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

  1. #31
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by penne View Post
    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.
    You left out the fact that Shirley has 4 individual quickfire wins, Nina and Nicholas have 1, and Carlos doesn't have any. When you include those stats with the elimination challenge wins, Shirley is ahead with 7 wins, Nina has 4, Nicholas has 3, and Carlos has 2.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by AcookerTV View Post
    My étouffée point was not declaring that making that dish best is the criteria to win. Rather, it was just one example of how narrow Carlos' knowledge of food is. A top chef, in my mind, should have a very broad knowledge of cuisine. Other chefs may specialize in one type of food, but they are knowledgable in others. Carlos is not.
    I checked that quickfire and Nick did not make an etouffee, either. He made a crawfish cabbage roll partially immersed in a corn and brandy broth. Padma specifically said "nothing was smothered". Nick, doesn't have the excuse that English isn't his first language. Nina made noodles smothered in crawfish broth. Only Shirley took the challenge literally and used rice.

    The reason the chefs have been asked to cook a lot of LA cuisine this season is that the show is partially financed by the LA state tourism bureau. They want to highlight the food and culture of New Orleans/LA to attract visitors and help the continuing recovery from Katrina. TC Seattle was not similarly funded and there was less focus on that city's/state's culture.

    If you asked past TC winners if they know what an etouffee is, I wouldn't be surprised if some (and maybe many) of them didn't. It is a local dish, after all, and no chef can be expected to know every dish of every cuisine. Someone is top chef because he can cook better than others, not because he's a walking encyclopedia of food.

    Quote Originally Posted by TripleGemini View Post
    Why can't I just not like Carlos because of his attitude? I'm married to someone with long hair (longer than Carlos'), I have friends who are from Mexico, I love accents, etc. I don't not like him because he is or isn't a good chef...I can't taste his food, so I really have no idea how good he is. But I think his attitude stinks.
    Who said you can't? All I said is comments like "Carlos is on the bottom all the time" or "Carlos has no time mgt skills", are not true. And people who make statements like this either are not paying attention or have some other reasons (like his nationality, hair, accent, etc) to dislike him about which they are not forthcoming.

    Why do you think his "attitude stinks"?

    Quote Originally Posted by awesomekina23 View Post
    You left out the fact that Shirley has 4 individual quickfire wins, Nina and Nicholas have 1, and Carlos doesn't have any. When you include those stats with the elimination challenge wins, Shirley is ahead with 7 wins, Nina has 4, Nicholas has 3, and Carlos has 2.
    Good point. But your math only makes sense if you equate a quickfire victory to an elimination challenge victory. When immunity is being offered, that equation makes some sense. When it's not, it doesn't because quickfires are typically not as difficult as the ECs. You also left out appearances in the top and bottom. Shirley only has one appearance in the top. That means there were only 4 times she was even eligible for an EC victory. Nina has 6 appearances in the top that, together with her 3 EC wins, gives her 9 opportunities to win an EC. Carlos has had 8 chances to win. Nick only 4. Nick also has 4 bottoms--ie, 4 times he's been eligible for elimination--more than anyone else. That also has to be included in the calculation.

    So it's not as simple as adding up wins. An argument can be made for putting Shirley or Nina on the top. Either way, Carlos is close behind while Nicks trails this trio by quite a distance.

    Quote Originally Posted by AcookerTV View Post
    My étouffée point was not declaring that making that dish best is the criteria to win. Rather, it was just one example of how narrow Carlos' knowledge of food is. A top chef, in my mind, should have a very broad knowledge of cuisine. Other chefs may specialize in one type of food, but they are knowledgable in others. Carlos is not.
    The other simple retort is that one didn't need to know beforehand what an etouffee was in order to make one since it was explained to them. To Carlos, the idea of "smothering" was simply lost in the translation--ie, it was a language problem, not a cooking one.

    So the fact Shirley made an etouffee, while Carlos didn't, is more a testimony to her English language skills than to her culinary knowledge. Who really knows if she knew what an etouffee was when she arrived in NO?

    Quote Originally Posted by awesomekina23 View Post
    You left out the fact that Shirley has 4 individual quickfire wins, Nina and Nicholas have 1, and Carlos doesn't have any. When you include those stats with the elimination challenge wins, Shirley is ahead with 7 wins, Nina has 4, Nicholas has 3, and Carlos has 2.
    And you also left out the team quickfire win Nina, Carlos and Nick shared in the tinfoil challenge.
    Last edited by Arielflies; 01-21-2014 at 12:09 PM.

  3. #33
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    I'm not a chef, and I have never in my life been to New Orleans, but I know what an etouffee is. Chefs on the show make decisions all the time about preparing a dish in the very traditional way or to do a creative interpretation of it. Carlos was the only one who had no clue what he was supposed to make, even after it was explained to them.
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by AcookerTV View Post
    I'm not a chef, and I have never in my life been to New Orleans, but I know what an etouffee is. Chefs on the show make decisions all the time about preparing a dish in the very traditional way or to do a creative interpretation of it. Carlos was the only one who had no clue what he was supposed to make, even after it was explained to them.
    Good. So you agree it was a language problem. Carlos didn't understand the explanation.

    And I have been to NO but I didn't know what an etouffee was. So what does that prove?

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

    No, language was not a problem. Carlos' limited knowledge of food for a chef was the problem.
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by AcookerTV View Post
    No, language was not a problem. Carlos' limited knowledge of food for a chef was the problem.
    But you said Carlos didn't understand the explanation. Why isn't that a language problem?

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

    Because I think that etouffee is a basic enough dish, especially for a chef going to New Orleans for a cooking competition, that Carlos should have known it with or without the reminder that the key is smothering.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by AcookerTV View Post
    Because I think that etouffee is a basic enough dish, especially for a chef going to New Orleans for a cooking competition, that Carlos should have known it with or without the reminder that the key is smothering.
    But how do we know any of the chefs knew what an etouffee was when they landed in NO? And if we don't, then how can you make the positive statement that others--like Shirley and Nina--are more deserving because they knew what an etouffee was while Carlos isn't because he didn't?

    Also, if prior knowledge (or homework) was important to winning TC, why would the producers even bother offering any explanation?

    And why is etouffee a "basic enough dish"? It's a local NO dish. NO isn't even a major city in the US. How many restaurants outside of NO have etouffee on their menus?

    This is what we saw on screen. Padma introduces the challenge and says "etouffee is French for to smother". Besh then chimes in and says "basically it's a rustic stew usually served over rice".

    If you are going to argue Carlos has a culinary knowledge deficiency, then the only part of this explanation you can point to is "stew". How likely is it that he doesn't know what a stew is, especially since he produced a soup? It's clear he didn't understand what Padma meant by "smother". "Smother" is not a culinary term. It's a common word. So the problem for Carlos was English comprehension.
    Last edited by penne; 01-21-2014 at 11:49 AM.

  9. #39
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    One key reason that the producers may have offered an explanation is that the viewers of the show are not all as knowledgable on food as the contestants are. So they explain some things the chefs should know so the viewers are up to speed. I have eaten etouffee at least three times in my life, and as I said, I've never been to New Orleans. So I think it is safe to say that there are restaurants outside of Louisiana who have it on menus. Whether or not New Orleans is a major FOOD city is debatable. I"d argue that it is - which is why they did a season of Top Chef there. And if this was the ONLY example this season of Carlos lacking basic food knowledge, then I guess I could see the whole "lets dissect their minds to know what they knew when they ladned" defense may be valid. But it's just one example of his lacking knowledge. He's also lacked knowledge of basic techniques on several occasions, which is a key reason why several of the other contestants don't care for / respect him. He's decided to prepare dishes when he didn't have the tools to do it, etc.
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    Re: Top Chef New Orleans - 1/15 Show Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by AcookerTV View Post
    One key reason that the producers may have offered an explanation is that the viewers of the show are not all as knowledgable on food as the contestants are. So they explain some things the chefs should know so the viewers are up to speed. I have eaten etouffee at least three times in my life, and as I said, I've never been to New Orleans. So I think it is safe to say that there are restaurants outside of Louisiana who have it on menus. Whether or not New Orleans is a major FOOD city is debatable. I"d argue that it is - which is why they did a season of Top Chef there.
    Sure. And if the producers know they have to offer explanations to the audience then that means the chefs won't be judged on prior knowledge or homework--ie, having "broad knowledge" of Cajun/Creole cuisine is moot. Btw, it is my understanding that before each challenge is filmed the producers explain the rules of the challenge to the chefs. So even if they didn't offer explanations to us, they still do to the chefs.

    And where did I say you can't find etouffee anywhere outside of NO. I only asked in how many restaurants outside of NO can you find etouffee? Is it common? How many people have had it outside of NO?

    NO has a reputation for its food and culture, but TC waited 11 seasons to go there, and even then, only after the LA tourist board ponied up a bunch of $$$. So is it NY or SF? No. Not by a long shot. Is it even Los Angeles or Chicago? Doubt it. Not cosmopolitan enough. At best, it's a second/third tier US food center, known more for its history than anything it is currently doing. And that food itself, imo, isn't even that good. But that, of course, is only my opinion. (The judges on TC may agree since I read in one judge's blog that more often than not they ate Vietnamese food while in NO. Not exactly a glowing endorsement of the original, native cuisine.)

    Quote Originally Posted by AcookerTV View Post
    And if this was the ONLY example this season of Carlos lacking basic food knowledge, then I guess I could see the whole "lets dissect their minds to know what they knew when they ladned" defense may be valid. But it's just one example of his lacking knowledge. He's also lacked knowledge of basic techniques on several occasions, which is a key reason why several of the other contestants don't care for / respect him. He's decided to prepare dishes when he didn't have the tools to do it, etc.
    If you are going to argue Nina or Shirley have "broader knowledge" because they made an etouffee--and that was the point someone tried to make--then you have to ask whether they knew what an etouffee even was before the challenge. Now, if you want to make a separate point that Carlos has "consistently demonstrated a lack of knowledge" then we should look at these "other examples". I'd be happy to go through them, one by one. Who knows? You may be right. Let's see.
    Last edited by penne; 01-21-2014 at 03:30 PM.

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