'Top Chef New Orleans' Recap: 'Jazz Hands' Episode 7

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Last week on “Top Chef” the chefs were overwhelmed by guest judge John Besh, and Bene went home for cooking dry vegetables. Nina still is the odds on favorite to win after sweeping the challenges last week. Before the action kicks off we learn that Nick has caught a case of strep throat. As the medic reminds viewers people with strep should neither be around people or food. That’s something that could get in the way for him in a cooking competition. Padma informs the group that if Nick can’t cook during the elimination challenge then he will be leaving the show.

The cheftestants (gosh I hate that fake word, thanks Bravo) enter the kitchen to find a man in spectacular pants. It’s jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins here to serve as this week’s guest judge. He can’t be worse than Lea Michele’s cheese party. The Quickfire Challenge deals with improvisation. The chefs have thirty minutes to cook a dish from some of Kermit’s favorite ingredients, however every time Kermit plays his trumpet the chefs have to rotate stations. Each station is equipped with different tools so planning ahead could be impossible. Since musical chairs has no copyright attached it becomes a perfect game for “Top Chef”.

Kermit starts playing and all of the chefs start dancing around the room like a class of 3rd graders. The music stops and off they go with their dishes. Before long Kermit starts playing and the dishes of the chefs completely change. Travis complains that Nina’s dish, which he inherited, is French with Asian ingredients. By the end of the game most of the dishes have been completely ruined. Every chef thinks the others work is crap. This year’s group is more angry than brash.

Some of Kermit’s least favorite dishes were Louis and his frog legs which needed more spice. Justin’s tofu salad was also too simple for Kermit. He loved Carlos’ red fish with the crispy skin, which Kermit raved about. Brian’s Duck and Mussel dish was also in the top, and in the end he won the challenge and immunity for the next challenge. Sara was annoyed and jealous that the station she started on won the competition.

The Elimination Challenge deals with collaboration. For the challenge the chefs have to work together on a pot luck style menu. They are serving at Kermit’s Speakeasy in groups of four, and Nick is assigned to a team even though he is dealing with strep. Kermit invites the chefs to come down to a bar for some jazz, BBQ, and red beans and rice. Back at the house Nick speaks to his team over the phone, and seems in better health.

The next day the show’s doctor comes in and clears Nick to cook. The groups then start their prep work in the kitchen for the pot luck challenge. The word “elevate” is being used a lot to describe their menus. One team is trying an Italian themed pot luck, while another goes classic American in their ingredient choices. The teams load up their carts with their food and off they head to Kermit’s Speakeasy for 30 minutess of cook time in the kitchen.

The first team to present is the blue team with grits, vegetables, and glazed beef. Gail likes the grits, but thinks there is a ton of butter in them. The vegetables get solid reviews from Tom, and the crowd seems to love the beef. In the middle of service Kermit hops on the drums, and because he owns the place everyone is forced to silently watch him work the sticks. Get the party vibe that Bravo is trying to give us here?

The next team was the grey team with their version of a chef’s picnic. They present fried chicken, watermelon and goat cheese salad, barramundi, and ribs. The fish is dry and overcooked, and the rub on the ribs tasted too much like smoke. The one safe dish, the watermelon and goat cheese salad, was knocked for lack of flavor. That chef could be in danger of heading home.

The third team to serve the judges was the red team’s Italian pot luck. The dishes presented were fried artichokes, gnocchetti, and summer tiramisu. Tom asks around for reaction on the artichokes, and the crowd calls them delicious. Gail likes the dishes, but Kermit questions if this is an authentic New Orleans pot luck. Kermit who never eats sweets loves the team’s dessert.

Padma calls the grey team in to see the judges, and immediately the remaining chefs speculate this is the bottom team. Their suspicions are quickly confirmed when Padma reveals that they are the bottom group, and one of them will go home. Tom knocks on Nick’s fish for being dry and overcooked. Travis liked his ribs, but the judges thought the meat was covered in a slick of spices. The grey team is sent back to the stew room while the top four chefs are called in for praise.

Stephanie’s artichoke dish was well cooked and had great fried capers. Nina, making gnocchi for the second time, gets praise, and claims it is “therapeutic” for her to make them. Guest judge Sue announced the winner and Stephanie won for her smart touch with the fried artichokes. According to her she hasn’t won anything since High School. That’s a winning attitude.

Of course the happiness over Stephanie’s win is short lived because one of the chefs on the grey team is going home. Brian’s fried chicken dish seems to be the best of the bunch. Nick’s fish seemed to take the most hits, but I still say Patty’s watermelon salad could be the bottom dish this week. In the end Padma announced that the chef going home in the Kermit Ruffin’s challenge is Patty for her lame salad.

Patty tears up, and heads off for Last Chance Kitchen because you can’t play it safe and have a bad dish on “Top Chef”. She’s really upset. Next week the show brings on Dr. John and a whole pig for the Quickfire Challenge, and an Elimination Challenge featuring outdoor BBQ cooking.

 

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