Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Top Chef 1/29/14--"Maui Wowie" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: a two-part Quickfire involving amuse bouches for Gail and vegetables for Tom. Carlos won the whole thing and also a car which made Nicholas look pissed. Then everyone was supposed to use what they’ve learned to make a dish that could possibly be served in all of Emeril’s restaurants, if they win. This is the last challenge before the finale so of course everyone freaked out a lot. Shirley won, because she’s on a roll. Carlos and Nicholas were the bottom, but Carlos was sent home. Boo. (click for more)

Last Chance Kitchen: Both Louis and Carlos traveled to Hawaii to have the last Last Chance Kitchen battle. They each made a seafood dish, and then served them blind to Tom, Emeril, and the three finalists. Everyone got a vote and of course Tom didn’t read any of them on air so it could be a surprise.

Shirley has realized she wants to cook her own food. Nicholas…is Nicholas. I think I’m OK with Nina or Shirley winning, but not Nicholas. Nina has done consistently well. Then we have to talk about Last Chance Kitchen, which is dumb because we’re going to find out what happened in five minutes. Or less.

Oh, that was the preview for the episode. Whatever. Nicholas is not here to enjoy himself. Or make friends, probably. The final three go to some fake party to get cheers. I mean…it’s probably 9am and everyone is just standing around holding drinks in coconuts and I’m sure this is just some random thing they set up for no reason. Shirley thinks maybe they are cooking a luau and shit just got real. Hee. Padma introduces Sam Choy. Padma is wearing a royal blue jumpsuit for some reason. Recap of Last Chance Kitchen. Well, just the last episode. Everyone voted for the tuna dish, which belonged to Louis. Louis won EIGHT TIMES. In a row.

Quickfire challenge. They will be cooking with Spam. Ha! Oh they try to be tricky about how it’s a “local delicacy” and “Hawaiian steak”. At least they included different flavors. Louis says they should have expected it, being in Hawaii and all. True. This is the last Quickfire of the season. Winner gets $10,000. Sam says he’s the Spam master. The random “party guest” cheer a lot.

30 minutes. Shirley raves about the view. Nicholas is lost because he never cooks with Spam, obviously, and he didn’t bother to learn anything about Spam before he came. Louis seems pretty confident, after winning essentially 8 Quickfires to get here. The random people ask him a million questions about his torchon and whatever. Spam foie gras? Sigh. Nina is also using breadfruit, to the delight of some random woman. Nicholas knows he underseasons and yet because Spam is so salty he’s not going to season anything.

Shirley: deconstructed Spam musubi with Spam-infused rice, nori, and cucumber slaw. Some random people get to eat too, but I’m not sure if they’re voting or what. Louis: Spam mousse with garlic, chives, scallions, snap peas, beech mushrooms and togarashi. Togarashi is Japanese chili powder. Why are the chyrons so damn tiny? I can’t read the descriptions. Is it because this episode is letterboxed for some reason? Has the whole season been letterboxed and I just didn’t notice? I hate it. I want to be able to read what is in everything. Nicholas: Spam broth with pancetta, seaweed, dried shrimp, clam juice, fried egg. Nina: breadfruit and teriyaki Spam croquette with sour orange and mango slaw.

Nicholas had a “sodium challenge” but the egg smoothed it out. Nina’s slaw was delicious and flavorful. Louis maybe did not have enough Spam flavor. Shirley’s was tasty. Sam says that the person who did Spam like he’s never seen before is Nicholas. Boo. He says he would love to trade his money for a spot in the finale, because OF COURSE. Of course he can’t be happy with a pile of money. He has to bitch about something.

Elimination challenge. Tom and Padma talk about Polynesians and being self-sufficient and how they brought pigs, chickens, and 24 crops, collectively called “canoe crops”. They must make a dish with just these ingredients. One hour today, and two hours tomorrow. Then Tom tells them only two chefs are going to the final challenge. Oo, double elimination.

As everyone runs to the outrigger canoe with all the stuff in it, Shirley totally bites it. Ouch. This is a pretty limited pantry. Nina breaks down some whole coconuts. She has plenty of experience with a lot of these ingredients. Shirley thinks she’s the only one with pork, while Louis has some fish he’s never worked with before. Nina grabs the wrong fish and breaks it down before realizing. Nicholas claims it’s “his” fish, which is odd. Did they all claim different proteins and we just didn’t see it? Now she’s behind, and also she’s realized she and Louis have the same fish. Nicholas wants to use as many things as possible. Of course. Louis only has three “life-changing” events, and being on this show is one.

The final four end up back in their swank hotel. Poor Louis ended up with the cot, but at least he has a door on his room. We continue the theme of being tourists and go hiking. Maui is gorgeous.

Cooking is going to be outside. Nicholas starts the pressure cooker. He has pork too, but I think not as the main protein. There’s jalapeno in there too. Louis is making glazed sweet potatoes.

Tom time! Shirley tells him she’s not losing. Tom rubs it in to Louis about Kristen and how she came back from Last Chance Kitchen to win. Nicholas says he’d buy immunity with his winnings. Stop whining about winning money. You’re always going on about how great you are, so shut it. Nina says she thinks Shirley is the one to beat. It’s probably true. Tom tells everyone the winner today will have an advantage going into the last challenge. Oh and then it starts to rain. Heh. Everyone runs to cover everything and hope the grill doesn’t go out and whatever. That does suck for them. Suddenly it stops, so now everyone can recover. Shirley has to throw out some of her puree, so it’ll have to stretch. Nina is tasting so much her palate might be numb, but she’s determined not to lose because one little thing is off.

Everyone is here but Hugh! Sad. Gail is pregnant. Louis: grilled opah with sweet potato and coconut sauce. He gets lots of praise from the judges. Tom’s is undercooked though. Inconsistent. Blah blah, Tom. Nina: grilled opah with taro root and coconut puree. Her fish is more consistent but the sauce might be a bit spicy. The rest of the dish gets high praise. Nicholas: opakapaka with jalapeno and crispy chicken skin. Somewhere there is a pork jus. The judges argue about the jalapeno and if it’s too much. They all tell Sam that this is not like Nicholas and is actually better than usual. Heh. Shirley: honey-glazed pork with sweet potato and turmeric puree. It is well cooked and has nice flavors but is really sweet. Uh oh.

Commercial interlude: the judges discuss breadfruit and how it makes you gassy. Thanks for sharing.

Nicholas jokes about soaking his food in rainwater on purpose. They all know the judges are going to be nitpicking. Oh, the stupid video is back. Boo. Louis finds out his fish was inconsistent, but with good flavor, and Nicholas maybe didn’t do well with the jalapeno, and Nina’s was very spicy, and Shirley had flavor but was a little sweet. Padma gathers them all for Judges’ Table.

Shirley talks about showcasing how sweet everyone is to her. Aww. The pork was cooked really well, and she tried to use the turmeric to balance out the sweetness. Overall it was sweet. It was ballsy of Louis to make the dish he did, that was so simple, but it seems to have worked. Padma loved Nina’s dish, but she could see where it might be too spicy. A very bold flavorful sauce. Nicholas babbles about using a lot of crops, and Tom says he seems way more confident. There is still a lot going on.

No dishes were bad, so this is going to be nitpicking. Louis’s fish was inconsistent, and the best part of his dish (the seaweed), he didn’t put enough to carry through. Emeril thinks Nicholas actually thought about all the components of his dish today. Shirley would have had a completely different dish if she had a little acid. But the pork was cooked perfectly. Nina’s turmeric was maybe too powerful, and the fish maybe didn’t stand up to it.

The winner today is Nicholas. Sigh. Whatever. Padma then tells Louis he’s out. Aww. He’s pretty upset that his son can’t see him win. Shirley is the other one eliminated. Aww, boo! Stupid Nicholas. She’s thrilled, though, that she’s found her own style.

Next week: Padma in a bikini, past contestants, family members? Freaking out. Hopefully Nina beats Nicholas.

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