The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Top Chef NOLA Episode 2: Rebuilding New Orleans

Episode 1

Episode 3


So after the quick little recap of last week’s episode, they jumped right into the Quickfire challenge, where the theme was gumbo.

Did I ever mention that we love the stuff so much that we named our dog that?

Gumbo - Completely deaf, with cataracts, and (I think) diabetes.  After 13 years, we still have no idea what kind of dog he is.

When they announced it I excitedly yelled, “Gumbo!”   Just about any other dog would’ve jumped up because you called his name, but not him.  He’s 14 years old and arthritic, so he didn’t move.  Not that he heard me  because he’s deafer than Leppard.  And he’s near blind.  And starting to get incontinent.  And probably has diabetes.

If I was a real Asian, he’d actually live up to his namesake.  But then I’m one of those people who thinks that you can’t rightfully call a stew with dog meat in it “Gumbo.”  Which leads me to…


Quickfire Challenge: Make a Gumbo inspired by your heritage

I know, I know.  Gumbo is kind of a generic word for a thickened stew with meat and the true beauty of it is in the eye of the beholder.  That it should be an expression of who you are as an individual and, like a snowflake, no two are alike.

Screw that.  There’s gotta be standards, otherwise it’s “soup.”  Only one of the contestants made what I’d call a true gumbo, which pissed me off.  And they used fucking crockpots!

The judge was an old-time Creole cuisine master, Leah Chase.

– Michael – Drunken Chicken Gumbo with Dirty Rice

– Shirley – Braised Pork Belly Gumbo with Mexican Rice & Italian Salad.

– Janine – Australian curry gumbo with macadamia nuts & coconut milk

– Aaron – Hot & Sour Asian-style gumbo with prawns & sushi rice

– Justin – pork rib gumba with okra, shrimp & deviled egg

– Patty – Puerto Rican Mofongo style gumbo with sofrito & pork belly

– Bret – New England & Miami inspired gumbo with fried clams & butter –poached lobster

– Carrie – Iowan-Trinidadian gumbo with coconut, green mango & corn crumble

– Carlos – Albondigas chipotle gumbo with bone marrow

– Jason – Polish inspired gumbo with whipped potato, cabbage & shaved beets

– Nina – Plantin & yucca based gumbo with poached egg

– Louis – Moroccan-inspired gumbo with lamb shank, root vegetables & sumac

– Sara – crab & silken tofu gumbo with toasted forbidden rice

Bottom 3 – Jason (beets threw off the flavor), Michael (shouldn’t have gone with plan B), Patty (just plain sucked)

Top 3 – Aaron, Carrie, Shirley

Best: Carrie

New orleans

Elimination Challenge

The contestants were then split into four teams and were tasked with operating a food truck.  They were serving food for volunteers rebuilding houses through Habitat for Humanity.   The guest judge was another local icon – Susan Spicer.

Yellow Team (Taco Truck) – Aaron, Carlos, Travis, Carrie, Brian

– Travis & Brian’s Dorado & shrimp ceviche with tomato

– Carrie & Aaron’s Beef & pork curry empanadas with watercress & mango

– Carlos & Aaron’s tilapia tacos with chipotle aioli & cabbage


Blue Team (Surf Truck) – Jason, Patty, Nicholas, & Bret

– Jason’s salmon hand roll with quinoa, honey mustard miso, & cucumber

– Nicholas’ grilled shrimp with melon-sungold salad & crushed wasabi peas

– Bret’s coconut ceviche with red snapper & bay scallops

– Patty’s Tuna slider with crispy pancetta, avocado, & tomato


Green Team (Mediterranean) – Louis, Sara, Shirley, & Stephanie

– Stephanie’s crispy chickpeas with watercress & radish salad

– Sara’s tuna burger with sprouts, avocado, & watermelon rind pickles

– Shirley’s spicy grilled lamb salad with cucumber & Asian pear

– Louis –watermelon on a stick + helping the others


Red Team (no idea what their theam was) – Justin, Bene, Janine, Michael, & Nina

– Janine’s green gazpacho with pickled shrimp

– Justin’s lobster & crab fritters with corn puree & bacon jam

– Nina & Bene’s jerk chicken sandwich with mango & crispy plantains

– Michael’s Ricotta with burnt honey, stone fruit & toasted coconut

 reality tv

Judges Table – Tom, Gail, Padma, Spicer

Once again the contestants were able to see the judges talking about their performaces on a tv in the Stew Room.  They’re not going to reveal a whole lot in there, but it really does function as a “voice of the people.”  In previous years, I’d sit  and wonder why some people did the same mistakes over and over again.  Then I realized that, unless they were in the top 3 or bottom 3, they wouldn’t have received any judges feedback.  Hope fully this will  force them to make better dishes.  Or at least mess with their minds.

Winning Team: Yellow.

Winner: Carrie.  Even thought Aaron’s filling was good, the dough was perfectly executed.   The fact that it was done on a food truck in less ideal conditions impressed the judges even more.

Losing Team: Blue.  Every dish on there had something wrong with it.

Gone: Jason.  His pre-rolling of the handrolls was a tactical error as the seaweed wrappers became chewy an inedible. Sorry ladies, the man dubbed “the hottest chef in Philly” is outta there.

Tom Chef

Random Thoughts

– Jason was PISSED that he got booted.  He described himself in the first episode as “douchey” and he lived up to it the description.   But in the end, being in the bottom of two challenges means you probably weren’t going to last long.

– Even though I’ve never made a handroll, I could see that coming.  The humidity alone in NOLA would be enough to ruin it.  Then you add ingredients to it and it’s doomed.  He said he would be able to wrap up fifty of them in 5-10 minutes, so he could’ve rolled them as they were being served.  Though it sounded like the judges didn’t like the filler, either.

– I know it’s early, but…. WTF? Who the hell are Louis and Bret?  I didn’t see them  in the first episode.  And they haven’t shown any individual dishes from Brian or Louis.

– They kept showing pictures of houses in shambles due to Hurricane Katrina.   Anyone around here can show you miles of them in downtown Detroit.

– Call me a snob, but there’s no way in heck am I going to use a crockpot for Gumbo.  Or anything besides keeping food warm.  My mother-in-law has offered me one on several occasions and I flat-out say “no way.”  I had an idea for a crockpot post and will have to fish that one out later.

– Mofongo is a fried plantain dish from Puerto Rico.  I’ve heard the term 2-3 times in the past year and each time thought of its similarity to “motherf*cker.”  Which, of course, ALWAYS gets me thinking of this clip –


– And now more proof positive that I might be watching Bravo a little too much  –  when I saw Susan Spicer enter the room I immediately thought  “Girl…. That’s not your look.”



It’s hard to pull off those tight striped pants – literally and figuratively.  But with those saddlebags…. Oof.

 top chef

new orleans chefs

About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

6 comments on “Top Chef NOLA Episode 2: Rebuilding New Orleans

  1. ksbeth
    October 10, 2013

    great summary of the throwdown, the deaf dog, and the pants. this post has it all – wonderful )

  2. Laura
    October 10, 2013

    Use of crockpots = the crockpot manufacturer sponsored this episode. Yay, product placement!

    Also, I was surprised that the Quickfire judge had no problem with the fact that almost none of the gumbos was truly gumbo-y.

  3. the winegetter
    October 12, 2013

    Ok, I cannot read those posts. I haven’t kept up with it and don’t want to know what’s going on. Will come back when I’ve seen the episodes…

  4. Pingback: Gumbo z’Herbes | The Food and Wine Hedonist

  5. PinotNinja
    October 14, 2013

    How badly did you want to be working in the taco truck?? I found the way they all worked together both adorable and inspiring. Plus, it would be really awesome to be able to sneak bites of those tacos and empanadas for quality control purposes.

  6. Pingback: Top Chef NOLA Episode 3: Commander’s Palace | The Food and Wine Hedonist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on October 10, 2013 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , , , .
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: