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Thread: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by penne View Post
    ...Nick's explanation itself, however, is not entirely accurate. He told the judges he "heard the buzzer and discovered the dial set at 500F, etc". But the camera showed it was the smell of burning quinoa (first detected by Nina) and not the buzzer that alerted the kitchen to the problem. I'm not suggesting Nick lied to the judges. But his stress in the kitchen may be affecting his perceptions, not only of the position of the dial but also of what transpired.
    Also, in his talking head he said "I turned the dial to 275F", but at JT he said "225F". He wasn't even clear in his own head what exactly he did. The stress is really getting to him. I think it's possible he just confused the Celsius for the Fahrenheit scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by Florimel View Post
    Those are big weaknesses for a top chef to me, accompanied by his time management skills. Mexican or Southwestern cuisines do not have flavors that I like, so I'd never eat in his restaurant anyway, but for me Carlos is not top chef quality. I was hoping he'd be gone several weeks ago.

    The only one left I'd like to see with the win is Shirley. We all have our opinions, I guess, especially about food.
    Carlos is not my fave chef but I have to give him credit for his obvious accomplishments. And I don't count "time mgt" as a weakness. If you're referring to his planning during the LSU challnge, he planned his dish at least as early as prep when he told Tom he intended to finish his fish in the ovens. He also said that he had been a banquet chef and served as many as 2000 people. Given that background, I am giving Carlos the benefit of the doubt that he knew from the moment he chose the tilapia that he wanted to use the ovens to in order to cook as many fillets as quickly as possible. However, he made the assumption that the ovens in LSU, like the ovens in TCK, would be available when needed. Chefs seldom have to reserve an oven in TCK. It's understandable why Carlos believed the same rules applied at LSU. He didn't know Nick had decided to make up his own rules at LSU and keep the ovens for himself. I don't see how Carlos could have anticipated Nick making this unilateral decision. It really came out of left field. And Nick didn't tell everyone he had changed the rules. He certainly didn't tell Carlos who was surprised that Nick was heating his plates.

    Since Carlos has not had problems with time mgt in other challenges, I don't think it's accurate to single it out as a weakness.

    Not knowing another cuisine is a weakness in challenges where you have to cook Vietnamese or Creole food. But Carlos wasn't the only chef who struggled. Many did. So that is close to a wash. And in the finale, where Carlos can cook whatever he wants, it becomes moot.

    Really, Carlos is interesting in that he is at once the weakest and the strongest chef. He's the only chef w/o formal training. But he's also the only chef who owns a restaurant that earned a Michelin star. In the finale, he would be a very dangerous competitor. His biggest obstacle is just getting to the finale where he can do his thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by penne View Post
    Really, Carlos is interesting in that he is at once the weakest and the strongest chef. He's the only chef w/o formal training. But he's also the only chef who owns a restaurant that earned a Michelin star. In the finale, he would be a very dangerous competitor.
    For example, this week he pulled that pork dish out of his repertoire w/o any trouble. Shirley had a better dish, but had to rely on inspiration which, unless you are a genius (and maybe not even then), is not as reliable as experience. And Carlos can do that 3 or 4 more times to fill out an entire meal w/o breaking a sweat. He found his voice years ago. He has more experience than anyone else, by a long shot. He was helping his mother in her taqueria while still a child. Mexican food is literally in his blood. The guy knows his stuff.

    And, there is the Latino thing. Bravo would like nothing more than to broaden their franchise to this large and fast growing demographic. My guess is they would be pleased to have a Mexican-American Top Chef. I'm not saying the fix is in. But Carlos would fit that bill quite nicely.

    Carlos is also an unschooled chef. I don't know if anyone w/o formal training has ever won TC, but considering how many successful chefs in real life never went to school (like Emeril, Tom and Hugh), it may be time for one to win. Last season, Sheldon came close. Carlos may be the first to break through.
    Last edited by Arielflies; 01-17-2014 at 07:58 PM.

  2. #12
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by penne View Post


    For example, this week he pulled that pork dish out of his repertoire w/o any trouble. Shirley had a better dish, but had to rely on inspiration which, unless you are a genius (and maybe not even then), is not as reliable as experience. And Carlos can do that 3 or 4 more times to fill out an entire meal w/o breaking a sweat.

    I disagree that the above rationale is good reason for anyone to win Top Chef. In fact, it's quite the opposite of what I expect of the winner of Top Chef. I don't think cooking a dish you've had in your back pocket shows better chef skills than being handed a challenge and creating a new, inspired, delicious, and well-executed dish in response. This is where Shirley and Nina are moon & stars ahead of Carlos.
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by rebotco View Post
    I disagree that the above rationale is good reason for anyone to win Top Chef. In fact, it's quite the opposite of what I expect of the winner of Top Chef. I don't think cooking a dish you've had in your back pocket shows better chef skills than being handed a challenge and creating a new, inspired, delicious, and well-executed dish in response. This is where Shirley and Nina are moon & stars ahead of Carlos.
    That's why Shirley won that challenge. But in the finale the chefs will have to produce 4 or 5 dishes. To draw on inspiration to make one dish is one thing, to do it 4 or 5 times within the span of a few hours is another. Carlos won't have to do that. And why should he? The finale is cook your own food, whatever you want. His food is good enough to earn a Michelin star. Why wouldn't it be good enough for a TC finale?

    Carlos is in the F4 like Shirley and Nina. He has passed all the tests thrown at him so far. So despite all the criticism of his shortcomings he's right there with the frontrunners.

    And speaking of Shirley, for all the praise she has attracted I want to point out one thing I dislike about her, and that is she sucks up to the judges. Her "uncle Emeril, you inspired me" shtick seems a little disingenuous to me. Judging by her expression, Nina, who is very sensitive to such behaviour (remember Michael?), feels the same way.

    Btw, Shirley has been giving a weekly interview to Eater NV answering questions about each episode. In this week's column, she comments that Brian chose the skinless chicken breasts because of "consistency". They shopped at WF and needed to prepare 90 servings. That chicken was the easiest way to go. When asked if she thought Brian should have been eliminated, she sidestepped the question by saying "the kids loved that dish" and that "the stress is somehow showing up in Nick's food". In other words, she did think Brian got screwed. But we knew this from the reactions of the winners in the stew room. Shirley said they tasted each other's dishes. Presumably this included Nick's tuna/carrot plate, and so they probably all agreed with the waitress who said it was "not nasty or nothing, but kinda gooey". Those kids had no horses in this race so that was a pretty telling critique. How embarrassing is that?

    Although Nick bit his tongue, he probably blames Carlos for his burnt quinoa, so this is just going to fuel his animosity. Carlos, for his part, is finally starting to react to criticism (thanks to boy Roy), and Nick's remarks that Carlos "cooks like an animal" (which was relayed to Carlos in a talking head) will do nothing to stifle his new-found voice. It only gets more interesting.

  4. #14
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    I think the burnt quinoa was exaggerated by editing. Nick barely mentioned it other than explaining why his dish wasn't what he wanted it to be. I think in real life, it wasn't a focus. But the editors emphasized it because they needed a story to tell for the episode, and "I didn't keep an eye on the oven" wasn't interesting.
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Florimel View Post
    Those are big weaknesses for a top chef to me, accompanied by his time management skills. Mexican or Southwestern cuisines do not have flavors that I like, so I'd never eat in his restaurant anyway, but for me Carlos is not top chef quality. I was hoping he'd be gone several weeks ago.
    Rick Bayless has no formal training either and won the first Top Chef Masters with elevated Mexican street and rustic home food. The difference between working in a Michelin starred kitchen and earning one of your own is significant.

    I think Carlos is coming off as a thug because of Nick's constant whinging. How many times does this make that he's managed to evade elimination. He doesn't deserve to be in the final four. He's constantly in the bottom group and has received serious criticism for his dishes, unlike Carlos who has probably only landed there once as I recall and has been in the top and won various challenges.

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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    I think with this final four it's cut and dry. Two of them (Nina and Shirley) are there because of their talent. Two of the (Nick and Carlos) are there because someone else was eliminated each week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AcookerTV View Post
    I think the burnt quinoa was exaggerated by editing. Nick barely mentioned it other than explaining why his dish wasn't what he wanted it to be. I think in real life, it wasn't a focus. But the editors emphasized it because they needed a story to tell for the episode, and "I didn't keep an eye on the oven" wasn't interesting.
    When Nick was asked about his day, the first thing he mentioned was the oven and the quinoa. The judges said the big problem with Nick's plate was the fish was not connected with the carrots, and that the quinoa may have brought these two disparate elements together. So for the judges the missing quinoa was the issue with that plate. Finally, as he turned to walk back to the stew room Nick shot what looked to me like a dirty look at Carlos who was standing next to him. It's not too much to believe Nick thinks Carlos sabotaged his quinoa. I don't think that was editing. And if Nick believes this, then it will certainly fuel his animosity towards Carlos. I mean, he thinks he was sabotaged. That's a big deal.

    Quote Originally Posted by madlyophelia View Post
    Rick Bayless has no formal training either and won the first Top Chef Masters with elevated Mexican street and rustic home food. The difference between working in a Michelin starred kitchen and earning one of your own is significant.
    Yes, Bayliss didn't go to culinary school, although he did go to regular college and do doctoral work so he's a smart guy. Michael Voltaggio, the season 6 winner, also didn't go to cooking school, but that didn't stop Tom from saying MV is the most talented chef to come through TCK. Some people just have it and they don't need formal schooling. Especially in the arts, like music or literature, etc.

    Carlos has been on the bottom more than once, but not as often as Nick. Nick has been on the bottom 3 weeks in a row now and has been very lucky the last two. It's just a matter of time before he's gone. Between the F4 constestants he's the weakest chef and the one the judges will want to cut next. He will have to give them a very good reason to pick someone else. Or, someone else, like Nina, will have to screw up just in the nick of time and save him.
    Last edited by Arielflies; 01-19-2014 at 10:31 AM.

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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    Penne, everything you listed about the quinoa could have been created by editing, as I said. Just because the show showed it doesn't mean it truly was that big of a deal for Nick ... Or that it was the reason for the looks you saw.
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by AcookerTV View Post
    Penne, everything you listed about the quinoa could have been created by editing, as I said. Just because the show showed it doesn't mean it truly was that big of a deal for Nick ... Or that it was the reason for the looks you saw.
    The judges said Nick looked "pissed" as he stepped away from JT. This isn't the first time Nick has been on the bottom, yet no-one ever made that comment before. Why now? And the judges did say the quinoa could have made a difference on the dish because the texture was too soft. Was that editing? Or was that their judgement on the dish?

    Sometimes, the producers choose particular scenes to tell a story. Brian's DUI story is an example of this. But other times they include a scene because it is central to the competition. Judges' critiques of food are good examples of this. I think the quinoa was a case of the latter. It was a big deal for Nick.

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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by penne View Post
    Carlos is in the F4 like Shirley and Nina. He has passed all the tests thrown at him so far. So despite all the criticism of his shortcomings he's right there with the frontrunners.
    Wikipedia, that repository of all things worth knowing(!), has a page for TC NO. Here's the link:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Chef_(season_11)

    On this page, they have a table showing how each contestant has done this season. They have a methodology for counting wins, losses, and appearance on top and bottom. This is the breakdown for the remaining chefs:

    Nina: 3 wins, 2 bottoms, 6 highs (winners' circles)
    Carlos: 2 wins, 2 bottoms, 6 highs
    Shirley: 3 wins, 1 bottom, 1 high
    Nick: 2 wins, 4 bottoms, 2 highs

    Nina has the best record. Carlos is not far behind. Shirley actually has the 3rd best record. Nick easily has the worst.

    Louis was on the bottom once with no wins or appearances in the winners' circle before he was ousted. Of course, he's since set the record with 7 straight victories in LCK.

    These are the facts. Carlos deserves to be in the F4. And he would deserve a place in the finale if he can earn it.

    Note: by their methodology, Wikipedia doesn't count Nick's screw-up in the French vs Spanish challenge as a bottom because he had immunity and was not eligible for elimination. But we know Nick deserved to have that performance counted as a bottom-worthy effort. So he really has 5 bottoms, not 4. Either way, Nick has been leading from behind, the season's true bottom feeder. In this respect, he reminds me of Josh from last season. He really doesn't deserve to go to Maui, but somehow he will (prob) sneak his way in.
    Last edited by penne; 01-20-2014 at 10:19 AM.

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