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Top Chef: New Orleans – Ep 13 – To Quit or Not to Quit

Let’s discuss the most important thing that occurred during this episode. No, it was not the ludicrous discussion about whether or not Nick should elect to quit the competition to save Cmar or Chung. But yes, we will be discussing that. No, much more important…

Yellow dress on Padma. Holy moly! I had to watch the Quickfire all over again because I had no idea what was going on because that yellow dress had all my attention. Yowza!

But anyway, enough of my unhealthy obsession about he stunning host. This week came down to a dynamic inherent to all competition reality shows that incorporate immunity. What happens if you want to get rid of the immune? Unless you are on Survivor and can trick Erik or Brandon to give it up, you can do nothing. You adjust. Many contestants on these shows have been axed despite not deserving it. This is just one way of having it happen.

Nick said it best – he earned it in the previous challenge. So despite his dishes dragging his team down, he earned immunity. He didn’t do anything malicious to Cmar or Chung, he took big risks that failed badly. The ladies also didn’t push him to not make those choices nor did they seem very concerned during prep. Cmar mentioned the bad bird nest, but didn’t push very hard. Plus, even without the drain hair, as Tom called it, I am sure they still would have lost based onto the rest of Nick’s dishes. No doubt about it. The other team was solid, but unspectacular and so that win for BB and the team was a bit muted. Nick was just that bad.

But no friggin way does he volunteer to go home. No. Way. Even suggesting it on the part of the judges was ridiculous. Why even have immunity otherwise? Immunity is earned in order to protect yourself from this kind of screw up. Sure it sucks for the other two, but that’s the rules of immunity.

There were certainly other options. One easy one to avoid the dynamic of one bad immune chef and two teammates who don’t deserve elimination is to not do three on three challenges. Another is to not allow for immunity this late in the competition. Another is to not eliminate Cmar or Chung if they don’t deserve it. Have an American Idol/Project Runway save for Tom. Eliminate two chefs next week. The show has done this before – and in my opinion, not often enough. Cmar didn’t deserve to get cut. She knows it. Nick knows it. Tom and the judges know it. And we know it. So don’t cut her. Don’t put it on Nick that she’s out – the judges chose to do it. Next time, don’t knife someone who didn’t deserve it when the only one who did was immune.

At least we got a break from the Nick/Carlos madness for a week. Sadly, it seems to blow back up next week over moved pots. Sigh.

In my defense of Nick I have sadly overlooked the tragedy of Cmar’s departure. She turned into one of my favorite chefs from any season. That wit deserves its own show. The Cmar Show. I’d watch it. I am going to miss her going forward and I hope she gets a second chance to be on a future season.

Meanwhile, we are down to five chefs. Which means one from Nick, BB, Chung, Carlos and Huskey is winning this – or Louis, as he still remains viable after defeating Cmar and continuing his run through LCK. Personally, I can’t see anyone other than BB or Chung winning based on past performance and editing. But who knows. This odd season rolls along – lots of likable chefs and solid challenges – but kind of dull. The chefs are nice, but not as charismatic as a lot of past seasons. Now with Cmar and her dry wit gone…well, not really all that excited about the end game. I hope the show picks up, but right now New Orleans ranks in the bottom half of Top Chef seasons. At least in my opinion.

Quickfire Challenge – World class French chef Jacques Pepin joins Padma and her amazing yellow dress to do a skills competition with the chefs. They have to properly prep artichokes, julienne some veggies, make their own cherry tomato, skin and filet dover sole and make a butter rose. The need to make a sauce – and do it all EXACTLY as Pepin shows them how to do it. As we know, immunity rides on this.

Carlos is not classically trained, and is at a disadvantage. Nick knows his stuff – and shares with us the anger with which he cooks these days. Unemployment does that to a person. BB forgets to turn on her stove. Cmar is freaking out – but she always freaks out. Carlos’ plate looks as if a tornado hit it, and has no tomato. Chung is happy, and thinks Pepin is like her grandpa. Huskey’s is a “hot mess” – and he has no sauce, and from what we have seen so far this year, saucing is his specialty. BB ran a lot but got a plate done. Cmar’s is a bit scrambled, and she had all kinds of trouble with the fish. Nick’s is neat and tidy, and is the only one to even start the butter – even if he ran out of time.

Huskey, Cmar and Carlos get the bottom. Nick and Chung the top. BB is obviously third – but not good enough to be singled out, and not bad enough to be below the other three. Nick earns the win – mainly for the tarragon in his sauce – and as we know, really, really, really needed this win.

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