The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Top Chef NOLA Episodes 12 & 13

Episode 11

Episode 14


It’s another two-fer as we had some family at our place last week.  When I do these reviews, I’m usually watching alone late at night.  No, I’m not switching back and forth with Skinemax.  That allows me to pause, take notes, pictures, etc.  I couldn’t really do it last week with a cousin camped out on the couch.  Not that I cared about keeping him awake, but he’s the type that would’ve been looking over my shoulder, reading, asking questions.  Basically, I would’ve wanted to throttle him.

I decided to watch both episodes back-to-back and it was hard.  I mean, brutally hard.  If you missed it, I started a 10-day cleanse where I consume nothing but lemonade.  Until then I was doing perfectly fine with not being hungry, but watching 2 hours of this with all the food-related commercials nearly put me over the edge.

The shit I do for my readers.


Episode 12 – Mississippi Mudbugs

The Quickfire Challenge involved the chefs making their interpretation of crawfish etouffee, which means “smothered.”  We learned that Stephanie is allergic to some shellfish, so she had to fly a little blind.  The bigger problem was that Carlos had no idea what “smothered” means.

Least Favorites – Stephanie, Carlos, Carrie

Favorites – Brian, Nina, Shirley

Winner – Shirley

The Elimination challenge was to create a dish that highlights two different seafoods for 1000 people at some seafood festival.  Yep, it’s Top Caterer again.

Brian – Grilled swordfish, shrimp & sweet onion puree with fennel daikon relish

Nicholas – Oyster leek soup, champagne emulsion, green apple yogurt & cured amberjack

Carrie – Flounder croquettes with oyster emulsion & pickled cucumbers

Shirley – Tuna & amberjack ceviche with aged soy sauce, lime dressing, & toasted pecans

Nina – Marinated wahoo with salsa verde, tonnato sauce, & pickled vegetables

Carlos – Amberjack ceviche with rustic peach & shrimp relish

Stephanie – Fried oysters with tuna & pickled beech mushrooms

Top 3 – Stephanie, Brian, Nina

Winner – Stephanie

Bottom 3 – Carrie, Carlos, Nicholas

Gone – Carrie.  This was a no-brainer as the halibut got completely lost in the croquette.


Episode 13 – Oui Si a Challenge

Quickfire Challenge: Culinary legend Jacques Pepin demonstrated how to make poached dover sole with mushroom duxelle, stuffed artichoke, & sautéed asparagus.  The chefs had 35 minutes to re-create it with winner getting immunity.

Least favorites – Carlos, Brian, Stephanie

Favorites – Shirley, Nicholas

Winner – Nicholas

Elimination Challenge: French vs Spanish cook-off.  The chefs were split in 2 teams and were challenged with making a 5-course menu in either French or Spanish styles.  The teams were coached by Dominique Crenn (Fr) and Julian Serrano (Sp) and the menu had to highlight ingredients featured in both cuisines – olives, almonds, chocolate, mussels, and chicken.

Team France – Shirley, Nicholas, Stephanie

Snapper ceviche with dehydrated olives & ice cream (Shirley)

Pickled & poached mussels, crustacean jus & tomate (Stephanie)

Chicken liver mousse with roasted chicken bouillon (Shirley, Stephanie)

Cornish game hen & spced chocolate with corn silk nest (Nicholas)

Almond flan, plum, & dark cocoa (Nicholas)


Team Spain – Nina, Carlos, Brian

Ensaladilla rusa with green olives, gulf shrimp, & potatoes (Nina)

Ajo blanco with almonds, crab & cherries (Nina)

Mejillones (mussels) a la romesco with crispy leeks (Carlos)

Pollo con arroz: chicken & saffron rice (Carlos & Brian)

Flan de chocolate & strawberries

Winning Team – Spain

Winner – Nina

Losing Team – France

Gone –Here’s where it got really interesting.  Stephanie’s and Shirley’s dishes were the best of the night and Nicholas’ were terrible. But he had immunity.  Pepin asked him if the team should be penalized for his work or should he resign.  After a long awkward pause Nick responded, “I did well enough yesterday to earn immunity today.”  Since they had to choose one loser, Stephanie got sent packing.


Random Thoughts

– While I can see where Nicholas should have resigned and the other two were rightly pissed, it’s a game.  A game with a life-changing $125K at stake.  Of COURSE he wasn’t going to take the fall.  A similar thing happened in Top Chef Texas where Sarah (aka “The Mouth of Sauron” and “Picnic Ham with Eyes”) won a Quickfire and had a choice between taking the elimination off and getting assured a spot in the final, or competing and potentially losing.  Other chefs said they’d want to earn their way into the final.  Yeah, right…

– Week after week you see the chefs gushing about the guest chefs, but you rarely see them cook.  Watching these guys fumbling over what Pepin did effortlessly was incredible.  The guy is truly a master.

– One thing that I’ve learned about myself this season is that I’m a sucker for accents.  Carlos’ velvety accent is fantastic, but nothing compared to Pepin’s, Crenn’s, and Serrano’s.  It was especially fun to see Crenn and Serrano trash-talking the other’s team.

TC NOLA Serrano


– Besides the accents, I LOVED all of episode 13 for the drama and the quality of the food – especially the Quickfire.  They always throw in one skills-based challenge, and it usually involves something stupid like peeling 30 pounds of potatoes or slicing meat.

– I’m excited that they announced that the finale is going to be in Maui.  Maybe we’ll get my favorite chef from last year to appear – Sheldon.  At very least, maybe we’ll get more gratuitous beach shots of Padma.

 TC Nola Padma beach


– The Spanish-French throwdown is very reminiscent of cooking with me and The Sicilian.  She always opts for Rustic and I’m always leaning towards Avant Garde.   On tv, rustic won out.  But around here, my food is supreme.

– Let’s see if she caught that.

– Episodes 12 & 13 have set-up some a storyline with a building beef between Nick and Carlos.  To be specific, it’s Carlos being a dick and Nick getting all prissy on him – and it it’s continuing next week.   To me it looks like Carlos doesn’t give a shit and that’s just pissing Nick off even more.  While I admit Carlos could be a little less ignorant, Nick got his first ulcer at 18, so the guy’s pretty tightly wound.  But then again, what we’re seeing could be a matter of editing.

– Meanwhile on Last Chance Kitchen (Spoiler Alert) – Louis is on a tear.  He was eliminated in week 8 but is still around. In Week 7, I mentioned that he could surprise people.  I was curious to see how he’d do when some of the better chefs got booted, but he beat Stephanie hands-down.   Could be interesting going forward.



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.

13 comments on “Top Chef NOLA Episodes 12 & 13

  1. PinotNinja
    January 9, 2014

    How do Crenn and Serrano not have their own show yet? I could watch those two cook and bicker about food all day, every day.

    As for Nick, he was totally justified to stand by his immunity. Multiple times every season the judges say that someone would have gone home if they had not had immunity and its never been a big deal. This is the first time I can remember them suggesting and actively pushing a contestant with immunity to resign. I found that very curious — it really made me wonder if Stephanie’s and Shirley’s dishes better than anyone’s on the Spanish team

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 10, 2014

      It sounded like those were two of the best from either team. They were gushing. It was Pepin that asked them and he wasn’t judging. Curious to see if they asked him to ask the question.

    • rachelocal
      January 17, 2014

      I agree regarding Nick, but I wish he wasn’t a whiny bitch about everything!

      • PinotNinja
        January 20, 2014

        Me too! I CANNOT believe that he didn’t get sent home last week. Carrots? REALLY?! I’m a veggie loving yogi and even I know that is a bad idea.

        • rachelocal
          January 20, 2014

          Right???! I mean, he’s in New Orleans where seafood reigns, and I’m assuming it’s the summer veggie season when this was filmed. So the choice of carrots is mind boggling to me. Carrots are NOT exciting.

          But I guess boneless, skinless chicken breasts is a bigger chef no-no.

          Who’s your favorite?

        • thefoodandwinehedonist
          January 20, 2014

          Carlos and Louis!! Oh, where u asking Ninj?

  2. rachelocal
    January 17, 2014

    I’ve been wanting to read these posts, but didn’t get caught up until last night. I was so sad to see Stephanie go. I feel like she was just getting into it – it’s always better to peak at the end of the competition and that’s what she was doing (unlike the round-faced chick who won so much at the beginning and should have gotten booted for making broccoli).

    Pepin was wonderful to watch and so charming. I noticed on the Twitter that Tom C tweeted something like, “To be clear, Pepin asked Nick if he thought he should resign. He didn’t tell him to resign.” Interesting.

    At this point, I’m rooting for Shirley or Nina.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 17, 2014

      I’m going testosterone – Carlos and Louis!!

      • rachelocal
        January 17, 2014

        Carlos leveled up a little for me last night with both his dish and his genuine love of food. But I’m still rooting for TEAM ESTROGEN.

        • thefoodandwinehedonist
          January 17, 2014

          Wait, what happens if it’s one of each? Team Gonadotropin-releasing hormone?

  3. Pingback: Top Chef NOLA Episode 14: Po’ Boy Smackdown | The Food and Wine Hedonist

  4. Pingback: Top Chef NOLA Episode 11: Giving it the College Try | The Food and Wine Hedonist

  5. Pingback: Top Chef NOLA Episodes 9 & 10 | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on January 9, 2014 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , .
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