The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Top Chef NOLA Episode 15: Leaving New Orleans

Episode 14

Finale Part 1


Brian got booted from last week’s episode mainly because of his head-scratching decision to use boneless, skinless chicken breast in his dish.  So on Last Chance Kitchen he had the opportunity to redeem himself as the challenge involved using various bones and skins to make a dish.  He did achieve some redemption as, according to Tom, he made his best dish of the season.  Unfortunately for him, Louis has been an absolute machine on LCK and made what Tom said was the best dish of the year.

But there was an interesting line that Tom said as he was introducing the challenge – as chefs, they have a responsibility to use all the parts of the animal.  Those of you who are regular readers here or know me in real life know that I have no qualms about eating animals.  But I agree that, if an animal does have to die, we really should use as much of it as possible.  Like the big fat duck livers…. Mmmm.

Last week on Twitter, I came across a link to a fascinating article on this same topic.  In Chicago, PETA put up one of their usual provocative billboards  featuring a baby pig urging people to go vegan.



It was directly across the street from Publican Quality Meats – one of my favorite places in Chicago.  (Check out my post here)  But rather than complaining, PQM had a pretty thoughtful discussion on it. According to them –

We waste NOTHING. We use 100% of the animal. With pigs we use the skin, we make head cheese, we make stock from the bones, the tails end up in the Bolognese at Publican. We waste Nothing. That’s how we honor the animal. We don’t throw any of its Life away.

Because of this, they actually envision being on the same side of the argument as PETA where they both believe in the dignity of the animal.  With the one exception being they choose to eat meat.  Interesting stuff.

And you know what else is interesting?


Quickfire Challenge

Gail and Tom were there as they designed this two-part challenge.  The two winners of the first part would then go on to the second round.  There’s no immunity, but the winner gets a new Toyota Corolla.

Round 1: Gail’s challenge is to “create the perfect bite & serve it on a cocktail fork.”

Carlos – grilled mango with shrimp & chili glaze

Nicholas – beef deckle with aged balsamic & purple potato chips

Shirley – tataki-style flank steak with black pepper cherry & crispy onions

Nina – shrimp escabeche with potato aioli & pickled shallots

Favorites – Carlos, Nicholas


Round 2 – Tom’s challenge was to showcase either eggplant or red bell pepper

Carlos – fried red bell pepper soup with fennel, basil & onion

Nicholas – roasted eggplant with sesame seed, sriracha tahini & chili threads

Winner – Carlos


Elimination Challenge

Take the experiences gained in NOLA and create a dish inspired by their time in New Orleans.  They were serving a dinner hosted by Emeril for  Grant Achatz(!!!), Andrew Carmellini, Douglas Keane.    Winning dish will be featured in all of Emeril’s restaurants.

Nina – speckled trout with baby vegetables & barbecue sauce (she forgot to plate her pasta)

Nicholas – charred cobia, roasted bass & tuna confit with crispy rice & shrimp consommé

Carlos – steamed seafood tamal with saffron cream sauce & pickled okra

Shirley – black drum with Zhenjiang vinegar butter sauce, braised celery & mushrooms

Going to Maui – Nina & Shirley

Dish that will be featured at Emeril’s restaurant – Shirley

Gone – Carlos


Random Thoughts

– Obviously, I completely disagree with the decision.  Not just of my growing man-crush on his Carlosness, but that dish was definitely more innovative and one I’d want to sink my teeth into.

– Regarding that Quickfire, isn’t there some crappy Top Chef knock-off show where contestants make one bite of food?  You know, where Anthony Bourdain completely sold his soul?

– After the Quickfire, they hop in Carlos’ new ride to go shopping.  Go figure – the guy just beats out the others in a difficult two-stage challenge to win a car.  And he has to schlep the losers around chauffeur style – them in back, him in the front?



– On my culinary bucket list is going to Grant Achatz’s Next in Chicago.  There’s really nothing like it – a restaurant where the theme completely changes every few months.  Those themes not only evoke certain cuisines, but they also have a time and location element to it as well.  Previous themes included Paris 1906, the opening menu of el Bulli, and Childhood.  Instead of reservations, they sell tickets for certain nights and apparently it’s near impossible to get them.  Oh, and they’re a couple hundred bucks each.  Who’s coming with me?

– Yet again, everyone was talking about how Carlos has done nothing but Mexican.  But there’s Shirley doing Chinese (again), Nina doing a pasta (again), and Nicholas putting a 1000 things on a plate (again).

– In Last Chance Kitchen, the top 3 chefs got to participate in determining who made it into the finals.  While they didn’t know which was Carlos’ and which was Louis’, I’m pretty sure they could figure out which one had the Mexican sauce.  It’ll be interesting to see whether gamesmanship played a part in who’s dish they chose.  In other words, would they vote for the person they think they can easily beat.  They’ve been putting down Carlos’ Mexican food for a while.  But on the other hand, they’re probably thinking that the other person might be easier as that person was booted earlier.  Should be interesting.



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 15: Leaving New Orleans

  1. a2sicilian
    January 23, 2014

    I know exactly what Nicholas’ food is like. I’ve been to high-end restaurants where it’s the same thing; pretty, but lacking soul AND seasoning. (That just happened to me at a downtown restaurant as I mentioned to you.) I can’t stand overly salted foods, but having barely any seasoning is an inexcusable crime…everything is happening in the head and nothing in the gut, so to speak. Visual, no palate. I don’t know why they picked Nicholas over Carlos. We do know that kitchens are historically sexist and I almost feel like they were too uncomfortable/unfamiliar not having a white guy in the finals.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 23, 2014

      But Paul won 2 yrs ago and Kristen last yr. and the other finalists are non- honky. I wonder if nuts creative editing making his food seem not as good as it really is. He does show a lot if technique and nuance

      • Anonymous
        January 23, 2014

        I meant without him there would be no white males in finals. Anyway, your editing observation may he true too.

  2. Pingback: Top Chef NOLA Season Finale Part 1: Maui Wowie | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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

    February 16, 2014

    I love my dentist i have done many fillings even a root canal filling i have never felt? any pain that is why i have the best dentist in the world

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This entry was posted on January 23, 2014 by in Television, The Chi and tagged , , , , , , .
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