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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")