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Top Chef: New Orleans – Ep 12 – Knife Etiquette and Other Issues

So, I guess we are getting more and more of the Nick and Carlos saga going forward. Any regular to this column knows how much I love the chef rivalries from past seasons. And when I say love past conflicts, I mean I really don’t like them at all. They usually feel manufactured and blown completely out of proportion. And really, really overdone by the editing team. It is usually done when there is nothing of much interest going on in the episode to force something to put in the promos and the teasers. It’s Bravo-ification of the show – too many of the network’s core viewers expect the Real Housewives kind of “drama.” Top Chef isn’t about that – or at least, I never felt it was. I enjoy this show for the cooking. For the food. For the regions of cuisine they showcase. For the guest chefs. For the sheer incredible challenge of putting these tasks on the plate in time. I think that’s why the chefs like the show – and why there are so, so many chefs that want to come back and be on the show again. And on Masters. Etc.

So, Top Chef. Just the food. Come on.

Because it happened, I’ll have to talk about it. Nick essentially forgave Carlos for the whole sandbagging incident last week. And then Carlos needed one of Nick’s knives to properly cut his fish for his sashimi. Amazingly, he asked Nick. After the last episode, it is rather ballsy to ask the guy for help after you fed him to the wolves just a few hours previously. And then Carlos is shown in a confessional dinging Nick for not looking out for the needs of others.

Needs of others? This is a cooking competition. Nick and Carlos can’t be co-winners of Top Chef, there is only one winner. Nick was under no obligation to help one of the other members of the Final Seven. The fact that he chose to give Carlos a knife shows just how generous he, and most of these chefs, are during these competitions. That knife was a special knife, and Nick told him so. Carlos chose to not clean the knife after service – or even after use – despite knowing the attachment that the knife had to Nick. Wouldn’t all of you clean it first and hand it over right away? Isn’t that the unwritten rule of borrowing things?

In fairness, I am assuming the vast majority of this bad behavior is the creation of the editing room. Who knows when, and in what context, Carlos said that about Nick. It could have been back from the first day. So, keep in mind, as always, that the context of my reality show criticisms and jabs found in these pages are all taken with a big grain of salt. I’m sure Carlos is a lovely human being. But he’s not being portrayed that way on this show.

Ok, enough of that crap. Carrie sure got into a slump at the worst possible time, didn’t she? Carrie started off so well this season – she seemed as if she may go very far, and I guess she did, but would up petering out in the end. Amazingly, this week was the first time she found herself facing the music of Judges Table. And, it was the last. Granted, she would have been there last week without immunity, but still.

I must say that the show will miss Carrie and her unbelievably pretty eyes. I was rooting for her once she got to LCK, but she became the latest to fall victim to Louis during his improbably run through LCK. I say improbable because he got such little attention while he was on the main part of the show, that I didn’t expect him to get through LCK. Granted, he still may not get back in the game, but still, I’m surprised at how well he is doing. He’s only three wins away.
This week was about seafood. Pairing them. Something about that is complicated, I guess. Here’s where my lack of culinary skills come out and shine through. I really didn’t get it. Two kinds of fish, in a dish, just sounds delicious no matter how you slice it. Especially if you are using Nick’s knife. Carrie got the boot for putting one of hers into a fritter. My only question…really, fritters are friggin delicious. What’s wrong with that?

Somewhere, Tom and John Besh are not reading my column and just shaking their heads at my ignorance and questioning how anyone could allow me to write about anything involving cooking.

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