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‘Top Chef: New Orleans’ Recap: Mississippi Mud Bugs

By / 01.02.14

padma mudbug

Last time on Top Chef: I was stuck in some country without Bravo. It was pretty great. Anyway, Questlove showed up, everybody got pissed at Carlos, and Justin went home.

This week on Top Chef: Crawdads and etouffee! The shellfish that looks like horrible tiny mutant lobsters and the dish that looks like vomit on rice. Fortunately both taste really good.

What follows are the random thoughts that came to mind last night as I watched the show.

-The show hasn’t even started yet and I’m playing my own game of “guess which chef knew they were coming to New Orleans and didn’t think to learn how to make great etouffee.” I’m going with Carlos.

-The seven remaining chefs toast to their continued presence on television.

-Stephanie is talking to her boyfriend/employee, meanwhile Nicholas is still really pissed at Carlos for sandbagging him to Tom. Might be time to let it go.

-John Besh is back to announce the crawfish etouffee quickfire challenge.

-Steaphanie is allergic to all seafood that turns red in water. WHAT? That’s a crazy specific allergy, Steph. Anyway, Carlos fetches her mud creatures while Carrie stands by just dying for the opportunity to sink that EpiPen into Stephanie’s leg and/or heart.

-“Ettouffee? I’ve never heard that before.” Yes, Carlos! I knew I could count on you. He’s just going to cook soup, or something.

-Nicholas is “smothering” his etouffee in…cabbage. He’s never cooked the dish either. Did these guys not know the show was in New Orleans this year? Or have they never seen Top Chef.

 crawdads“F*ck it, we’ll cook ‘em live.”

-Shirley is the only one who cooked rice. She’s worried she took the challenge too literally. No, Shirley. Everyone else is stupid.

-Nina is up first with her pici pasta and tomato crawfish broth. It looks pretty tasty. The judges enjoyed it.

-Carrie took things in a Spanish direction with crawfish broth thickened with chickpeas and almonds.

-Nicholas prepared crawfish with shrimp mousse stuffed in Napa cabbage with brandy and corn. At least it looks like vomit?

-Shirley’s Singapore chili crab etouffee with crawfish stock, cucumber and egg. It looks like the clear winner so far. John Besh exclaims “I could eat a whole bowl of it.” Yes, John, that’s usually how food works.

-Brian is my new favorite because he made gochujang etouffee. For those who aren’t Korean or H-Mart hipster shoppers, gochujang is Korean for “super tasty life-changing pepper paste.” His dish has corn, peppers, crab, crawfish, andoullie and pasta. And a whole crawfish that is sunk head first into the bowl with its tail hooked on the rim. Give him all of the immunity right now. I don’t even care how it tastes.

-Carlos stuck with his mother’s homey Mexican soups. This one has crawfish, guajillos, garlic, corn,, potatoes, and crispy chorizo. There is no way in the world that this should ever be called “etouffee,” but it looks good. Padma calls Carlos out for having no clue what he’s doing. She would have made such a good/bad high school teacher. You know, if she wasn’t so good looking.

-Stephanie couldn’t taste her crawfish bisque with Parisian gnocchi and poached crawfish due to her aforementioned make-believe allergy. But you don’t have to be able to taste it to know that bisque and etouffee are totally different things.

-John didn’t like the offerings from Carrie, Nicholas, or Stephanie. They were either not good, or not etouffee. Carlos gets a special mention for his dish which just wasn’t even close. Let’s go to Nicholas for a reaction…

nicholas smirk

-That’s some high quality schadenfreude. It’s also fair trade and sustainably sourced.

-Carlos says if they give him another chance to make etouffee again then he knows what he’s going to make. Fifty bucks says it’s not etouffee.

-John loved the other three dishes. Shirley wins, and earns immunity from the elimination challenge. Speaking of which…

-This week’s elimination will be a big ass party thrown by Louisiana Seafood. The challenge is to create a dish highlighting two different types of seafood. Oh and they’re cooking for a thousand people. That’s f*cked up. Wait, Padma was kidding. It’s just 200, which is good news for the Gulf’s critter supply.

-Before we get to that business, we’re all invited to John Besh’s house for a simple down home Louisiana feast. DON’T EMBARRASS ME.

-John’s house is huge and absolutely beautiful. Shocker. He cooks them a bunch of perfect food in his perfect kitchen. Everyone has a sazerac in front of them, and OH GOD WHAT DID STEPHANIE JUST EAT?


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