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Top Chef: New Orleans – Ep 15 – Uncle Emeril And The Last Day In The Big Easy

Quickfire Challenge – Thankfully, no immunity anymore. Instead, the winner gets a car. Chung already has one. If she gets another one she starts to turn into Jay Leno. The four get the two-part challenge – Gail’s first, with the top two moving on to Tom’s. Gail’ bite has to have sweet, salty, sour and spice. That challenge is actually quite difficult. They get 20 minutes.

Chung is a whirling dervish, according to Tom. Nick realizes he puts too much into his dishes – and then he continues to put too many ingredients into all of this week’s dishes. Chung’s use of cherry was wise – sweet and tart at the same time. Chung starts to shake “like Jenga” and I appreciate the reference to Jenga.

Carlos - Mango and shrimp. Gail eats this off the fork in the sultriest manner possible.
Nick Meat and potatoes. Padma thinks it is nice and tender.
Chung Steak and cherry. Gail’s fork totally falls apart. Oops.
BB Shrimp and potato aioli. Nothing.

Chung’s had too much soy and BB’s was greasy. So the boys move on. It’s a Carlos vs. Nick Showdown!! DRAMA!!!!!!

Tom’s challenge is for them to showcase either red pepper or eggplant. The first one to the front can grab the one they want. Nick turns into The Flash – varsity track pays off – and grabs the eggplant that Carlos wanted. Nick elects to make eggplant two ways – and to use about 175 ingredients and a special recipe that was carved into a cave in Nepal that his Sherpa buddy had to retrieve for him. Carlos is making soup. Guess who wins?

Carlos gets the car – and satisfaction that he beat his nemesis. Nick has not won a thing this season – only a cup of sorrow – and potentially is setting up his eventual victory by stating this fact.

Elimination Challenge – Emeril wants an NO inspired dish which can remain in the city – because he’ll put it on his menus in all of his restaurants. Nice prize! He’s also going to personally cook for them that night in Emeril’s – they even get to sit in the kitchen. He gives them tons of dishes and it looks incredible.

BB gets inspired by Emeril’s rosemary biscuit that accompanied his BBQ shrimp. She was going with shrimp and now was going to place an Italian pastry on the dish – featuring ricotta cheese. I’m sure that will go smoothly. Carlos is making a seafood mousse tamal. Of course he is. And…it looks gross. And…it sounds like it would taste amazing.

As Tom and Emeril do the walk-through – Emeril is visibly touched by BB’s inspiration. Chung is making a celery raft on the bayou. Man, she’s creative. Nick is claiming simplicity, but his dish doesn’t seem to be listening. Tom seems very surprised by Carlos’ choice.

Joining Tom, Emeril, Padma and Gail are mega-chefs Grant Achatz, Andrew Carrellini and most recent Masters’ champion Douglas Keane. The chefs are in awe of these greats.

BB BBQ Shrimp. Tom says her dish doesn’t need the ricotta cheese. He was able t see her and New Orleans in this dish.

Nick About 45 different fish. Grant loved the broth, but the fish was flat. Under-seasoned again. Nick’s tendency. Potentially his downfall at some point.

Carlos Seafood Tamal. Keane (I can’t call him Cap again because of Travis) found it creative. Others liked it, but not a lot of love.

Chung Black Drum. And the Holy Trinity of New Orleans (celery, pepper, onion). Grant liked that. They all like the taste and creativity.

BB was simple and perfect. Chung was a melting pot of sauce – like New Orleans. Nick’s dish was beautiful, but bland. Carlos’ lost heat – perhaps because he didn’t serve on a banana leaf as is tradition.

BB and Chung are on the top – Chung earns the win and makes Uncle Emeril tear up. Both are going to Hawaii. Nick and Carlos again – the way it was edited to go. Bland vs. cold. Carlos gets knifed, and gets the sad Padma elimination face.

The chefs wait until Carlos departs before celebrating. Although they didn’t wait very long – I’m sure he could hear them in the hallway.

Quickfire Hits
• I am amused that Nick freely recognizes his asshole tendencies. He implied a troubled youth – which is such an unexpected theme that runs through many, many talented chefs’ backgrounds. I never would have thought of that dynamic before watching this show.
• Carlos gives the latest reference to this reality show cliché.
• I love how Chung wakes up seemingly in mid-conversation with her dreams.
• Carlos claims to have inspiring people as his main goal. In my experience, those who seek to inspire are usually much less successful at inspiring than those who don’t seek it out.
• Chung put a “piece of herself” in her dish. I am afraid to learn which piece.
• Extra scene – A montage of the chefs nervously presenting their dishes to a myriad of judges.

Next week – Hawaii. Maui. Cooking in the rain. And a Double Elimination.

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