Hugh Acheson

Hugh quotes Edgar Allen Poe and discusses what an infant American food is in the culinary world.

on Jan 210

So Brian is gone but impossible to forget. Who will make poop jokes?

Melancholy is the opening feeling this season. Nicholas is again our study in sadness. Nicholas is agreeing that he can come across like a caustic arse, but Shirley, in an effort to appeal to everyone, clarifies that he is an arse with a heart. Nicholas listens, and then gets that little glean in his eye that says so much.

"And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over acuteness of the senses?" -- Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

Nicholas is doing this for his Dad, who is in a bad health situation. This is a great thing, and a beautiful act of courage on his part to show his Dad that love. Let's do it with more smiling. I want to yell, "Be happy cooking!," but I know better. My pops is going through a different health quandary, equally as grave. There is no manual on how to take care of the parents we adore. Used to be, they would just get a La-Z-Boy and move into your living room. Nowadays it ain’t so simple.

Carlos is coming into his own as a Mexican food villain. I suggest he watch Machete to relax. If he plays his cards right he could follow in the footsteps of Lorena Garcia. I need a nap again.

"To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub." -- Shakespeare, Hamlet.

Speaking of Shakespeare and wordplay, Gail and Tom are here to tell you what’s up. It’s a two-part Quickfire and Gail wants a perfect bite with alliterative tendencies: Sweet, salty, sour, spice. Not silly or soiled.

Nicholas has had a vision. That vision was that the other chefs are not putting 65 elements on their Quickfire plates. He is adjusting his ideas to be more simple, cause in 2014, "artisanally simple" is the new black. Think Kinfolk and Canal House. Google those and support 'em. Good stuff.

52 comments
Anne184
Anne184

I do think Nicholas has a point. No one else is cooking only yankee, southern, French, Korean, Chinese, etc. If you want to be TOP chef you have to be versatile.Carlos is (I think) one of the only ones who has not gone to culinary school, but worked his way up through the ranks, so props to him for that. But he needs more variety and experimentation to get to the top. For Ms/Mr potato eye to put it all down to 'their belief in the superiority of the eurocentric' is a bit silly. No, not silly-- obnoxious. 

potatoeye
potatoeye

Thank you for pointing this out. The casual way in which some of the chefs dismiss the diversity of mexican food is disappointing. I think their dismissal is a belief in the superiority of the eurocentric, though they themselves might not see how they buy into this ideology. They also belie a lack of insight into the roots of their own cooking and skills. in my any ways, i think they are expressing a general american societal ignorance, which is extremely unfortunate, since of all people their minds should be open to the culinarily novel. 

bsbfankaren
bsbfankaren

Thank you, Hugh! If Carlos were making French everything, there would not be one complaint. Face it, America is enamored with anything European and believes anything Asia is superior, then scoffs at anything created far closer to home. I love Mexican food in all it's incarnations, and I'm glad to see a chef on this show that is able to bring such a storied cuisine the attention it deserves!

wendy18
wendy18

No haters here. I like Carlos, and I like Mexican. I moved from Florida to Louisville expecting to find myself at a loss for Latin inspired dishes. No way. There are tons of great places! My favorite is a privately owed place, where they serve a  Mojarro that melts your heart. I also found Huachinango. I've not been able to find anything quite like it, even in Fl. The manager was kind enough to warn me against bones. Honestly, we never worried about them when I was a child, so why start now? I think there may be more fish-bone haters among us, LOL.

JTY
JTY

Yay, Shirley!  I liked how when Padma announced the Quickfire prize, Shirley was like; 'another car?' She was probably thinking; 'What am I gonna do with another car?' 

I think Carlos' comment to Tom about Nick stealing his oven and his unwillingnes to use the pizza oven back in the LSU challenge have been things the other chefs have been holding against him, somewhat. With Nick, more than somewhat. However, I think Carlos might have used the word 'stole' because he's speaking English as a second language, and in the heat of the moment, it was just an easy although inaccurate way for him to explain why he was taking so long. 

As soon as Tom said that Nick's dish was just good as Nina's and Shirley's except for lacking salt, I knew Carlos would be packing his knives.

sinsin
sinsin

i am sick of mexican food....sorry but i find nothing in it to be excited about.

bkkr
bkkr

TEAM CARLOS!

lindy500
lindy500

I'm glad you mentioned the Mexican-food hate.  I especially thought that Shirley had some nerve accusing him of only cooking Mexican food.  Doesn't she only cook Asian food?  It's not like he made enchiladas and refried beans.  I like Carlos much better than Nicholas, and it's because of the same thing you complain about, Hugh.  He's grumpy and accusatory.  As much as I like Louis, I'm kinda rooting for Carlos in LCK. However, either one will be great.

Inapickle
Inapickle

It's just like the season in Texas, when everyone was hating on Beverly for cooking Asian food. Do these people even realize how they come across? Nicholas, the world does not revolve around you! Ugh! The sense of entitlement in young Americans is embarrassing....

Georgi
Georgi

I love Mexican food and would rather eat that than the crap Nicholas has been putting out.  I am very unhappy to see Nicholas in the final three, he is an a$$ and watching the scene where he yells about Carlos touching his pots just made me dislike him more.

wjc123
wjc123

So long Carlos.  You're a pro.  Don't know what'll happen in the finale, but I'll have to miss it as if I have to see or hear any more of that simpering, whiney, blubbery tool Nick I'll throw my shoe through the TV, and I can't afford another one.


And I agree with the other posts.  Shirley cooks everything with a Chinese bent, and Nina cooks everything with an island bent, so they're both hypocrites. 

JHart610
JHart610

I SO  wish Carlos had shoved his Michelin star in their faces: "Here's what cooking 'only' Mexican food can get you - and without classical training!" Boom!


If you ask me, all of the "he only cooks Mexican food" hate from the other chefs was really "he isn't a classically trained chef like US" hate. And putting him down for "only" cooking Mexican food was a lot like the pot calling the kettle black: Shirley continually cooks Asian (primarily Chinese) food; Nina continually cooks Caribbean-Italian fusion; and Nicholas continually cooks with classical French techniques. 


Carlos, you keep cooking your bad-ass Mexican food, and keep earning those Michelin stars. 

AugustaGa
AugustaGa

I can not fault people when they slam Carlos for only cooking Mexican. I look at a "Top Chef"  as someone who has understanding of more than just one cuisine, who is able to cook more than one kind of dish, after all this is not "top Scallop." Carlos skated by on a couple challenges by making food that did not really fit with what was requested. IMO his last dish was the least telling as far as what he learned and took from his experience in New Orleans. Don't get me wrong I love good Mexican food but show me something more if you are going to claim yourself a top chef.

KatefromHackensack
KatefromHackensack

I am a big fan of Carlos & trying to find out what happened to him in last chance  kitchen.

Cannot hear so rely on subtitles, they were few & far between on Last  chance Kitchen


Sometimes I think that the producers are taking audience for granted.


Oh well...

BobbiNJ
BobbiNJ

Always enjoy your take on the show. Hope you're back on screen for the finale!

Scorpion1
Scorpion1

I made the same comment on twitter last night about why all the hating on Mexican food. Apparently Shirley didn't like my comment because she tweeted me back that there was no hating and they were all friends. I retweeted Shirley that that was cool that they are all friends but to me it was the comments weren't cool. (I actually enjoyed watching Shirley and Nina every week and would love to taste their food.) But I guess my tweet ticked her off. LOL


I personally think the comments were borderline offensive, and based on the tweets I saw last night I think I wasn't the only one. Who cares if Carlos did Mexican food that is who he is as a chef, just like Shirley leaned more towards her Asian culture, and what's wrong with that, NOTHING. Your food should be and extension of who you are. Well Carlos's Mexican food was good enough to get him through to the final four, and I feel the wrong person went home last night. Every season as far back as I can remember Tom makes a comment on how if you can't season your food properly you have no business on Top Chef, cooking 101 or something to that effect, looks like Nick got yet another pass.

PaulainVA
PaulainVA

Thoroughly enjoyable episode of TC, and great summation in your blog, Chef Hugh.  I couldn't agree more about the hating on Mexican cuisine.  Nobody talks about Rick Bayless like that.  For all his lack of fancy training, I was frequently amazed at Carlos' innovation and modern take on Mexican classics.  I loved when he talked smack about Roy Choi's critique of his al Pastor.  I have to say, a few petty complainers aside, this has to be one of the most likeable crews of TC contestants ever.  I'm pulilng for Shirley; but I would have no complaint if Nina, Carlos or Louis won.  Nick is talented, but he needs to grow up a little and develop some people skills.  I would not enjoy working for him.  He has hinted at some troubled times in his past; but if you want to play in the big leagues you need more than technical skills.

momacat
momacat

Hugh, I bet there would be a long waiting list for that WOF workout bar, hilarious as usual.  Also thanks for your comments about Mexican food hate, couldn't agree more.  Worst thing about the season coming to an end will be the withdrawal symptoms suffered from missing your blog!

jerseygirl_aatrh
jerseygirl_aatrh

Wait, but Carlos only cooked Mexican food. Correct me if I'm wrong, but he didn't create something new with Mexican flavors or incorporate them into dishes from different cuisines. Or even try new techniques.  And isn't that what he's being criticized for? Especially in a challenge where he was asked to cook something inspired by New Orleans cuisine? 


And yes, I miss Brian too.  He made Nick's whining & Carlos' smugness bearable. Can Bravo bring him back and send Nick home too?  

Jeanine2
Jeanine2

All season long there have been complaints about Nicholas not seasoning his food along with the Spanish vs. French food debacle. He should have been sent home last night.  


As for the Mexican food thing, they're all food snobs. They think of Mexican food as being in line with fast food/ Taco Bell. It's annoying , very annoying. 

itsonlyashow
itsonlyashow

Thanks for another great blog.  I was a little disappointed to see Carlos go, but with Shirley and Nina being so dominant, I didn't think he'd win the whole thing anyway.  I'm rooting for Louis--I think it would be exciting for him to pull a Kristin and win the title. I appreciate your comments about Mexican food and don't understand how so many seem to have such a limited vision of it.  In the past there have been other chefs who only cooked food with Italian or Asian flavors, and I don't see a problem with that.  So much "American" food is multicultural anyway, and it's only going to get more so.  Maybe shows like this can help expand the culinary horizons of those who think of Mexican food as just enchiladas and tacos.

ana.lili
ana.lili

Carlos was robbed of his place. ridiculous - even chef Hugh noticed there was some shade being thrown about Mexican food and the Mexican chef!!

panamafelix
panamafelix

Hugh,


Thank you for writing such witty, insightful blogs.  I totally agree about the hating of Carlos cooking only Mexican food.  He cooks from the heart which is the most important thing.  People cook what they know.  Nick was blessed to be able to go to culinary school.  Carlos was busy washing dishes and working his way up.  Why is any one way considered better than the other?  Mexican cuisine is incredibly complex, Carlos is a chef in his own right.  

Vic2012
Vic2012

I thought both Carlos and Nick should have been sent home a while ago. Nick, 4 straight finishes on the bottom, yet, in the final. What? 

jmmack50
jmmack50

Thank god for the wise words of Hugh. I love you. Honestly took the words right out of my mouth.  This season would be so much more enjoyable without the depressing Daria hybrid Tom Cruise-esque musings of Nick. "I won 500 million medals in fast running" "I have severe stress problems" "The guy who intimidates me is clearly trying to sabotage me"  "I clearly am a clear winner for the French challenge because of my classical training and big talk about french food" "I know how to cook baby food 27 1/2 different ways". YOU HURT MY EARS. Additionally, double true on the comment about backing off the mexican food hating.  Isn't Shirley cooking primarily Chinese? And Nina Italian? If its delicious who cares! Cook your food! 

BlondeGator1
BlondeGator1

Since Gail's blog is not yet up, I just wanted to let her know that she looked radiant and positively stunning with her hair pulled back in the QuickFire.  Happy life, Gail & hubs, w/new baby.


The rest of the episode went about as I suspected it would.  All in all, a fairly good season.  I'm happy to see the cheftestants relish each others' victories, rather than being petulant.  It's nice.  (Next season, could we have more "skills-based" quickfire challenges, early on....and fewer team elimination challenges after RW?)


Mr. Keane seemed to be doing well after his season on Masters....would love to get an update on how he's faring with his dog rescue, etc.  I started watching that season not liking him much, but by the end I was thrilled that he won it all.  Very nice fellow.


Finally, Emeril, is it possible that you could be any nicer?  No, I don't think so!  You are probably the most gracious, kind person on the planet.  (You're cute too, Hugh, but not enough air time, alas).

Leeba39
Leeba39

@JTYoh please! I am tired of hearing Carlos is speaking English as a second language BS, he knew exactly what he was saying. He threw Nick under the bus then played dumb!

wjc123
wjc123

@JTY I agree totally with your take on Carlos' use of stole.  Just goes to show how intolerant (some of) the contestants are.  But living well is the best revenge, and Carlos will go back to his highly acclaimed restaurant in Mexico and Nick will go back to collecting unemployment and crying about his family and the unfairness of life.    

roidarius
roidarius

@AugustaGa I think what you're missing here is that Carlos is ALREADY a top chef. He has a Michelin star from cooking his food! Carlos continually shows that he knows how to work with the ingredients. Mexican, Central American and South American food has such depth that he should be able to cook that cuisine throughout the competition. 


I'm just getting jealous vibes from the "classically-trained" chefs who don't have Michelin stars and have not succeeded on their own. That truly set Carlos apart from them.

JHart610
JHart610

@AugustaGa  I somewhat agree, but if that's the case, then NONE of this year's top three fit that mold. As I stated above, Shirley continually cooks Asian (primarily Chinese) food; Nina continually cooks Caribbean-Italian fusion; and Nicholas continually cooks with classical French techniques. Only Louis, if he is the one to advance through LCK, seems to not stick to a certain cuisine.

BlondeGator1
BlondeGator1

@KatefromHackensack They hid the LCK winner from all of the viewers.  So you haven't missed a thing...just have to wait for next week.  From the comments, I have to think Louis will win, but I've been wrong before. 

titi550
titi550

@Scorpion1 EXACTLY!!!  I though Nick was the only bully there until I heard Shirley and Nina last night, they couldn't make it more obvious, poor Carlos.. I am glad you won the car!!

Shirley: shut up. you cooked your Chinese food all the episodes and no one said a word about it

GingerSnap102
GingerSnap102

@jerseygirl_aatrh So the tamale was cooked without Masa, which IS the New Orleans influence.  Granted, that's not much of a change, but it is what he learned in New Orleans.


You could probably level the same critique at Shirley, since her dish centered around cooking a New Orleans fish in a Chinese vinegar with sirachi.


So I think Carlos had a few other errors with the dish. But I'm glad to see him gone; he was a sandbagging the whole time he was there.

GingerSnap102
GingerSnap102

@Jeanine2 LOL, but this season is just a repeat of Top Chef Texas, when the only thing Beverly could cook was ASIAN food.  The cuisine that's on the chopping block this season is Mexican. LOL

titi550
titi550

@ana.lili  I agree!  I don't know about Nina, but Nick and Shirley {who I can tell likes Nick A LOT!!}  they both have horrible personalities.

titi550
titi550

@panamafelix I don't get Nina or Shirley at all! specially Shirley, cheering Nick like a teenager... so ridiculous and so disrespectful towards Carlos listening to all that.

Vic2012
Vic2012

@BlondeGator1 Totally agree, Gail looked stunning, I wasn't even looking at Padma. As for the season, its been pretty dissappointing, but at least the most one dimensional chef to ever appear has finally been sent home. Seriously, every single dish was Mexican. 

msmith76
msmith76

Well eeven if it is Carlos or Louis I will be happy.  I like them both.  Best wishes.

dinoudinou
dinoudinou

@titi550@panamafelix- it doesn't seem like Carlos bothered to make friends. It's because he's a back stabbing jerk. If you look at his exit interview, he comes across as an entitled moron. Nick is able to get along with Shirley and Nina, why can't Carlos unless he has a chip on his shoulder or the producers don't show other things that have been going on behind the scenes. The most talented chefs on the show are Nina,Shirley, and Louis. Carlos should have been sent packing long ago.

msmith76
msmith76

Yes, I felt sorry for Carlos when both Nina and Shirley told NICK in front of Carlos thathey hope he is not eliminated.

BlondeGator1
BlondeGator1

@Vic2012@BlondeGator1 Well, Vic, I've spent quite a bit of time in about half the states (28) of Mexico, and the cuisine there is at least as complex as it is here.  We have Southern, Carribean, Tex-Mex, Cajun/Creole, Southwest, Native American, California, Northwest, nine hundred types of BBQ, Heartland, New York, New England cuisines....etc.

I've been honing my own Mexican repertoire over the last seven years, and it's challenging....and delicious!  Unfortunately, many here in the US view Mexican cuisine as merely Taco Bell or a standard Tex-Mex diner in complexity and sophistication.  It truly is world class food.


I'm not a Carlos fan, BTW....mostly because of his demeanor and entitled whining and complaining.  But I checked out his restaurant website, which is impressive.  He's doing Mexican/French fusion, and his cooking is impressive, although he'd be a better chef if he had some formal education (remember the goose leg shards in the QF?).  


I quite liked this season, I thought they had a pretty great group of chefs, and the "right" ones who were all mouth and no forehead got whacked early (that doof from NO comes to mind).  I could whine a bit about the editing of the show with the Nick/Carlos drama (I think Nick got the Sarah treatment). 


Can't wait for the finale....I am hoping for Nina/Shirley, but I suspect one of them will have an ill-timed disaster.  I fully expect if that happens that Louis makes the final.  He's a rock star....and 8 weeks in LCK has fine tuned his competitive edge, a la Kirsten Kish last season.

rascasse
rascasse

@Vic2012 @BlondeGator1 Really??  Every single dish was Mexican?  Let's see - pork belly with tamarind glaze - mexican?  mussels with romesco - mexican?  roasted pepper soup - mexican?  shrimp wrapped in grilled mango - mexican?  Why don't you gripe about the one dimensional classical french cooking from a seriously grumpy chef?