'Top Chef: New Orleans' Recap - Episode 16

The cheftestants travel to Hawaii for the second-to-last episode of the season.

Sam Choy, Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio

Photos courtesy of Bravo

Well, this episode of “Top Chef” was pretty hard to watch. For one, the episode took place in Maui with all its insanely gorgeous beaches and turquoise water and I've been stuck inside all day huddled next to my space heater for warmth during the New Orleans freak snowpocalypse of 2014. And for two, my favorite chef from way back in the beginning of the season, Louis and his adorable smile, fought his way through eight “Last Chance Kitchen” challenges (EIGHT!) to come back as a breath of fresh air and then lost again. Ugh. Also, Nick won both challenges, the “Quickfire” and the “Elimination” and I'm just so over him.

I'm sure he's a nice guy in real life, and he seems to be dedicated to his family and is a great chef when he doesn't over-think every tiny detail and dust everything with fennel pollen, but he's just been such a drip. And so sad. Even Padma mentioned that it was nice to actually see him smile after he won the quickfire challenge and $10,000. I've just been like, “Hey can we get this guy out of the competition so that we don't have to focus on his feelings all the time?”

Doesn't he look happy to be in Maui?

I kid, I kid. But seriously, can Nina win please? Or perhaps I should just start rooting for Nick since I've pretty much rooted for everyone else to beat him and I always end up disappointed. So if you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

Anyways, the two challenges from this episode were both pretty cool but had nothing to do with New Orleans. The only remnant left of our fair city in the competition is judge Emeril Lagasse. Also pretty cool? Padma's outfit.

A blue jumpsuit. I can't even…

Anyways, the “Quickfire” revolves around Spam, which has its own food group in Hawaii; they love the stuff so much there. Everyone does a pretty decent job though Nick doesn't seem all that impressed with the Spam even though its default high salt content pretty much wins him the challenge because everyone is all like, "Wow, Nick actually seasoned his food and it tastes awesome!"

Next up is the “Elimination Challenge,” which as Tom puts it, is a double elimination! Two people will be knifed by the end of the episode. Then famed Hawaiian chef Sam Choy introduces "canoe crops" which are then brought to shore by a boat filled with dudes in loin cloths. Some of the things they'll be working with are sweet potatoes, coconuts, sugar cane, taro and breadfruit.

At this stage in the game, everyone makes great dishes so it's the tiny details that get a person sent home. Shirley expects to shine with her pork dish since everyone else is using fish, but Tom wasn't too sure about her liberal use of honey. The judges also applaud Louis on his risky simple dish of Grilled Opah, but Gail finds inconsistencies. They both get knifed and when Louis gives his second post-knifing interview a tear runs down his cheek and it SLAYS me because he won so many challenges to get there only to leave us so quickly yet again. Oh, the humanity! Also, Shirley's exit is sad, too, because she says she doesn't want to disappoint her family and I'm just like, “Hey, if your family is disappointed that you made it so far on ‘Top Chef’ while being totally awesome and not the least bit of an asshole, then they suck. Hold your head high, girrrrrrl!”

Nick's Opakapaka with Jalapeno and Crispy Chicken Skin

So naturally, Nina makes it through with her Grilled Opah with Taro Root and Coconut, and Nick wins the whole thing with his Opakapaka with Jalapeno and Crispy Chicken Skin. And I don't know… I'm just not very happy with this turn of events. I like Nina and it would be cool for another woman to take the title, but Shirley was my favorite girl in the end. And Nick? Meh. He could win “Top Chef” and $150,000 dollars plus a lifetime supply of Healthy Choice meals and probably still find something to complain about. He's like the archetypal sad friend that everyone has in their group that is always talking about their pain. “Oh, my pain!”

So maybe I'm a little bitter. Maybe I wanted Louis to win the whole thing as I'm a fan of the underdog. And now the underdog is probably Nick because Nina is the Seattle Seahawks to Nick's Broncos. She's beastmode. And just like the Super Bowl on Sunday, I just really don't care anymore because all of my favorites are out.

Next week is the end, my friends! The finale is almost here.

 

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