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Last Chance Kitchen 1/22/2014 spoilers

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Or not.... spoilers that is.
The LCK starts with a flash back of some previous LCKs. ending up with Louis' wins.
Then we are in Hawaii. Tom wearing his best Magnum P.I. shirt beside Louis at the Andaz resort/restaurant. Up walks Carlos. Tom asks Louis if that is who he expected. Louis makes a noncommital noise, not sure if he says I don't know or maybe. They are all standing outside with a lovely shot of a beach and ocean behind them. There is a Gilligan's Island-looking covered stand there as well filled with fresh fish, that as Tom says were "swimming yesterday."
The challenge is to make the best dish they can using the fish that they see there (about 7 choices). They have 60 minutes to cook, but instead of making 1 plate, they will be making 5 plates as Tom is inviting some people to dinner. Fish included tuna, mahi mahi, scorpion fish, kampachi, and ono. (Please excuse my fish name spellings.)
Carlos and Louis each grab a big fish and take off at a run to the inside kitchen.
Louis makes a braised yellowfin tuna belly, treating it like a piece of meat with a rich sauce and mushrooms.
Carlos makes a mole made in Mexico with the Mahi Mahi, using a taro root base.
There is the obligatory trash talking in the kitchen. Carlos lets us know he is called the Mexican version of Thomas Keller. I assume that is not for his knife skills.
Meanwhile, outside, Nina, Nick and Shirley meet at a picnic table with Tom and Emmeril. Tom tells them that they will be a part of picking which chef returns. The tasting will be a blind tasting so that they will no know which chef cooked what.
Back in the kitchen Louis finds his tuna a little overcooked but doesn't have time to recook.
The five outside are served both plates at the same time.
Overall, the flavor of the tuna dish is preferred and more complex, but the tuna is overcooked.
In the mahi dish, the fish is perfectly cooked, but the seasoning is off in the taro root and other ingredients.
Everyone at the table gets one secret written vote. Then Tom goes back to Carlos and Louis and lets them know how the vote was created. He starts pulling slips of paper out of the box saying the first one with 3 votes will win.
There is a cut to talking heads. Carlos says he's confident he won. Louis overcooked the fish, now his heart is pumping and pumping.
Louis does not seem confident. Says that winning 7 LCK and then losing here would make it a waste.
As Tom goes to reveal the first vote.... of course it ends. No spoilers here.

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  1. Of course I have no idea, but I think Carlos may pull this one out. But of course, that's what it was edited to make us (at least me) think, so probably it is Louis for the win!

    1. So they tasted blind, but I'm just guessing here that they all knew who made the Mexican dish....

      My money is on Louis.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune

        Just what I was thinking, Chef June!

        1. re: ChefJune

          Of course if they had any idea how Louis was tearing it up in LCK, they'd be smart to pick the Mexican dish and bring Carlos back instead of Louis. Right now, JMHO, Louis is the only one who could take out Nina/Shirley.

          1. re: ChefJune

            Hah - I hadn't read responses before I wrote mine. Just what I was thinking.

          2. Overcooked fish vs. perfectly cooked fish, and the fish is the main ingredient, I have to think Carlos won.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Worldwide Diner

              You have 3 contestants voting and 2 judges. If you were a contestant knowing that whoever wins comes back to compete against you ... would you vote for the best dish or the worst dish? Remember, votes are written and anonymous.

              1. re: Firegoat

                If I were being crafty, I would probably vote for the dish where the fish was cooked perfectly, but the sauce was not as complex, figuring the guy with the complex sauce can presumably properly cook the fish (and thus be a more difficult competitor), but perhaps not vice versa.

                1. re: Firegoat

                  I don't know about the other 2 contestants but if I were Nick, I'd vote against Carlos just because he borrowed my knife and didn't fucking clean it!

              2. OK, I love this recap. Especially the "Carlos lets us know he is called the Mexican version of Thomas Keller. I assume that is not for his knife skills." :-D

                I haven't read other responses, but I'm wondering if the fruit-style mole would give Carlos away? It's pretty clear that the three finalists do NOT want him in the finale with them. So the question is, would they vote the mole dish out if they figured out it's Carlos, or would they go strictly on the dish itself, despite knowing they'd be bringing him back into the competition?

                It'll be interesting to see who is behind those palm fronds next week. chefhound and I both surmised that we *think* we know who it might be based on the trunk of the person shown, but I also noted that the finale was filmed several months after the main part of the show, so body type could have slightly changed in those months.

                So - will it be more complex flavors winning out over perfectly cooked fish? Dunno. I'm really hoping for Louis to return. Perhaps Nicholas's crestfallen face shown in the preview is attempting to lead us to believe that it's Carlos, when it's really Louis...and he realizes he probably can't beat Louis if he's lasted this long in LCK.

                We'll see.

                7 Replies
                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Maybe they filmed both Carlos and Louis standing behind palm fronds for preview editing hijinks!

                  I also noticed Nicholas's face in the preview, but figured he could easily be responding to something entirely different than the reveal of the returnee ...

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    There's also the question of whether the fruity mole was mole enough for them to know it was Mexican and Carlos's dish. If it was just a fruity sauce, it's possible that they wouldn't know it belonged to Carlos.

                    1. re: chefhound

                      I'd have to rewatch the LCK ep to see how "mole-ish" it was. But with Carlos *just* having gone out of the main competition, I'm wondering if the dishes were obvious to pick out, even though they didn't know who the other LCK chef was.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        My thought about it is that they would have known that Carlos was one of the chefs. And Carlos would have never produced the mushroom/tuna dish. So process of elimination would have Carlos making the other dish with the fruit which would be more like him anyway.

                        my 2 cents

                        1. re: Leepa

                          So then, do you vote to keep Louis (that they don't know, allegedly is Louis) in? Who is easier to beat?

                          1. re: Firegoat

                            Personally, I think Carlos would be easiest to beat. And, at least, they have more recent experiences with him. Also Nick might not vote for what he thinks would be Carlos' dish because of his animosity towards him.

                            I really really like Louis so I hope he's the winner. My heart sunk when he said his fish was overcooked. It was an oh,shit moment.

                    2. re: LindaWhit

                      It will be interesting to see the strategy behind the votes. Nick seemed to be pulling for Carlos' dish (opining that, since it was a fish challenge, the best-cooked fish should win). Did he say this because he believes it, or because he feels he will have a harder time beating the complex flavor chef? We may never know.

                      Regardless, I think this is Nina's or Shirley's to win.

                    3. The figure behind the fronds does look more like Carlos's shape. But, Carlos wears a silver wedding ring on his left hand and the person behind the frond doesn't look like he's wearing a ring, unless it's hidden by a little piece of the frond that is slightly obscuring the ring finger.
                      ?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: booksat

                        Unless they gave Carlos a different chef's jacket, the person behind the palm fronds was wearing a jacket with sleeves that end below the elbow - like Louis was wearing in the competition. Carlos' jacket had sleeves that ended just above the elbow. Also the pants were dark and Carlos wore jeans in the competition. I'm hoping for Louis, as I've mentioned before.

                        1. re: Leepa

                          CSI, Hawaii. Well done.

                          1. re: bobbert

                            They had different shoes in the competition, too, but I couldn't see those!

                          2. re: Leepa

                            Well, that could still be either one of them. Whoever is "winning" in the LCK is wearing their Top Chef chef's coat. The other competitor is wearing their own restaurant's coat. So since whoever won between Louis and Carlos is coming back into the competition, they'd have their Top Chef coat on.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              That's true and I'd thought of that - which is why in my original post a while back, I mentioned that Carlos may have been given a different jacket. Also, it's probably a different day since the other contestants have different clothes on (and not the clothes they'd be cooking in). Wish I could see the shoes! :)

                        2. I couldn't get the LCK video to run yet, but how do you "braise" tuna withiut overcooking it? Is the liquid breaking bubbles? How many minutes for a 1 " steak? Long enough for the science of braising? Must be cooked "well", no? Must be tricky.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                            Didn't they show him cooking the tuna on a flat top?

                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              Yep.

                          2. No mystery about who made it out of Last Chance Kitchen. It's definitely Louis. Found a picture of him in the same pose as behind the palm fronds...and check out the fingers of the left hand. So happy for him!

                             
                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kwameryan

                              I hope you're right. LindaWhit and I thought it was Carlos because Louis is kind of lanky and Carlos is a bit bigger. From the few seconds in the preview, it looked like the person behind the palm looked thicker in the midsection.

                              I hope you're right - your pics are convincing. I love Louis !