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Feb 5, 2014 08:33 PM

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?


              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.


                  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;


                  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 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.