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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?

                                  Tools.

                                  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.