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Hugh on Poor Boys, Swingers and Food Trucks

Hugh continues to look for Nicholas' spirit animal, compares his voice to Jon Favreau, and sends a note to Brian.

Well hey there. Let me first go over my reactions to last week’s episode, fully articulated in my last blog post. Lots of comments showed up and I appreciate the candor that you all have about the episode. Two things to go over:

1. I think Pepin’s remark was just an off-the-cuff remark. It was just his view of the situation. That’s it. No one expected Nick to actually fall on his sword, and it won’t be held against him at all.

2. There is a perception that I am picking on Nick. I am not. Nick picks on himself. I just document the incidents. I like him a lot and he’s a good man, just very competitive and he takes this stuff very seriously. I will not stop chronicling his search for his spirit animal, which I think is an angry mongoose.

Roy Choi hot-wired the food truck world with Kogi in Los Angeles. He has been a revolutionary when it comes to restaurants and putting soul into food. The ever-critical Francis Lam and I ate at A-Frame, one of Roy’s brick and mortar places in Culver City not too long ago, and had a stellar, fun, and truly community-minded experience. Totally cool. If you want to know more about how Roy thinks and what he believes in you should watch his talk at the Mad Symposium this year. 

It's a po' boy Quickfire. There is no real definition of what has to be on a po' boy but they just have to be really good sandwiches. The only repeating factor is that all po' boys come on quasi-French bread. Outside of that you could do anything. Roy does want them to tell their story through their sandwich though. I guess my Spirit Po' Boy would be a pork sausage with french fries, cheese curds, and gravy -- The Canadian Heart Stopper.

Anyhow this is what they made:

Brian: Asian Lobster Po' Boy, Gochujang Aioli, Yuzu with Pickled Napa Cabbage
Nicholas: Fried Shrimp Po' Boy with Mayo, Sriracha, Fennel, and Pancetta
Carlos: Al Pastor Po' Boy with Guajillo Chilies, Pineaple, Onions, and Roasted Garlic
Shirley: Sauteed Catfish Po' Boy with Mirin, Ginger, Garlic Glaze, and Cabbage Slaw
Nina: Fried Mahi Po' Boy with Mojo Aioli and Pickled Onions

They all miss the boat. Roy is very disappointed. He's holding them to an unattainable standard I think. Alas, Shirley wins but they all feel like losers. It's kind of sad. Go easy on them Roy.

Jon Favreau walks in. Elf is Nicholas' favorite movie, which Favreau directed. This is Nicholas showing his nice side. It's a softer and reborn Nick. I don't think it will last.

"Just kidding!" is the new gimmick. Padma did it recently and now Favreau follows suit with a dumpster diving joke-challenge. I know you directed Elf, Jon, but evidently you did not write the jokes.

We get a preview of "Who moved my pot?." The dealers of Colorado are also asking this question. Nicholas looks very angry, and I am forecasting cloudy weather.


They go to a food truck crawl. They lament about their career choices. Gail cheers them on. Emeril cheers them on. I am sleeping in my hotel.


They wake up and shop.

Nicholas talks about his carrot tasting plate. It is "him" on a plate. It’s his transition from classical to contemporary French chef, like a French mime, going from the box to the window routine.

Nicholas is no Kofi Annan. This pot thing is a little psychotic. "Do not move my pots. Do not move my pots!" I try to calm him down while cooing to my TV, but there is no point to that. This is water under the bridge. Like a Class 6 rapid.

So their challenge is to make a dish that represents your career turning point. They get cooking and right before service begins Tom and Jon come in to check on the chefs. Jon is wearing a black chef coat, which I am not sure how I feel about this. Anyhoo, he wears it well.

"Seriously?" Nicholas is his own worst enemy and has blackened his quinoa. He claims there was a second shooter. He also proclaims that he is "getting angry." This is a new bumper sticker that goes right next to your "Ain’t Skeered," "No Fear" and "Nugent for President" stickers.

Favreau has a very similar voice as me. Close your eyes. It's a little unsettling because we look nothing alike. Maybe it's just me.

The location is Café Reconcile and it's a restaurant like no other. It provides life skills and training for young people who could be going down not so good paths. They all taste the food during the service and some of their reactions are priceless. Best Yelp ever would be, "I mean it's not nasty or nothing but it's just too gooey."

Dunkin’ Donuts time in the stew room. They all get summoned to the gang plank. Emeril tells the chefs that they inspired all of the crew at Café Reconcile.

Brian: Chicken Anticucho with Twice Cooked Potatoes and Feta Walnut Pesto. Brian’s dish gets the heavy. Raw potato. Chicken breast?
Nicholas: Yellowfin Tuna, Several Preparations of Carrot and Fennel Pollen Dust. Nicholas complains about an oven. And the evil elf that turned it up. Anyhoo, the judges don’t really even like his carrots and tuna.
Carlos: Braised Pork Belly With Sweet Potato Puree and Chipotle Tamarind Glaze. Carlos gets a gold star for a great signature dish. He then tears up.
Shirley: Seared Snapper with Crustacean Broth, Silken Tofu, and Napa Cabbage. Shirley is killin’ it.
Nina: Fettuccine with Charred Calamari, Pine Nut Germolata, and Crab Meat. They loved Nina’s pasta.

Shirley wins with her snapper. She's on a roll.

Brian packs his bag full of penis jokes.

Dear Brian,

You deserve so much to have come this far. You cook in a way that is fun and pure and shows so much respect for those who have taught you. You understand food really well. The way you exit this competition always shows a lot about who you are underneath it all and you did it with poise and class. And you're funny as hell.

Now go cut your hair. We'll get a beer soon.


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