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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #17/Finale Part 2 - 02/05/14 (Spoilers)

And we're here - the finale in Hawaii. Nick vs. Nina. Closest finale EVAH, per the previews from Padma, of course.

The show starts with them showing a bit of Judges Table from 48 hours later. Then it flips back to 48 hours earlier.

Padma and Tom come back to the lanai where Nick & Nina are waiting. Sure enough, the final Elimination Challenge is taking over a restaurant for the night, creating a four-course menu to show them who they are. The judges will be splitting into two groups, each group eating at the restaurants at different times, so Padma tells them to keep it consistent throughout the night. Nick will also get an advantage, which he'll find out about tomorrow.

The next morning, we get the gratuitous shot of Padma coming out of the ocean in her fringed bikini. And then they flip to the two chefs left having breakfast in their suite. Padma walks into the suite (still in her bikini with a sarong around her waist) with a lot of the past cheftestants. Padma tells them they'll have the help of three previous cheftestants - friends or foes.

Nick's advantage gets to choose all three of his sous chefs first. He picks Jason, Louis, and Brian. Nina chooses Shirley, Stephanie, and Travis. Nina says it's girls against guys. :-)

The teams start planning the menus. Nick is focusing on connecting with the food and putting a classic but contemporary technique spin on the food. Meanwhile, Nina wants to showcase local ingredients, dedicating her menu to her father. She also chooses to throw in two extra surprise courses. (This could be an issue!)

They head to Whole Foods to get their ingredients. Nina's hoping to make an ice cream, even though dessert is not her forté, and Nick is planning on making a panna cotta to try and remedy the failed panna cotta made for the challenge which had Jacques Pepin as guest judge.

Traivs tells Nina by phone that there's no ice cream machine, but she's locked into her ingredients. She'll have to improvise.

They get back to their respective kitchens for prep. Nicholas's team is at ka'ana kitchen, and is directing his sous chefs how he wants them to prep their individual dishes. Nina's team is at Gannon's Restaurant, and she decides to go with zeppoles for her dessert.

Back at Nick's kitchen, Jason is standing on top of a pan of shellfish, saying "that's 200 lbs. of effin' pressure on that bitch; 65 lbs. is my hair and ego." Tom and Emeril enter the kitchen and Tom asks if he's doing four savory dishes, or if he's doing a dessert, and Nicholas tells him he's recreating the panna cotta from earlier in the season.

Then they go to Nina's restaurant, and Emeril asks her if she's doing a dessert. She explains about not having an ice cream machine, and Tom tells her she didn't *have* to do a dessert. He said "You don't get penalized for not doing a dessert!" (Wait - REALLY, Tom? That's not what you've said in previous seasons!)

Nina notes that Tom always does this - plays a mind game with the cheftestants and she isn't going to allow them to get into their head. Tom tells her when they're finished up, he and Emeril are going to take her and Nick to dinner.

Nick notes that he was knocked several times for underseasoning so he's taking an extra step to make sure everything is properly seasoned. Nina is worried that her goat isn't going to be tender enough, but they get everything packed up and done.

Nina and Nick head to O'o Farm, where they meet Emeril and Tom for dinner. Who walks up but family members - Nina's husband and brother, and Nick's wife and his mother. Dinner is served, and discussion of how each was raised and what it means for each of them to win Top Chef.

It's day of service, and each chef meets with their FOH staff and servers. Nick names his restaurant Kris after his wife. Nina checks the goat, and realizes it's still too chewy, so they continue to braise it. Nicholas brings out one plate to show the staff, and two servers aren't there. Nicholas removes them as main servers and designates two others, and he walks off asking the rest of them to inform the servers who weren't there what they just talked about.

Diners arrive at Nina's restaurant, Canouan, named after the island her father was from. Judges arrive at her restaurant - Gail, Tom, David Kinch (chef/owner of Manresa), and Takashi Yagihashi (chef/owner of Takashi).

At Restaurant Kris, the judges are Padma, Emeril, Hugh Acheson, Paul Bartolotta (chef/owner, Bartolotta Ristorante Di Mare), and Masaharu Morimoto (chef/owner of Morimoto Restaurant Group). We also see a few of the former cheftestants.

NINA (Amuse Bouche) - Breadfruit with Whipped Foie Gras Butter. Tom and Gail both love the dish.

NINA (First Course) - Tuna & Escolar Tartar with Tomato Water & Jalapeno. It was deemed refreshing by Takashi, and another diner said "You can taste the islands!"

Nick is having server issues, where it doesn't seem like they are giving his expediter the tickets. There were 16 diners sitting outside who had nothing in front of them. He asks Louis to fire 16 first courses, and specifically tells the servers "The fish is going to be on the left-hand side of the diner, alright?" Sure enough, several servers put the plates down incorrectly in front of the judges.

NICHOLAS (First Course) - Hamachi & Tuna Crudo with Green Apple Wasabi, Celery & Maui-Meyer Lemon. Morimoto said the quality of the seafood is good, Bartolotta said the fish was good and he liked the heat of the wasabi, but Hugh said it was underseasoned, and Emeril agreed.

NICHOLAS (Second Course) - Sweet Shrimp Bisque, Scallop & Daikon Noodles with Thai Basil. Morimoto said the abalone was cooked perfectly, but he didn't know why he was using the scallop. Bartolotta said it was seasoned perfectly, but it wasn't sweet.

NINA (Second Course) - Roasted Goat Sugo with Orecchiette, Cherry Tomato Confit & Goat Cheese. Takashi said the confit of the cherry tomato was a nice pop in the mouth, Tom said the goat is perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, and Tom said he'd come back for that dish.

NINA (Third Course) - Swordfish with Squash Puree, Braised Kale & Smoked Onion Jus. Tom thought the deeply cooked kale served with the brightly spiced swordfish didn't work together. Hey! There's Sheldon from TC10 giving his thoughts on what he'd like to see as well.

NICHOLAS (Third Course) - Kombu Cured Duck Breast with Kabocha Squash, Hijiki & Ginger. Hugh said that Nicholas did a phenomenal job rendering the duck's fat, Emeril says his duck is chewy, but Bartolotta said his was perfectly done all the way through. Hugh said this dish was packed with flavor.

Nicholas asks his expediter to make sure there are dessert spoons on the table before he serves his final course - and when he gets to the judge's table, there are no dessert spoons and has to ask for them again. Hugh asks him "How are your servers?" and Nicholas says ".......They're lovely!" and then launches into his dessert description.

NICHOLAS (Final Course) - Caramelized White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Almond Cocoa Crumble & Tropical Fruit. Hugh said, for him, panna cotta is "cream that's just set, it's jiggling, it's soft." Padma said it's not jiggling enough, but Bartolatta said the dish was very good.

NINA (Intermezzo) - Compressed Dragon Fruit & Frozen Papaya Skewer with a Ginger Simple Syrup. Tom looks askance at it as she puts it down, but he said the frozen papaya was damn good.

NINA (Final Course) - Chocolate Zeppole with Macadamia Nuts & Passion Fruit Anglaise. Tom thinks they're good, but it's not a complete dessert - it's more like a petit fours. David Kinch said it's ending the meal with a whisper, and not with a bang.

The judges switch restaurants. Nicholas continues to have FOH service issues. In the in-between, Andy is at Watch What Happens Next, and both Nina and Nick are there, and Nick seems very restless, rocking back and forth on his feet, whereas Nina seems calm and confident.

Nick's first course - very fresh fish, Kinch and Takashi say it lacks seasoning.

Nick's second course - Tom and Gail love the second course - Tom said it's easily the best dish he's had all year. David Kinch said there's no problem with salt and acid in this dish.

Nina's Amuse Bouche was very well received, as was her first course of crudo - it had more punch and power than Nick's. Her second course of goat and orecchiette is mature, and sublime, Morimoto said the sauce and pasta is great, and Emeril wanted another bowl.

Nick's third course of duck - they liked the duck, which was cooked nicely. However, a server comes up to the expediter and said Table 9 didn't get their first course. Nicholas comes out with a very loud "Goddammit!" and slams his hand down on the service table, which is heard in the FOH. The judges then hear him calling out the ticket for an immediate firing of that dish for that table.

The judges get their fourth dessert course, and Gail asks Tom if Nicholas redeemed himself - Tom replies that it had a bit too much gelatin, but it was very good - night and day as compared to what he served earlier in the season. Tom said if Nick's season was about peaking at the right time, he peaked at the right time.

Nina's third course, the swordfish, was said to be too much for the palate by Morimoto and Padma. The last course of dessert wasn't Nina's best, according to Hugh.

Judges head back to Judges Table. Tom asks Nicholas about his service and his food, and Nicholas explains about the tough service. His first dish was also underseasoned. Padma didn't get any scallop flavor of his 2nd course, whereas Tom thought it was his best dish all season (Padma rolls her eyes at that statement). His third course of duck, was undercooked for some, perfect for others. And his dessert should have had more jiggle - and more panna cotta in the bowl.

Tom tells Nina they had asked for four courses, and wonders if they should judge her for her two extra dishes. She replies that if she felt it worked and made for a better progression, why not? Hugh and Gail loved her first course, and Gail and Emeril thought her goat and orecchiette dish was amazing. Hugh said she nailed it and it was a killer dish. Nina thought her third course (swordfish) didn't gel, and she said dessert is not her strong course, but it was a good little bite. Gail said that it was telling as to how she described it - "a little bite".

Nina seems to take the first course.
Second course seems to be split, but it's 3-2 to Nina.
Third course seems to leaning towards Nick.
Fourth course, Nick takes the course.

It's 11:30pm at night, and Hugh said "OK, now what do we do because we're in a tie" and Tom said "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa - *are* we in a tie?" Gail said they could sit there for another 60 hours and still not agree on what they all ate. Emeril said "Where would you want to go back to dinner tomorrow?" and Padma said that service should be considered. Nicholas was seen and heard yelling at waitstaff, and Hugh said it plays into his decision.

It's now 12:20am, and Tom is saying for consistency throughout the night, he thought Nicholas did a better job. He didn't see the need for Nina's amuse bouche and the intermezzo, but Padma said she did make them, and they were amazing. Gail said she wishes Nina had taken the energy used in making those dishes and put them into a decent dessert, and she would have been happier.

1:00 a.m., and Tom is asking what was everyone's worst dish of the night - Hugh said zeppole for him, but Tom said swordfish. Emeril said he ate all of his swordfish, but he couldn't eat all of his duck.

They come back in front of the judges, and the other cheftestants are there to see who wins. Tom tells them this is, by far, the closest decision they'd ever had to make as judges.

Padma announces "Nick, you are Top Chef." REALLY???? :-/ Hmmm.....I'm almost putting this in a Hosea and Ilan win. Maybe not as bad as either of those two, but a very close third. But that's just me.

OK, it's over. Not the winner I had hoped for, but oh well. I'm done.

P.S. I did see on Facebook that Nina won Fan Favorite, so at least there's that.

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  1. Here are my early thoughts on tonight's Top Chef Finale Finale.

    Nick says Nina is the favorite to win. Does that mean Nick wins?

    Why didn't we see Tom coming out of the surf in a swimsuit with the sun glaring off his head?

    I wonder if those not chosen as sous chefs were glad or sad? Did I hear someone say it was the girls against the guys? (Isn't that kind of emasculating to Travis?)

    After the second course, I predict Nina is going to win. 

    I liked seeing Sheldon from TC 10.

    What was missing from Nina's dessert, besides ice cream? Maybe she needed some island fruit. She had already done a fruit course, but maybe she needed more, however she did have the Passion Fruit anglaise. 

    I think the finale should only be judged on the food and not the service. I realize this is Top Chef and not Top Cook, but the variables in the waitstaff should not be counted against the contestants, they did not get to choose their waiters.

    I think Nick is a nicer guy than the editing has portrayed him to be. He does get stressed out and reacts with emotion. Some people get quiet when under stress, others get vocal. (My mother used to say that my father, a small business owner, does not suffer from stress, he gives it away freely.)

    Nick, never introduce your food with "This is just..."

    Nick's lack of salt is going to cost him. He certainly should have brought some flake seasalt with him to Hawaii.

    Nina needed to do more with her ice cream ingredients other than just the Crème Anglaise.

    Nina's extra courses certainly should be judged.

    Nina wins because of her extra dishes.

    I think if Nina does not win, people on this thread are going to be pissed. 

    All of this above has been written before the winner was revealed. 

    After Nick was announced as the winner...

    Wow, I was wrong about the winner, but I'm happy for Nick.

    Nina was gracious in defeat. I think Nick would have been devastated had he lost. 

    On Watch What Happens Live, Nick was asked what it was like to win. He replied "It's been cereal." Nick, you meant "surreal".

    FYI: Tom called in to WWHL and explained some of the reasoning behind the judges decision. There is a repeat early tomorrow morning, so DVR it or see if you can watch it online. 

    Nina was really gracious on WWHL. Stephanie Cmar called in and had some nice comments. 

    Nick's restaurant Laurel in south Philadelphia has 22 seats. How can Nick make enough money that way? I understand if you called for a weekend reservation today you would not get in until April, but are 22 seats enough to make good money?

    55 Replies
    1. re: John E.

      LOL and WWHL and Nick saying "It's been cereal."

      And I'm not pissed off - I'm disappointed. As I said in my original post, I put Nick winning at above Hosea and Ilan, but I don't put him in a Michael Voltaggio, Stephanie Izard, Richard Blais, or Kristen Kish win category.

      Perhaps it's more like when Kevin Sbraga won his season - meh.

      1. re: LindaWhit

        I think we agree. I think if Ed had put any effort into learning about the food of Singapore he may have won.

        I also have never thought Hosea should have been criticized for defeating Stefan in TC 5. Stefan should have cooked better food in the finale. (Both Hosea and Leah reacted poorly under the stress of the competition.)

        1. re: LindaWhit

          Well, I was really thrilled when Kevin won. And though I thought Nick would probably win, I preferred Nina all season long... including tonight.

          Every potential cheftestant needs to remember they need a small arsenal of really good desserts they can turn out easily to themselves. Whether or not dessert is "their thing."

          1. re: ChefJune

            And so many come to this competition *not* having tucked a few dessert recipes into their arsenal, CJ. It just baffles me.

            1. re: ChefJune

              But in this case, wasn't the problem with Nina's dessert that she'd planned to do ice cream but by the time she discovered there was no ice cream machine, her shopping was already done and she simply had to make do with what she had? Perhaps if she had known sooner there wasn't an ice cream machine or hadn't counted on one, she could have pulled another dessert out of her arsenal?

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Yes, exactly what I wrote in my OP:

                "Traivs tells Nina by phone that there's no ice cream machine, but she's locked into her ingredients. She'll have to improvise."

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  So the problem wasn't that she didn't have an adequate arsenal of desserts... That's the only point I was making.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    It was more than that, I think. She erred in assuming she'd have the machine, in not having an alternative, and she admits to also not being much of a dessert chef.

                    Planning, assumption and skill set all factored.

                    1. re: mcf

                      especially when anyone who has watched the show knows that dessert isn't required (unless they make it required). She chose to make a dessert, with no backup plan in place, and relied on the presumed existence of some very specialized (albeit fairly common) equipment. Framing it as somehow her getting screwed by the lack of an ice cream maker is really incorrect, IMO.

                      1. re: LurkerDan

                        The decision to make dessert or not seems to be one of the typical Top Chef damned if you do and damned if you don't decisions.

                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      That part was weird. How many times on Chopped has someone been denied the ice cream maker and then made a custard or whatever instead? My brain is failing me but I'm kind of certain that eggs, milk and sugar have a lot of uses other than ice cream.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                I agree 100%, LW. He hung on by his fingernails for most of the season. Perhaps it is all about peaking, but I was very disappointed.

                1. re: roxlet

                  See this in sports all the time. Peak late and win.

              3. re: John E.

                "I wonder if those not chosen as sous chefs were glad or sad?"

                When I saw Carlos heading off to the beach along with Padma and two other women I thought, "Carlos wins Top Chef". And I feel just terrible about it.

                1. re: John E.

                  "Nina was gracious in defeat. I think Nick would have been devastated had he lost. "

                  ^ This.

                  Nina, gracious? Well, she's "entitled"!

                  Did Padma roll her eyes at Tom??? I THINK it was Tom.

                  Did Nick's mother recoil from him...after which he said "Give me a kiss!", and she did?

                  Later he says something to Nina like "I had to be perfect to beat you" and she looks confused. Surprise! No you didn't!

                  "Watch What Happens" had Nina coming off as more the winner. I ended up feeling a little sorry for Nick. But VERY happy for Nina.

                  Here's Hugh;

                  http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/seaso...

                  He seems to be implying if Nina got the "better" kitchen, she might have had an ice cream option. I didn't even note the kitchens were different. I wonder if that would have solved the desert problem.

                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                    Nick's mother's recoil was she was trying to tell him he did perfectly with his dishes - so she was talking to him, and he seemed aware the cameras were on him and there needed to be a quick camera shot of him being hugged/kissed by famil members and then walk away - and Mom wasn't cooperating. :-)

                    I'll have to read Hugh's blog at work.

                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                      <<<Did Padma roll her eyes at Tom??? I THINK it was Tom.>>>

                      That's what they showed in relation to Tom raving about a certain dish. Padma didn't like it and Tom said it was his favorite dish all night. Don't know if it was a funny edit or if she was actually responding to his comment though.

                      Either way, it doesn't make a lightweight Padma look good (IMHO) to be so dismissive of a real chef's opinion

                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                          <Nina, gracious? Well, she's "entitled"!>

                          I'm not quite certain I understand this.

                          Somehow I missed that moment between Nick and his mother.

                          1. re: John E.

                            The moment with Nick and his mother was a bit uncomfortable ...

                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              Nah, she just pulled back her head to speak to him and he affectionately said something like "just give me a hug" and kissed and hugged her.

                              1. re: mcf

                                I didn't hear affection, however, I heard a bit of frustration, as I noted elsewhere. Mom wanted to chit-chat about how wonderful her son was and how great his dishes were. But he knew he didn't have time for chit-chat to be part of the H&K tidbit on camera, and he seemed a bit curt to me.

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  I didn't get that at all, but then, "I hate you" passes for a term of endearment in our house. :-)

                                  I think he moved it along because he knew they didn't have time, but I think he was very affectionate with her.

                                  1. re: mcf

                                    Some people don't take well to "encouragement" when they are feeling crappy/worried. My 20 year old daughter is like that. It's not a character flaw.

                            2. re: John E.

                              I thought Nina was VERY gracious, even seemed happy for Nick, which doesn't surprise me. I don't know that I've seen any second place folk seem so comfortable with hearing the outcome. I have never been able to understand why others see her as "entitled", and I was trying to be funny. She's "entitled" to be gracious!

                              Oh well.

                            3. re: Shrinkrap

                              "Did Nick's mother recoil from him...after which he said "Give me a kiss!", and she did?"

                              Definitely saw this and said; WTF?

                              1. re: JAB

                                I watched it again after folks commented, because I did not see that happen. It did not. There was nothing odd or uneasy there upon reviewing it.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  We obviously didn't watch the same show.

                                  1. re: JAB

                                    I re-watched it. I'm sure you can find the ending on Bravo video. It wasn't how I'd remembered it, it was much briefer and less awkward. She was speaking, they kissed and hugged and he patted her as he walked back to the crowd.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      Agreed. He was stressed out and focused. His mom wanted to give him encouragement and he wanted to get a kiss and a hug from her. It was a little uncoordinated, but I don't think his mother recoiled from him. Bizarre read, as far as I'm concerned.

                                      I also noticed that Nick's wife wanted a longer embrace and kiss and he just gave her a quick kiss and hug. Again, uncoordinated, but I wouldn't conclude that Nick doesn't love his wife.

                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                        I think you should view that video again; Nick and his wife had a pretty significant make out session. Total face smasher. Maybe I have low standards. ;-)

                                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                                          I was afraid it sounded "bizarre"; that's why the question mark. Maybe "pulled back from" (in preparation to speak, which I didn't pick up while viewing ) would hace been less affect laden. I was feeling "affect laden" at that moment.

                                        2. re: mcf

                                          Agree, mcf. As I noted elsewhere in the thread, Nicholas was trying to get the quick hug, and Mom was still talking. It caused him to say a bit exasperatedly "Just give me a kiss/hug!", which he then got.

                                    2. re: JAB

                                      totally saw that, the BF even commented on it. I just took it, tho, as her wanting to console him, cheer him on, and him wanting to get the kiss so he could go back to the kitchen.

                                  2. re: John E.

                                    What this reminded me of the most was in Project Runway Season 1 when the long standing favorite had an issue with her shoes. Basically a designer friend had gifted them to her (aka for free), but the show said that wasn't allowed and the cost of the shoes needed to be calculated which put her over budget. The end result was that she could either replace the shoes with essentially Payless options or have her models walk with the shoes but the shoes couldn't be factored into the judging.

                                    I think that Nina's extra courses put the judges in an uncomfortable place because they couldn't give Nina a score of 4 out of 6 successes and compare that to Nick's score of successes. Does the intermezzo combine with the dessert to make a more full course? Also - it shone a light, particularly on the dessert - as why wasn't more time/energy/effort spent on this?

                                    Either way, I think it was a moment of thinking outside the box that did more to hurt her than help her. It was a Top Chef moment of watching a runway show, but having to imagine none of the models with feet/wearing shoes. Too much mental exercise when the situation wasn't a blow out.

                                    1. re: cresyd

                                      Extra dishes never work out well. Another obvious thing from past shows that chefs were unaware-of.

                                      To future TC chefs...Read Collichio's books, study his biases....look at past shows...read the CH commentaries. You will avoid the pitfalls.

                                      1. re: sal_acid

                                        Yeah - I think also from a judging standpoint it just irritates them. They don't have a box for the extra courses and they're already tasked with trying to be fair about a task that at times has been really difficult/close to call.

                                        While I think that Nina winning would have pleased more people in a fan favorite sense - I think the judges would have been even more inclined to say "we can't take into account those extra courses" - because how do you tell a losing chef "well you didn't make two surprise courses, and because of that you lose"? I think it would very legitimate for someone losing in that situation to feel very sore about the situation.

                                        1. re: cresyd

                                          Tom seemed to be the only one irritated by the extra courses.

                                          1. re: JAB

                                            Read Gail's blog. She thought they were a big problem.

                                            1. re: mcf

                                              I'm just going off of what was televised. I'm not so consumed that I check additional blogs etc...

                                              1. re: JAB

                                                What we get to see is heavily edited, so reading up on the judge's explanations and comments is very helpful to understanding the outcomes and true dynamics.

                                                Considering your post count this a.m., I think you might be more consumed than you thinkg. :-) I'm just offering sources of actual factual information on topics you've conjectured about.

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  Oh, I'm consumed but, to a degree. I'm not conjecturing at all. Again, I'm basing my comments on what I saw on the show. We obviously didn't watch the same show and you do in fact have additional information that was not televised.

                                          2. re: cresyd

                                            "What this reminded me of the most was in Project Runway Season 1 when the long standing favorite had an issue with her shoes."

                                            That's exactly the comparison I was thinking of, and not just because of the Elves connection! As good an idea as the courses may have been, I'm sure it really screwed up the judges and put them in an impossible position.

                                            And Kara Saun! I loved her and always thought she would have won ANY season of PR other than the one she appeared on. Remember her postal worker uniform? The bomb.

                                            1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                              Yes, she was amazing and she would have used the win in a more commercial way, as intended I think.

                                              But she basically tried to leverage a freebie to avoid competing within the rules. Nina just tried to go for broke, I think, but it is still a good analogy.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                The only "gimme" I'll give to Kara Saun is that as it was season 1, she may have felt that she was following the letter of the law if not the spirit of the law. While I agree that intent was different, the judges were left in a similar spot.

                                                However, given Nina's weakness in dessert - I think I have a better idea for an "extra" course. You could do a four course savory meal, and then still have the amuse and then use the other extra course as as a dessert (or if there's some other word for a sweet bite that's not a full dessert course). That way people still leave on a sweet note - but you're judged on the 4 savories. That's perhaps being more sneaky about competing - and probably why in general extra courses are frowned upon.

                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                  I wonder if Nina's efforts in this finale will cause future contestants to refrain from doing extras in future finales.

                                                  I think little extras in Restaurant Wars will probably still be judged.

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    "I wonder if Nina's efforts in this finale will cause future contestants to refrain from doing extras in future finales."

                                                    I hope so. Unless the rules get changed it's certainly not going to be doing them any favors.

                                                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                      Yes indeed. Extra courses are a judging nightmare. They can only hurt. It has happened several times before.

                                                      It really all comes down to some chefs not understanding the rules and strategy of the competition. More is rarely better.

                                                      1. re: sal_acid

                                                        Yup, same goes with duos/trios. The reality is that with this level of cooking, everything is dissected far more closely than an average diner going "wow, 2/3 ways of eating beef/carrot/potato how neat!"

                                                        The best bet is to stick to the number of courses and do one version as best as possible. I think even if a chef has a totally mind-blowing duo/trio in mind - the reality is that if one little thing on one aspect is off, therefore making a) of the duo awesome but b) a touch less - compared to the other competitor's very well done one item - you're just harming yourself.

                                                  2. re: cresyd

                                                    < then use the other extra course as as a dessert (or if there's some other word for a sweet bite that's not a full dessert course). >

                                                    Those would be mignardise.

                                                    Although no one said they HAD to make dessert, seems to me others have been penalized in seasons past for not making one. And as for making/serving a custard since there was no ice cream machine, it might have seemed a little "wintry" when the temperature was in the upper 90's.Custard doesn't have ice cream's refreshing factor.

                                                    OTOH, Any cheftestant who comes to Top Chef (and not just the finale) without a couple of t&t desserts in her/his memory bank is asking to be sent home. (just mho)

                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                      a question is, what was she planning on serving *with* that ice cream? I assume it wasn't just ice cream by itself.

                                            2. re: sal_acid

                                              There is a saying in Chinese about painting legs on a painting of a snake. The essence of the saying is that you need to be as elaborate as you need to be but no more because to overdo it is like painting legs on a snake. That is what the extra dishes does.

                                          3. re: John E.

                                            I noticed when he introduced a dish as "this is just..." Not smart!

                                            Nick seemed to need the win so much more than Nina both emotionally and financially.

                                            TC needs to give the girls some eye candy, too. Tom in a speedo isn't the answer, but I'd love to see a spoof with Hugh in one.

                                            Thought I noticed Sheldon before his name was put on the screen. I had a small 'wait a second - isn't that ...?" moment.

                                            1. re: KrumTx

                                              I don't really know if you want to see Hugh in swim trunks. He seems like he might be Robin Williams-esque.

                                              I liked seeing Sheldon on the finale. Of course he works at a restaurant on Maui about 30 miles from the location of the finale.

                                              I looked up the restaurants who hosted the finale. Gannon's is part of a country club/golf course and ka'ana is a restaurant in a Hyatt. They are 2-1/2 miles apart.

                                          4. Linda, I think what doomed both Stefan and Nina in their respective finales was their desserts. They were both the strongest contestants in their respective seasons, but they were both defeated in the finale, mostly because of their desserts. I don't understand why Hosea and Nick should be condemned for the f***kups on the desserts by their competitors.

                                            Top Chef 2 was a cluster****, so I don't care much about that result. (Although I did learn the technique of oven crisping chicken skins from Ilan after he won TC. I want to know what happens to all of the chicken skin from boneless skinless chicken breasts.)

                                            I forgot to add that I liked the personal interacrion from Nick's and Nina's family the night before their last part of the competition.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: John E.

                                              <i want to knowzwhat happens to all of the chicken skin from boneless skinless chicken breasts.)>

                                              It's sold to Mickey D's for Chicken McNuggets...

                                            2. Oh, poo. Not even on yet here, and I had to check. I couldn't enjoy it without knowing the result. SO not wanting to re-live the dreaded club soccer shoot-outs. Won't mind the tantrums ( parents, coaches) that followed!

                                              I will miss this! Guess I'll have to follow the Olympics.....Heading to Salt Lake City tommorow, might catch some of the excitement.

                                              Hope to see you all next season, especially YOU Linda!

                                              1. So sad.

                                                Not as awful as Hosea and Ilan - oh not at all!

                                                But still, I felt Nina overall should have won.

                                                She will be fine - she's amazing and rally's folks around her instead of ordering. But I wish she had the win as well.

                                                1. Result SUCKS!!!!
                                                  Nick's personality and character SUCKS!!
                                                  Such a FAKE!!!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                                    I can understand your disappointment, but 'fake', really?

                                                    I understand Nick's response under stress. If anything it was real, and not remotely fake.

                                                    1. I'm fine with Nick winning. He did do a better job overall. Nina's swordfish was not popular across the board. And her zeppole did not look as restaurant quality as Nick's dessert.

                                                      While Nick had some seasoning and consistency problems, none of his dishes were actively disliked.

                                                      I agree with John that Nick should not be judged on service. He did not choose them. And if I was in the service of my life, I would also be pissed at the crappy service ruining my shot.

                                                      Love the gratuitous Padma bikini shots. What would Top Chef be without Padma and her sexy shots?

                                                      That's it for another season. Thanks LindaWhit for another great season of recaps.

                                                      10 Replies
                                                      1. re: chefhound

                                                        <<<I'm fine with Nick winning. He did do a better job overall. Nina's swordfish was not popular across the board.>>>

                                                        True, but what did it for me was Emeril's comment: "I ate all the swordfish, but I couldn't finish the duck"

                                                        To me, that should have made Nina the winner. Didn't it used to be if a dish was inedible, it lost?!!?

                                                        1. re: Bart Hound

                                                          But what if two other judges replied that they could eat all the duck - but couldn't finish the swordfish?

                                                          I think that Top Chef has tried to show more about how intense the judging is (by trying to show how long the sessions go) - but at some point it will ultimately be a qualitative decision. Some of Nicholas' duck was perfect, Emeril's wasn't. So there was inconsistency. Whereas with Nina's swordfish, the dish was generally panned as not working - but different than being awful or prepared badly. So what's worse? Inconsistent or bad concept?

                                                          I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to that. And in one case you give the edge to bad concept and in another you give it to inconsistent.

                                                        2. re: chefhound

                                                          I was rooting for Nick watching this. And somehow it seemed like Padma's "second course goes to Nina" had an unsaid "because I said so" on it. I think Tom thought second course went to Nick, and I think probably in the end, his vote counted more.

                                                          And this really was a boob fest wasn't it?

                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                            it was like Lucy pulling the ball out from Charley brown... when she said " weeeee have a tie" and when he said nooooowww hold on do we?? I was waiting for her to flip her hair and huff

                                                          2. re: chefhound

                                                            I agree that he shouldn't be judged on service however, he should be judged on his very public reactions to his service issues. He most definitely should be judged for correcting the plating at the table, berating servers in front of the judges and other patrons and yelling in the kitchen loud enough for the judges and other patrons to hear it in the dinning room.

                                                            1. re: chefhound

                                                              "Love the gratuitous Padma bikini shots. What would Top Chef be without Padma and her sexy shots?"

                                                              How do I keep missing these? I'm going to have to go back and re-watch. Perhaps, I'll need to use slow motion.

                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                I usually don't get personal with my replies but I'll make an exception in this instant. If you somehow missed the Padma bikini scenes you either weren't watching or you're blind :-)

                                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                                    I've thought about this a bit and concluded you were kidding because the reality is even a blind person would not have missed that scene.

                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                      The hell you say. If my wife asks, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

                                                            2. Thanks Linda for the recap. I'm taking a break from this show. what a downer. really. no words left....

                                                              1. Sometimes I do not think I give you enough credit for your efforts.

                                                                Other times I think others give you enough credit so that my silence is not noticed.

                                                                Please do not think that my lack of thanks is indicative of my appreciation of your efforts. I sincerely know that I could not replicate your recaps. I hope you will still be game for TC 12 this fall.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  At the end of every season, I say "I'm done with this."

                                                                  Nine or ten months later, I forget what Top Chef childbirth was like. LOL

                                                                  Thanks very much for your compliments, all. We'll see come next fall. :-) If they choose Boston, I don't see how I can't do the recaps! :::hint, hint:::

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    Ha! My sister had two kids, though, and when I tried to talk her into a third, the only answer I ever got was 'Oh HELLLL no.'

                                                                    Hope you never get to that point. Thanks again for a great season, Linda.

                                                                2. I prefer seasons where I'm happy with whoever wins. This was not one of those seasons. Aside from the fact he was a pill, I never found Nick that inspiring. Oh well, next season ...

                                                                  Wow, Tom was kind of damning Nick with faint praise during his phone-in on "Watch What Happens Live."

                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Debbie M

                                                                    Yes....Nick seemed to need a sip or two of wine during "Watch What Happens".

                                                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                      He looked so down during a promo for WWH while nina was smiling figuring she had won.

                                                                      Guess he's just a tightly wound guy.

                                                                      1. re: Withnail42

                                                                        There were so many pointers/hints to "Nina won" during the episode, including that promo, that I figured Nick must have won.

                                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                                          Yeah, there were so many scenes of Nick complaining about how things were going, or claiming that he would lose, that I figured he would be the winner.

                                                                          1. re: Debbie M

                                                                            I knew he was the winner when he was fidgeting in WWHL

                                                                          2. re: DGresh

                                                                            I'm glad you guys all thought this, too. I swear I knew 10 minutes in that he'd won based on the clips that he was doomed to lose. The WWHL promo certainly solidified it with Nina looking so confident and Nick scuffling about.

                                                                            We've all conquered the elves!

                                                                      2. re: Debbie M

                                                                        Shoot. I'm going to have to see if WWHL is online somewhere. I'll want to watch this!

                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                          Linda, as thanks for your stellar efforts each season, here's a clip of Tom's phone call:

                                                                          http://www.bravotv.com/watch-what-hap...

                                                                          1. re: Debbie M

                                                                            Thanks! I'll listen at home tonight. And I see a lot of the other clips are there, so I should be able to get a good gist of WWHL.

                                                                            1. re: Debbie M

                                                                              Wow, Tom really did sound defensive. And Nicholas looked so uncomfortable. It sounded to me like Tom thought Nina was the better chef and dealt with stress better, but Nicholas cooked better that night.

                                                                          2. re: Debbie M

                                                                            I can't watch WWHL for more than a few minutes, but did catch Tom's phone-in -- I interpreted it as he knew his decision was going to be unpopular, and was trying to justify himself right away.

                                                                            1. re: momjamin

                                                                              I thought Stephanie was totally classy on WWHL

                                                                          3. Not surprised by the result. Nick made for good TV, better than Nina. They were able to make him the villain letting other people go home for his mistakes and then coming back and be redeemed by his performance in the 2 part finale. Not to mention they love someone who shows "progress" on the show. Nina was at a disadvantage since she consistently did well and didn't make for as much drama as Nick. Yeah I know it's suppose to be all about the food but really with the beach shots of Padma doesn't anyone buy into that.

                                                                            1. OTT bikini segments (sure they were put there at Padma's insistence) aside good final.

                                                                              Was routing for Nina. But Nick seemed to put out a good good service. Seems like a good chef just not a charismatic barrel of laughs. So congrats to him. Overall all a great season.

                                                                              As always many thanks to LW for all the excellent recaps!!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                Viewers get an edited version of Nick, but his fellow cheftestants, who had to live and work with him for weeks seem to be very fond of him an supportive. He said on WWHL that he and Carlos work very differently in the kitchen, but out side of there, they're friendly, too.

                                                                                He does not hold grudges, and the folks who know him best seem to have genuine effection for him, including Stephanie, who also called in during WWHL.

                                                                              2. Surprised Nick won but I don't get so invested in these things, don't care about the old winners one way or the other. Not sure why Charles Yu said Nick was fake. Never saw that.

                                                                                I think judging service was wrong but judging someone screaming in the back maybe isn't.

                                                                                I got sick of hearing Nina go on about doing it for her father. Yawn.

                                                                                I hope there's no TC of any sort for at least 3 months.

                                                                                82 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Joanie

                                                                                  And I'm not at all surprised that Nick won. This whole season, they gave him pass after pass, in spite of his lack of season(ing).

                                                                                  You can tell I watch way too much of this stuff, way too carefully, because about halfway through this season, I called Nick the winner. He was dialed in at the beginning by the producers and short of poisoning someone, he was going to be the winner.

                                                                                  Nick is "good story" because he's a hot head. Talented, no question, but has the emotional maturity of an 8 year old and you watch him with the expectation of another temper tantrum.

                                                                                  That's pure showbiz, folks!

                                                                                  1. re: juliasqueezer

                                                                                    Was thinking the same thing to the point of wondering if maybe some characters from Philadelphia's darker side maybe paid a visit to Tom and "suggested" he might like Nick best this season:-) I got the feeling that Tom was pulling hard for Nick for awhile. I also got the feeling the Tom's opinion weights heavier than anyone else's, as in "tie goes to whomever Tom picks."

                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                      yes, they need to re-title the show from "Top Chef" to "Tom's Picks".

                                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                          I'll say it again, Tom was being a bully at Judges Table.

                                                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                                                        I think that's why Tom has the title of head judge.

                                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                          ...and I'm good with that but if Tom's opinions get more weight, let us know.

                                                                                          1. re: bobbert

                                                                                            I think the vote totals posted per course make really good sense and no way do I believe that Tom muscles those other judges to vote his way.

                                                                                            He's made it really clear over time that the integrity of the judging is important to him. He also made it clear that it was hard not choosing the chef who'd made the best food all season long.

                                                                                            Sometimes things just don't go the way you want them to. Nina screwed up by doing too many courses and not accounting for the presence of an ice cream maker. If she'd stuck to her strength, her savory foods and clearly superior seasoning, against a chef who under seasons, she'd be the winner today.

                                                                                            She blew it. She's going to reap a lot of rewards from her fine performance on TC, I expect.

                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                              Psstttt....mcf. Edit needed. Shirley didn't screw up by doing too many courses. Nina did. ;-)

                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                Thanks! Shirley was my girl, I wished for a Shirley/Nina finale.

                                                                                                I guess I have Shirley on the brain. Wish I had her food on my plate!

                                                                                              2. re: mcf

                                                                                                I too believe Nina will make out more than ok.
                                                                                                my suggestion that how they did throughout the season be used would be for tie breakers only much as the NFL does. I assume she had a kick ass dessert planned. I wonder if Nick had a backup plan if for some reason he didn't have the tools to make the panna cotta.

                                                                                                1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                  Maybe he won by planning a dessert that didn't require tools that might not be present?

                                                                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                    Agree on both Nina *and* Shirley doing just fine in the future.

                                                                                                  2. re: mcf

                                                                                                    The editing gave us the impression that it was a tie. Nick's behavior alone should have then tipped it for Nina.

                                                                                                    1. re: JAB

                                                                                                      As the judges have blogged and tweeted, it's a food competition, not service. And they had no power over the service they were provided. How skewed would that be?

                                                                                                        1. re: JAB

                                                                                                          The judges linked it to service, which he was not being judged on. Hugh took your POV, it appears other judges did not.

                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                            You know, people have been going on about how unfair it was to Nina to have a kitchen that was not as good as Nick's. And that if her kitchen had an ice cream maker, she would have won.

                                                                                                            Has anyone considered how unfair it was to Nick to have such crappy servers? Maybe he shouldn't have corrected them in front of the judges, and maybe he shouldn't have yelled during service but is it fair that he got terrible servers and Nina did not?

                                                                                                            I can't blame him for freaking out. Wouldn't you lose your cool if you were doing everything right and then your servers were ruining your service? The one chance to reach your dream?

                                                                                                            It's one thing to lose because you know you screwed up. It's another thing when your servers can't get the orders right and can't even bring the dishes to the table the way that you asked them to.

                                                                                                            1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                              Especially after how in restaurant wars we saw how important it was to Nick to have steps to service down and spending time training the wait staff. Here's your big chance and you're getting shit heads to be your staffers who don't even show up on time.

                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                And pour sauce on the wrong side as you're telling them which side to pour on. Padma corrected a server on that.

                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                  I'd be going nuts... and it isn't like he's paying them, so there is a limited amount of discipline he can do. Yeah... that would make for some serious cray cray considering how much he's shown he likes to have his service and training down pat ahead of time

                                                                                                                2. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                  Didn't he demote the ones who were out back smoking a joint?

                                                                                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                    THat's going to hurt their feelers... here butt heads... here is less work for you to do.

                                                                                                                3. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                  I don't know that Nick's servers were any crappy-er than Nina's. Maybe Nina dealt with her servers better? I do know that Nick's (over thought?) exacting plating standard for a one shot meal may have been asking too much from any servers. Additionally, the service did not count against him. Some wanted it to but Tom vetoes it. I think Tom was right on that point. OTOH what was not a service issue was Nick's yelling from the kitchen which was heard clearly in the dining room - I believe Gail even said "...a.w.k.w.a.r.d....". Still, not held against him. That was not a service issue, it was a dickhead issue, period.

                                                                                                                  Now compare to Nina. She was required to change her menu AFTER shopping because of her kitchen not having equipment she needed (we don't know if the other one had an ice cream maker either). But let's say Nick's kitchen did not have a pasta maker (a real possibility in a restaurant that does not make pasta). What would have happened with the scallop pasta dish that Tom loved so much?
                                                                                                                  Nina's all around poorer kitchen was "held against her" in everything she cooked to some small degree. Nick's "service issues" was not.

                                                                                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                    Do we really know that her kitchen was poorer? Or are we assuming? Do we know if it lacked equipment that the other kitchen did not, or that its equipment was not as functional? Seems like quite an assumption. As for Nina changing her menu, she is the one who assumed there would be an ice cream maker, which may have been a reasonable assumption (I don't know, it seems a bit of a stretch to me) but was nevertheless an assumption. Lord knows not every kitchen has one.

                                                                                                                    And we also don't know how the kitchens were given out, random draw or otherwise.

                                                                                                                    I wanted Nina to win, but it sort of seems to me that some people are finding any reason they can to criticize Nick's win. The judges heard one yell from him, and saw him correct servers once. A faux pas, perhaps, but had nothing to do with what was on the plate or the challenge. And something tells me that if it were reversed, had Nina had the faux pas (imagine, perhaps, that she said "suck a dick" a little too loudly), she wouldn't have been judged as harshly, because people wanted her to win and felt like she deserved to win.

                                                                                                                    I wanted Nina to win, and going into Judge's Table it seemed pretty darned close. But they chose Nick, it was a reasonable choice, and I refuse to make it out like the challenge was unfair or Nina got screwed, because that just doesn't seem like reality to me.

                                                                                                                    1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                      A Top Chef or any Chef for that matter should never behave the way that Nick did during this challenge both in the front of the house and in the back.

                                                                                                                      1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                        But the service, as Tom says, was not part of the challenge, only the food was.

                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                          Again, it wasn't the service, it was Nick's behavior. If he would have physically assaulted a server instead of verbally assaulting them would that not have counted?

                                                                                                                          1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                            Good lord, how badly did you want Nick to lose?!?!? We can make all sorts of fantasy scenarios, but the reality is nothing he did came remotely close to physically assaulting anyone. Nick was clearly demanding of his servers (and I can't fault him for that), but we only saw, primarily, 2 incidents of him with the staff that were perhaps over the line (and surely if there were more, you know we would have seen them). And one, the correcting of the servers in front of the diners, may not have been a good move but was certainly not assaulting in any way. So he had one outburst in the kitchen, and you're comparing it to physical assault, something that is (I assume, based on past events) written into the contracts as leading to automatic dismissal?

                                                                                                                            So yes, if he had physically assaulted a server, I would have expected that to count. But he didn't, not even close.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                              I obviously felt it unfair for his behavior to have been swept under the rug.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                People yell in kitchens. It happens. I've heard it in great restaurants. This isn't church and it isn't kindergarten.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                  In kitchens, to the extent of being heard in the front of the house? I'm sure that it's happened just as I'm sure there were repercussions.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                    I have been in Le Bec Fin when it was the best restaurant in Philly and one of the best in the US (where Nick worked, BTW) and heard the boss, Geo Perrier, screaming at cooks who've screwed up. Multiple occasions.

                                                                                                                                    It was amusing. So French. Cute.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                      I'd imagine that only a Chef / Owner could get away with that and only if there wasn't very much competition for similar dining without the histrionics.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                        The whole point and success of Hell's Kitchen is that there is a variety of diner that's heard of the screaming chef and interested in him.

                                                                                                                                        If I go to a doctor, and hear the doctor screaming at a nurse/admin - then I'm going to be terrified and run for the door. If I'm at a restaurant and heard that, I'd think "wow - someone in the mold of Marco Pierre-White". There simply is a tradition of the crazy/shouty chef that gets a different response.

                                                                                                                                2. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                  It wasn't swept under the rug, but it couldn't be used as part of the actual judging criteria.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                    It was therefore swept under the rug. Professionalism isn't a judging criteria?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                      It's always been stated "we judge on the plate of food in front of us." The judges don't know what goes on behind the scenes until they themselves see the show.

                                                                                                                                      Look, JAB - you obviously feel that his treatment of staff he's never dealt with before should have been part of the judging criteria. It's not. It is what it is. Show's over. The person that you (and I) didn't want to win did.

                                                                                                                                      I still think Nina will do very well in her career, perhaps better than Nicholas. Time will tell.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                        But, this wasn't behind the scene but, was seen and heard by all.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                          I don't believe the judges saw what happened; just heard it.

                                                                                                                                          Regardless, you can continue beating this issue with whatever you choose to beat it. It doesn't change the fact that the judges did not factor in behavior in their decision, and Nicholas won the title of Top Chef.

                                                                                                                                          Done, over, kaput.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                            Curious, JAB: how many restaurant kitchens you've run? How many competitions like Top Chef you've competed in? Clearly there was a lot of tension in both those kitchens that night. Nick was having more than one problem with his servers. Would it have been better had he not lashed out so loudly at that server? Yes. Is it really the huge deal you're making of it? I don't think so.

                                                                                                                                            I'm not saying that screaming at staff is ever a good idea in any type of business, but surely it is and has been done by more than one person in many different business settings, including restaurants.

                                                                                                                                            As a diner, I've heard several chefs rant in their kitchen. Wolfgang Puck and Rick Bayless come quickly to mind. As a line cook, I've heard the chef rant loudly (might well have made it to the front of the house) on many occasions... and many viewers tune into Hell's Kitchen for the purpose of hearing Gordon Ramsay scream at the contestants. Doesn't make it okay, but doesn't make it a capital offense, either.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                          "Professionalism" would refer to the standards of a profession. Screaming in the kitchen is within the bounds of normal practice in many kitchens.

                                                                                                                                          Look at how that ass, Ludo, behaves on The Taste.

                                                                                                                                          Not admirable, but not a grave sin.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                              Top Chef is also television and not real life.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                People are giving you TV examples because that's what we have in common. But it is certainly my understanding that yelling in the kitchen by the exec chef is not bizarre behavior. It is, in fact, the legend of some famous chefs.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                  You think Ludo is a lamb off screen?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                            I think that there are certain things that restaurant professionals respond to different than us non-restaurant professionals. If you look at Marco Pierre White or Gordon Ramsay - if anything their brands are built upon loud/angry behavior. So while perhaps in many other professional environments that kind of shouting is a huge knock on professionalism in the culinary world it's just not viewed the same.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                              More TV Chefs than working Chefs putting it on for effect, no?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                No. Ludo, Marco and Gordon were well-known for this long before their TV careers, and countless others before them who never were or will be on TV were as well.

                                                                                                                                                You may not like it and I may not like it and I would never treat my staff that way, and I'm guessing you wouldn't either, but in this case it has nothing to do with professionalism and does not count against their bonafides as a Chef.

                                                                                                                                                Chef means Chief and for some, screaming is their management style and they find it effective.

                                                                                                                                                And just for the record, I'm not saying Nick did this at all. On the contrary, what he actually is shown doing in this episode makes him look like an absolute pussycat compared to some bosses I've had. He did not insult or berate anyone, actually, just slammed his fist and expressed his frustration when he was let down in the midst of what he perceived as one of the most critical moments of his life.

                                                                                                                                        3. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                          It was about the food. If you want, include his behavior as part of service.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                        Isn't the chef that Nick used to work for in Philly famous for yelling at everyone?

                                                                                                                                        I didn't see any terribly egregious front of the house behavior, and the back of the house outburst was momentary. It may not be ideal, but it happens in competition and in life. And I for one would have been extremely disappointed had it been used in the judging. If Nina had won because of that, I would have been very disappointed and would not have been able to enjoy her victory; it would have seemed tainted.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                                          Had he dressed down his servers in the back of the house quietly enough that no one in the front of the house heard, like a professional, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                            No argument there, I am sure even Nick would agree that he could have handled it better.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                              You do not know what he told them before the outburst. Last straw and all that.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                Well, that makes it okay then.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                  I hope that you never ever lose your temper in stressful moments.

                                                                                                                                                  Especially ones that seem like the most important night of your life is being screwed up by indifferent louts who don't give a shit.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                    If I feel that way in a professional situation, I have enough common sense to remove myself from the situation without compromising myself.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                      But you can't stop yourself from arguing about something trivial with complete strangers for hours on end. My point isn't that you should stop arguing on CH, but that you shouldn't hurt yourself patting yourself on the back for self-control.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                          Then you aren't ever in a position where immediate PDQ change is needed.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                                                  Yes, Georges Perrier was known for being extremely vocal towards his staff. So perhaps Nicholas also absorbed some of that intensity and uses it himself.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                                                I will agree that I have a bad habit of doing a lot of assuming on these threads but I really did not have a clue as to the make up of the kitchens. I took that one from Hugh's blog where he states... "They are in two different kitchens. One is more equipped that the other. Nicholas got the nicer one, but I think it’s just a roll of the dice..." Him being there and being a chef and all, I figured he's a reliable source to comment on the two kitchens. I agree with you with the ice cream maker. We don't know if Nick's kitchen had one either. John E went through the effort of looking at that restaurant's menu and didn't find ice cream on it so it very well might not have had such machine but I think it's still fair to say, based on Hugh's blog, that Nick had the better kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                Aside from her assuming there would be an ice cream maker, the other thing that killed Nina was her having done the shopping BEFORE finding that out. Now she's stuck with those ingredients and having to come up with something on the fly.
                                                                                                                                                All I can think of that would have been similar would have been if Nick found no pasta machine and he too had to come up with something on the fly. As I've written here ad nauseum, I would have just liked to have seen the winner beat the best the runner-up had to offer, not some last second fill-in dish.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                  What I wonder is if an ice cream machine would be a piece of equipment you could safely assume would be in a professional kitchen? If I'm looking at apartments, I'm going to assume that it comes with a refrigerator (unless mentioned otherwise) - whereas a dishwasher or microwave, I'm not going to assume unless mentioned/or I see.

                                                                                                                                                  Lots of restaurants I've been to don't serve ice cream. I don't think it's the same as assuming there will be pots and pans.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                  "...let's say Nick's kitchen did not have a pasta maker..."

                                                                                                                                                  We don't know if there was a pasta maker or not. We did see Jason cutting the scallop 'noodles' with a knife.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                    Correct. The scallop "noodles" weren't really pasta. It was a scallop puree that was spread uniformly thin, poached, then cut. No machine necessary.

                                                                                                                                                    And it's very possible to make even rolled pasta without a machine. Harder, and more traditional, but possible.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                      Good point - and now I remember it so let's say Nick's kitchen didn't have a stove. What would he have done then? OK, I know that's a bit ridiculous but for want of an ice cream machine? I simply would have felt a lot better with Nick's win if he beat out the dish Nina had planned to make.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                        I'm satisfied with the judges debating the merits of the food that was served to them and not food that was intended to be served to them.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                          Absolutely. Just didn't seem right to me that one chef got to serve everything he practiced on for 2 months and the other one didn't.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                            It's called tough titties, life's not fair.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                      The thing is that Nick did not know if the service would be held against him or not. So he was right to be concerned.

                                                                                                                                                      He should not have reacted so loudly or so aggressively but how could he not lose it a bit? For all he knew, the judges could have counted it against him if they heard that other tables were not getting their food correctly. If the judges had noticed that other tables were not getting their food or that their courses were not coming out in the right order, they would have commented on it.

                                                                                                                                                      If the food was being executed as he wanted but wasn't getting out properly, he would certainly be right to be frustrated. It's his one chance to show his best and it was being ruined by inept servers. And I think it's fair to say his servers were worse than Nina's. She is not shown with any problems while his can't even remember how to position the plate. I believe Padma commented on her server presenting her dish or serving her soup from the wrong side.

                                                                                                                                                      How can you not lose your cool when your big chance is being ruined by others? I don't disagree that he went too far but understandable under the circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                      Also, I don't think Nina's poorer kitchen - if it can be proven to be actually poorer - was held against her. Not having an ice cream machine is not necessarily the sign of an inferior kitchen. It was her poor decision to make a doughnut when she couldn't make an ice cream. As I have previously noted, it's a jump from ice cream to zeppole. It would have been a natural adjustment to change to a creme brulee, which uses the same ingredients as ice cream, and would have been perceived to be more dessert-like.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                        Once again, I don't think we know if Nina's servers were better than Nick's any more than we know if Nick's kitchen had an ice cream maker. Maybe Nina was a better leader and coached her servers better. Maybe Nina realized that she only had a few minutes to brief her servers on her dishes and simplified the service issues because of it. Serving ain't that easy.

                                                                                                                                                        I eat out 3-4 times per week and it is extremely rare (I can't remember even one time) that I hear a chef in the kitchen yell at someone while I'm in the dining room.

                                                                                                                                                        The difference in kitchens was noted by Hugh in his blog - I'll take his word for it. Did it impact anything? Maybe not although any extra steps, move behinds, reaching, getting burners or grills up to temp, etc would all have at least a minimal, though not necessarily game changing, impact on the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                        Had Nina found out prior to shopping that there was no ice cream machine and still made that dessert then, for sure, she deserved to lose. I'm sure she had a back up plan that was better than the one she went with but she was stuck with a making a decision on ingredients while maybe crossing her fingers and hoping for the machine. She chose poorly.

                                                                                                                                                        Yup, she could have made a creme brulee, which any decent chef should be able to pull off but I can visualize Tom saying "this is Top Chef and she gives us a creme brulee?" Had she known about the lack of ice cream maker prior to shopping, my bet would have been a well practiced savory dish that she had worked on for 2 months.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                          I guess we'll just have to disagree.

                                                                                                                                                          I think that Nick's servers were worse. If they are asked to put out dessert spoons and it's not done. If they are asked serve a dish facing a particular way, and they can't do it right. These are not complicated things.

                                                                                                                                                          I can understand if they find the ticketing system confusing. I can understand if they can't answer questions about the ingredients/menu/preparation.

                                                                                                                                                          Putting out cutlery and serving a dish facing a certain way or pouring soup from a specific side shouldn't be too hard for a server to do.

                                                                                                                                                          I think you are not taking into consideration that this is not a normal service. I would hope that you wouldn't hear him yelling at his restaurant. But this not a regular service. He's fighting to win. A tiny mistake could be the difference between money for his restaurant and his family or going home with nothing.

                                                                                                                                                          I agree that if Nina had known, she might have chosen to make a fourth savory dish but unfortunately she didn't find out in time. My point is that a creme brulee is a real dessert. Doughnuts are too snack-like, too casual. And I think a creme brulee and a panna cotta are fairly equal in the dessert world. One has gelatin instead of eggs but both are cold, creamy, custardy desserts. Formal, restaurant-quality desserts.

                                                                                                                                                          I think Nina is a highly skilled chef. I would have been happy if she had won and I'd definitely want to eat her food. I just think Nick is being unfairly treated for winning. He's a perfectionist. Everything has to be just right. And when it doesn't go right, he takes it hard. I can understand that.

                                                                                                                                                          He's not as bad as Hosea or Ilan. For me, they coasted in the middle, making ok but unremarkable dishes until they outlasted the other middle-of-the-road chefs and then peaked at the end (or got lucky).

                                                                                                                                                          I'm not sure he could keep up with Michael or Bryan Voltaggio, or Paul Qui but I don't think anyone could say that he's not a pretty good chef.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                          They were both professional hotel restaurant kitchens, Nina's was perfectly adequate, no doubt.

                                                                                                                                                          That didn't stop her from making two, not one, lousy courses.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                            As the head judge, I am quite certain his opinion carries more weight than other judges.

                                                                                                                                            Edit: I stand corrected. Tom Tweeted the scoring...

                                                                                                                                            This is how we scored last nights challenge
                                                                                                                                            1st course
                                                                                                                                            5 to Nina
                                                                                                                                            2nd
                                                                                                                                            3 Nina 2 Nick
                                                                                                                                            4th
                                                                                                                                            1 Nina 4 nick
                                                                                                                                            5th
                                                                                                                                            0 Nina 5 to nick
                                                                                                                                            Nina 9 nick 11

                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                              OTOH, I feel very sure it doesn't.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                I think Tom has stated in the past that if there's tie, his position as head judge is the tie-breaker, or it could just be my imagination.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                  but with 5 judges last night, a tie was unlikely.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                    But he won by more votes in his winning rounds than she did, not just one vote did it, ultimately.

                                                                                                                                          3. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                            The recapper from Entertainment Weekly kind of felt the same way:

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

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Debbie M

                                                                                                                                              EW is crudely trying to get pageviews with this piece by stimulating comments.

                                                                                                                                      3. Disappointed doesn't even cover it as a reaction. Shocked comes closer. I feel a little dirty, like when I watch an episode of House of Cards.

                                                                                                                                        Maybe I would have felt differently had I actually tasted the food. What I have to go by is how the two individuals comported themselves - and what the judges said about their food.

                                                                                                                                        I wondered how some of the judges who were arguing for Nina (like Emeril) kept up such a good face up in congratulating Nick.

                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                          Emeril knew how subjective and close it really was.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                            Hard to say without tasting the food, and knowing the editing that had to distill hours of JT discussion, but it did look like Emeril was squarely on Nina's side and Tom on Nick's. Maybe some of Emeril's argument was devil's advocate because Tom was entrenched, maybe the other way around. That is, maybe it wasn't such a stretch to congratulate Nick -- obviously, there was much to like about his meal (other than a couple pieces of duck), and it was super close.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                              Yeah, I think it came down to the fact that Nick's duck dish was loved by all the judges but Emeril who got it undercooked, while Nina's swordfish dish was just a lousy conception that no one rated highly, though Emeril finished it. I don't think "edible" is the criterion for winning any course where the conception and execution of the dish was flawless for all but one, vs. none.

                                                                                                                                          2. As a Philly girl and someone who has been to Nick's restaurant, I'm thrilled with the result! But Nina should be very proud - I don't think I've ever seen a result that close before.

                                                                                                                                            I think Padma saying they should judge them on service is BS. You can't put the finale in the hands of strangers. I think Padma had a little too much attitude (and cleavage) this season. I laughed when she left the hotel room with Carlos in her bikini and he said, "This is the best part."

                                                                                                                                            I'm glad I watched WWHL. It was very enlightening. I think Nick looked nervous because Craig LaBan's review (Philadelphia Inquirer) of his restaurant comes out on Sunday. Nick will do ok otherwise, but a great review from LaBan will keep his place booked indefinitely.

                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: lawgirl3278

                                                                                                                                              Looks like I was right about the review. Nick said he'd give everything up for four bells (the highest rating).

                                                                                                                                              http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/th...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: lawgirl3278

                                                                                                                                                Interesting comments on that article.

                                                                                                                                                And as of the time of my reading, the "survey" at the bottom shows 49.0% to 45.6% that Nick should win over Nina (with 5% saying neither).

                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                  Interesting, I saw it 84% for Nina and 16% for Nick like 3 min before the answer, or so I thought. Maybe this is another survey, just happened to glance at the little thing in the corner of the TV screen as the show was wrapping up.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Joanie

                                                                                                                                                    Joanie, I'm speaking about the survey @ the link in lawgirl's post - it's definitely different than what we saw onscreen last night. This seems to be Philly-centric. With almost 500 votes on the above link from lawgirl, it now reads:

                                                                                                                                                    Who should have won Season 11 of Bravo's "Top Chef": Nick Elmi or Nina Compton?

                                                                                                                                                    Nicholas Elmi 250 (50.1%)
                                                                                                                                                    Nina Compton 224 (44.9%)
                                                                                                                                                    Neither 25 (5.0%)
                                                                                                                                                    Total votes = 499

                                                                                                                                            2. I thought it was interesting to see who the chefs picked as sous chefs. I wonder if Nina had Nick's advantage of picking his team first if she would have picked the same team. I would have picked Shirley, but I can see if Nick was aware of a NinaShirley team dynamic going on that it was better to let Nina have her, not that I think Shirley would ever sabotague, she's too good of a shadow chef. In what other season would a Michelin star chef-finalist not get picked as a sous chef ... altho to be fair I wouldn't have picked Carlos, either.
                                                                                                                                              I'm happy with the result for Nick. He comes across to me as this is his complete passion, even if it can turn him into a stressed out dick. Nina with her being raised as a child of an important politician, privelege, travel, european schooling just seemed to me like she didn't need it as much as Nick did. Maybe she's better balanced and has seen more of the world... or knows she has other things to fall back on. I would have been happy with either result but I am happy for Nick and loved looking at pics of his new restaurant online.

                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                I was also intrigued by the picking of the sous chefs.

                                                                                                                                                I wasn't surprised by Nick's first pick. Of course you should pick someone you know you can rely on and whose style you know can work with your menu. I was a bit surprised by the choice of Brian. He didn't strike me as an obvious choice. But I guess Nick's thinking was reasonable - he worked well for you in Restaurant Wars. Louis was a no-brainer.

                                                                                                                                                I do think that NIck left Shirley for Nina because he knew they were pals. I thought Nina's choice of Travis was a surprise. Yes, they were friends but I would hardly consider Travis as a frontrunner in the sous chef pool.

                                                                                                                                                Here's a question that has been in the back of my mind for a while - How did Tom and Emeril vote on LCK? I realize that the 3 chefs' votes would have overruled their votes anyway but I wonder if they voted for Carlos or Louis? If they had been the only judges on LCK, would the result have been different?

                                                                                                                                                I found it interesting that nobody picked Carlos for sous. Theoretically, he should have been a top pick because he made it to the end of the competition. So his skill should have been respected by the chefs. I know Nick wouldn't have chosen Carlos because of their personal beefs but maybe Nina, but she chose Travis instead. Interesting. Maybe Carlos is not very popular with the other chefs?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                  I'm also curious if Nick and Nina had any say in who came back in the pool to pick from. Why bring back early out chef Jason, instead of Phillip or Carrie unless someone put that on their wish list.
                                                                                                                                                  I am not surprised that Sara wasn't picked.
                                                                                                                                                  Brian has been portrayed so oddly all season, he seemed very competent, just never really saw anything break out from him. Nick must have seen something.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                      I have no idea... I meant Justin, typed Phillip :D

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                    While Carlos and Nicholas got the most attention - he also had that situation with Shirley at the LSU challenge where she claimed the plancha and then he essentially discarded her "dibs". Also, the situation with Carlos borrowing Nicholas' knife and returning it dirty - Nina had a confessional about how amongst chefs that's something that just "wasn't done".

                                                                                                                                                    I don't think that Carlos is any more of a bad guy than Nicholas in the big picture of life - but it could have just been a case of a lot of little things to just rub other chefs the wrong way. And Nicholas was just the super emotional one who didn't handle it in the most reserved manner.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                      Shirley, Carlos, Louis, Brian and Stephanie were no-brainers, because, aside from Nina and Nick, they survived the longest. I figured they brought back Jason and Travis to see if they would pick their friends over others who may be more skilled. Don't know why they chose Janine or Sara (although I have a feeling Janine, given her camera time in LCK, may have made an impression on someone ...). Maybe it depended on who was able/willing to make the trip?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                        I don't think Carlos is particularly popular, but I think the main reason he wasn't chosen is that he's thought of as "just doing Mexican". (that might have be said elsewhere, I'm just now reading up...)

                                                                                                                                                    2. Like most of you I'm shocked and sad that Nina didn't win, and I feel she kind of got screwed over by?????....the show?, the producers?, the kitchen? Someone.

                                                                                                                                                      She bought her food with the expectation that the kitchen would contain certain things and it didn't and she had to react on the fly. Which she did. But it seemed to put her at a disavantage right out of the box.

                                                                                                                                                      I know she wasn't required to do a dessert and I'm not sure if an ice cream maker is a standard kitchen item or not, but the whole thing felt a little unfair to me.

                                                                                                                                                      What if she got back to the kitchen and there was no stove or no running water? Would that have been fair? Obviously I'm taking things to extremes but I can't help feeling that it was an unfair contest.

                                                                                                                                                      21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bart Hound

                                                                                                                                                        What makes you think most of us are shocked and sad or thinkg Nina got screwed over?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                          When I first read the thread, that's what it seemed like.

                                                                                                                                                          Maybe I projected.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bart Hound

                                                                                                                                                            Well Bart Today was 'shocked" too so don't second guess yourself

                                                                                                                                                            http://www.today.com/entertainment/to...

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                                                                              The popular opinion shown on the screen was over 80/20 in favor of Nina so don't second guess yourself. It's reasonable to assume that over 80% of us are shocked and sad.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                Boy, who's that consumed by it?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                  It was on the screen. I saw it the 1st time. I didn't even have to re-watch it.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                    That's what I thought, but when folks said stuff, I checked my own recollection and I was wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bart Hound

                                                                                                                                                                      I had it DVR'ed checked and rechecked it because my recall was so vivid. It was much less of anything than my initial viewing led me to believe. She's talking, he kisses her, she's talking and it appears he is summoned to receive the lei and pats her because he has to go.

                                                                                                                                                                      Check out the video at 1.17 or so. http://www.thebraiser.com/top-chef-ne...

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                    Wasn't that 80/20 a telephone poll on WWHL?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                      I didn't watch WWHL. It was on the bottom of the screen during the show that I watched on On Demand the day after.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                                                                                    Interesting responses to Tom tweeting "At least he's consistent." in reference to Nicholas:

                                                                                                                                                                    https://twitter.com/tomcolicchio/stat...

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                      He also tweeted the final scoring. I don't know if it is posted elsewhere in this thread. I copied it below. No idea what happened to the third course.

                                                                                                                                                                      "This is how we scored last nights challenge

                                                                                                                                                                      1st course
                                                                                                                                                                      5 to Nina

                                                                                                                                                                      2nd
                                                                                                                                                                      3 Nina 2 Nick

                                                                                                                                                                      4th
                                                                                                                                                                      1 Nina 4 nick

                                                                                                                                                                      5th
                                                                                                                                                                      0 Nina 5 to nick

                                                                                                                                                                      Nina 9 nick 11"

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JonDough

                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, it was. No harm seeing it again. Tom just numbered wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Berheenia

                                                                                                                                                                      definitely shocked, a little sad for Nina, but not unhappy that Nick won.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Bart Hound

                                                                                                                                                                  Don't think most of us would agree. Nina made a big error in doing extra dishes. (only risotto would have been a bigger mistake)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                                                                                                    Altho if anyone could do risotto well I'd bet on Nina.

                                                                                                                                                                    I think with the line up of guest judges the most horrifying thing would be to serve up a main sushisashimi course.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Bart Hound

                                                                                                                                                                    I am surprised she chose swordfish. Swordfish is such an unappealing fish to me (and I love virtually all seafood) and it looked drab and heavy with all those greens. When I saw that dish, I felt like she lost the competition.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                      Agreed, Janet. And I surely wouldn't have chosen swordfish in Hawaii, with all the amazing local fish they have available.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                        I was dismayed when I heard the dish was swordfish. I find swordfish to be one of the least interesting fishes. And then the braised kale. Too hearty and wintery for Hawaii.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                          That choice also struck me as odd. I also thought it looked boring. And it did strike me as a real tipping point.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. First of all, HUGE thanks to Linda for yet another year of recaps! I think she should get a [paid!] blog on Bravo's site next time :-)

                                                                                                                                                                        Second: Nina was robbed.

                                                                                                                                                                        Third: Why did she assume there would be an ice cream maker? Is that standard issue in restaurant kitchens? Was it unfair that it wasn't there? Or did she not do her homework? Also, just me, or was Nick's kitchen a LOT nicer, at least in the looks department? (I have no clue how that impacts actual productivity.)

                                                                                                                                                                        Edit: Fourth: Padma, put on some f***ing clothes.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I think Nina was overrated from the begining and Nick was underrated from the begining causing this artifical drama.. making Nicks insecurity rise and Ninas entiltlement soar...there is a reason each contestant has a person producer assigned and a wexler test attached...

                                                                                                                                                                          Now forever Nick will seem like the winner who didnt deserve it... when by being there he was just as talented and capable of wining as everyone else....it literallllllllly is anyones game

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                                                                                            I don't think Nina was overrated, I agree with Nick that he had to be perfect (not so much, it turned out) to beat her because she's so talented and skilled and much the best.

                                                                                                                                                                            Nick cooked the best meal in the finale, is all. And he needs someone less sensitive to salt to taste for him.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. I wasn't surprised that Nick won, based on the swordfish and dessert, though earlier in the meal it seemed solidly Nina ahead.

                                                                                                                                                                            On WWHL, Tom called in and said one thing that made it really hard for the judges was that Nina cooked so much better all season, but based on this one meal, Nick got the win. She seemed happy and relaxed and thrilled to get fan favorite.

                                                                                                                                                                            For me, this is nowhere near a Hosea moment; I'd eagerly go eat Nick's food, but wouldn't move a muscle for Hosea's.

                                                                                                                                                                            34 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                              Fearing a finale "tie" last week i suggested that a tie should be broken by looking at the season as a whole.

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't think it could be argued that Nina was not consistently the best this season. What makes the finale different from the rest of the season is basically in it being a straight cook off where the chefs had, literally, months to perfect their meals. This differs greatly from everything that happened prior. It's almost like a different competition. Nick has shown that he has great talent but he has also shown a weakness when "winging" it and coming up with great dishes quickly and on the fly. Interesting even with his biggest "win" during the regular season, restaurant wars, the menu was given time to be well thought out and executed. Where he had to put something together quickly he didn't do so well.
                                                                                                                                                                              Of course, when eating in his restaurant, customers are eating food that has been well thought out, tested, adjusted, tested again, and then put in front of them. I assume that all the food in Nick's restaurant would be outstanding for that reason. Sure, Nick is a top chef but I don't think he's necessarily the best "top chef, the game show."

                                                                                                                                                                              Iron Chef or Chopped, etc. do not change their format for the "finales" , unlike "Top Chef". I don't want to see a stupid challenge in the finale but I'd like some twist, maybe in having to use certain proteins, to keep it interesting and true to the show.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                Nick is TC by the rules of TC. I noted elsewhere that Nina was the best chef all season, winning a lot of challenges, as did Tom C on WWHL.

                                                                                                                                                                                There is always that potential for the less accomplished chef season long to win by producing the best meal that one time, it's how the show is conceived.

                                                                                                                                                                                It's not trying to be one of the other competitions. The stakes are high every single outing, no matter how much better you may be overall.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                  I get it. The rules are the rules. It's been one of my pet peeves with the finale for several seasons now - we play one game all season with all its twists and turn (for better or worse) and then the finale where it's a different game. It becomes a show of who can deliver a meal that they have worked on for several months (presumably with much help from other chefs). It's how Sarah almost beat Paul - that would have been a crime. I'm not saying they should get crazy at the end with maybe ingredients in ice or having to switch meals half way through. I would just like to see something, anything, that would make the chef have to perform as the rest of the season does. Limit the proteins? Switch the sous chefs you picked? I don't know except that the finale of "use whatever you want and serve us four coures" is not what the previous 16 episodes were about.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                    But I think it really boils down to what is the same all season.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The person let loose to serve the meal of his or her life who turns out the best food wins.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                      The finale hasn't been the same format every year. In the past I believe the proteins were pre-selected or they have only had a sous chef for a limited amount of time. Last year it was live in some strange iron chef style. If I recall, this is the first year that they have had to do a full service, as opposed to a set number of plates.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't mind that there are fewer gimmicks in finale. Keep it simple, who can make the best meal? All of the finalists have the same amount of time to go home and prepare, so that shouldn't be an advantage to anyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                                                        You know, I'd be OK with the "give us a 4 course meal using whatever you want" if they didn't have two months to work on it - maybe 2 days. Every chef that makes it on the show has the talent to put together an amazing 4 course meal if given 2 MONTHS to perfect it. Give ME 2 months to pick some of my local chef's brains, learn some techniques, and practice, practice, practice and I can put together a pretty impressive meal myself.
                                                                                                                                                                                        After all, except in the smallest restaurants, regular good ol' line cooks are cooking your award winning chefs food. What has made Top Chef exciting for me is how these chefs are able, in such a short time, conceive and execute amazing food - except for the finale.
                                                                                                                                                                                        As much as i thought Nina was the better definition of Top Chef throughout the season, had she put out a great ice cream dessert and won because of it, i think the win would have been tainted. Dessert is not her thing but if she worked with a pastry chef for two months on an amazing ice cream dessert, what would that have proved? She would still not have been a great pastry chef. She would have been a very good cook who, when given two months to work on a dessert, delivered a great one - much as line cooks in great restaurants around the country do every day. And that is my issue with the finale - it deviates from the entire rest of the season.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Just read Hugh's blog. Seems there was a perceivable difference with the two kitchens. No one says if it had an ice cream maker but if Nick's did would it have been a tough luck for Nina? Better yet, what if Nick actually had made an ice cream? Now that would have been interesting.
                                                                                                                                                                                        As Ive said, i think Nick is a great chef by all the normal criteria of what makes a great chef and I would love to eat his food, but based on what I saw through this season, Nina would be Top Chef (of the tv show).

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                          While I think the term "Top Chef" may always bring to mind someone who's done well through the whole competition - the design of the show is "move and go on". Past mistakes and mediocrity is left behind and the chef can start over fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                                          If anything I think it makes the finale more compelling otherwise most seasons would have a pretty forgone conclusion about who would win. The finale is still a competition and not a coronation.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yup, as much as I dislike it, it is the fairest way to judge the competition. Each competition (EC) is brand new, and they're supposed to be judged on that dish alone.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It's how Hosea and Nicholas and others have gotten to the finale - they've squeaked by in previous ECs and "peaked at the right time", according to Tom C. But I don't see it as a matter of peaking - they just had a better dish or series of courses during that particular competition than the other cheftestant did.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                              I agree, and though I keep watching regardless, it sure is a drag when you think the wrong person won!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                To get all sportsy - I think there is something accurate about using the phrase "peaking". That it's not about being the best throughout the competition (or the season) - but rather doing what's necessary at the right time to win the "big game". Eli Manning isn't a better quarterback than Peyton, but he's definitely peaked better in regards to Super Bowls.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                              But when they leave to go home are they told to come back with a 4 course meal? i doubt it.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think the Finale Finale has pretty much always been a four or five course meal. If it were me, I would certainly do some planning and practicing and not just wait until I got to the location of the last challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                  They can be fairly certain that it's going to be pretty close to that statement. Maybe a dessert or not and possibly one small twist, but the bottom line has been "give us the best (insert number) course meal of your life" whether it's in front of a live audience or it's prepping for 5 or 20 people, it's basically the same - go home and work on this meal for the next two months and then regurgitate it for us in the finale. I can assure you that, unlike the vast percentage of dishes the chefs prepared through the season, everything cooked last night had been perfected over and over again by them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Except for the zeppole. There should always be a plan B.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                        ...and to add,Nina got the double whammy in that she hadn't seen the kitchen until after shopping and was basically forced to wing it with those main ingredients. I'm sure she had a plan B worked up had she had known there was no ice cream maker, either for a different dessert or certainly for a 4th savory course. The more i consider it, the more i think the title came down to a lack of a piece of equipment in one kitchen. I don't believe it was an insidious plot by the producers but, even though unintentional, it very likely influenced the outcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't think Nina can blame the lack of an ice cream machine for her not winning Top Chef 11.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't think so either. She lost because she decided to make those doughnuts. And because everyone thought the swordfish didn't work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            What she should have done was made a creme brulee. The ingredients for ice cream are essentially the same as the ones for creme brulee. I think a nice passionfruit creme brulee would have had a chance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            And it's not hard to make a creme brulee. You don't have to be a pastry chef to execute it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I said the same thing while I was watching! Some sort of custard. In fact, since Nick really too light with the gelatin in his dish, he basically made a custard, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It would have been interesting to see how the two dishes compared. They both did a crudo and Nina's was far superior.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Too light? I thought the only complaint was too much, from Tom, who still loved it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Less gelatin in the mix leads to less of the jiggle. I took their criticism to mean that it was more custard-like than a traditional panna cotta. It seemed to me that Nick used less gelatin and therefore achieved a softer, richer, more custard like texture. Had he used more gelatin, it would have been more traditional.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You may be right, but that was my read of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I read it just the opposite, that Nick used too much gelatin and the panna cotta was too firm and that's why there was not enough of a jiggle. Now I don't know what to think.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As I remember it, it *looked* very soft, like custard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      More gelatin isn't what makes it firmer? Last time they thought he'd used too much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gelatin does make the panna cotta firmer. But it's also what gives it its jiggle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Nick did use too much gelatin in his first panna cotta attempt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What he did this time is a matter of conjecture, but it did seem to me that he went very light on the gelatin and made a softer, creamier version of a panna cotta. To the point that the judges didn't think it should be called that. But who really knows. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Doesn't more only give it jiggle up to the point of too much more?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            No. Nothing jiggles more than Jell-O, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Our experiences differ then. I make Knox blocks all the time and that's basically just Jell-O with an extra envelope of Knox unflavored gelatin added. Jiggles like crazy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As I said, I think the preponderance of the evidence shows that Nick used less gelatin than what a panna cotta would usually call for in the finale. The look of it, the comments on its texture, and the fact that it didn't jiggle all point to that interpretation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Anyway, I can't think of a smaller detail to belabor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It came down to a really lousy swordfish dish and bad choices on Nina's part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It didn't sound as if the swordfish had ever been even good, much less perfected.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think it has to be based on the final cookoff for practical reasons. For one, only Tom and Padma could judge the two finalists on their whole season's performance. And you'd also have to deal with Louis outperforming everyone in a real sense in LCK only to be sent right home anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kind of. Remember, that Louis really just did a series of long quickfires. He also only needed to create two plates. He also didn't have to deal with the other chefs much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    There's a lot that the LCK contestants have to deal with that the regular TC cheftestants don't, but that cuts both ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was bummed to see him go, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nick seemed to create a pretty good Spam pho on the fly.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I think Nick was smart in his team selection. He knows surfer boy well and knows the boy's signature dish is going to rock. He knows Brian and Louis are dependable no drama cooks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                And then he lucked out that Tom loved the surfer boy's shrimp/scallop noodle. I wish Tom would've smacked Padma when she rolled her eyes at him. Then Tom got a piece of perfectly cooked duck. Having the head judge on your side does not hurt. So from Tom's perspective, Nick handily won 3 out of 4 courses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Emeril can bitch all he wants about a tough duck and Padma and bitch all she wants about service, but Tom was going to over-rule them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Let me first jump on the "thank you Linda" band wagon. My wife would kill me if she knew how much i looked forward to hearing from another woman each week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  My finale thoughts...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  From previews, i was actually worried that the gratuitous shots of Padma would outshine the cooking. Glad it didn't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I figured Nick's advantage would be in picking sous chefs but thought he'd get maybe 1st pick. Getting first 3 picks i thought was potentially too much of an advantage for a finale. OTOH, it probably didn't turn out to be that much of an advantage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  OTOH if, as Hugh suggests, the two kitchens were not equally equipped and, say, Nick's had an ice cream machine, I might be inclined to throw the BS flag.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If Nina's extra dishes would have counted against her had they not worked, then they should be counted for her if they did. I almost felt like i got the feeling that Tom may have said something like "disregard Nina's extras".

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think Nina being especially gracious had something to do with her not "needing" to win as much as Nick or anyone else for that matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Did love the two "looks", from Tom towards Padma and the other Padma towards Tom. It is nice when they disagree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Finally, i got the feeling that, because Tom wanted Nick to win, his opinion outweighed any others who might have thought differently.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  34 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm giggling at your first paragraph, bobbert. :-D

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As for Nina's extra dishes - we never *did* find out if they were included in the judging. (Haven't read any of the blogs yet.) If they were left out, based on THESE DISHES ALONE, it seems like Nick had the slight edge over Nina.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Perhaps Gail was right - if Nina had put the time and effort into her dessert that she did for her amuse bouche and intermezzo, she could have taken the final course and won the whole shebang.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gail says Nina's extras could not be counted, and contributed to her not producing well on 2 of the 4 courses, potentially:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      " We all sort of felt that it was a shame that she gave us these amazing things that we couldn’t really count in the body of her work, but that dishes that we did have to really examine weren’t exactly as we hoped they would be."

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm gonna go all conspiracy theory with the extra dishes. I think, for sure, had they been bad, the extra courses would have been used against her. I can't imagine a judges table debate going like this:
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gail: "i vomited after eating that bread"
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Emeril (dripping in sweat and just getting back to the table) "what did I miss? That intermezzo is running through me like Montezuma's revenge"
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tom: "well we can't count either of those two against Nina"
                                                                                                                                                                                                        That's just my gut feeling on the subject.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                          In either case, it would have been her bad judgment making them. She chose to cook more, rather than to cook better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I wish I knew if Nicks kitchen had an ice cream machine. Unfortunately that is what it really came down to - my assumption being that nina would have at least put out a better dessert than what she ended up with. Maybe better than Nicks? If so or even close she's the winner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Did I miss it, or didn't she lose the third and fourth courses?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              And got a lower total overall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yup, but let's say she was able to put out the dessert she had practiced for 2 month and maybe she picks up 2 of 5 votes for that course - she wins. I can't find the tally this minute but i believe that even if it was 1 vote vs 4 on the last course, she ties. I don't know how common an ice cream machine is at high end restaurants in the tropics so i don't know if it was stupid for her to assume she would have one but... once again, were both kitchens equipped equally?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Why do you think she'd win with a dessert, she's not a dessert making chef?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nicholas' dessert was delicious and her swordfish was epic fail, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Kitchen equipment had nothing to do with Nina's loss; her menu choices and execution of two courses did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The swordfish fail is inexplicable; she's known for extraordinary flavor profiles and seasoning and the dish was called flavorless, and just all wrong. After two months?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ah, but she won the 1st course 5-0, same as Nick with the 3rd course. Sure, the swordfish sounded weak at best but the fact remains that, unlike Nick, Nina could not produce one of her planned dishes and kitchen equipment had everything to do with it. We'll never know if it might have garnered her even 1 vote (which i believe would have turned the vote into a tie) but i sure would have felt better about Nick winning had he beat Nina's best effort rather than her having to use already purchased ingredients to put something unplanned and unpracticed together at the last minute. Sure, if she kicks ass with the swordfish it doesn't matter if she plated a pile of horse manure for dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think it's more than fair to assume that all the dishes of the evening were perfected over the previous 2 months but for one, Nina's dessert.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In hindsight, it's obvious that she should not have assumed there would have been an ice cream maker but, also in hindsight, I think the producers are thinking that maybe the chefs should have had a chance to see the kitchen they'd be working in prior to shopping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was mostly a Shirley fan and of the final four I probably liked Nick the least which was reinforced by his yelling at his servers. This in no way diminishes from my thoughts of him as a chef. Although I thought Nina did the best in the competition and would have liked to have seen her win, I would jump at the opportunity to eat Nick's food as well.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To piggyback on all the sports analogies, you want to beat someone's best game. You don't want to win because of an injury to an opponent. I would have felt a lot better about Nick's win had Nina been able to make her planned dessert (as Nick was able to do) and still beat her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I went to the website of the restaurant where Nick prepared his food. I did not see any ice cream on the menu. Nina did not lose because she could not make ice cream. She lost because the food she prepared was not liked by the judges as much as the fokd prepared by Nick. We cannot assume her ice cream would have made the difference. She could have messed that up in her execution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not assuming her dessert would have been better than Nick's although, I am assuming that her planned dessert would have been better than what she served. I'm also assuming that, had she known the kitchen lacked the ice cream maker before shopping she would have gone to what I assume (again) would have been a planned and practiced plan B, whether a different dessert or another savory course.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We don't know and will never know how her backup would have worked out. Maybe her own shortsightedness re. ice cream makers in restaurant kitchens is what doomed her. I would have just felt better about it had Nick won against Nina's best offering, not a last minute substitution, even if it was her own fault for assuming an ice cream maker would be on hand. Maybe every house and eatery in St. Lucia has an ice cream maker, who knows?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When Angelo got sick in his finale I think it had the potential to put a real blemish on the outcome had he not rallied back from being sick. Maybe others feel differently or don't care but when I win a race I want to beat the 2nd place guys best, not because he fell or crashed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        BTW, thanks for checking on the ice cream in the restaurants. Saved me some time although maybe Nick's kitchen had one of those fancy blender things Hugh mentions in his blog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The way I look at it, and apparently so do the rules of Top Chef, the winner is chosen by the food served at the finale finale, not the food they intended to serve, and not the food they served in previous challenges.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Apparently the chocolate zeppoles with anglaise were the best she could do. Why would she serve anything less than her best?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While Nick's dessert was delicious, it did have consistency issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not at all. Only Tom felt it had a bit more gelatin than *he* prefers, but all agreed it was a delicious dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You may need to re-watch this episode. I'm not finding the same information as you did. Respectfully, if you missed the blatant and extended Padma bikini scenes then I'm sure you must have missed a bunch of other stuff too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No one said the dessert was inconsistent. Only, as mcf notes, that it still didn't really fit the definition of a panna cotta. But the judges still liked it. A lot, in fact. But more to the point, they all liked it over Nina's fourth course. I think that's what matters most.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not inconsistent but, of questionable consistency. However, I will take your advise to re-watch for the missed bikini scenes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Some thought it should jiggle more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                oh yeah, all those jiggling comments reminded me of a season (I think it was top chef) where the guest judge explained exactly how panna cotta should jiggle. "Like a ... (those things that were in copious display in this episode)"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm pretty sure that was Hugh who gave that particular explanation in that season as well. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ahh, OK. That makes sense as well. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And fwiw.. that was Top Chef masters... i wish they used Jay on TC. They need more irreverence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    <Some thought it should jiggle more.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The bikini? ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the first one is in the opening previews.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm not sure why there is so much focus on the ice cream machine. I don't think the lack of an ice cream machine is the reason she lost. Unless the producers specifically listed that as a piece of equipment she would have access to, it seems like she was taking a bit of a risk assuming there would be one as it isn't a piece of equipment that is in every commercial kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Exactly. An error in judgment on her part. Unless Nick's kitchen had one while she didn't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Probably the best thing would have been for both groups to have gotten a chance to see their kitchens *before* shopping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But that wouldn't have produced the DRAAAHMAAHHHH! of Nina's team buying ingredients for an ice cream and then not having the equipment to make it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The ubiquitous nitrogen apparently was not available either. Nina could have made a dragon fruit Crème Brûlée or something else instead of the doughnuts and Crème Anglaise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think that Nina's extra dishes put the judges in an impossible position. They're trying to compare two different meals, and a six course meal is simply a different structure than a four course meal. If she made a mistake in one of her "four" courses, does an extra course fix that mistake? And in that case, why wasn't that option mentioned to Nicholas?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The easiest thing to do is say "everything extra can't be included". I think had Nina won, the judges would have been even more adamant that her extra courses couldn't count.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The judges are trying to compare and contrast and doing something that outside the box isn't helping them. Which in turn would make me negatively inclined towards the contestant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's almost like Nina went a little like Nick in the finale... over complicating things that didn't need to be complicated and then falling short. Some of her best dishes in the competition were the simplest. Wasting all that time complicating the menu with the amuse and inter - seemed more like something I would have expected Nick to do

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yeah - when I first read about "extra courses" I thought, "oh ambitious" - but then if I had to think of what I would do as a judge, I'd be irritated. I can also respect Nina's thought process and not thinking at all about something like that. If anything, I think she would have been better served going truly crazy and doing something like 8 courses. Then the judges could be like courses one and two count against Nicholas' course one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What you are suggesting is similar to what happened in TC 1. Tiffani cooked two versions for each course while Harold did only the required one. Of course Harold won.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah - there aren't so many duo/trios represented on Top Chef finales anymore, are there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ultimately there comes a point in this where Top Chef is a game. And like all games, there are rules - and trying to fight the rules may work for someone's creative process and personal growth, but not necessarily to win the competition. I'm sorry to keep going back to Project Runway references - but in the last season of All-Stars it was the ultimate case of someone knowing how to survive/win the competition without doing any more or less than necessary. Basically the winner's exit interviews were entirely "this is how the game works, this is how you win, I'm not gonna stress what I don't have to".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's not necessarily the most glamorous way to present it and he was hardly a glamorous contestant on the show - but he knew how to work the rules and won the game. Top Chef just isn't a competition where there's extra credit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Would an ice cream machine have been enough? I'm not sure the judges would have considered a scoop of ice cream to be a complete dessert either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chefhound

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My guess is that the ice cream was going to be 1 component of a fairly complex dessert and not just a scoop on a plate. Her error was in assuming there would be an ice cream machine and not having a plan B.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yep! I was relieved to see she went light on that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've never had a problem with it as an entree. don't know how many ounces, but not tiny, not huge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have to admit I've never tried it, but remember a friend having a miserable encounter with the stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It was really amazing, unlike any other fish, texture wise. Loved it. But for obvious reasons, doesn't appear on menus much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. BTW, to the best of my searching, I'm not seeing a Top Chef Reunion Show at ALL. Not next week, at least from what I can find in my online show guides.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nope, none. I think they only do that when they expect fireworks. Otherwise, they just do fan fave on WWHL and that's it. I like reunion shows, fireworks or no.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Thanks for the recap Linda. If I ever forget something about an episode I'm pleased to be able to find the details in your write up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think this was an excellent season. Yes Nina had the most wins throughout the season and was a fan favorite but in the end it's the last meal your served that counts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Congrats to all the contestants

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. "I wonder if those not chosen as sous chefs were glad or sad? Did I hear someone say it was the girls against the guys? (Isn't that kind of emasculating to Travis?)"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I didn't catch the beginning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Who were the choices?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And Nina called Travis a gossip girl all season and he seemed to embrace it ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The choices were who I listed:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nick's advantage gets to choose all three of his sous chefs first. He picks Jason, Louis, and Brian. Nina chooses Shirley, Stephanie, and Travis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And the additional (unchosen) sous choices were Sara, Carlos, and Janine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As for Nina saying it was girls against the guys, Travis is gay (remember how many times he told the confessional camera that?) And he was "one of the girls" in Nina's original gang of friends, so I think he was fine with the comment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wasn't it Shirley who said that? Or, did the camera just go to Shirley for her reaction after it was said?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think Shirley just laughed out loud at Nina saying that. But I'd have to rewatch to confirm - which I probably won't do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Via Reality Blurred, Tom tweeted how the voting went for each dish (presumably the 1245 ordering is a typo, but who knows?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                https://twitter.com/tomcolicchio/stat...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This is how we scored last nights challenge
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1st course
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5 to Nina
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2nd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Nina 2 Nick
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4th
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Nina 4 nick
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5th
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                0 Nina 5 to nick
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Nina 9 nick 11

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I kind of feel sorry for Nick at this point. I've been reading some of the other recaps online (I feel like I'm cheating on Linda -- don't worry, I always read yours first) and so many of the recappers are biased again Nick to the point of being flat out hostile and insulting to him. The comments on the recaps are even worse. Poor guy. You win, and end up with so many people talking crap about you on the internet. Has to suck and take a little shine off the prize.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  53 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nick is more cereal, no, cerebral, than Nina. The man probably plotted out every possibility other than his interview afterwards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And that could very well have been why Nicholas seemed nervous and not comfortable on WWHL. The finale was filmed in October - he's had all this time to read what people think of how he was on the show. Perhaps realized he was a bit of a dink during the show, and he knew he would probably catch some shit for it during interviews.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've been feeling sorry for Nick ever since he refused to fall on his sword just because Pepin asked him to. He doesn't seem like a dick to me either, just a high-strung worrier, much like Blais. That's the problem with "redemption arc" drama - the Elves made him seem so unpleasant that at least some of the viewership really developed such a dislike of the poor guy that they would not accept ANY kind of redemption. To some the "redemption" apparently just made him look "fake."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't think he's a bad guy, but he isn't in control of his emotions to the level that an adult needs to be. He certainly falls short in the emotional maturity that is required of an adult that is a leader of others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If Roy Choi was a kind of a dick when he dressed down the chefs in his episode, let's hold Nick accountable for being kind of a dick to people when he loses control of his emotions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't think we can blame the Magic Elves for the way Nick came across. The Elves can certainly manipulate statements by goading cheftestants to respond to hypotheticals and then editing the responses out of context. But someone flying off the handle is someone flying off the handle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was rooting for Nina, but my impression was that Nick edged her out this episode. And Nick isn't such a bad guy, but in some ways he needs to grow up a little. But don't we all to some degree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Congrats to Nick. It was a very solid season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            >>>If Roy Choi was a kind of a dick when he dressed down the chefs in his episode, let's hold Nick accountable for being kind of a dick to people when he loses control of his emotions.<<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nonsense. Choi had nothing at stake and nothing to lose. Nick had everything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wrong. You can't justify Nick's behavior. You can try, but you have failed on several occasions in this thread. A tradition within the profession does not excuse it, though you are right that it doesn't do much harm to his professional bona fides.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nick is not in control of his emotions the way a mature adult needs to be. He showed it on multiple occasions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That said, his behavior wasn't so egregious. He's a proven himself to be a hothead that let's his frustration and anger get the best of him in the moments he can least afford that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So, sure, it's part of the profession. Sure it wasn't so bad. But acting like it as justified or that Nick doesn't have a tendency to be a dick is the real nonsense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't think anyone was trying to say that Nick's behavior was ok. I think people were responding to a couple of arguments (mostly from JAB if I recall) that Nick's behavior was terribly egregious (you seem to agree with us that it wasn't egregious) and that it was incredibly unprofessional and would not be accepted in the profession (you also seem to agree that it's part of the profession). It was further argued that it should have been considered in the judging, and perhaps should have tipped the scales in favor of Nina. I'm guessing, based on your comments here, that you probably wouldn't have let it have such a huge impact on judging, but maybe you would.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In any case, I think everyone can agree that Nick can be a bit hotheaded and that in this moment, a very big moment I might add, he blew his cool and was a dick, to use your word. But some of us see the context -- a huge moment in his career and something outside of his control was threatening it -- and see it for what it was -- an exclamation of frustration and not verbally abusing anyone -- and decided that it wasn't an egregious transgression, just a minor one. A minor one in a profession that is somewhat known for much worse. So we acknowledged it for that and moved on, finding it fairly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Others, perhaps you perhaps not, found it egregious and deserving of serious repercussions, up to and including choosing Nina as the winner. I personally believe that Nick would have received a terrible injustice had that weighed into the decision.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let me also add that acgold7 has had (I think) 2 posts on this entire thread, so I think you're either overstating his (her?) defense of Nick or mixing him (her?) up with someone else. I would also add that this "not in control of his emotions the way a mature adult needs to be" is pure nonsense. Anyone who participates in serious competitive sports knows that it is quite common for people -- adults -- to occasionally lose control of their emotions when things go wrong. Many go apeshit on a level far worse than Nick ever has on TC. And these people are normal adults with responsible jobs, but competition, even inconsequential competition, sometimes brings out bad things in people. Add in the fact that this competition is a professional one, where much money and prestige and opportunity is at stake, and I would expect far worse (and in fact over the years, we've seen MUCH worse than anything Nick displayed). I think it is ridiculously unfair to use the few examples we've seen and determine that Nick isn't a mature adult in control of his emotions. Everything I've seen points to the contrary position, that he is a responsible and mature adult who, in the heat of competition, occasionally loses his cool a little bit. If that's the worst that can be said of him, he's doing alright.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LurkerDan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nick's food looked like it beat Nina's. The judges seemed to think so, too. I think Nick is a totally worthy champion, though I was disappointed