Top Chef New Orleans or N’Awlins (S11E2) by BB
To start off, I didn’t watch Top Chef from Seattle last season, so I’ve been out of the Top Chef loop for a while. This season takes place in New Orleans. Since we’re in N’Awlins, how about we learn some native words/phrases each week while we’re there, you know Sesame Street style? This comes from Slanguage.com. This week’s phrase is MARDIGRAS BEAD WHORE, which is “What you gotta be to get the beads, chere.” OK, on to the actual show.
This is not a bad looking group of cheftestants. I mean, I know this isn’t Top Chef Masters where all the contestants are the most experienced, seasoned, award-winning chefs, but I sure hope Bravo didn’t pick these people on looks alone and there are some really good cooks amongst them. That’s right, I said cooks, just like Kelly Beensomeone (take that Bethenny Frankel!) By the way, have you guys noticed that Kelly has been taking potshots at Bethenny in the media lately? What’s up with that?
Sorry, I got off-track there for a moment. Anyway, regardless of the chefs’ experience, or lack thereof, I guess the proof will be in the proverbial pudding as they say. Will the winner be one of the executive chefs, a sous chef, the chef/owner of an eating establishment, a recent culinary school graduate, or the self-taught guy? Stay tuned.
Again this season the Last Chance Kitchen is in play. I’m glad they are keeping this option open to the eliminated chefs. Anyone can have a bad day and the best chefs will rise to the top, even if they’ve been eliminated for one bad dish. OK, let’s get cooking. I’m coming into this a little late, but I don’t care what’s happened up until this point. If you’ve been watching, you already know. If you haven’t, you don’t really care either and are probably not even reading this recap. The only thing I know is the first eliminated chef sent to the Last Chance Kitchen was Ramon.
Right after the first elimination at 10 p.m., Padma tells the 18 remaining chefs they have to immediately compete in the Quickfire challenge in which they will be making Gumbo inspired by their personal heritage. The chefs will start their dishes that night at the house then will have 15 minutes to finish the next day in the top chef kitchen. Noted chef Leah Chase will judge this Quickfire challenge. (I have to note here that Ms. Chase says she was 83 when Katrina happened, so this lady looks great for her age.) Of course some chefs are very familiar with making Gumbo and some have never made it before. Back at the house, it’s very chaotic with 18 chefs trying to get their Gumbo’s started. I’m seeing everything from Asian to Polish to traditional Gumbo. Long story short, the bottom contestants of the Quickfire challenge are Jason (with the beets), Michael (the local guy who trashed his first effort and started over), and Patty (who had a good idea, but didn’t execute). Aaron, Carrie and Shirley are the top three. The winner of the Gumbo Quickfire is Carrie, the small town girl from Iowa. She gets immunity in the next elimination challenge.
Susan Spicer will be judging the elimination challenge. She is a popular chef in New Orleans. The chefs will be working as teams who will create menus for food trucks. The food trucks will be feeding volunteers of Habitat for Humanity who are still rebuilding the city from Hurricane Katrina. There will be four teams.
The Yellow team consists of Aaron, Carlos, Travis, Carrie and Brian. Their concept is a taco truck. On the Blue team are Jason, Patty, Nicholas and Bret. Their concept is the surf truck, with refreshing seafood. The Green team is Louis, Sara, Shirley and Stephanie. Louis likes a kitchen full of women because they have a different way of approaching things, whatever that means. They are going to depend on Louis’ charm to get them through. On the Red team are Justin, Bene, Janine, Michael and Nina. Bene seems to be the odd man out on this team as all his suggestions are pretty much being ignored.
Let’s skip the trip to Whole Foods, shall we, and get to the food truck part. The judges come to the Yellow team food truck first. Travis and Brian made Dorado and Shrimp Ceviche with Tomato. Carrie and Aaron made Beef and Pork curry Empanadas with Watercress and Mango. Carlos and Aaron made Tilapia Tacos with Chipotle Aioli and Cabbage.
Next up is the Blue team. Jason made the Salmon Hand Rolls with Quinoa, Honey Mustard Miso and Cucumber. He mentioned his rolls were getting too soggy. Nicholas made grilled Shrimp with Melon-Sungold Salad and crushed Wasabi Peas. Bret made Coconut Ceviche with Red Snapper and Bay Scallops. Patty made Tuna Sliders with Crispy Pancetta, Avocado and Tomato.
On to the Red team. Janine made Green Gazpacho with Pickled Shrimp. Justin made Lobster and Crab Fritters with Corn Puree and Bacon Jam. Nina and Bene made Jerk Chicken Sandwiches with Mango and Crispy Plantains. Michael made Ricotta and Burnt Honey, Stone Fruit and Toasted Coconut.
For the Green Team, Stephanie made Crispy Chickpeas with Watercress and Radish Salad. Sara made Tuna Burgers with Sprouts, Avocado and Watermelon Rind Pickles. Shirley made Spicy Grilled Lamb Salad with Cucumber and Asian Pears. Luis helped with everything and also created something I couldn’t make out. Maybe it was the watermelon popsicles I saw people eating.
All four teams gather in the stew room and watch while the judges deliberate. The judges think the two top teams are the Yellow and Green teams. The Blue and Red teams each had questionable dishes according to the judges.
Padma comes to the stew room and announces the Yellow team as the winners. They go before the judges for the announcement of the overall winner, who is Carrie for her Empanadas. She didn’t even need the win since she had immunity.
The Blue team has to go before judges for having the least favorite dishes. The judges didn’t like any of their dishes, but Jason’s soggy rolls and what was inside of them end up sending him home. He should have made them to order instead of making them ahead of time. He sacrificed his dish to act as host for the food truck. Patty was really close to going home because of her so-so attitude about her sandwiches.
So it will be Jason and Ramon against each other in the Last Chance Kitchen. I kind of got a cocky attitude vibe from Jason in just this one episode so I wasn’t sorry to see him go. I’m thinking Patty had better pick up the pace if she expects to stay much longer. Until next time.