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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #16/Finale Part 1 - 01/29/14 (Spoilers)

OK, we're getting down to the wire. It's Shirley, Nina, Nicholas, and.... ? Will it be Louis or Carlos? AND it's a double elimination night - only two chefs will move on to the final finale!

The chefs have had a bit of time off before heading to Maui. They head outside and see Padma, Tom there with a lot of other people. Sam Choy is also there, renowned Hawaiian chef. And now we find out who returns from the last LCK. All three chefs voted for the tuna dish - and it's LOUIS! WOO HOO!!! He won 8 LCKs to come back into the kitchen.

And they move right into a Quickfire competition. "Hawaiian Steak" is on the menu - Spam. They need to highlight one of the types of Spam on the table. The winner will win $10,000. They have 30 minutes to make their dish.

Nicholas admits he didn't do any research on the uses of Spam. Louis has used it before, but the guests are asking a lot of questions, and he's wishing they'd stop bugging him. He also chose a dish (mousse) that requires it to be cold, and it's about 95° outside. Shirley's husband likes Spam and she often makes Spam-fried rice, although she's trying something different, while Nina is mixing breadfruit and Spam and seems to be frying it like a fritter.

"Time's Up, Spam Down!" calls out Padma. Oy.

Shirley - Deconstructed Spam Musubi with Spam-Infused Rice, Nori, & Cucumber Slaw. Sam liked the crunchiness of the Spam, as it added a nice flavor with the rice.

Louis - Spam Mousse with Garlic, Chives, Scallions, Snap Peas, Beech Mushrooms & Togarashi. Sam said it's very smooth, and Padma said it's very silky in her mouth.

Nicholas - Spam Broth with Pancetta, Seaweed, Dried Shrimp, Clam Juice & Quail Egg. Tom said "very nice."

Nina - Breadfruit & Teriyaki Spam Croquette with Sour Orange & Mango Slaw. Padma love the use of breadfruit, and Sam said "very good."

Sam said Nicholas's broth had a sodium challenge, but the quail egg smoothed it out. He thought Nina's croquette put a dozen different flavors in one bite. For Louis, he said "Outstanding, well thought out, but it could have had some more Spam flavor." Shirley's Spam Musubi was incredibly tasty.

Sam chooses as the winner the person who has done something with Spam he's not seen before - and it's Nicholas! Wow.

For the Elimination Challenge, Tom and Padma explained how the first settlers had to be self-sufficient with what they had on the island, as the islands were so remote. Sam said they brought pigs and chickens and 24 species of plants and fruits. These ingredients are known as canoe crops. A party will be held tomorrow to celebrate the canoe crops. The pantry they get to choose from is on the catamaran that is coming ashore. They'll have 1 hours to prep, with 2 hours tomorrow to finalize their dishes. And this is where Tom tells them they have to push themselves, as only two chefs will be moving on.

They rush down to the shore to get their ingredients off the catamaran and begin to prep in the kitchen. Nina says she believes she has an advantage, as a lot of ingredients on the Hawaiian islands are the same in St. Lucia, such as taro root and sugarcane. After looking around, Shirley sees she's the only one using pork, so she should stand out. Louis is using opah (a fish similar to tuna). He's never worked with opah before, but thinks that's what's gotten him to that place - taking chances.

Meanwhile, Nina starts breaking down some fish - but she's taken the wrong fish - instead of the opah she chose, she accidentally took Nicholas's opakapaka and starts to portion it out. She regroups and starts working on her opah while Nicholas is trying to work through portioning out his opakapaka.

When done with prep, they arrive at their suite on the island - Nina feels like she's on MTV Cribs - gorgeous view and gorgeous suite! Nicholas took the beachfront room, the girls took the double beds, and Louis (the biggest guy) is stuck in the office with a twin pullout bed. "Welcome back! Congratulations, Last Chance Kitchen!"

They hike up to Iao Valley to try and relax. Nicholas says they're enjoying the view, and he thinks out of the four of them, Louis is a monster; he knew he'd come back and kick ass. If he beats Louis, he feels like he has a chance to win. (Hmm, Nicholas is getting a lot of camera time tonight!)

The next day they arrive at Merriman's Restaurant and have 2 hours to finish prep and cook. Nicholas borrows Nina's pressure cooker to make a pork butt jus. He knows he needs to ratchet up the flavor. Tom Colicchio shows up and asks Shirley which canoe crops she's using; she replies pork, turmeric, and sweet potatoes. He asks Louis if he thinks he can match Kristen Kish from last season, who won LCK and ended up winning TC. Louis said with a double elimination, a lot could happen. Nicholas tells Tom he'd give up the $10K he just won if Tom gave him immunity. (Yeah, Tom asked you to give up immunity a few weeks back; I don't think he's just going to hand it to you, Nicholas!) Nicholas said someone will make one small tiny mistake, and Tom said that's what it comes down to. With Nina, he asks who she wouldn't want to go up against - and Nina said Shirley. Tom tells them the winner will have an advantage going into the finale.

They continue cooking, and it starts to rain with 58 minutes to finish cooking. They have to continue cooking in the rain, protecting their ingredients as best as they can. Louis is concerned about the rain and wind with the opah on the grill. Nina said the rain is the ultimate Top Chef twist. But just as quickly as the rain comes in, it goes away. Shirley's sweet potato and turmeric puree got rained on, so she has to discard a bit of it, meaning she'll have to stretch the puree on the plate.

They finish plating as the diners walk up. Padma, Tom, Emeril, a very pregnant Gail, and Sam Choy come up and are greeted by Peter Merriman, owner of the restaurant.

LOUIS - Grilled Opah with Sweet Potato & Coconut Sauce. Peter Merriman said that opah was an "incidental catch" until Sam Choy made the fish famous by promoting it back in the 90s. Sam thinks the fish was cooked perfectly, moist and delicious. Emeril thinks he used the canoe products very well. Gail had not seen a purple sweet potato; Sam says it's an Okinawan sweet potato - very popular. Tom said his fish is slightly undercooked, but Gail's fish seems to be perfectly cooked as well.

NINA - Grilled Opah with Taro Root & Coconut Purée (has some habanero chilis in there for a hot and sour sauce). Tom said the fish is perfectly cooked, but he thinks the sauce might be a bit too spicy and it overpowers the fish. Gail said both she and Louis took a risk to cook the opah, but Nina's fish had a bright flavor.

NICHOLAS - Opakapaka with Jalapeno & Crispy Chicken Skin (the sauce has the pork jus). Peter said the soft texture of the fish and the crispy chicken skin was a nice contrast in texture, but he thought the jalapeno was a bit much. Tom and Gail both thought the jalapeno was just right. Gail said it was a bold dish for Nicholas.

SHIRLEY - Honey-Glazed Pork with Sweet Potato & Turmeric Purée. Gail notes that Shirley is the only one who cooked meat; Tom said the pork was beautifully braised, the potatoes were smooth, the sauce was flavorful, but it was so sweet.

Nina said she and Shirley came in with a game plan of the two of them being in the finale, but it's now in the hands of the judges.

In the in-between, Peter Merriman explains that breadfruit has a very long shelf life, making it perfect for the islands, but Sam said when you eat a lot of it, it makes you gassy. "There's a lot of blue flame action!" LOL Gail's thankful there were only a few breadfruit chips on their plates.

The chefs are waiting in a MUCH nicer (outside) Stew Room discussing what it'll come down to for who wins and who goes home. A TV comes on, and Padma said she's pleased to see how they did with the canoe crops. For Louis, Tom's and Emeril's fish was perfectly cooked, but Padma's opah was way overcooked. Gail liked the purple sweet potato.

For Nicholas, Tom said steaming and then grilling his opakapaka was a good way to go, with a bit of spice to it. Emeril notes that there was a few comments from the crowd that the jalapeno was a bit too assertive.

Padma thought Nina did a great job layering the flavors in her dish very seamlessly, and Tom said it's exactly what he expected from Nina, but he thinks the sauce was too overpowering. Gail said it was a bold sauce.

Emeril and Padma thought Shirley's pork dish was flavorful, the meat was moist and well prepared. Tom said his one complaint was that it as too sweet for him - it needed a sour or acid note to it.

The TV goes off, and some time later Padma comes up and asks to see all of them at Judges Table. Padma tells them that only two of them can move on to the finale. Emeril tells Shirley that he thought the pork was perfectly done, and he could tell she put a lot of love into her dish. The two of them have a "moment" smiling at each other. Gail tells her the flavors were balanced, and Shirley said she used the turmeric sweet potato purée as an herbacious note to balance the sweet pork. Tom tells her again it was still too sweet.

Gail thought it was really ballsy for Louis to come back to the competition and to choose opah. Emeril said it was gutsy to choose to prepare that for Sam Choy. Gail told him there were some inconsistencies, but it showed he was up for the challenge. Louis said he was worried about the simplicity of the dish, as others used so many more components. Tom said there's a confidence in the simplicity.

Tom said Nina's dish was exactly what they expected from her. She started the competition that way, and she continues to along that line. Padma loved her dish, but she could see that the heat level could have been a bit much for some of the guests.

Tom liked Nicholas's dish with a use of a good number of the crops. Nicholas said he used the crops not as a restriction but as a jumping point. Tom notes that Nicholas seemed more confident today. Nicholas said the time off seems to helped him. Tom said Nicholas didn't overcomplicate his dish, but there was still a lot going on.

The cheftestants leave while the judges deliberate. Nicholas notes back in the Stew Room that that was the most positive JT he's ever been on, and Louis wants a do-over, as it was the only positive experience he had at Judges Table. LOL

Tom asks the judges "Where were the mistakes?" Louis's dish didn't have enough of the seaweed with lime to carry through the dish, and Emeril said there were inconsistencies in how the fish was cooked. Emeril said Nicholas really thought about the components of the dish and where each was going and where it ended up on the plate. Tom said that Shirley's biggest mistake was the honey. Emeril then said that Nina's habanero was a bit too powerful for the fish.

They're back in front of the judges. Emeril announces the winner, who used a great deal of the canoe crops - and it's Nicholas again! Wow. (And a personal dambit - I really didn't want him there.) He also won an advantage in the finale, to be revealed in the finale.

The other cheftestant moving along is not Louis. He's out. :-( Sadz. So it's down to Nina and Shirley who are left - and it's Shirley who's asked to PYKAG. Another Sadz. :-(

So the finale is Nina and Nicholas. The previews show Padma in a bikini (gratuitous boob shot for certain viewers), and Nicholas can't get service together and there's an outburst from him.

And Padma says "It's the closest finale I've ever experienced." Of *course* it is, Padma.

So one more episode to go. I'm ready for it to be over. GO NINA!

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  1. I have to say Yay! for Nick after all the bad edits he's had to take. However, if he gets an advantage in the final, that pretty much means he's going to lose. I would have been happy with any of these four winning.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Firegoat

      I was thinking the same thing - that I'd be happy for any one of them to win. I've been rooting for Nick and I hope against hope that he wins, but unlike some seasons I feel either one is deserving of the title.

      1. re: Firegoat

        I'm glad Nick is in the final. I always liked his intensity.

        I think Nick was just cracking under the pressure. Coming back for the finale, he seems calmer and more mature. I guess some time away to relax and think about things really helped him.

        His food in the final is more restrained and mature. If he wins, I think he will deserve it.

        I wished Louis could have cooked his fish better. I would have loved to see him in the final. He is so talented and finally got to show it in LCK. If he had cooked his fish properly, he might have made it.

        I'm ok with Nina winning. She has definitely got the skills. And I'm sad Shirley didn't make it. But sweet is always going to be a problem with judges.

        1. re: chefhound

          I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Shirley gets a job in one of Emeril's restaurants on the West Coast. She's in Las Vegas, right? Easy-peasy.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Perhaps even a job at his LV restaurant? That way she wouldn't have to move and could continue to enjoy her newly purchased AC.

            But I'm not sure that would be a step up for her. Didn't they say she worked for Guy Savoy? I think rather than cooking NO or French, Shirley should find a gig that allows her to continue her classical training/Asian flavors exploration.

            1. re: gaffk

              That's what I was thinking - she could work at his LV restaurant, or perhaps he can help her find a position best suited for her flavor profile.

              1. re: gaffk

                I know she worked for Jose Anders. Not sure who else she worked for. I think she wants her own restaurant so she can cash in on her Top Chef appearance.

                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                  I'm sure they all want their own restaurant (well, except Nicholas, who already has one). But as Jen Carroll illustrated, it's not always that easy.

                    1. re: gulfcoastpirate

                      Not sure. First we heard she was opening a place in Philly, but investors fell through. Then it was a spot in NYC, but the investors fell through. Then it was back to Philly, but investors fell through. I suspect she is very hard to work with/uncompromising in what she wants the restaurant to be. I occasionally see she's appearing for special events at various restaurants in Philly, but now that I think of it, I haven't seen anything like that lately either.

                      ETA: I just did a search and she's now apparently chef/consultant/owner. Whatever that means.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Linda, i said the same thing after Shirley's exit - she & Emeril seem to have developed a relationship that will last long past NO & Maui.

                2. re: chefhound

                  I'm solidly on team Nina. I just like her cooking (from what I see) and she has been kicking it all season long. I'd love to see her win.

              2. The elves have been screwing with us re Nick. The guy is good and has been getting the schmuck edit. Shirley could easily have gotten the same treatment, but clearly wasn't going to be in the final.

                I don't care who wins at this point. Both are great!

                8 Replies
                1. re: sal_acid

                  The edit can only be what the chefs have given the editors to use. Nicholas has acted like a schmuck at times, just as Carlos acted like a dick at times. That's what they put out there.

                  I wasn't sure whether the frequency with which Nicholas was being featured whether he would be going or staying. I still wish it was Louis and Nina in the finale.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    I think that sal_acid's point though is that because Nick ended up being in the finale, there was a greater incentive to give him a greater shmuck edit. Whereas had Carlos made it to the finale (or Shirley) then either of them would have been given the greater shmuck edit.

                    Yes, Nicholas definitely had outbursts and he clearly responded to the stress with a more emotional, pessimistic and negative tone than others have. But honestly, I don't think any of the contestants were truly dicks/shmucks/etc. They just had less savory (and more savory) moments. Which is where blaming the elves comes into play.

                    1. re: cresyd

                      I'm inclined to think Nick's temper comes down to control issues. He performed well in Restaurant Wars when he had the final word, and just now when he was cooking in his own space. His flare-ups have generally come (unless my memory is being selective, which does happen) when he's shared kitchen space with others and they're all moving his pots and stuff.

                      1. re: ennuisans

                        Not to mention Nick worked in the kitchen of the loudest screaming French chef in Philly.

                        1. re: ennuisans

                          I definitely don't disagree that 'control' is probably something where the more he has, the better he does. But I think it's also fair to say that in many ways a professional kitchen is really centered around control, levels of command, and uniformity of purpose. So it's going to attract and culture personalities that function well in that environment. And then Top Chef is not at all based that way.

                          That being said, I also think that the show is very stressful and has crazy hours. For someone could start off the season being more relaxed, and then slowly have a shorter and shorter fuse makes complete sense.

                          Ultimately, in the history of Top Chef villains, I just don't think that Nick ranks as a bad guy. And when Top Chef will make a heavy promo for "on the next episode" Nick shouting, and then when you see it - it's a very short and isolated incident.

                          I think at this point, some of us (eh hem, myself) are just very seasoned reality tv viewers. And stuff like this feels over manipulated to create a hero/villain. Basically, I think that Nina and Nick and really similar personalities. Nina's a bit happier, Nick's a bit more moody - but personality wise (not food wise) they have a lot of similarities. Which doesn't make for fascinating tv.

                          1. re: cresyd

                            I think if I was in NO at the height of the summer heat/humidity (I'm very heat intolerant), living in a house with a bunch of strangers/competitors (I need my alone time) withstanding grueling challenges daily, I'd be very whiny/angry. And I'm probably sweeter than Nick ;)

                            They probably all have their "moments," but the Elves decide which ones we'll see.

                      2. re: LindaWhit

                        Nick had been channeling Blais. He really took the time off to reflect and came back for the final in much better shape mentally. He has repeated how much harder the show was than he thought that it was going to be.

                        1. re: JAB

                          Richard still freaked on and didn't win his first Top Chef. My money is on Nina.

                    2. A few early thoughts...

                      All of the contestants should have studied up on the food of Hawaii.

                      As soon as Shirley said Nick was not strong at QFs, I had an idea Nick might win. (Although Nina's breadfruit/Spam croquette looked really good.)  

                      Tom is such a Jersey guy. He shoukd have worn a Hawaiin shirt instead of the log-sleeve plaid shirt.

                      Nick said he would trade the $10k for a spot in the finale. I don't think Kevin Gillespie of TC 6 would have done that. In TC 9 Sarah Grueneberg chose a spot in the finals instead of a Toyota Prius. I don't think Kevin would have done that either. 

                      I think I am going to make Spam Fried Rice. 
                      By the way Nick, Hawaii is not the home of Spam, Minnesota is.

                      Why were they surprised that two were going to be told PPYKAG? There has not been a 3-chef finale since TC 7. (For the record, TC 1, 2, and 8 - 11 are two person finales. TC 3 - 7 are three person finales.)

                      The Elves could have had them cooking under E-Z UPs but they wanted rain to be a factor, but it wasn't.

                      When Nina said Nick was a city boy and that he was at a disadvantage with the canoe crops, that to me, was a hint that Nick might win. 

                      I wonder if Shirley had skipped the Maui honey if she would have won over Nina? Pork is an important historical food in Hawaii and she was the only chef to cook a pork dish. I'm sure Shirley has asked herself the same question. 
                      I think maybe Nina's dishes throughout the competition may have been a little too spicy for the average diner. 

                      Now we know more about the time span between the preliminaries and the finale. (I'm referring to Gail's baby bump.)

                      With his comments about the breadfruit and 'blue flame action' it sounds like Chef Choy had some experience lighting farts as a youngster. 

                      While the judges were eating, Tom said his fish from Louis was under. At JT he said his was nice. Tom said Louis' fish was inconsistent. So were you Tom. 

                      I don't understand Shirley's comment about it being hard to face her family. 

                      Does anyone have a guess as to what Nick's advantage is in the finale finale? (As far as I am concerned, the real finale is when nobody is told to PPYKAG.)

                      34 Replies
                      1. re: John E.

                        All I can guess for an advantage is if they get to pick sous chefs he gets first pick. Not a huge advantage as I'd take Shirley or Louis in a heartbeat....

                          1. re: Firegoat

                            I'm also guessing 1st choice of sous chefs but i did not see Louis or Shirley in the previews.

                            Please, please, please do not make the final be a "use whatever you want and make the best 4 course meal (that you've been perfecting with help back home for the last two months) of your life, including dessert (which you also have two worked out perfectly even though you haven't made a dessert since your 3 week session of pastry cooking in culinary school).
                            I hope there is a challenge to the challenge - nothing over the top crazy but enough so that they are not simply cooking a dish they've spent months working on. Heather almost beat Paul because of that.

                            1. re: bobbert

                              There is a preview online called "Friend or Foe" that has Padma going to see Nina and Nick with previously eliminated contestants in tow. From what I can see there are nine: Stephanie, Janine, Sarah, Brian, Travis, Carlos, Jason, Shirley and Louis,
                              Again seems to be no rhyme or reason as to who is back as Carrie and Justin are missing, but blonde surfer guy who went out early is there. In another clip where it looks like they are cooking in another restaurant wars, Brian and Jason surfer guy are in the kitchen with nick, it looks like Shirley is front of house possibly for Nick.

                              1. re: Firegoat

                                "Brian and Jason surfer guy are in the kitchen with nick"

                                That makes some sense: Jason surfer guy and Nick are both from Philadelphia. Apparently surfer guy has a lot of fans there, even though he came off as rather talentless on the show.

                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                  I'm just curious how Jason came back as an option when Carrie and Justin who were in the game much longer didn't.

                                  But I can see nick picking Jason if he is an option because apparently he's familiar with him and knows how he cooks.

                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                    Perhaps it will be mentioned it on the show..? Or perhaps they were both so pissed off they decided to not do it. I could see Carrie throwing up some attitude. (And I would respect her all the more were that the case.)

                                    The show certainly can't share any LESS information than last year. That was quite possibly the worst finale imaginable. Fingers crossed for something slightly more entertaining this year.

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      Wasn't last year that horrible live show I hated hated hated that.
                                      Maybe they ask the finalists what chefs they would like to work with.... I'd guess all the chefs have to sign some sort of an agreement that they will show up at the end if required. (oh no.. I have to go to hawaii!)
                                      Jason may be a better cook than the show showed. I wasn't a fan, but he did get kicked off on something that was more bad judgment than bad cooking.

                                  2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                    Agreed. Jason also did a stint in a well-regarded French restaurant in Philly, so he has experience and skillset that would fit Nick's well.

                                    Jason's not as highly regarded as Nick, I think--he's a "love him or hate him" type. However, he is popular enough to be opening a second restaurant in the city. Not bad for a guy who hasn't hit 30 yet. I disliked him this season, but as Firegoat notes, he was eliminated more for bad judgment than bad cooking. Perhaps as he matures he'll be less of a prick?

                                2. re: bobbert

                                  I hope they let them choose their own sous chefs. I stumbled across the last two episodes of Season 6 on the Esquire network this afternoon (another vegtative snow day). I had forgotten that for the finale they drew knives for sous. Brian got Jen Carroll and another pretty good chef whose name escapes me. Michael gor Eli and another decent chef whose name escapes me. Kevin got Preeti, with whom he was obviously displeased, and Ash who was pretty good.

                                  I had forgotten that, but it struck me as pretty unfair.

                                  1. re: gaffk

                                    Michael got Jesse and Eli, Brian got Jennifer and Ashley.

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/672865

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      Thanks LW!

                                      I was not yet on CH back then . . .Have you been doing this since Season 1?. And it's funny, I recognized Ashley, but couldn't recall Jesse.

                                      1. re: gaffk

                                        Oh lord no, gaffk! I *think* maybe I kind of started with Season 6? But as you can see, they were WAY shorter and not even really a recap.

                                        Early on, someone would start a conversation about the episode and others would move the conversation forward as the episode progressed.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          Yes, I noticed back then it was a conversation that progressed as the episode did. (I had to read the thread since I just rewatched the episode today.)

                                          I'm so glad you moved on to the recap format . . . it's so much easier for people like me who read the recap before watching the episode ;)

                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                        I was not yet posting on Chowhound in December 2009 (my first post was March 2010) but I recognize many user names on that thread. I am also surprised by the number of names I do not recognize.

                                        I am curious however about the timing of that thread. You started it just after 12 noon. The posts read like they are being written while the episode is still on TV. Is that just a hiccup in the Chowhound archive?

                                        1. re: John E.

                                          I think so, John. I noticed that as well. I know that CH uses PST, so that might have something to do with it. For instance, look at the time stamp of this thread:

                                          Jan 29, 2014 03:18 PM

                                          The date is correct; the time most certainly is NOT, as I first "saved" the thread probably around 11:30pm EST on 1/29.

                                          Mods, if you're reading, any idea why this happens?

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            It says 2:18 pm on my end, but it is curious. My first reply has a posting time of 3:41 pm, more than six hours before this episode ended on Bravo. I wonder why I did not notice this anomaly before?

                                  2. re: Firegoat

                                    I agree that will probably be the advantage. I don't recall if they have made the most recently removed chefs, Shirley & Louis in this case, available as selections for Sous.

                                    1. re: JAB

                                      They show Shirley and Louis in the group that Nigella brings back to greet them in the cottage, and Shirley shows up as front of house in a precede.

                                      1. re: Firegoat

                                        Thank you. A restaurant wars style final?

                                        1. re: JAB

                                          A Restaurant Wars finale would be interesting, but I don't know if it'd be fair to include FOH in judging. It's Top Chef, not Top Restaurantuer.

                                          I don't know --- I'm on the fence about it, I guess, if that is what they are indeed planning.

                                          1. re: KrumTx

                                            It's also Top Chef, not Top Cook. There's more to being a chef than simply cooking your food.

                                          2. re: JAB

                                            That's what it looked like, the chefs were dining out in a dining room, Shirley was dressed up, not in the kitchen or in a chef's jacket, Nick was putting out plates with Jason and Brian. It's in a clip on Bravo ... of course highlighting Nick cussing loud enough the chefs can hear him in the dining room. Looks like other diners are also in the dining room.

                                            1. re: Firegoat

                                              A time-honored Le Bec Fin tradition!

                                            2. re: JAB

                                              I don't think they would necessarily judge FOH service but someone might be serving and explaining the dishes for the chefs who are in the kitchen working on the next course. Wasn't it Spike who reported back to Blais the problem with the foie gras ice cream on the first group of judges? IIRC, he was able to make adjustments for the 2nd group. Might have made the difference.

                                        2. re: John E.

                                          I'm assuming Nicholas's advantage is picking sous chefs first, and *maybe* having an extra half hour to cook.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            I imagine there was a big groan from the elves when the rain stopped.

                                            Go Nina!

                                            Thanks, Linda, as always. Cue the Rocky theme for your finale recap.

                                            1. re: John E.

                                              Tom has been a canidate for What Not To Wear this entire season.

                                              1. re: mike0989

                                                But it was especially egregious this episode. Was that blue polka dot shorts with a red lumberjack shirt? In Hawaii? With temps in the 90's?

                                                1. re: John E.

                                                  John, if this brutal, freaky winter knocks Linda's TV out next week - or next season - I've appointed you as backup recapper. I'm a 46-year-old gun-owning woman from Texas with serious signs of early menopause, so don't argue with me.

                                                  Seriously, I love your early thoughts:)

                                                  1. Outstanding recap as always Linda.

                                                    Not a fan of Nina, and becoming less and less as the series move on. Nothing to do with the culinary expertise, she just rubs me the wrong way.

                                                    Not a fan of Nicholas either. Too whiny.

                                                    My girl Shirley got sent home. Not happy. Fei chang bu hao.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                      what's not good? I can't decipher what fei chang means.

                                                      1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                        fei chang - extremely (modifying the "bad")

                                                    2. Only two things left for me to do:
                                                      1) Root for Nina to win the whole thing.
                                                      2) Buy a can or two of Spam and play around with it.

                                                      44 Replies
                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                        I'll have to admit, I've never had Spam.

                                                        I suppose if I ever get to Hawaii, that would change.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          It's bizarre that Top Chef and The Taste seem to be coinciding. They both do Roy Choi pretty much back to back, and last week one of the contestants won a challenge on the Taste with Spam.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            My grandfather would fry it up and make a sandwich with Spam. This was the '70s. He always said that Spam was considered a treat for soldiers during WWII.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              I've had Spam. didn't like it. at all. [fwiw, also don't like that canned deviled ham] don't like canned meats. way too much salt/sodium for starters. they coat my tongue in an icky way.

                                                              I don't think I could eat it even in Hawaii.

                                                              and I was eating opah in San Diego in the early 80's. What do they mean, "Roy Choy put it on the map in the 90's?"

                                                              Can't say I'm a fan of Nick's, but I had a hunch that somehow he'd end up in the finale. Go Nina!

                                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                                I tried Spam once. I thought I'd probably like it, as it's spicy ham, right? I love ham. I even did the slice and fry thing because I love crispy hot ham.

                                                                No. Just no. Would be interesting to taste any of their takes on it, however.

                                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                                  I agree, Firegoat. I also love ham -- even the uber-salty country ham. Spam is not ham. That's all I'll say. ;)

                                                                2. re: ChefJune

                                                                  I've tried that deviled ham when I was younger and almost gagged. And yes, I agree CJ - the sodium level is much higher, and my tolerance is probably a lot lower than many.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    LOL I tried some of that deviled ham as well, thinking the same thing, I love ham! I love all ham, ham steak, thin sliced, country ham, ....

                                                                    nope. didn't like that one either.

                                                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                                                      We ate all that stuff when I was a kid, even Spam just sliced out of the can and thrown on bread with mayo. Deviled ham, potted meat, Vienna sausages. Amazing that I survived my childhood, really.

                                                                      1. re: ennuisans

                                                                        don't forget our moms smoked and drank through their pregnancies. well, most of them.

                                                                        1. re: ennuisans

                                                                          One of my favourite meals as a kid growing up in England was fried Spam, baked beans and mashed potatoes. We'd chop the Spam into small pieces, mix everything up on the plate and call it "dog's dinner". I keep intending to make it again for nostalgia's sake but perhaps it's best left as a memory.

                                                                          1. re: hal2010

                                                                            I've heard "dog's dinner" used several times by (British) tv chefs when describing a mess of a meal, but had no idea it meant something specific It doesn't sound bad, really.

                                                                          2. re: ennuisans

                                                                            I grew up on that crap too. My parents loved deviled ham.

                                                                      2. re: ChefJune

                                                                        Just because you ate it in the 80s doesn't mean it was common and popular. Unless your insinuating that you put opah on the map and not Roy Choy.

                                                                      3. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        whaaaaa? I thought everyone had had spam.... all I've got to say to you, Ms. LW, is. . .

                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8huXk...

                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                          LOL! mc, I didn't even have to open the link to know it was Monty Python's Spam Song. :D

                                                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                            I never have had SPAM :( and the thought of it frightens me

                                                                            1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                              Then you must change your name, girloftheworld

                                                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                There are some other things I need to check off the list first...

                                                                              2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                It's not all that scary, but it's not all that good either. It's institutional food. No worse than that stack of preformed, frozen hamburger patties so many diners sling to happy customers.

                                                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                  It's a shameful, secret delicious treat. If you slice it and pan-fry it, it's a salty, crispy guilty snack.

                                                                                  I nibble on crispy slices as a snack or throw some on ramen.

                                                                                  1. re: chefhound

                                                                                    Oh my goodnessssss I will endever to try SPAM this weekend...

                                                                                    1. re: chefhound

                                                                                      Yeah, it's when you get it crispy that it's really good, which is why I was a little wary of Louis' torchon;, but apparently, the judges thought they were okay.

                                                                                    2. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                      I'm over double your age and have never had it. Don't even worry about it.

                                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    Spam is a big Asian thing. My mother used to fry up slices of spam and we'd eat it with rice for dinner.

                                                                                    Spam and ramen is a popular fast food in Asian culture. And I love musubi!

                                                                                    I have to admit that I prefer the pork luncheon meat I buy at the Polish grocery store to actual Spam. The texture and flavour are much better.

                                                                                    I just bought some garlic Spam a few weeks ago. I had never seen it before, so when I came across it at the Chinese grocery store, I had to buy some. I found the texture a bit soft but I cut it into batons and added them to a cream sauce for pasta.

                                                                                    1. re: chefhound

                                                                                      South Americans too - I grew up eating it as sandwiches, at home, in my lunchbox... used to love the stuff. now, not so much.

                                                                                      1. re: chefhound

                                                                                        Being an Asian-American who likes Spam, perhaps I have a higher tolerance for the saltiness that others have complained about because I am used to dousing food with soy sauce.

                                                                                        1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                          I thought only non-Asians doused food with soy sauce. Your mama failed to raise you properly ;)

                                                                                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                            Yeah, that's one of the things that makes me cringe - watching non-Asians pour soy on their rice.

                                                                                          2. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                            Funny. We had chicken stir fry tonight for the first time in a while and commented on how salty it was. We didn't douse it in soy; was soy sauce always that salty or am I getting old?

                                                                                        2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          Spam musubi is pretty good. Fried in soy/terriyaki, sushi rice on top, wrapped in nori. Served warm. I like it.

                                                                                          1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                            Spam musubi is about the only way I can remember trying it in the last 20 years or so. It's not bad, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get it.

                                                                                            1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                              Spam musubi is the most genius use of spam. Delicious.

                                                                                              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                I had never heard of this wonderful invention. And I've been to Hawaii three times!

                                                                                                Any experts care to comment on this recipe?

                                                                                                http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                  You probably ate in good restaurants. This is the stuff of food trucks and golf course snack bars.

                                                                                                  1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                    Yeah, I guess you're right! I think I would like it though-- I love salty stuff.

                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                      IIRC, the Burger King in Kahului has spam at breakfast.

                                                                                                      1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                        You can get Spam and eggs for breakfast at any Hawaii McDonald's.

                                                                                                          1. re: Debbie M

                                                                                                            We had Spam Musubi at 7-11 and Zippys on Oahu a few months back. :) My son loves Spam (we call it "luncheon meat") and loves seaweed and rice -- musubi was his dream combo. Throw in some bacon and he'd be in heaven.

                                                                                                            1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                              Bacon---
                                                                                                              it is not the duct tape of food....people just use it everywhere

                                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                I loved Nick's "I tried Spam once." Around here, anytime you respond to a question regarding a food or restaurant with "I tried that once," it's just a polite way of saying "blech."

                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                  It's good fried up in a sandwich.

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    The only was I've ever had it is as spam musubi which I love. I liked Shirley's idea of deconstructing spam musubi.

                                                                                                2. I haven't watched the episode yet, but I'm pretty shocked the finale isn't Shirley vs Nina.

                                                                                                  That said, I'm going to have to be a homer and root for Nicholas for the win and a second TC title for Philly.

                                                                                                  And seriously, they knew for months they were going to Hawaii for the finale and they didn't practice with Hawaiian ingredients? WTF?

                                                                                                  Thanks for the great recap LW!

                                                                                                  1. I don't watch LCK, so it was nice to see Louis again. Would have preferred him or Shirley in the finale with Nina, but I'll take Nick vs. Nina.

                                                                                                    Nicky's whining has clouded my view of him, but he was solid in last night's episode and extremely solid in Restaurant Wars.

                                                                                                    ETA: okay, Nicky was a typo but I think I'll leave it as is:)

                                                                                                    1. Sorry to see Shirley go.

                                                                                                      Just hope in the finals they just let them cook no dumb tricks or gimmicks.

                                                                                                      1. I would also like the judges, in case of a tie on their last challenge, to be able to use their opinions of the chefs or their "season record" as a tiebreaker.
                                                                                                        Nicholas has been either good or bad with little in between. He won 2 QF's, 3 EC's but was in the bottom 5 times not including the chocolate chicken/hairball dish. Was high 2 times.
                                                                                                        Nina has been the most consistent this season with 2 QF's, 3 EC's, only 2 lows and 7 highs.
                                                                                                        Nick can win if he makes no mistakes because when he does make a mistake, it's usually a good sized one. Nina usually weathers a mistake better so if they each make an error, i think the winner is Nina. If they both deliver perfect meals, then a toss up - which is what the previews point to.

                                                                                                        1. I can't remember where I saw it today, but a review had a bunch of screen shots from the episode posted and someone mentioned that Nick looked like a young Nathan Lane.... EXACTLY! It had been driving me crazy who Moon Pie looked like. No wonder I like him.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                            If only he had Nathan's personality as well.

                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                oh my! it Nick is Nathan Lane and Jud Nelsons Love Child !

                                                                                                            1. Thanks Linda!

                                                                                                              i'm ok with this outcome. I was rooting for Nina from the very beginning, she's ballsy and talented, and Nick certainly did well last night. Sorry for Louis but... in the end, he had to compete against three chefs as they all did, not just one. His fish dish did not look very appetizing - a beige fest.

                                                                                                              1. I watched the "Carlos after the knife" clip online. He seemed pretty pissed off that the three chefs going into the final got to vote on the cook off dishes. He claimed they all knew his style and "didn't want him there." I don't know how I feel about his whining about that or if it would be true or not. It didn't seem like a real "Mexican" dish he made, and actually I'd rather cook against him than Louis who was a beast. (of course they didn't know who was the other chef) (or at least the editing monkeys make us think they didn't know).

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                  Carlos is awfully self-absorbed and FOS.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                    I think Carlos is probably right. They probably know which dish was his and picked the other disht to win, but not necessarily because they think he's a better chef. Maybe they just dislike him personally.

                                                                                                                  2. I guess I'm going to root for Nick now. As someone else here said, Nina just rubs me the wrong way. I would have liked to see Carlos make it to the finale.

                                                                                                                    Did anyone else notice that all of the chefs seemed to be using their stirring/serving spoons to taste in the QF? And they are in front of all those people!

                                                                                                                    Also would have liked more explanation of the "rules" regarding the canoe pantry. Clearly they could use things not on the canoe (turmeric?) I thought that jalapeno was pushing it since that is a "fruit" rather than a seasoning. I wonder how much "extra" stuff they were allowed to use.

                                                                                                                    32 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                      Isn't turmeric a root? They apparently had a pantry with other foods. What's wrong with jalapeno? Why does it matter if it's a fruit? The way I understood it, they had to use canoe crops in their dish but were not restricted from using other ingredients as well.

                                                                                                                      I also saw, I think it was Shirley, taste something with a wooden spoon. I do not know if she then put the spoon back into the pan.

                                                                                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                        I automatically assumed that Turmeric was one of the ancient canoe crop plants, and it looks like I was correct:

                                                                                                                        http://www.canoeplants.com/contents.html

                                                                                                                        `Ape (elephant's ear
                                                                                                                        )`Awa (kava)
                                                                                                                        `Awapuhi Kuahiwi (shampoo ginger)
                                                                                                                        Hau
                                                                                                                        Ipu (gourd)
                                                                                                                        Kalo (taro)
                                                                                                                        Kamani (Alexandrian laurel)
                                                                                                                        Ki (ti)
                                                                                                                        Ko (sugar cane)
                                                                                                                        Kou
                                                                                                                        Kukui (candlenut)
                                                                                                                        Mai`a (banana)
                                                                                                                        Milo (portia tree)
                                                                                                                        Niu (coconut)
                                                                                                                        Noni (Indian mulberry)
                                                                                                                        `Ohe (bamboo)
                                                                                                                        `Ohi`a `Ai (mountain apple)
                                                                                                                        `Olena (turmeric)
                                                                                                                        Olona
                                                                                                                        Pia (Polynesian arrowroot)
                                                                                                                        `Uala (sweet potato)
                                                                                                                        Uhi (yam)
                                                                                                                        `Ulu (breadfruit)
                                                                                                                        Wauke (paper mulberry)

                                                                                                                        ETA: I'm also going to ask the Mods to fix the 3 misspellings of "turmeric" in my OP. I thought it had an "r" before the "meric" part, but when I froze the screen on Shirley's dish to type it out, I saw that Bravo had "Tumeric".

                                                                                                                        I know - I should have known better. :-/

                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                          Linda, I believe you're right and Bravo is wrong about the spelling.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                            Yeah I first spelled it Bravo way but the spell-checker in Firefox told me better.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                              The video graphics guy in the editing process did not know how to spell turmeric and nobody caught it in the editing process, it's a mistake that is easy to miss. There is an e-mail going around that has a long paragraph that at first looks like gibberish but can be easily read because the first and last letter of each word are correct.

                                                                                                                              http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typogl...

                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                Eh, they should be more on top of things. When a million people see your writing, proofread that mess!

                                                                                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                              Linda, tuRmeric is correct. It is often misspelled. but there is no herb/condiment with the other spelling.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                I was positive it had the "R" as well, CJ, but when I saw it on the Bravo screen without the "R", I changed it. Hopefully the Mods make the correction for me.

                                                                                                                            3. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                              Fresh turmeric was on the canoe, I'm almost certain. More than one of the finalists used it.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                i'm pretty sure jalepeno wasn't. And it certainly was a noticeable flavor in his dish. Seems a bit outside the lines to me.

                                                                                                                              2. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                I also noticed all the tasting with the stirring spoons and was also curious. My wife will get on my case big time if I do that even when it's just the two of us. I hope they didn't just return the spoons back to the food without at least a good rinse.

                                                                                                                                1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                  You haven't mentioned boobs this week, even with Linda's teaser about Padma in a bikini.

                                                                                                                                  Everything okay?

                                                                                                                                  I'm kinda sad that this season is over. I'll miss you guys. One more episode until next year.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: KrumTx

                                                                                                                                    I do think there's probably many outtakes of Padma saying "Spam up, hand's down!"

                                                                                                                                    1. re: KrumTx

                                                                                                                                      Too easy to bite at that but one has to wonder how you seriously throw that bikini shot into the script when a knock against Padma has been that she's only there for her looks. And she's good with it as it's somehow an integral part of the show? Hey Top Chef, I'll let you in on a secret... I was going to watch anyway.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                        I actually think they throw those in on purpose now...with a wink and a nod to precisely the attitude you refer to. I honestly believe Padma knows her shit when judging the food...and probably gets paid extra for the bikini clause in her contract.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                          There are lots of superficial people who obsess about what celebrities are wearing. It's free advertising if Padma gets those people talking on-line about the show, even if they tend to whine a lot.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                            I always cringe when Padma offers an opinion during judging. Just STFU girl. Any hound could judge better than you.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                Her go-to phrase is that it "needs more acid".

                                                                                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                  Maybe it does. Alex G's secret to winning Next Iron Chef was to add lemon juice to everything.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                    Ugh, I can't stand Alex G. Even though she has more cred as a chef, her method of delivering her opinions make me cringe, much more so than Padma.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                    I think she confused with her days with Rushdee when she calls for acid

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                    I like it when Padma offers a contrary opinion to someone who is whining about spiciness.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: KrumTx

                                                                                                                                                  Once again, I didn't notice.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                I did notice that aobut the spoons/tasting! more than one of them. maybe they didn't have extra tasting spoons at their disposal out there?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                  I know it probably happens often, but I can't get past the ewww factor. It's like sharing a toothbrush.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KrumTx

                                                                                                                                                    I'm in the camp that "I don't want to see it". In my own house I admit to double-dipping but ONLY if no one is watching. Works for me. Don't tell my family.

                                                                                                                                                    They were doing right out there in front of the guests!

                                                                                                                                                2. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                  I prefer spoons to fingers. They weren't cooking for others, but on an earlier episode they were tasting something, and they all just stuck there fingers. Guy F on Triple D sticks in a pinky finger, as if it being a pinky makes it better.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                    If they had multiple stirring spoons that looked the same and replaced them after each tasting, would you be able to notice?

                                                                                                                                                    I've always wondered if this is a cultural thing and Americans are more uptight about things like this than people from other countries. Maybe it is related to why Americans seem to prefer their food to be neater, more sanitized, and uniform and why Americans are less inclined to eat offal?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                      Who are these "Americans" you speak of? (winking emoticon)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                                                                                                                          Many intellectual leaps there. Sanitation has little to do with tripe.

                                                                                                                                                          Having said that the issue with repeat tastes with t he same spoon in a dish that is in the act of cooking isn't that much of a sin.

                                                                                                                                                      1. I'm struck by how distinct the finale is from all the other challenges.

                                                                                                                                                        It is a really different experience is when you are told what the challenge is and you have 30 seconds to start planning it - vs. having several months (or even weeks) to go home and practice and refine and work out all the kinks.

                                                                                                                                                        The skill sets are just not the same and different people can shine.

                                                                                                                                                        1. What impressed me the most is that Nick actually listened to criticism about his dishes - that he learned not to under season his food with this group of judges.

                                                                                                                                                          1. I agree with John, was shocked Nick didn't practice with spam but in the end, it didn't matter. Did Nick gain weight in his time off? His face looked rounder to me.

                                                                                                                                                            I do think it was unfair for the 3 chefs to judge the LCK dishes.

                                                                                                                                                            Everyone talks about the elves but I esp. noticed one shot when Nick was describing his spam dish and Nina's got this miserable look on her face. All I could think was they ask the contestants for their most pissy look to use at a later time to drum up "drama".

                                                                                                                                                            I was surprised Nina didn't win, I thought they were overtalking the spiciness and and she'd get it since hers seemed to do so well in general.

                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Joanie

                                                                                                                                                              Joanie -

                                                                                                                                                              I don't think Nick gained weight - I think he's been working out.

                                                                                                                                                              In fact, I thought NIna, Shirley and Nick all looked even fitter than they had in NOLA. (And they didn't look bad there!) Could be vanity motivating but I think it's that, in addition to talent, this is a physical competition and they wanted to bring as much strength as possible.

                                                                                                                                                              Just my 2¢.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                                I especially noticed Nina looking very slender in Hawaii.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                  Yup!

                                                                                                                                                                  And she was slim to begin with!

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                                  That's always the way. The finalists get tuned up during their time off. Probably their new agent told them to.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Was hoping for a Shirley/Nina finale. Now it's lost a bit of interest for me.

                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                                  Glad Shirley is gone. She began to irritate the hell out of me.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                    Shirley lacked confidence. Nina has it but comes across as very entitled and Nick can't quite figure out what he is. A Louis vs. Carlos finale would have been interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                      SHe had a poor little matchgirl quality I didnt like... Nina however has something kind of persnickity I dont like...

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I need to make a correction. I thought Shirley was on Nick's team in the finale. Just read her interview, and she is actually on Nina's team in the finale.

                                                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                      If you're going to disclose info that hasn't aired yet or that people haven't yet seen, you need to indicate *spoiler* as the first line of your post, or better yet start a new thread with *spoiler* in the title.

                                                                                                                                                                      While this thread does say that, it's for ep 16, and you are revealing info for ep 17, which has not yet aired.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                        I was correcting a comment I already made in the comments to this post about a preview for next time that has already aired that I made an erroneous statement of my observations on that preview that has already aired and correcting it. SPOILER.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                          No, you reported info from an interview that wasn't in the episode or the preview.

                                                                                                                                                                          And obviously the spoiler alert goes at the top unless you expect people to read from the bottom up.

                                                                                                                                                                          Not that the info isn't both interesting and appreciated, but some people might like to see it unfold unexpectedly in the show this week.

                                                                                                                                                                          Again, the spoiler alert at the top of this thread refers to details of this particular episode so those who haven't yet seen it can avoid the thread if they don't want to have the details revealed to them. Not to all future details of all future episodes you can possibly dig up.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                          It's right there in the title of the thread, friend. Definitely stay away from these recaps if you are the type that can get spoiled by careful observation and prognostication.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                            As we've noted, this thread is about ep 16, not 17, which has not yet aired. The reveal was of material not in the show (an online interview fg read).

                                                                                                                                                                            Prognostication is fine.

                                                                                                                                                                            This was revealing material about a future ep. from another source, which some might enjoy seeing as it unfolds on the show.

                                                                                                                                                                            Absolutely nothing wrong with discussing details from *this* ep.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                              Meh. I don't know who "we" is actually referring to, but you may be right. The reality is that these sorts of threads have all sorts of ancillary information, some of which may be "spoilers." You *did* recommend that Firegoat start a new thread with "spoilers" in the title. I'm merely pointing out that "spoiler" is already in the title of this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                              When I click on a recap thread, I'm already presuming that information about that episode will be discussed. If it has "spoilers" in the title, I assume that posting about future episodes is allowed. I think therein lies the confusion.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                Well I rewatched the episode today, and particularly watched the previews in the credits ... and guess what ... there is shirley cooking in Nina's kitchen. Guess it wasn't much of a spoiler at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                  I've never made that assumption about future episodes. What's in previews while watching the current show is one thing - but revealing stuff from outside of the actual current episode usually is considered a future spoiler outside of the realm of spoilers for the current episode. I agree with acgold7 in this instance.

                                                                                                                                                                                  ETA: Firegoat, you're known for sussing out stuff on the web way before anyone else finds it. I guess I just look at it as a matter of letting everyone find out for themselves from any previews or online stuff that might not have been part of the show that everyone saw.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't wish to litigate a point that will never apply to me. I don't ever look beyond the episodes and LCK for information so I'm never going to be a spoiler. I'm just saying that it's a bit unclear what is fair game and what isn't without a discussion that inevitably comes too late.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I also thought that wasn't a spoiler in the least. But I'm ready to move on.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree on moving on. What's out there is out there. We've got one more episode and we're done with the season.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. Well, color me a little bummed out. Nothing against Nick, but I wanted any combination of Louis, Nina, and Shirley. Nick and Carlos were the least interesting chefs left in the top 5 for me.

                                                                                                                                                                          My issue with Nick isn't that I don't think he has talent or that I don't think he completely nailed the elimination challenge this episode. My main problem is that I didn't really get his perspective this season. I feel like I know where Louis (I do watch all the LCK episodes), Shirley, and Nina have been coming from all season. Nick has consistently been inconsistent and I therefore have a harder time wrapping my head around who he is as a chef. If he cooked like he did in this episode for even a good chunk of the season, I'd be much more excited to see him with a chance to win it all.

                                                                                                                                                                          As a contrast, I think Louis suffered from the same problem as Nick. He ended up getting booted, but we got to see Louis showcase his cooking and general approach in 8 episodes of LCK. I felt like I understood him more than Nick.

                                                                                                                                                                          All that is to say, I think Nick would be a deserving champion, but I like to get to know a chef and his/her approach during the season before I can root for her/him. I can't say that about Nick.

                                                                                                                                                                          So . . . go Nina!!!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Solidly on Team Nina all the way! my hunch during judging was that we would see Shirley and Louis go home for those minor errors. can't wait for next week!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. I'm curious - of the final 4 - which chef's restaurant would you be most likely to visit? for me, it's Nina and Louis.

                                                                                                                                                                              23 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                                  Louis, and a tie between Shirley & Nina.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                                    Nick, because I happen to live where he cooks. It will probably be a while before I eat there though. I just saw on the local board that I'd have to plan now for a Saturday dinner in April (and I actually live in the burbs now, so dinner in the city is strictly a Fri/Sat thing).

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd actually like to try all four's food; each has a distinct style and would be interesting in different ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                                        Hmmm. Tough call. But I'd go:

                                                                                                                                                                                        4. Nick
                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Shirley
                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Nina
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Louis

                                                                                                                                                                                        I still can't figure out what kind of food Nick is really about. I know it will be technically proficient, but I can see his menu going a little all over the place. Shirley, in a couple of years, will most likely have her personal style finely dialed in and I'm betting I'd love it. Now, I think I'd love it, too, but not as much as . . . Nina, who cooks hardcore Italian, which I adore, and Carribean, of which my limited experience has been positive. But my tops would be Louis. Louis cooks with flavors and techniques that I connect with, but he brings a creativity that I really enjoyed watching on LCK.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                                          Nina. I love spicy Island style curries and similar dishes of the types she's prepared all season.

                                                                                                                                                                                          After that, Louis. I'm impressed by his technical chops and would like to see what kinds of dishes he could put together given a proper kitchen and time.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Nick and Shirley, I'm not interested at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                                                                                            Agreed. Nina has a fantastic and unlikely combination of Caribbean and Italian chops. She's cool and unfazed by drama. I don't really get the dislike some have of her -- Nick is inconsistent and has a boring style and Shirley was so "I found out who Shirley Chung is!!!" that I was somewhat happy to see her go.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                                                                              I think Nina came off very aggressive in the first episodes with the suck a dick comments that might have turned some people off. She should definitely keep making the pasta because the judges seem to love it. I'll be happy with either Nick or Nina winning.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree with the comments about Nina, but I don't feel the need post about it anymore. (Nobody even mentioned her "popped cherry" comment? Yikes!) I'm figuring actions speak louder than words, and that's how she got where she is. How hard must THAT have been?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't know how hard she had it. She likely had a privileged upbringing. Her father was the premier of St. Lucia for 12 years and then it's first prime minister for over 15 years after they got their independence from Britain. I'm not saying she did not have to work hard to get where she is, I'm just saying she did not come from poverty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wasn't thinking poverty. Where did that come from? I was thinking a woman in the kitchen. Is that no longer a thing? I'm thinking the "potty mouth" came from there, and not her home environment. In fact, I thought it was hard for EVERYBODY. But I don't have any experience in the industry. Only what I read here and similar venues, and "Yes, chef!". Is that a myth?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                                                    When did she say that? (and yeah I had to google it old-foggie that I am)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Carries "first time" on the bottom. My husband said he felt the expression was "old school". It was something i heard growing up. in the sixties and seventies, and as far as I can remember, always from guys. I'm curious what "Google" said. I am NOT going to look it up at work!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well I grew up in the 70s and never heard it! Sheltered life I guess. Google was pretty safe, and explanatory.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm going to be a contrarian and say that the restaurant I would like to eat at is Mexique, Carlos' restaurant in Chicago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                It is more likely that I would have an opportunity to eat at Nick's restaurant however, because I have family in Philadelphia.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                    It would have to be really good because it's a seven hour drive for me, depending on traffic, let's call it eight hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I wouldn't drive 8 hours each way for dinner almost anywhere. But if you're staying a while, I could make other suggestions for other really great meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd happily eat at Mexique. I think Carlos showed that he is incredibly talented and I love Mexican cuisine. If we're including him, I'd bump Nick down to 5th and insert Carlos at 4th.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I never did eat at a Rick Bayless restaurant when I visited Chicago but I would like to. If Mexique is better, then I'd definitely would go to Mexique. On the other hand, I'm not sure if Nina, Shirley or Nick is the top toque with respect to their chosen cuisine within their respective city.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mexique is different from the Bayless restaurants. Bayless does regional Mexican food at a very high level. Mexique is Mexican with French technique.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Both are worth the experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the clarification. I'm definitely interested in both.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Interesting perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I would say that part of the reason for that is Mexican, alta cocina in particular, is under-represented.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Truth is, of course I'd eat at any of their restaurants if they were local. As a visitor to the chef's city, I would skip their restaurant in a heartbeat if I thought there were better options. And there most likely are. So, in real life, I probably would be more likely to eat at Mexique on a trip to Chicago (never been, shamefully) than I would say Nina's were I in Miami.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You make a good point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. From an Entertainment Weekly recap;

                                                                                                                                                                                                      "Padma said, "It's very silky in my mouth." Ugh, Padma, that's-what-she-said slips are only funny if they're truly accidental, and it's obvious you're just doing it for attention because you do it too often and you're smiling at yourself before you make the comment. Poor delivery, not cute."

                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://tvrecaps.ew.com/recap/top-chef...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. "The Braiser" shares a St. Lucia press release about Nina

                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.thebraiser.com/saint-lucia...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also from "The Braiser" (forgive me if it's here and I missed it...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          )

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "The 11 Highest-Winning Top Chef-testants Of All Time"
                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.thebraiser.com/highest-win...