in not having any texture in his dish apperently was less egregious than Brian's chicken breast.

      Immunity, this late in the season? It was not a factor, bht what are the elves up to?

      3 Replies
      1. re: John E.

        Wrong. Nick's dish was the reason they were at judges table. Both Stephanie and Shirley made dishes that the judges liked. They just had the unfortunate job in choosing which they liked less. Nick's dish was the worst out of both teams.

        1. re: superfuture48

          Neither Stephanie nor Shirley were competing against Nick. They were competing against the other team and ultimately against each other. They were first competing with Nick as a teammate against the other team, and then against each other.

        2. re: John E.

          I always love your early thoughts.

          Missed TC last night but will catch a repeat. I liked Brian - no drama, a bit self-deprecating, witty - but it sounds like he really did have a brain fart.

        3. Roy Choi telling a Mexican person about Al pastor?? Shut up. Los Angeles Al pastor has nothing on pastor in Mexico.

          19 Replies
          1. re: MKG62

            Not a fan of these so-called "bad boys" of cooking. Bleh.

            1. re: MKG62

              Okay, I'm going to be talkin' on the real; Roy has credibility judging Top Chefs because why? I am so done with his "I hit rock bottom so listen to me" shtick.

              That "don't move my pots!" diatribe was a little scary.

              I SO thought Nick was out, but was dreading witnessing a meltdon. Whew! I'm off duty elves! This is supposed to be entertaining!

              That "Nina makes a BIG mistake!" preview better be elf tricks! If she went out next week, would there still be a LCK option?

              Husband LOVES boneless, skinless chicken breast. Blech!

              Thanks Linda!

              1. re: Shrinkrap

                Yes..there's one more LCK...the winner of last night's LCK is going to Maui to compete in their last LCK there. Whoever wins is back in the competition.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  So if Nina goes down next week, she can't get back in?

                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                    Whoever is asked to PYKAG next week will compete against last night's winner of LCK (in Maui). If Nina loses in TC, and then loses in LCK - nope. She'll only come back as a sous chef to one of the final 2 or 3, however many they have.

                2. re: Shrinkrap

                  I feel as if I'm being punished when I'm served boneless skinless chicken breast.

                3. re: MKG62

                  Roy Choi takes himself too seriously. His "LA tough Korean gangster" persona is getting annoying. Majority of people has had a much tougher life than you so save your "started from the bottom, now we here" story for Drake.

                  1. re: superfuture48

                    Except Drake was a child actor in Canada... hardly the "gangsta" upbringing. haha!

                    1. re: juliejulez

                      "That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!" ( but not Drake; not J. Buffett or Colin Raye ...R Kelly and 2 Chainz)

                  2. re: MKG62

                    Roy Choi just shut up on any subject. I disliked him before but, he really outdid himself.

                    1. re: MKG62

                      but Carlos did NOT make al pastor. He made some faux approximation of it,

                      1. re: MKG62

                        I think what Roy was saying was:

                        "If you're from LA, you at least know what al pastor is supposed to be. And you, Carlos, ought to know better then to try this garbage on me. You want to try and make "al pastor" in 20 minutes? Maybe that'll fool some people, but not me."

                        No one disputes that average al pastor in Mexico would most likely dust all but the best iterations in LA, but that's not really what Roy Choi was saying.

                        To be honest, I was cringing when Carlos went that route. It cannot be done. Just can't. Think about it. In 20 minutes Carlos had to make a marinade, prep his pork for the marinade, get his pork in the marinade, cook the pork, then plate his dish. I don't know what that dish is, but it isn't al pastor. And whether you like Roy Choi or not, I, and probably Carlos's taquera mother, have no doubt Roy was right.

                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                          But Roy Didn't say that.

                          See the problem is that you would be great at a constructive critique and would say that, but Roy didn't and was more involved in cutting everyone down instead.

                          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                            That's fair, but I read it entirely differently. I did think he was really harsh, but I think he was clear in what he thought they needed to do to make a better dish.

                            The problem is that, and if you've ever had any of Roy Choi's food you'll attest to this, what Roy likes isn't what a lot of people like. For instance, Brian was trying to balance his flavors, but Roy isn't really about balance so much as a complete haymaker to you face. A lot of angelenos can't stand Choi's food. They think it's juvenile, lacks finesse, and is just a muddle of random flavors. Unfortunately, Brian then went on to make a very "Roy Choi" dish for the elimination challenge. Too bad he under-cooked Emeril's potato, used a terrible protein choice, and (oh yeah) didn't actually have Roy Choi there as a judge. Too bad! I kind of liked Brian and he was started to heat up.

                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                              I'm really confused with your comment. It's a bit muddled as well. and I'm not trying to be rude I'm just trying to understand.

                              My husband is in the film industry and has to go to LA often. And to be honest I am not impressed with LA at all. Between the smog, the crowds, the pretension, it is really hard for me. I'd rather go to San Fran, San Diego, Seattle, and Portland. but that is just me.

                              Getting back to Roy,
                              I did not think he was clear or gave a good criticize. He did not explain what was wrong nor did he give them advice on how to fix it.

                              He was a dbag when it came to Carlos. He could have said, something like I see what you are trying to do but making that in the time limits didn't work.

                              Furthermore he said Shirley's dish was pedestrian and offered no reason and then gave her the win

                              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                I here I thought I had killed this horse. :)

                                I'm not sure why you've offered an ironically completely non-constructive critique of my post (or of LA). Perhaps you could tell me what you aren't understanding (regarding either).

                                My gist was: Brian (who is very familiar with Roy Choi and his food) basically over-reacted and made a Choi-style dish for the elimination challenge. Unfortunately, he didn't prepare it well. Even if he had, the judges clearly don't like that kind of in-your-face-all-over-the-place flavor. Listen to the ingredient list and see if you get where Brian was coming from with those combinations (feta?!?!). I bet Choi would have liked it, but Tom, Emeril, et al., did not.

                                You're right that Roy could have been more constructive, though I didn't think he needed to be. Being connected to the film industry, you should know that may have been offered, but it could have ended up getting cut. If the editors have 1 minute of airtime for judging of the QF and the choice of inflammatory criticism or kind advice then perhaps they made a choice. We just don't know. And there were some specifics that did make it through (he was pretty pointed with Nicholas's sandwich).

                          2. re: cacio e pepe

                            I'm from the Northeast, and know next to nothing about al pastor. But I know enough to know that Carlos was NOT preparing al pastor. And I took Roy's comments *exactly* the way you did.

                        2. I too am sick of Roy Choi.
                          Talk about being selfish. Nicholas: I'm taking up these 3 front burners. Don't touch my stuff. Carlos or anyone else is supposed to cook on the back burners behind 3 two foot high pots?
                          Did anyone else notice all the shell fish in Shirley"s sauce? It's got to cost $10 an ounce.
                          I think skinless boneless chicken breast must be right up there with cooking a nice steak well done.

                          48 Replies
                          1. re: bobbert

                            Yeah, Roy was a dick. I don't quite see what anyone did so wrong. And I loved Carlos's comment.

                            Was there another stove for Carlos to use? 3 burners does make it seem like Nick was hogging the space. And I agree with John E. about immunity, was surprised again that it was an option.

                            I'm curious who's starring in Jon F's film. Swingers is one of my top ever movies, cracks me up every time.

                            1. re: Joanie

                              Another anti-Roy vote here. That food all looked delicious. There's no way it all sucked, especially given how shocked all the contestants were to hear his remarks.

                              According to the IMDB page, Chef stars Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlet Johansson.

                              1. re: dfan

                                I could watch RDJ crochet for two hours. Looking forward to the movie.

                                1. re: KrumTx

                                  It'll make me go to the movie theater to watch the movie vs. waiting for OnDemand. :-)

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    I think there's some irony in Roy Choi and Robert Downey, Jr. Roy can't shut up about his past and how he overcame it, but RDJ truly put himself in the depths of hell with his addiction. I believe he served time more than once. Lost everything. Yet he doesn't speak of it and certainly doesn't use it as a tool to brag. Turned his life around. Props to him.

                                    All of us have struggled with something - addiction, depression, broken families, lost potential, bad choices - but we don't ramble about it and use it as a prop. Roy needs to get over himself.

                              2. re: Joanie

                                Roy is like a Korean version of Guy Fieri, I want to know why he is on my screen and what I can do to get him off my screen.

                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                  To me, Choi is worse than Fieri, who at least is pleasant. Choi reminds me of that NY Asian lawyer/chef who is sooooo badass. Eddie Huang?


                                  1. re: sal_acid

                                    Eddie is quite funny and even makes some poignant observations. Roy is just a wannabe "street cred" toughie.

                                  2. re: Pookipichu

                                    I think of Roy more like a rap singer gansta who has made it big. Big house. Lovely wife. Kids in prep schools. BUT they still have to show that they haven't changed a bit from their old days.

                                    1. re: Pookipichu

                                      HAHA! that's the best description of Roy!

                                    2. re: Joanie

                                      Agree about Roy but I really want a Po' Boy now.

                                      1. re: Joanie

                                        "Yeah, Roy was a dick"

                                        Absolutely agree with that statement.
                                        At this point in the competition they should be cooking on their own merits and not doing the team sports like last week. Guest judges with their own agenda are poor choices to judge these very talented chefs. Oh the drama

                                        1. re: Joanie

                                          am I just overly suspicious to think that the elves told Roy to diss all the food so that the elimination challenge ("find your soul") would make sense as redemption for the QF?

                                        2. re: bobbert

                                          Roy Choi looked like a real dick as a Korean from LA telling a Mexican what al pastor should taste like.

                                          And Nicholas - that chip on his shoulder keeps getting bigger. I'm sorry he got fired from his job, but I have to assume that there was a reason other than pure unfairness. And now he's taking out in the competition. These chefentants have to be aware that, at some level, this is also a big televised job interview for whatever they are up to next. I wouldn't hire someone who showed up like he has.

                                          1. re: chicgail

                                            One thing that I have observed is that authenticity has been diluted in today's foodie dominated world. While I can appreciate the need to innovate and to create new versions of the tried and true, it irks me when one of the pretenders seeks to rewrite history by claiming to be the real and true version of a particular dish. This is what Roy Choi did. And this is what I am rebelling against.

                                            There is a cultural and social context for every thing that we humans do, food and cooking is one of those things. It's fine if you prefer a newer version of a food tradition but to claim that the newer version is more authentic, I just shake my head at the gall.

                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                              Someone should have used my own innovative po boy variation of bacon and fried chicken livers. If Roy Choi tried to take me into the walk-in to talk to me about that, we might find out which foodstuffs make the best weapons.

                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                I don't think his objection was to anything but the fact that he found it tasteless. Have no idea if it was from here. But he did lack tact, that's for sure.

                                              2. re: chicgail

                                                My understanding was that the new ownership of the restaurant was bringing in their own executive chef so there wasn't a spot for Nick.
                                                Arrogance and assholeness in male chefs has seemed to work out well for many chefs.

                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                  I guess I'll be the lone contrarian saying I didn't think there was anything gangster about Choi. If anything he seemed to be trying to come across as a professional and equal to the others.

                                                  He was disappointed in everyone's food, and apparently Carlos' al pastor most of all, because of lack of flavor. It took Padma (Padma!) to point out to apparently everyone that their flavors were lost in the big pillow of Po' Boy bread. That's happened before on the show and is apparently easy to miss.

                                                  Choi told them all they f'd up, and apparently he didn't lie.

                                                  1. re: ennuisans

                                                    I laughed when Padma said the bread hid everything. How would she know? The bites she took were mouse-like. Itty-bitty, dainty "I've never eaten a hoagie/sub bites". On one she started in the middle of the roll rather than the end. Oy!

                                                    1. re: sal_acid

                                                      I think she was forced to somehow back up Roy

                                                      1. re: ennuisans

                                                        You just described his tired schtick. Young LA Korean gangster now reformed who is now a professional chef so he makes an effort to act accordingly. He still tries to show his "street cred" by his manner of speaking and the words that he chooses. It's quite obvious.

                                                        Their food may have missed the mark but it's highly presumptuous of Roy to accuse them of not cooking from their soul.

                                                      2. re: Firegoat

                                                        Yes, that is what happened. The high-end French restaurant where he was EC was sold and the new owners brought their own EC. (That restaurant also failed.) Nicholas doesn't need to worry about someone hiring him as he has since opened his own restaurant and early word seems to be very good.

                                                        1. re: Firegoat

                                                          Firegoat, he mentioned last week that everyone that was fired when new management came in, was rehired. Everyone except for him that is. There is a reason for that.

                                                          1. re: maisonbistro

                                                            The new owners had their own guy that they wanted. A husband/wife team. As it unfolded in Philly it didn't seem unusual or that Elmi was anything other than "not their guy"

                                                            1. re: sal_acid

                                                              Nick opened his own restaurant and I have seen some positive reviews. Have you been?

                                                        2. re: chicgail

                                                          Nicholas was nasty, but I don't think he's taking it out on anyone but Carlos. He seems to have warm interactions with the others, affectionate ones.

                                                          But he is hard to watch, just too tightly coiled.

                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                            Come on! Now you have to be from the country of origin to criticize a particular dish. The best carbonara and amatriciana I've ever had was made by a Tunisian cooking in Rome. That chef still catches crap from Italians who insist that only a native can cook the cuisine correctly. I call BS.

                                                            Carlos should be embarrassed that he tried to pass off that garbage as al pastor. It's not true to Carlos's roots as the son of a taquera, it's not true to the roots of the dish. Choi is from LA, and, for better or worse, al pastor is one of the city's favorite foods. LA may not hit the level of al pastor in Mexico, but any taquero trying to sling pastor that was marinated for maybe 10 minutes and then cooked through on a flattop will be out of business in this town very quickly (except on the westside).

                                                            And I'm going to defend Roy's "schtick" for moment. Roy grew up in one of the densest urban environments around. He connected with an urban or "street" culture at a young age and was part of that culture through his 20s. That's shaped him. Remember, he's only had professional success recently. Kogi started around 2008. So the last five years of success is supposed to change who he is, how he speaks, the clothes he wears, what he connects with culturally? That's a little hard to swallow, especially when you consider the fact that him embracing and representing that culture is what gave him this recent success. I find this criticism of Roy Choi to be very weird.

                                                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                              " I find this criticism of Roy Choi to be very weird."

                                                              He behaved like a total dick, gave them no useful feedback about their dishes, and then chose a winner after saying they'd all failed.

                                                              You don't have to be rich, have grown up in a soft place to have some consideration and courtesy. I know lots of gracious folks who've lived harder lives than Roy's.

                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                That criticism I kind of get., though I'd quibble with it,.

                                                                The criticism that he is a wanna-be gangsta (spelling counts!) I find really off-putting and, frankly, depressing.

                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                  You may be taking it too personally. He's been on other episodes and has publicly made a lot of how Bad he was. At least he wants folks to think so, and I think he's cultivated that as part of his legend.

                                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                    Again, I don't think who he is, or where he comes from is the criticism. My backround is just as "urban" as his, and I believe I need to take great pains to bring something else to the table. There was a time I made sure not to bring ANY of that "ish". With more success and more confidence I feel I can be who I am AND what people are paying me for. That's how you represent!

                                                                    And I know what not to bring "home" too!

                                                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                      Watched again and I noticed some specific criticism in there. My bad. A little.

                                                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                        As you can attest to, it doesn't get heard when it's delivered as it was.

                                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                          I think Roy's instructions/intent was to light a fire under the cheftestants' asses. So saying "I think that the sandwich lacked enough textural contrast to make it interesting. Perhaps you could have included some fried shallots or crushed roasted peanuts to improve on it" doesn't really do that. Still, the man was harsh. I don't operate that way. But take a look at how the cheftestants reacted to Roy at the food trucks. It didn't seem like too many of them were pissed off from the QF judgment. Maybe we're missing something.

                                                                          I appreciate your perspective on the issue of Roy's presentation of himself. It still rubs me wrong when people criticize a guy who is clearly not trying to be "gangsta" just because he has a certain affinity for multi-culti urban street culture. It's at least classist and perhaps worse. He's not working in an office. He's working in what is a strange combination of manual labor, creative expression, business, and marketing. And what's worked for him was to abandon his formal training and embrace what speaks to who he feels he is. I think that's what the challenge of the whole episode was about and the Magic Elves did a pretty great job of getting that message across.

                                                                          Anyway, I actually did like the progression of the episode. I'm glad that everyone got the chance to cook exactly what they wanted in this episode. It was a little like a mini-finale after so many limited and contrived challenges.

                                                                          1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                            One can be "gangsta" and own it naturally. Roy appears to be putting on "gangsta" airs.

                                                                            1. re: JAB

                                                                              I think Roy's gangsta is ok. The one whose gangsta I thought was so repulsive was Eddie Huang.

                                                                              1. re: chefhound

                                                                                More comical than repulsive for me.

                                                                    2. re: mcf

                                                                      And THAT, mcf, is the crux in how people feel about how Roy Choi critiqued the QF dishes. He gave no useful feedback, no constructive criticism. He just tore them all a new asshole. In this particular situation, some could say the asshole was Roy Choi.

                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                        I re-watched the episode. Roy was rude. Doesn't matter his eye color, skin color, cultural background, etc., he was rude and unhelpful in an overly dramatic way.

                                                                        The only negative thing he said about Shirley's dish (at least from what the elves showed us) was his comment about it being "pedestrian", other than that he was very complimentary. So basically, it was a delicious sandwich but he goes on a diatribe that they're not cooking with soul because her sandwich is "pedestrian"? Was the challenge the "avant garde po-boy" challenge? What was the criteria he was basing the judging on that made him so rude? Especially his comment to Carlos about being from LA and knowing "al pastor", huge eyeroll.

                                                                        It's presumptuous to tell contestants that are giving their all and preparing food in a very short amount of time that they are not cooking with "soul". How many people can compose a dish in 20 minutes? Roy was presumptuous, arrogant and rude.

                                                                        I appreciate an honest judge and someone who will illuminate for the viewers at home. I don't want candy -coated "everyone is great" unless everyone is great. At the same time, a judge should comport him/herself with dignity and respect the contestants when they have given their all.

                                                                  2. re: bobbert

                                                                    "skinless boneless chicken breast must be right up there with cooking a nice steak well done.."

                                                                    Husbands first and second favorite thing. He asks for filet mignon, well done. Sigh.

                                                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                      It's as bad as boneless wings and vegetarian pho.

                                                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                        I'm sure he has charms to compensate.

                                                                        I can't think of any that would, but hey, he's YOURS. ;-)

                                                                    2. The elimination choice was pretty weird. Usually when this happens there's an explanation on one of the official blogs of some big factor that didn't come through in the edit, but no one's blog is up there yet except Hugh, who wasn't there. (The Bravo site has been really lackadaisical about about the blogs lately, by the way.; I used to run there the next morning but it's hardly worth checking anymore.)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: dfan

                                                                        Tom's was always the best one and it's very disappointing that he hasn't been doing it this season. I like Hugh's too, but more as a kind of satire of the show.

                                                                      2. I'm sure Carlos' dish tastes great but that's his signature dish at his restaurant! Nick tried to do the same but fails (pull a dish from his menu). The quinoa could have added texture but would not cure the under seasoning of fish issue.

                                                                        I guess these judges never eat chicken kebabs, since most kebabs use skinless boneless breast meat. Heck, I don't ever order or eat chicken kebabs do I guess I agree with them.

                                                                        Shirley and Nina are both competent but their food don't blow me away. Nine relies too heavily on pasta and Shirley is essentially doing fusion cuisine.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                          "Shirley is essentially doing fusion cuisine."

                                                                          Is that a problem?

                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            I don't think mashing two cuisines together is all that exciting. If I never eat another overpriced meal at a Wolfgang Puck or Jean George fusion restaurant, I would be ecstatic.

                                                                            1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                              I have had fantastic fusion and I have had terrible fusion. As with all things, it all comes from the inception point of the idea, whether it was a sincere attempt to create something new AND if there is a respect for the traditions of the original cuisine.

                                                                              The bad cuisines have always come from people doing it by rote or for intellectually lazy reasons.

                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                I can see going to Susar Lee's restaurant with him in the kitchen or Annisa but I'm done with Puck and JG's far flung empire of fusion for the uninitiated.

                                                                        2. Best exchange of the season (possibly in TC history).

                                                                          Roy Choi (Asian heritage) talking about how he knows Mexican food because he is from LA to Carlos who grew up and learned to cook in Mexico. Then criticized his (Carlos's) cooking for not being expressing his mexican heritage.

                                                                          On a purely opinion based side note Roy Choi came of as one hugely serious D-bag want-to-be gangsta'.

                                                                          Can't help but wonder how such a 'though guy ' would handle the same criticism.

                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                                            I vaguely recall Roy Choi coming off as one hugely serious D-bag wanna-be gangsta' when he was on Top Chef-Seattle as well, but I could be wrong.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              You'd be right. He had that stupid story of Emeril coming out of the TV and shaking him that eventually put him into his culinary path.

                                                                              Roy is really milking his "LA gangster culture lifestyle." It really seems to impress the culinary celebrities.

                                                                            2. re: Withnail42

                                                                              Can we stop with the:

                                                                              Hip hop; tattoos; street/outsider art = "gangsta" or "tough"

                                                                              I think if you ask Roy Choi if he thinks he's gangsta, he'd be the first to tell you that he is not.

                                                                              Not liking the guy and his style is one thing, but connecting "street" or "urban" style and culture to being "gangsta" is kind of messed up.

                                                                                1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                  You got me there! While I do have the balls to call out my fellow chefs on television, I've decided to hide behind an Italian pasta nom de plume to defend myself against people who have never eaten a bite of my food.

                                                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                    Well if you're not him you must be a huge fan. You have certainly expended a great deal of time and energy defending the guy.

                                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                      I think I was more calling out the veiled racism of:
                                                                                      hip hop/urban culture = gangsta

                                                                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                        No, that's not the issue. I didn't even read that tangent.

                                                                                        1. re: cacio e pepe


                                                                                          Let it go. I've lived in Korea for many years, worked for a Los Angeles newspaper outfit, seen lots of stuff.

                                                                                          Veiled racism? I'm calling bullsh*t.

                                                                                          1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                            Still gotta be twice as good.

                                                                                            I mean HAVE to. You still HAVE to be twice as good! ;)

                                                                                2. Yeah, I agree with the poster who said that this episode was rather "elf-ed" by concentrating more on Nick than anyone else. When the judges started complaining about Brian's chicken, though, I knew he was toast.

                                                                                  Roy Choi didn't bother me. I got what he was saying about the difference between thinking like a chef and cooking from your soul. Po' boys are yummy pedestrian food, whereas everyone automatically tried to "elevate" them because that's what TC does to cheftestants. I've also been around managers a hundred times as tough, so compared to them, he came off as a kitty cat to me :shrug:

                                                                                  As for the chicken breast...I think it was Bourdain who once said something like, "chicken breast is what you order when you don't know what else to eat" or something along that line. From a chef's viewpoint it's the blandest protein out there.

                                                                                  ETA: Am I the only one kind of sort of hoping Nina falters next week and Shirley ends up being the only female in the finale? I don't dispute Nina's culinary talent in the least, but there's something about her that rubs me the wrong way enough to make me hope she doesn't win...

                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                                                                                    <As for the chicken breast...I think it was Bourdain who once said something like, "chicken breast is what you order when you don't know what else to eat" or something along that line. From a chef's viewpoint it's the blandest protein out there.>

                                                                                    Imho, it what anyone cooks when they don't know what else to serve. I'm more likely to cook thighs, and so is everyone I know. At least they have some flavor.

                                                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                      I've switched to thighs, too, if I'm cooking chicken. My feeling is that chicken is too "pedestrian" for most chefs...?

                                                                                      1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                                                                                        And then next year all the chefs will cook with boneless, skinless chicken breasts because "it's a blank canvas" and I can "infuse it with so many flavors and meanings"

                                                                                      2. re: ChefJune

                                                                                        Americans are the only people on the planet who prefer chicken breasts to thighs. We have been sold on the white meat over dark meat story - less fat, somehow purer. The rest of the world considers breast meat a throw-away.

                                                                                        I hate going to restaurants where they have six different chicken dishes on the menu - and all of them are variations with boneless, skinless chicken breast. ugh.

                                                                                        1. re: chicgail

                                                                                          Which happens all the freaking time!!!

                                                                                          I have sworn off even trying to order chicken at American restaurants now.

                                                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                            I'll only order it if there's nothing else on the menu which tickles my fancy.

                                                                                      3. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                                                                                        I don't think the chefs tried to elevate po' boys any more than Roy Choi "elevated" tacos. They put their spin on them. He also failed to keep in mind that they had 20 minutes to conceptualize and create their po' boys.

                                                                                        1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                                                                                          ",,, everyone automatically tried to "elevate" them because that's what TC does to cheftestants."

                                                                                          The challenge was "Create a unique and personalized gourmet po' boy", so they were asked outright to elevate them.

                                                                                          1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                                                                                            I like both Nina and Shirley a lot. But given a choice, I'd much rather try Shirley's food.

                                                                                          2. Watching this ep on DVR and can't even get through the QF without coming on here to say a Roy Choi is so full of shit. What a pompous ass. Douchecanoe, paddle your ass home.

                                                                                            1. As far as Nick goes.

                                                                                              I can't help but wonder why he needed all those huge pots for. His dish seemed to consist of pan sears fish carrot slices sauce and a few random leaves.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. It's interesting to see the evolution of who the elves want us to think the villain is. Remember Nina's "suck a dick" comments early on. And being bitter when she didn't win? Or when Shirley, who seems so very sweet now went ballistic in the kitchen screaming like a shrew about who had her .. was it beets? Or the maniacal chopping that was pissing off the person next to her? And now we're focused on Nick being a jerk because he wants 3 burners, and forgetting how his organization and calmness led his team (along with Travis who was stellar) to a win in restaurant wars. It is very interesting going back and rewatching old episodes.....

                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                  To me, it seemed that in Carlos' reaction to Roy Choi (both in the 'later at the house that night' and in the confessionals) he seemed far more bothered than by anything Nicholas has said/done.

                                                                                                  At the moment, Nina is my spirit animal in regards of what is "really" going on. She said that she wouldn't have given up immunity, she was the one who confirmed that what Carlos did to Nicholas' knife in chef terms, etc. So when she says that Nicholas tries to do too much and is hard on himself, I think that's a far more accurate perspective on the situation than him being anything better or worse.

                                                                                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                    I remember Nick's leadership in restaurant wars but he is way over the top now with his aggressive asshole behavior in the kitchen. I think he's trying to start an altercation with Carlos to get Carlos kicked out early but my money is on Carlos. He isn't buying.

                                                                                                    1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                      I think that's an incredible reach. Since Season 2 has anyone been sent off the show for a physical altercation? This just isn't the kind of show where that happens.

                                                                                                      Nicholas seems like someone who the combination of the stress of the competition, separation from his family, and perhaps being a touch sensitive are just giving him a short fuse. Having worked for a boss who was a major yeller (in an office no less), Nicholas' reaction was hardly that extreme or nasty.

                                                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                        And Nicholas worked for the most famous screaming French chef in Philadelphia.

                                                                                                        1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                          LOL yes he did! I've heard the shouts all the way out in the dining room and even better, got Perrier stories out of ex-staff. Like when he brained a cook with one of those cloches they used.

                                                                                                          1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                            And yet in the dining room he was a charmer; kissed the hands of all his 70+ female diners, offered beautiful desserts. Mom and dad loved him.

                                                                                                            1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                              He was a charmer indeed. Esp in the bar downstairs....

                                                                                                              GP is just great in my book. I wish fine dining hadn't passed him by.

                                                                                                      2. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                        I think the opposite. The kitchen is chaotic and stressful and it would be easy to find any scenes between chefs that show each other at each others throats. But,when they're in the house, they seem to all get along and have fun.

                                                                                                        I think Carlos's reaction was probably solicited but he was right. Roy's being from LA has nothing on someone who grew up cooking in Mexico and you'd have to have an incredibly big ego to feel/express what Roy did.

                                                                                                    2. Roy Choi is an idiot. His comment about Carlos's al pastore was so self-important that it defied logic. Where does he get off with such an ridiculous attitude? He really should be prevented from being the solo judge of anything on this show. I would have loved to have seen him in an EC where someone else (do you hear me, Tom?) could slap him down. Speaking of Tom, I knew when I saw the utter contempt and disdain for the boneless, skinless chicken breasts that Tom had that Brian would be going home.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                        I wonder if any Mexican people have ever told Roy Choi how they feel about Korean "tacos?"

                                                                                                        He wasn't even half as douchey as Eddie Huang in the earlier episode (Vietnamese). So now he has something to work on.....

                                                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                          And uncooked potato is pretty bad too.

                                                                                                          1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                            You're right, but it wasn't Tom who got that, was it? It was the sneer on Tom's face that convinced me that Brian had cooked his goose, er, chicken breast.

                                                                                                        2. I think the immunity this late in the game is to make up for the fact that they're either running out of sponsors or having to pay the talent too much. The only blatant promo I noticed this episode was a rather pathetic close-up on a roll of Reynold's parchment paper.

                                                                                                          And 14 kinds of carrots with TUNA? Nothing could have saved that dish.

                                                                                                          17 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: hal2010

                                                                                                            Also Dunkin' Donuts.

                                                                                                            Could you clarify: why would lack of sponsors mean they offer immunity later into the competition? I'm sure if I think on it longer I'll understand but I'd rather not think if I can help it.

                                                                                                            1. re: Niblet

                                                                                                              Maybe they are thinking if they don't offer immunity you have to offer a cash prize from a sponsor?

                                                                                                              1. re: Niblet

                                                                                                                If there's no prize, what's the point of the Quickfire?

                                                                                                                1. re: Niblet

                                                                                                                  And Morton's Salt - which I'd never noticed before.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Niblet

                                                                                                                    The Dunkin Donuts coffee bag shown right after they used the Keurig coffee maker. That scene was like a contest to see how many products you can show in a short period of time.

                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                      Yeah, I almost threw a ":::gratuitous Dunkin' commercial:::" comment in the midst of my recap - but didn't want to give them any more space.

                                                                                                                      Dunkin' is to New England as Starbucks is to Seattle. There's one on every corner. :::Bleah:::

                                                                                                                  2. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                    I was reminded of a tasting meal I had at a Michelin-starred restaurant in town that featured lobster with carrots five ways. Carrots with lobster? It was the worst dish on the menu. I haven't been back. Tuna is no better.

                                                                                                                    1. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                      There is immunity next week as well, according to the promo.

                                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                        Ugh. It's way too late in the game to offer immunity.

                                                                                                                      2. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                        Nick specifically referred to his pots as Anolon(?) pots.

                                                                                                                        1. re: gyc

                                                                                                                          Product placement. Nick was kind of being a jerk with those pots, but it is a competition. I wonder if any of this sort of stuff is prompted by producers?

                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                            Maybe he needed all the Anolon pots on the front burners so the producers could get the money shot for the sponsors...

                                                                                                                        2. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                          You missed the Dunkin Donuts coffee close up? What was funny was they showed a K-Cup machine closing and then the bag of coffee.

                                                                                                                          1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                            I believe Carlos even talked about getting his Dunkin Donuts coffee that morning. But I hadn't caught the K-Cup part.

                                                                                                                            1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                              I use Peets in my machine with a refillable cup. It can be done.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                I had no idea. Coffee isn't one of my vices.

                                                                                                                          2. Roy said the flavor was off on the pastor. Its not inconceivable to think that because they only had 20 minutes to cook. Carlos was even questioning if that was a long enough time to marinade. Al Pastor is great off one of those rotating spitz, grilled after a quick marinade, I'm not sure it would have tasted like you'd think pastor would taste.

                                                                                                                            To me it looked like a marinated pork sandwhich.

                                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Xericx

                                                                                                                              Very good point. That may be why Carlos' al pastor tasted off.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Xericx

                                                                                                                                Perhaps the flavor was off, it still doesn't explain his harsh criticism that the chefs weren't putting their soul and background into their dishes. Roy should also know that Carlos only had to 20 min to make the al pastor, he should make allowances for that. He shouldn't question the authenticity of Carlos' marinade for the al pastor.

                                                                                                                                1. re: superfuture48

                                                                                                                                  At least the way the sandwhiches looked, they were for the most part uninspired. "I made this with chinese vinegar because I'm chinese".

                                                                                                                                  I think the editors asked him to be harsh knowing that the elimination challenge would be related.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Xericx

                                                                                                                                    I think you are correct. They planned for him to be the 'bad boy'.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Xericx

                                                                                                                                      I agree about the elimination challenge being related. I thought it seemed terribly convenient that the chefs got ripped for no soul or background in their quickfire and then asked to show just that in the elimination.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                                                                                          Or maybe Roy is just a lot more impressed with the spam sandwich from "The Taste" this week than he was with the po' Boys.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                            serriously ..I was like Is that the same guy

                                                                                                                                  2. I don't care for the contestants refering to their food as 'sexy' or 'making love to their food'. (Nina in this episode.) I especially did not need Brian telling us "you gotta put your balls out there and let 'em swing". (A past episode, repeated on LCK.) Really Brian? Is that what you did with the boneless, skinless chicken breasts?

                                                                                                                                    1. There has to be a hidden agenda keeping Nicholas. He put a slice of a RAW carrot on top of his fish. And you'd think after last week's elimination challenge team failing dish of his, they would be uber picky. I don't think Brian could have won it, but I do think he should have stayed an extra week, with Nicholas saying bye bye.

                                                                                                                                      He needs to get out of the kitchen, get that boulder off his shoulder and then find his passion again. He is way too angry all the time to be a impassioned about his food.

                                                                                                                                      1. Roy Choi telling a Mexican chef that he knows more about Mexican food than the chef does because he's from LA is kinda like an American chef knowing all there is to know about Vietnamese food based on 2 trips to Vietnam and a string of Asian boyfriends...I guess this is the "I know more about your culture than you do" season. Oy.

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                          I think it's a slightly different situation with Roy claiming that since he's from LA he knows Mexican food better than a Mexican chef from Mexico vs. Travis saying he's more familiar with Vietnamese food than some of the other chefs based on his experiences in Vietnam and dating a Vietnamese person. The latter of which was simply manufactured drama. The former was just idiotic.

                                                                                                                                        2. I think I figured out why Nick is still in the competition and Brian got the PPYKAG. The judges did not care for either dish, however Nick's dish was missing a component and it might have been better if the quinoa had been included. They did not like Brian's dish but it was made as it was intended. Well, I guess Brian did not intend for there to be undercooked potatoes, but that's a function of execution, not conception.

                                                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                            I still think that Brian had been cruising through the season. I have not been impressed. he does just enough to be not last. Nicholas hasn't been as consistent, he has terrific days and he has totally moronic days.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                              I too am a little tired of Nick's petulance, but I attribute it to the stress of the competition.

                                                                                                                                              I certainly hope there are no more gimicky elimination challenges. I prefer it like this episode where it's all about the food.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                The most recent Cheftestant Progress:

                                                                                                                                                Carlos - 2 Wins, 6 Highs, 2 Lows, 1 QF (team QF)
                                                                                                                                                Brian - 0 Wins, 4 Highs, 3 Lows, 3 QF (1 team QF)
                                                                                                                                                Nina - 3 Wins, 6 Highs, 2 Lows, 2 QF (1 team QF)
                                                                                                                                                Shirley - 3 Wins, 1 High, 1 Low, 4 QF
                                                                                                                                                Nicholas - 2 Wins, 2 Highs, 3 Lows, 2 QF (1 team QF)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                    Not necessarily. I was just putting the progress out there to show Brian has seemed to have been coasting, as Phaedrus said. No EC wins, although more "Highs" than anyone else other than Carlos - but Carlos has 2 Wins under his belt.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                        :-P No. I'm going with Shirley. She wasn't an early favorite of mine, but she has grown on me.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                            I too hope for a Shirley win. Nina was extremely annoying at the beginning, and she seems to understand Nick and knows exactly what is going on, but I still like Shirley. (Except that her 'awakening' due to Emeril and the Vietnamese shrimpers seemed a bit contrived.)

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                              Nina and Nick.

                                                                                                                                                              Shirley is gonna do something dopey

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                You might be on to something. The funny thing is, although I think Carlos has been not an extremy likable contestant the last several episodes, I think I would like to have his collection of recipes more than the others still in the competition.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                  That plus the components of Nick's dish that made it to the plate were really well liked by the judges.

                                                                                                                                                2. Brilliant job by Linda Whit. Thanks for all the hard work.

                                                                                                                                                  I enjoyed Wednesday's show. It followed a pattern of many previous seasons where contestants who reached this particular stage kind of run out of gas. The mental pressure, where you realize you have a chance at the finals, must be extreme.

                                                                                                                                                  The Elves seem to see a need to introduce DRAMA now. I would respectfully disagree. It's ok to highlight the positives, feature the food/cooking and tell a good story. We don't need a return to the Ilan Hall days.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Pardon me if this was already pointed out (trying to read 82 posts at a sitting is way too hard on eyes, mind and butt for me), but can it be coincidence that theme of Elim Challenge (discover your voice) was verrry close to Roy's blanket criticism of po' boy chefs in Quickfire? Is Roy above following a script? I mean I don't believe in coincidence in something as carefully staged and edited as Top Chef. Good though.

                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alfairfax

                                                                                                                                                      good point. maybe he did that to follow a script.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alfairfax

                                                                                                                                                        I don't think it's coincidence. I think the challenges were planned by the Elves to fit together on purpose. IIRC, Padma's wording at the start of describing the Elimination Challenge specifically took something that Roy had said as part of the intro.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                          "I think the challenges were planned by the Elves to fit together on purpose."

                                                                                                                                                          I hope so! Isn't that why they get paid? Certainly not to make US "happy"!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                            I was responding to the many 'Choi is a dick' comments above. Is he still a dick if he was only following Elves script? And yes, they do get paid to produce a piece of entertainment, not to elevate the creation and appreciation of food in America except as a basis for that entertainment. Plus, of course, to provide an opportunity for lucrative product placement. They are so proficient at that.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alfairfax

                                                                                                                                                              Yes, still a dick. He wasn't playing a character, he was himself.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alfairfax

                                                                                                                                                                If somebody asked you to be a dick on TV... for essentially no money...and put a dent in your reputation and perhaps business...would you do it?

                                                                                                                                                                Not unless you really are a dick.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: alfairfax

                                                                                                                                                            I had exactly the same thought (and posted it upthread, but before I got to this part of the thread!) I also think that Carlos did NOT make al pastor. He made something vaguely similar.

                                                                                                                                                          3. I find that I really like Nina and hope she takes it. If not Nina, Shirley. I don't care for either Nick or Carlos and, I know Shirley has done mostly Asian food, but at least she does other things with an Asian influence. I feel like all Carlos does is Mexican - it may be my own prejudice since I really don't care for Mexican food. But both Nina and Shirley have showed incredible skill. Nina's very simple pasta - if you can pull of simple you are good!!

                                                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                                                                                                                              I agree with all. I think Nina has shown the most versatility. Sure, she uses Caribbean flavors more than the others but she's also quite adept with pasta which is not the first thing to come to my mind when I think Caribbean food. Her little testimonials also seem pretty well thought out and really on point as opposed to, say Nicholas who appears more vindictive.

                                                                                                                                                              Carlos does appear to have a more limited comfort zone and seldom strays from his Mexican roots. That has hurt him but not yet fatally. Only a matter of time.

                                                                                                                                                              As Nina says, Nicholas appears to over think things. He's very talented but, come on, carrots 7 ways? I happen to like carrots as much as the next guy but I can't imagine ever ordering that in any restaurant. He needs to get rid of that chip on his shoulder. The new management at his old restaurant brought in their own people - it happens all the time. You want redemption? The people who fired you went out of business with your replacement at the helm. That really should be redemption enough.

                                                                                                                                                              Shirley - I'm placing her up there with Nina. First, I like her. No drama and likable although the uncle Emeril thing is a bit annoying. Yes, she uses a lot of Chinese flavors and twists in her meals but somehow they appear better suited to each challenge than Carlos'.

                                                                                                                                                              I'm thinking either Nina or Shirley.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                Using carrots in as many ways as you can is setting up obstacles for no good reason. What could he gain from that? He just seems so unhappy, like he has no other reason to be there but to win. It's really about the journey.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: wincountrygirl

                                                                                                                                                                I like how Nina has been able to think on the fly, eg. changing the pasta and making it work. Others, like Nicholas and Brian, can't make quick adjustments when there is a problem. Nicholas needed something w/ texture and he has carrots. He knew his corn nests were bad. Come up w/ something else.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                                                                                                                                  I hope and expect to see Nina and Shirley in the finals. Don't know who will take it. But they certainly seem like the most talented chefs. (but who knows what will happen when you factor in LCK)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm also expecting this to be between Nina and Shirley, and don't really have a preference between them. Well, no, actually, Shirley's pandering to the "TC gave me back my passion" storyline annoys me, so I guess I have to prefer Nina. (Although Mr Rat keeps on saying how funny it would be if Carlos ended up winning the whole thing.)

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: wincountrygirl

                                                                                                                                                                    And don't forget whoever is the final winner in LCK. They'll be re-entering the TC kitchen after next week's episode.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. A few after thoughts.

                                                                                                                                                                    Nick staked out his territory and struck out preemptively based on past behavior. Not that I'm defending him as he's never been a favorite of mine and has been getting on my nerves.

                                                                                                                                                                    Nick should have had the balls to go vegetarian and have included a large piece(s) of carrot instead of the tuna. Tom said as much. I don't see how his missing (burnt) ingredient would have tied everything together. Provided texture sure but, not tied it together. I think that the elves highlighted this point with the most epic carrot porn shot on LCK.

                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                      I was also wondering how quinoa would tie everything together. Some crunch, sure but I've never had tuna with some carrot juice and thought "boy, if I only had some quinoa to pull this all together".

                                                                                                                                                                      Also, I wonder what Nicholas would have thought had Carlos claimed 3 front burners and maybe included a "nah, nah, na, na nah, you can use the back burners and don't touch my stuff."

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                        I guess it might have cut the gooeyness complained of by the Cafe Reconcile staff? But, the carrot/tuna combo, either with or without quinoa, just sounded odd to me. Seemed to me he might have been better off using a milder protein to highlight the carrot, like maybe boneless, skinless chicken breast? (*ducking*)

                                                                                                                                                                        When I turned the channel to watch this episode, I caught the tail end of the previews for next week. I saw Nick and Carlos, and knew neither of them would be eliminated. Then Shirley won immunity, so I figured it was down to Nina or Brian. By the time they got to the bottom two -- Nick and Brian -- Nick's dish sounded so much worse, I thought maybe no one would be eliminated. I was as surprised as Nick that it wasn't him.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Does anyone care that someone deliberately sneaked in and sabotaged Nick's dish? (I might have misinterpreted the scene... I have checked other websites and recaps and they think Nick himself mistakenly set the temp wrong.)

                                                                                                                                                                      34 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                          IIRC it was a knob-set temperature, which can be easy bumped into, along with other possibilities. But if a camera wasn't there to catch it there's no way for anyone to know.

                                                                                                                                                                          I've seen one or two shows now that use touchpad controls (Chopped Canada?) but they're so new at least one chef didn't know how to use it.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                            Honestly I remember Emeril and Tom with impish grins as Nicholas walked out and Emeril saying, "He looked pissed." I say Emeril did it.


                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                                                                                              Yikes. There was an issue with that on one of Anne Burrell's shows, producers sneaking in and changing the temperatures. I hope that's not the case!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                I too hope the producers are hands off the equipment.

                                                                                                                                                                                I remember in one of the last episodes of TC 4, the contestants were given whole piglets to butcher. At the end of the time limit for that day (more cooking the next) as the contestants were leaving the kitchen, the camera zoomed in on some pork marinating in a hotel pan underneath a table. Of course when they found it the next day it had to be tossed. The point is that a cameraman saw it and probably a producer too, but nothing was said.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                              I think he was looking at celcius instead of ferin. it would have accounted for the difference in temp about the same.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                This makes so much sense that if it happened any other way I will be disappointed.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                                  But didn't he say he thought he'd turned it down from 500* to 250* or something like that? That would mean he'd had it at over 900* C to make that mistake.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I think he preheated his oven and meant to turn it down and didn't because he was rushed and pissy.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                                                    So his spat with Carlos made him all "pissy," and that caused him to forget to turn down the oven even though he distinctly remembers having done so?

                                                                                                                                                                                    Btw, I don't think the oven goes to 900.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't think it does either, hence my thought that he didn't mistake Celsius for Fahrenheit. I'll watch it again, but I remember seeing him put the pan in the oven and immediately turn to go back to what he was doing, not close the oven and turn down the temperature. Maybe he did it before putting the pan in, but they didn't show that either. My opinion is he didn't turn it down at all but thought he did.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I think most reasonable people would catagorize his behavior as pissy. What made him pissy, I don't know. Maybe he just can't take the pressure as the contestant pool gets smaller. Probably only he knows.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm just pulling your leg. I don't know what happened with the quinoa and I don't really care. If his fish was under seasoned, no amount of texture would save it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                        I watched that scene a couple of times to see what I could see to post this in my OP:

                                                                                                                                                                                        "...make a quinoa (which he ends up burning, because he said either he didn't turn the heat down on the oven or someone turned it up. The camera shot after he puts the quinoa in the oven shows the oven at 500 degrees - so guess what Nicholas, you didn't turn the heat down!)"

                                                                                                                                                                                        While he was putting the tray into the oven, I'm pretty sure I could see the oven knob was turned up higher than he would have wanted. I don't believe it was a camera zoom, but instead a brand new shot, of the oven knob at 500°, whereas a zoom shot would have helped with continuity. But I also didn't see him turn the temperature down.

                                                                                                                                                                                        OK, I just watched it again, and I paused the DVR, and then incrementally forwarded it in small bits. I've attached two pictures showing the temperature at the oven as Nicholas was putting his quinoa in the oven and closing the door (a bit fuzzy, but the camera was moving a bit, I believe, and I've got a old cell phone) and then a close-up of the temp at which the oven was on. Nicholas did NOT turn the temperature down, as Leepa said. He put the pan in the oven, closed the doors, and walked away to finish prep, until Nina said "Is something burning?" He removed the burnt quinoa and claimed he turned the oven down to 275° "and now it's at 500°; I don't know how that happens." But he never touched the temperature knob on the oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In the first picture, circled in red is the overall temperature gauge, and lightly circled in white is the temp mark indicator. The second picture is a tight closeup of where the temperature was at when he closed the doors and walked away. (BTW, what could also be construed as a temperature mark at the top in the first picture is that silver half circle at 350° in the 2nd picture.)

                                                                                                                                                                                        While it's not 100% proof, it seems to indicate that Nicholas didn't turn the oven temp down. So hopefully there's not an Ovengate brewing. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                        OK, let's see how these pictures show up here on CH...

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                          Nice sleuthing Linda. It actually looks like the temp is at 450 in the first picture. There is so much editing in these shows I'm sure the second shot was staged for the drama effect.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, I thought it was closer to 450 as well, and I do wish the cameraperson had just zoomed in for the continuity. But maybe they didn't see it at first.

                                                                                                                                                                                            However, I'm still going with the strong assumption that the producers, et al, do NOT do anything to change the outcome of a dish or in judging, such as change the temperature of the oven. And if Carlos had done it and they had it on video? You know they would have shown it to us to heighten the drama between Carlos and Nicholas.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, I don't think the producers would sabotage a contestants dish. But staging the photo of the oven at 500 is not out of the realm of reality on reality TV.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                Nope, it's definitely quite possible. Nicholas did say the oven was up to 500°, and *then* turned it down (after his quinoa was burnt), so perhaps when they went to look at the oven temp, saw it was at 450°, they did turn it up to 500° to match what Nicholas said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                  What I don't get is why did he have the oven so hot in the first place. That seems too hot for toasting any grain/quinoa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I once killed a 3 year old sourdough starter because I forgot it was in the oven.(It was in there with the light on.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I thought the same thing, John E. It's not going to preheat any faster if you set it up that high. Just set it on the temp you want and then the possibility of disaster is reduced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Reminds me of the green pea purée situation from a few seasons ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's what I was thinking as well, JAB, especially after re-watching the few scenes. When Nicholas was saying "I set it at 275°, now it's up to 500°", the camera shot was actually showing Carlos at his station (which wasn't near the oven Nicholas was using) stirring and cooking his food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Definitely an attempt at Elven sneaky magic to place fake blame on Carlos.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                What would we do without your perspicacious presence?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                    +100 for using the word perspicacious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Worth pointing out that a decently made oven won't reach 350 quicker if the thermostat is set to 500 than if set to 350.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Setting it to "broil" will heat the top fast but leave the bottom relatively cool for quite a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                                I watched the episode again and the camera had a close up of the oven dial...it was set on 500 or 550.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Poochinator

                                                                                                                                                                                                  But doesn't that just beg the question, why on earth would the camera person take a close up shot of the oven dial at the time Nick put the quinoa in when they had no clue it was going to be an issue until later when the quinoa was burned. I call BS on the close up of the thermostat setting at the time Nick put it in; my guess they went back to get a shot later when the error was discovered so they would have something to edit in for "drama".

                                                                                                                                                                                              4. btw I found Shirley's recipe that the judges were drooling over


                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I'm one of the few Carlos fans (maybe the only one). I realize his range is somewhat limited but I think he has made some dishes this season that has been outstanding, much better than Nicholas, who seems to think the other contestants are there to take orders from him. I'm hoping for a final three of Carlos, Nina, and Shirley.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm a Carlos fan, too, and like you am hoping that Nina, Shirley, and Carlos get to the finals. A Chinese-Caribbean-Mexican cook off would be fun to watch, and probably wonderful to taste!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the recap, Linda Whit! I'm going to have to go back and check last week's recap next. I missed the show because my ex-SIL was here and I refused to go out and socialize with her. I did see it this week, though...

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                      What are your thoughts on Louis coming back and competing to make it to the finals? I would like to see a finale with Louis, Shirley, and any of the others still left in the finale. I would then like either Shirley or Louis to win.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Nina's predominantly an Italian cook. In fact, she's much more successful with her pasta dishes than her Caribbean dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I like Carlos, and agree that some of his dishes he has made are very impressive. I was looking at the website for his restaurant, and turns out he trained under a French chef. I guess he just chooses to highlight a "lesser" ethnic cuisine ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Debbie M

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've eaten at Caros' restaurant several times. It is very good and highly regarded for its upscale cuisine. Mexican, but with a French influence. One of my favorite dishes there is there French onion soup with poblano peppers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The pictures on the site are gorgeous. Very elegant plating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Debbie M

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I saw this episode again today and he did mention that he had worked at a French restaurant. I was a little suprised--all season he has acted like he knows nothing beyond Mexican. I wonder why he acted like french dishes, such as Pepin's Dover sole, were outside his comfort zone?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                                                                            You're not alone! I have always liked Carlos and have tired of Nicholas. Not sure when the LCK victor re-enters the contest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Always a pleasure to read your recaps Linda. They are appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just some of my thoughts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Quick Fire
                                                                                                                                                                                                            * Roy Choi is mighty douchey and serious for a guy who's claim to fame is LA tacos on a food truck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            * Roy Choi has obviously never been in a food challenge such as this, with limited time,

                                                                                                                                                                                                            * Roy Choi doesn't really know how to give constructive criticism without being an A$$

                                                                                                                                                                                                            * Roy Choi worked in his family's restaurant when he was little making dumplings, Don't give me a sad story about how you hit rock bottom buddy. Every one in the restaurant industry has the same story, some a lot more worse than yours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            * Roy Choi telling a Mexican your know their cuisine better than them because you are from LA is pretentious douchbaggery. It's like telling a Cuban you know their cuisine better because you live in Miami. You could have given him better constructive criticism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            * Roy Choi you are famous for tacos no need to be a pretentious, pompass dbag.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Elimination Challenge
                                                                                                                                                                                                            * I forget who said it but I agree that Nick over thinks things

                                                                                                                                                                                                            * Props to Nina for keeping her cool and switching up to her noodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                            * I don't blame Carlos for anything on this episode. I was confused to because Carlos was clearly point to the pots but Nicholas was not looking, and at one point he says "you can do whatever you want bro" or something like that. In which Carlos says okay and starts to move the pots.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            * I don't think Nicholas was sabotaged I think he in his temper mood wasn't paying attention because he was angry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            * I thought it was funny that one of the servers commented on Nick's dish that "It's not nasty or nuthin' but..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            * We talked about Brian's Boneless Skinless Chicken. It's great for superbowl parties, and stuff like that but not Top Chef. Is there any other protein more offensive to a chef?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Final Thought
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Shirley is a real doll. It is, in my opinion a very prestigious thing to win Immunity and the win in one episode. Well Done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            She has truly found her passion and voice again and the gift of inspiration she has received could be more important to her than the win itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I guess I'm the only person who thought Roy was telling Carlos "I know al pastor and man, that ain't al pastor". Because it wasn't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I kind of thought that given that nothing was (supposedly) very good, they should have said "NO ONE earned immunity today".

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Roy did not offer a constructive critique. He basically just told Carlos the flavor wasn't there and that he knows Mexican because he is from LA. He offered no real explanations or ways to improve anything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I thought Padma actually liked a few, and she flat out loved Shirley's. You could tell by her body language.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  First, let's agree that there may have been some film left on the editing floor. Roy may have said more to Carlos. Or not. We don't know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Constructive criticism is more interesting for me, but clearly keeping in the confrontational bits were deemed more interesting by the editors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm picking on Carlos because I can almost taste the blandness of the sandwich and because I really believe he should know better. But what do you say to the guy who steadfastly believes that he can make al pastor in 15 minutes (giving 5 minutes for the other components and plating of his dish)?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For me, it's like the guys on Chopped who think they can make a stew in 30 minutes. They know that you can't break down those cuts of meat in that short amount of time unless you're using a pressure cooker but they keep saying they're going to take the risk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's not taking a risk. It's stupidity. Putting chocolate on your chicken is a risk. Trying to cook something that requires time to marinate or break down tough cuts of meat in 30 minutes is just stupid. It's just not realistic. It just can't be done. So why are you trying to do something you know can't be done?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have an addiction, a compulsive need to watch reality cooking competitions, no matter how lame.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have drawn the line at watching The Next Food Network Star, and Guy and Rachel but I can't seem to stop watching Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen and the Taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If I don't watch Top Chef the same day that it's broadcast, I get the shakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I seem to recall a TC contestant getting eliminated for attempting to make Crème Brûlée in an hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Two of us. All Choi said in criticism was it lacked flavor. That's it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not sure your getting what a constructive critique is. It's offering an opinion and giving ways to help make it better, or explaining in detail what went wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are plenty of guest judges that do that. It's really tasteless (pardon the pun) just to basically say. Your crap sucks and lacks flavor. and he did promote himself saying he's picky about Mexican because he is from LA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Choi gets no pass from me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I didn't say it was constructive. I don't expect constructive from Choi any more than I do from any other QF judge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Their food was boring and he called them out. And he's young, so unlike other chefs on tv he hasn't learned that you dress down people on tv differently than you do in the walk-in. I get that. He was harsher than we are used to seeing. He wasn't nearly as harsh as what these guys go through every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He was a bit over the top but doesn't deserve the scorn he's getting in this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            He's young? He's around 43- years old.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I wouldn't excuse his behavior because you think he is young.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            we've seen plenty of chefs offer good critiques in quick fires. Both John Besh and Emeril have been outstanding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You can be a tough bada$$ who knows his craft without being a complete Schwanz Kopf.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Professionalism, Professionalism, Professionalism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I guess because his claim to fame is fairly recent I assumed he was younger. My mistake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As for the rest, though: fine, he was unprofessional. It's fine to call him out on that. But tearing him down because of his upbringing, his clothing style, his personal mistakes, his language choices, his education, his social class, and even the kind of success that he's had, as you and others have done in this thread, is just unwarranted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh I wasn't trying to do that. I'm sorry if it came off that way. My biggest complaint was his lack of constructive critique.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I know I did make a point to mention he got famous off of tacos and that he has a sad story upbringing. but don't we all have our sad stories? I respect the fact that he rose above but I don't respect his critiquing method.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                with that I would love to see him compete on Top Chef Masters. I did like his message of elevating yourself. 10,000 feet and more but he was too rough and tough without much love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wasn't put off by, or tearing him down for any of those things. I was put off by the fact that he seems to present those things as if they give him credibility, and someone whose advice you should listen to. Then he didn't really give any.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  OK, I'm *so* going to have to use the word "Schwanzkopf".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh come on. He was a complete turd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes. He was a big big steaming pile of poop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I apologize to all steaming piles of poop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Call me a sadist but I like watching these chefs get chewed out for turning out less than stellar food. Now whether Roy was right or overly nit picky, we'll never know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. top chef sandwich. hated the judge and the competition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I don't know Nick. Don't live in Philadelphia, but I do feel like he's getting a crap edit right now. So, I'll pick him for the win, Shirley in 2nd, and the winner of LCK in 3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't know Nick personally, but I knew him by reputation before the show. I do live in Philadelphia. He's getting the crap edit for the end of season after getting the sweet edit at the beginning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nick and Jason both have successful restaurants in Philly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That said, I'm pulling for a Nina-Shirley-Louis finale. (Sorry homeboys :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't get the quick downfall of Nick's personality from Restaurant Wars where he shined to where it is now. Did he change or did the edit change? Because no one has been as calm and collected as he was during RW and that job was stress.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wonder about the producton schedule. It was 4 episodes ago that Nick and Carlos clashed at LSU on the televised episodes of Top Chef. I wonder how long it took in real time to produce the video for the entire four episodes? Nick has been unable to let go of his irritation with Carlos since LSU. However that likely has not been over four weeks, I bet it is closer to 10 days and with producers egging him on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    IIRC, Tom Colicchio said in an earlier season's blog that the entire series (except the finale) is shot in about 30 days. Based on the fact that we're on Episode 14, that's about 2 days per ep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And some of the Judges Table can last well into the night, and then they'll have a shoot the next morning for the next Quickfire Challenge. Doesn't allow for a lot of sleep time, so fatigue definitely factors into the chefs' crankiness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I guess that means that Nick has not been pissing and moaning about Carlos for four weeks. (Although I too am tired of it.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Meanwhile Jon Favreau has this page on refresh hoping that someone remembers he was on the show too. Hi Jon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rudy is my husband's favorite non animated movie. And Forrest Gump. I just barely heard Nina mention the Rudy connection. I THINK it was Nina.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I only knew him from Swingers and his appearances on Friends for a long time. When he got the gig to direct Iron Man I was surprised until I learned what a really busy guy he's been. Elf! I had no idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It looks like Jon is back to his D-Bob weight class.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Rudy is one of those movies where I will start watching it without regard to when it started.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. All I have to say about Roy Choi is that he better get busy yelling at himself like he did to everyone. The last time I ate at a Kogi Truck it was a hot, over sauced, overly sweet nightmare of a meal. I had the calamari taco which were generic rings (probably frozen) that were doused in this ridiculous sauce that overpowered the entire dish. took two bites and i was done. The other was a short rib taco which I don't remember much about. It was a nasty meal and I'm pretty forgiving. People who talk like that better be able to walk the talk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Trying to knock the stuffing out of people isn't criticism, it's narcissism. Tim Gunn, Zac Posen, Emeril, John Besh, Eric Ripart, Danny Myers, and many others know how to criticize while supporting, which is a fabulous talent. Roy Choi is neither as good a cook as many of the cheftestants nor is he worth paying attention to, except in his own mind. Nick tried something classically French: I have been to some marvelous restaurants in France (3 star Michelins) where the season brings in a tasting menu built around a particular element (one time it was built around the asparagus crop, another around passion fruit). Such an approach can be a tremendous challenge to a chef's creativity and Nick took a chance and went for that and missed his mark. But it's real cooking and a worthy effort and that's why he didn't go home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Great examples of constructive critiques that Roy Choi needs to look at before he judges again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i had a couple of items off a Kogi Truck when in L.A. a few years ago - i agree, thoroughly unimpressed. messy, muddled flavors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. So I finally watched the scene where Roy basically tells all these chefs they suck. I personally think, judging solely from the food they've cooked plus their restaurants I've researched could mop the floor with this guy. If you're going to bring on a guest chef to tell people their food sucks, bring someone with some credibility. If Puck, Emeril, Keller, want to tell them their food sucks, fine. But Roy? And on a 20 minute sandwich challenge. should have whipped out a jar of cheeze whiz and some Steak 'ems and said it represented my poor white past. And present.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. A question that bothers me from way back. How did Stephanie make 500 grilled cheese sandwiches without the plancha during the college elimination round.