Top Chef New Orleans - Season 11 Blog

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Jim Brennan
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#151 Post by Jim Brennan » January 22nd, 2014, 10:20 pm

They should have no problem picking out Carlos' dish.

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#152 Post by Ken Rudman » January 23rd, 2014, 7:38 am

Jim Brennan wrote:They should have no problem picking out Carlos' dish.
Part of me was thinking that in that case, we could expect that no one would want Louis back in the competition and would all vote for Carlos to win. But that's just me.

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#153 Post by TimF » January 23rd, 2014, 7:38 am

I don't get how they always freak out if a dish is a bit under-seasoned. Almost every table everywhere has a salt shaker for a reason. Not everyone wants the same amount. IMO it's a much bigger sin to have overcooked fish than an under-seasoned component.
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#154 Post by CWun » January 23rd, 2014, 5:33 pm

TimF wrote:I don't get how they always freak out if a dish is a bit under-seasoned. Almost every table everywhere has a salt shaker for a reason.......
While I agree salt tolerance varies with each individual, these contestants KNOW by this time that the judges have huge tolerance towards salt.

I don't eat high end 99% of the time, but at the restaurants I go to, a salt shaker is usually not on the table.

At home, my wife thinks I over season with salt all the time, so there is never a need for extra salt to be added =D
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#155 Post by CWun » January 23rd, 2014, 5:41 pm

It's a pet peeve of mine to hear when contestants criticize another contestant for only cooking a certain cuisine. Whether it's Asian (whatever that is supposed to mean) or in this past episode, Mexican.

wth. Stop cooking French or Italian derivative slop then. (yeah yeah I know Nina and Shirley incorporate their native countries' cooking too into their techniques)

This reminds me of Season 3 when someone criticized Hung for cooking sous vide all the time. haha. Stop using your fry pan to cook in butter then.
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#156 Post by Greg Pierce » January 23rd, 2014, 7:07 pm

CWun wrote:It's a pet peeve of mine to hear when contestants criticize another contestant for only cooking a certain cuisine. Whether it's Asian (whatever that is supposed to mean) or in this past episode, Mexican.

wth. Stop cooking French or Italian derivative slop then. (yeah yeah I know Nina and Shirley incorporate their native countries' cooking too into their techniques)

This reminds me of Season 3 when someone criticized Hung for cooking sous vide all the time. haha. Stop using your fry pan to cook in butter then.
I was struck by this as well. As if Mexico has a one note, nothing to it, cuisine that one couldn't possibly spend a lifetime studying/cooking/perfecting. Ridiculous.

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#157 Post by Jay Carroll » January 24th, 2014, 6:42 am

This has been a very weak season IMHO. Perhaps TC has run its course.
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#158 Post by TimF » January 24th, 2014, 9:47 am

Jay Carroll wrote:This has been a very weak season IMHO. Perhaps TC has run its course.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this season and think there were several strong competitors. I have appreciated that they are focusing more on letting the chefs decide what to cook rather than painting them into corners with wild challenges.

If I were to make one criticism of the show, I would like to see more focus on showing technique. I want to learn something while watching rather than watching a soap opera play out. When Pépin was on, I wanted to learn how to make his version of Dover Sole. Shirley has made some incredible sauces this season, I'd love to learn how she develops those flavors. From an educational standpoint, I get almost nothing from the show.
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#159 Post by NickC » January 24th, 2014, 10:40 am

season has been pretty boring imo.
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#160 Post by Mike Cohen » January 24th, 2014, 11:36 am

NickC wrote:season has been pretty boring imo.
In general I've enjoyed this season for a couple of reasons:

1. Setting
2. Challenges aren't ridiculous
3. Guest judges have been great...Dominique Crenn and Julian Serrano, John Besh, Dr. John was great, Grant Atchaz, Andrew Carmellini, David Chang, and others all offered solid commentary


That said, it's been a relatively weak cast. Nina and Shirley seem solid and Louis has been coming on strong, but to me, the season with the Voltaggio brothers had such a strong cast that it was very exciting.

FWIW, LCK has been great!

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#161 Post by Matt Thomas » January 24th, 2014, 11:51 am

The level of cooking doesn't seem as high as in some of the other seasons, but from a challenge/setup perspective this has been a great season. I really like how they have brought New Orleans into the challenges/story line.

A much much better season than Texas and I like this one more than Seattle.

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#162 Post by TimF » January 24th, 2014, 12:16 pm

Matt Thomas wrote:The level of cooking doesn't seem as high as in some of the other seasons
And yet the judges have seemingly liked the dishes this season far more than any other I can remember. They liked all four dishes this week for example. The prior week had only one poor dish and that was from the person with immunity. I can remember seasons when Tom has to have a sit down with the entire group of contestants letting them know their cooking wasn't cutting the mustard.
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#163 Post by Michae1 P0wers » January 24th, 2014, 6:00 pm

Jay Carroll wrote:This has been a very weak season IMHO. Perhaps TC has run its course.
Totally disagree. Nina and Shirley are strong, Louis is strong, Carlos and Nic are decent though each has their flaws. Stephanie, Carrie, and Brian were a solid B-team.

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#164 Post by Michae1 P0wers » January 24th, 2014, 6:02 pm

Mike Cohen wrote:
NickC wrote: That said, it's been a relatively weak cast. Nina and Shirley seem solid and Louis has been coming on strong, but to me, the season with the Voltaggio brothers had such a strong cast that it was very exciting.

FWIW, LCK has been great!
Well, Michael Voltaggio was the strongest contestant the show has seen, so I'd have to agree.

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#165 Post by Michae1 P0wers » January 24th, 2014, 6:06 pm

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TimF wrote:I don't get how they always freak out if a dish is a bit under-seasoned. Almost every table everywhere has a salt shaker for a reason. Not everyone wants the same amount. IMO it's a much bigger sin to have overcooked fish than an under-seasoned component.
I very much disagree. First, judges aren't supposed to have to season for themselves and I have never seen them do so. Second, there are two simple rules to this show: Between over-seasoning and under-seasoning - over-season; and between overcooking protein and undercooking protein - undercook. What's amazing is that people forget that.

I'd guess that chefs thrown out for seasoning error is 3:1 over to under. I'd guess the same ratio for doneness of protein. Obviously, getting it right is the best answer, but if you are uncertain, pull it early and add extra seasoning.

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#166 Post by Michae1 P0wers » January 24th, 2014, 6:09 pm

TimF wrote:
Matt Thomas wrote:The level of cooking doesn't seem as high as in some of the other seasons
And yet the judges have seemingly liked the dishes this season far more than any other I can remember. They liked all four dishes this week for example. The prior week had only one poor dish and that was from the person with immunity. I can remember seasons when Tom has to have a sit down with the entire group of contestants letting them know their cooking wasn't cutting the mustard.

Exactly. This group has been strong, if not particularly exciting from a viewer standpoint. If anything their personalities aren't shining. I blame editing for that. Nic seems whiney, Shirley seems like a kiss a**, Carlos seems a bit sloppy, but overall I'm not getting a lot of who they are. The show has become a bit sterile. I don't blame the contestants, I think their food is good. The season in Texas wasn't great, the season where Ed won, the season where Richard lost, those were all far weaker seasons.

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#167 Post by TimF » January 24th, 2014, 6:37 pm

Michael Powers wrote:
TimF wrote:I don't get how they always freak out if a dish is a bit under-seasoned. Almost every table everywhere has a salt shaker for a reason. Not everyone wants the same amount. IMO it's a much bigger sin to have overcooked fish than an under-seasoned component.
I very much disagree. First, judges aren't supposed to have to season for themselves and I have never seen them do so. Second, there are two simple rules to this show: Between over-seasoning and under-seasoning - over-season; and between overcooking protein and undercooking protein - undercook. What's amazing is that people forget that.

I'd guess that chefs thrown out for seasoning error is 3:1 over to under. I'd guess the same ratio for doneness of protein. Obviously, getting it right is the best answer, but if you are uncertain, pull it early and add extra seasoning.
So let me get this straight, you'd rather have overcooked fish than fish that needed a little salt?
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#168 Post by Michae1 P0wers » January 24th, 2014, 8:01 pm

TimF wrote:
Michael Powers wrote:
TimF wrote:I don't get how they always freak out if a dish is a bit under-seasoned. Almost every table everywhere has a salt shaker for a reason. Not everyone wants the same amount. IMO it's a much bigger sin to have overcooked fish than an under-seasoned component.
I very much disagree. First, judges aren't supposed to have to season for themselves and I have never seen them do so. Second, there are two simple rules to this show: Between over-seasoning and under-seasoning - over-season; and between overcooking protein and undercooking protein - undercook. What's amazing is that people forget that.

I'd guess that chefs thrown out for seasoning error is 3:1 over to under. I'd guess the same ratio for doneness of protein. Obviously, getting it right is the best answer, but if you are uncertain, pull it early and add extra seasoning.
So let me get this straight, you'd rather have overcooked fish than fish that needed a little salt?
That's not what I've said at all. My preference is irrelevant, but I never compared the judges preference for doneness to that for seasoning. I'm just saying that they prefer over-seasoned to under. They prefer too rare to too done. I've no take on the doneness vs. seasoning metric. But you'd be foolish to think "oh, they'll add salt if they want it."

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#169 Post by Eric LeVine » January 24th, 2014, 9:46 pm

Louis is cooked. He was in an absolute zone in that old LCK site. Unfortunately for him, in a new kitchen, after the layoff of 6 weeks, his concentration and rhythm were simply off. He took a nice piece of tuna and made it into shoe leather. Bye bye. Carlos may have underseasoned, but 2 judges said his fish was perfectly cooked. Home free.
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#170 Post by Kevin Porter » January 25th, 2014, 4:42 am

Eric LeVine wrote:Louis is cooked. He was in an absolute zone in that old LCK site. Unfortunately for him, in a new kitchen, after the layoff of 6 weeks, his concentration and rhythm were simply off. He took a nice piece of tuna and made it into shoe leather. Bye bye. Carlos may have underseasoned, but 2 judges said his fish was perfectly cooked. Home free.
I hear you, but I thought that the editing on the final NO show was even more misleading than usual. Every inference I made w/r/t the judges selections was wrong. It would not at all surprise me to see Louis win LCK. That would be my preference, so perhaps wishful thinking!

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#171 Post by Eric LeVine » January 25th, 2014, 7:37 am

I hope he wins too.
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#172 Post by Nolan E » January 25th, 2014, 9:03 am

But do the chefs vote for the cook that had the best dish, or the cook that had the worst? They don't have to vote for the best dish necessarily, allowing the chef with the lesser dish re-enter might be good game play.
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#173 Post by MaiMadigan » January 25th, 2014, 6:12 pm

Freeze frame the final LCK episode where the palm branches are in front of the winner yet to be revealed. The shaven head and 3/4 sleeve jacket that are visible are a giveaway as to who we will see in the Finale.

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#174 Post by Nolan E » January 25th, 2014, 7:41 pm

Mike, I also made a guess based on the length of the sleeves, although I didn't have to pause it.
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#175 Post by Eric LeVine » January 25th, 2014, 10:36 pm

MikeMadigan wrote:Freeze frame the final LCK episode where the palm branches are in front of the winner yet to be revealed. The shaven head and 3/4 sleeve jacket that are visible are a giveaway as to who we will see in the Finale.
Maybe Carlos gets his head shaved in a drunken fit. Oh wait, that was Season 2.
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#176 Post by MaiMadigan » January 25th, 2014, 11:29 pm

I think Loius is probably the most proficient of the final 4. Hope he gets the win. The others have their strengths, but IMHO none of them dominate their art the way Louis does.

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#177 Post by Kenny H » January 28th, 2014, 10:45 pm

Carlos won on a bell pepper soup. Give me a friggin break. Louis has 20x the chops that guy does. I was particularly disappointed in the cocktail fork bites, bunch of safe lousy losers. Louis did over cook the tuna, but the technicality was beyond. He wins.
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#178 Post by Leonard Maran » January 28th, 2014, 10:52 pm

I think the judges comments on salt are spot on. Salt is used as a seasoning and does not wind up as a salty dish if done correctly. Once the food hits the table you can salt all you want and it will not correct the dish.

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#179 Post by Michae1 P0wers » January 29th, 2014, 4:50 am

Leonard Maran wrote:I think the judges comments on salt are spot on. Salt is used as a seasoning and does not wind up as a salty dish if done correctly. Once the food hits the table you can salt all you want and it will not correct the dish.
I agree Leonard, it is important to season throughout. I typically attempt to season each component of a dish appropriately. Finishing salt should be moderate when needed at all.

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#180 Post by TimF » January 29th, 2014, 7:08 am

Kenny H wrote:Carlos won on a bell pepper soup. Give me a friggin break. Louis has 20x the chops that guy does. I was particularly disappointed in the cocktail fork bites, bunch of safe lousy losers. Louis did over cook the tuna, but the technicality was beyond. He wins.
Let's not get carried away here. Carlos did make it to the final four which isn't easy to do and has a restaurant with a Michelin star. People are making him out to be some kind of chump who is lucky to be there. Overcooked fish is usually a huge flaw and tends to make for losing dishes.
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#181 Post by Ken Rudman » January 29th, 2014, 8:55 pm

Wow, definitely not the pairing for the finale that I was expecting, still it appears that Nicolas has found some mojo at last.

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#182 Post by Eric LeVine » January 29th, 2014, 11:17 pm

So sad for Louis to make it all the way back and then get eliminated.

Nick is finally calm and seems to be cooking well. Still, he is always a head case.
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#183 Post by Ken Rudman » January 29th, 2014, 11:26 pm

Eric LeVine wrote:Still, he is always a head case.
Previews seem to support this.

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#184 Post by TimF » January 30th, 2014, 6:42 am

It's interesting how some folks on this thread have said this is a terrible season. Then you hear Tom say in one episode that it was the best food he's had in 11 seasons. There were several occasions when near flawless dishes sent chefs packing. I don't get why people are so down on the chefs this season.

Louis' Spam mousse seemed brilliant and I can't believe he pulled that off in 30 minutes all while people were peppering him with questions. Even if he did get eliminated before the final, he's made quite a name for himself with his run in LCK. Everyone headed to Healdsburg is going to want to check his place out now.
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#185 Post by Ken Rudman » January 30th, 2014, 7:25 am

Agreed, Tim, I think the food has looked very appealing this year. I'd definitely want to eat at all of the restaurants of the top 6 chefs.

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#186 Post by CWun » January 30th, 2014, 7:30 am

dissenting viewers want to see crazy, visually striking, voltaggio/blaise type food all the time. I don't. Very few people have the classical training and then the creativeness to make it work.

Darn, wanted Shirley in the final. I think she came across really well in the show though. All the four finalists' careers are going to rise for sure.

Previews: thank you for putting padma in a bikini.
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#187 Post by TimF » January 30th, 2014, 7:45 am

CWun wrote:Previews: thank you for putting padma in a bikini.
[cheers.gif]

I also enjoyed her 70s-ish Charlie's Angels outfit in this week's episode.
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#188 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » January 30th, 2014, 2:22 pm

CWun wrote:All the four finalists' careers are going to rise for sure.
I've eaten at Mexique (Carlos's restaurant). Could have been an off night, and I don't know if he was in the kitchen or not. But I was underwhelmed. Next trip to Chicago, I'd certainly give it another shot. On the first visit, though, food was just sort of blah. Lacking seasoning and depth.

Edited to add: I know, I know. Carlos wasn't a finalist.
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#189 Post by T. Melloni » January 30th, 2014, 2:47 pm

My impression of this season is that the producers focused on including lots of drama in each episode, at times, the chefs all seemed discombobulated in the kitchen, and were occasionally made to look like amateurs (think restaurant wars), but in the end, their dishes looked well constructed and complete, were beautifully presented, and seemed like things I would like to eat. The end product looked better than the process it took to get there.
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#190 Post by Keith A k e r s » January 30th, 2014, 7:23 pm

T. Melloni wrote:The end product looked better than the process it took to get there.
in many ways though, is this all too surprising? They are given so many different things fired at them and such limited time to do it that I couldn't imagine how difficult all of it may be.

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#191 Post by Leonard Maran » January 31st, 2014, 12:58 am

Seems like the quickfire was a commercial for Spam (yeah, I know about the Hawaiian love affair with it). I didn't understand why they had to send two Chefs home, unless it had to do with the exigencies of producing the show.

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#192 Post by Ken Rudman » January 31st, 2014, 7:51 am

Leonard Maran wrote:Seems like the quickfire was a commercial for Spam (yeah, I know about the Hawaiian love affair with it). I didn't understand why they had to send two Chefs home, unless it had to do with the exigencies of producing the show.
In earlier seasons (pre-LCK) I can recall there being a cook-off to go from 3 to 2 for the finale. It appears that LCK has changed that a bit. I would have preferred to see a real elimination challenge to decide the final 2, but I guess that would have left the Spam marketing team without their product placement. There is no doubt that it is expensive to shoot in Hawaii, so I would guess that the realities of that will drive the format somewhat.

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#193 Post by gene keenan » February 4th, 2014, 11:06 am

Shocked that it has come down to Nina and Nick.
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#194 Post by TimF » February 4th, 2014, 11:10 am

gene keenan wrote:Shocked that it has come down to Nina and Nick.
I don't think anyone is surprised by Nina but Nick has kind of been on the cusp of doing very good work. Immunity saved his butt once and now that he's had some time to settle down in between the main show and the final two episodes, it appears he's really bringing it. I'd give a slight edge to Nina in the final but you never know what kind of challenge they will give them. I'm pretty excited to see it.
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#195 Post by gene keenan » February 4th, 2014, 1:50 pm

TimF wrote:
gene keenan wrote:Shocked that it has come down to Nina and Nick.
I don't think anyone is surprised by Nina but Nick has kind of been on the cusp of doing very good work. Immunity saved his butt once and now that he's had some time to settle down in between the main show and the final two episodes, it appears he's really bringing it. I'd give a slight edge to Nina in the final but you never know what kind of challenge they will give them. I'm pretty excited to see it.
I thought it would come down to Nina and Shirley or some combination of Louis, Nina and Shirley but not nick in the mix. His food always looks like he is trying to hard and afraid to take a POV opting instead for something done 3x, 4x, 5x, etc. ways.

I was pulling for Shirley since she is the most sympathetic character for me. Nick always seemed like an ass.
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#196 Post by Mike Cohen » February 4th, 2014, 1:55 pm

gene keenan wrote:
TimF wrote:
gene keenan wrote:Shocked that it has come down to Nina and Nick.
I don't think anyone is surprised by Nina but Nick has kind of been on the cusp of doing very good work. Immunity saved his butt once and now that he's had some time to settle down in between the main show and the final two episodes, it appears he's really bringing it. I'd give a slight edge to Nina in the final but you never know what kind of challenge they will give them. I'm pretty excited to see it.
I thought it would come down to Nina and Shirley or some combination of Louis, Nina and Shirley but not nick in the mix. His food always looks like he is trying to hard and afraid to take a POV opting instead for something done 3x, 4x, 5x, etc. ways.

I was pulling for Shirley since she is the most sympathetic character for me. Nick always seemed like an ass.
Nick always looks like he just finished crying his eyes out.

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Top Chef New Orleans - Season 11 Blog

#197 Post by TimF » February 4th, 2014, 1:57 pm

gene keenan wrote:
TimF wrote:
gene keenan wrote:Shocked that it has come down to Nina and Nick.
I don't think anyone is surprised by Nina but Nick has kind of been on the cusp of doing very good work. Immunity saved his butt once and now that he's had some time to settle down in between the main show and the final two episodes, it appears he's really bringing it. I'd give a slight edge to Nina in the final but you never know what kind of challenge they will give them. I'm pretty excited to see it.
I thought it would come down to Nina and Shirley or some combination of Louis, Nina and Shirley but not nick in the mix. His food always looks like he is trying to hard and afraid to take a POV opting instead for something done 3x, 4x, 5x, etc. ways.

I was pulling for Shirley since she is the most sympathetic character for me. Nick always seemed like an ass.
He's definitely an ass and falls into the "French chef who over-complicates dishes" category. Most of the chefs in that category (and there are many out there) have serious skills. If they can figure out how to simplify things then they can really impress.

Shirley is awesome and is going to be super successful.
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#198 Post by Mike Cohen » February 5th, 2014, 8:02 pm

Are u effing kidding me?

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#199 Post by Brad B a l l i n g e r » February 5th, 2014, 9:07 pm

Didn't see that coming.
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#200 Post by Eric LeVine » February 5th, 2014, 9:58 pm

It's not surprising. Nina came "with a recipe in her back pocket" for a dessert. She assumed an ice cream maker. She said she doesn't like dessert. Boom. Dead. Done. Right out of the gate. Before anyone lifted a knife. Stupid, stupid, stupid. She should have cooked another pasta course, and she would have had it running away. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Poor conception doomed her.

Meanwhile, Nick settled down and clearly wowed Tom. He is temperamental, but he is also clearly very talented. He really does need to learn how to season better though.

More importantly, Nina was focused on the overall experience (2 extra courses that could not be scored and considered) rather than focusing on the CONTEST AT HAND. It blows me away that most of these chefs don't seem to have ever watched the stupid TV show. It was about delivering 4 courses. This was not restaurant wars. Four courses, scored, head to head. Period. She was focused on a meal and an experience (hence her desire to do a dessert) rather than on playing the game. Meanwhile, Nick bumped along the bottom at many points, but he played the game better. And in Hawaii, he won all 3 challenges. He peaked at the right time. Good for him. Bad for Nina.
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