Recap: Top Chef Maui Wowie

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Here we are in beautiful Maui!  Considering I’m watching this in 20-degree Boston weather, I’m pretty jealous.  The contestants have been away from each other for a while, and although it’s only been a week since I’ve seen them, I feel emotional seeing them “again.”  Maybe it’s because Top Chef does this little montage leading into Hawaii.  I know that Shirley and Nina really deserve to be here, and I’m even feeling good about Nicholas.  One man who definitely deserves to be here is Louis: with 8 Last Chance Kitchen wins, this guy definitely earned his way back in.  Oh also, Padma looks FABULOUS.  Who can pull off a halter jumpsuit like that?  Only Padma.  Okay, let’s cook!

The Hawaiian Quickfire is all about Spam!  (30 minutes)

  • Shirley makes a deconstructed spam masubi with span-infused rice, nori, and cucumber slaw
  • Louis makes a spam mousse with garlic, chives, scallions, snap peas, beech mushrooms, and togarashi
  • Nick makes spam broth with pancetta, seaweed, dried shrimp, clam juice, and quail egg
  • Nina makes breadfruit and teriyaki spam croquette with sour orange and mango slaw

Hawaiian guest judge Sam Choy announced the Quickfire winner— Nick!  He gets ten thousand bucks for the win.

One more hurdle between the cheftestants and the finale.  The chefs must create a dish using canoe crops for a party in their honor.  Literally, their pantry is a canoe paddling in as Padma announced the challenge.  Tom drops a bomb: this is a double elimination challenge, and only two will go to the finale.

The chefs get to work.  The canoe crops seem to be a lot of cool island-y things like coconut, taro, and moonfish (opah).  The chefs worry that they will have similar flavors in their dishes.  Nicholas is doing something obscenely complicated again, taking the game plan of getting as many canoe crops into his dish as possible.  The chefs pack up for the day to resume cooking tomorrow.  The scenery is actually beating out the food for me in this episode… mainly because tastevision isn’t a thing.

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It’s the day of the party, and the chefs are working outdoors.  Tom comes around to check on everyone and let’s them know the winner of this round with have an advantage going in to the finale.  He doesn’t tell them what it is, but of course they all want it.  Then the skies open up and it starts to rain.

“Who’s the one to beat?  Mother nature is the one to beat!”

Then the rain stops, the music picks up, and I’m so ready to see everyone’s dishes!  Tom’s back with Padma, Emeril, and a suddenly 7-months pregnant Gail!  Gosh she looks amazing too— radiant in red!  Now it’s time for the judges to taste.

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Inconsistency in cooking seems to be a problem with Louis’s dish.

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Gail seems to like this opah better than the previous.  Everyone agrees that Nina’s is beautiful and delicious!

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There is a bit of debate about the jalapeño here, but Tom and Gail think it works.

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Shirley’s pork is well cooked, but Tom thinks it’s too sweet.

Hey, the TV’s back for the Hawaiian stew room.  Judges table commences, and everyone is called in.  Everyone is so confident at the judges’ table, and you can see the teary gleam of pride in all of the judges’ eyes!  Everyone comes out talking about how that was the nicest judges’ table ever.  But only two can go on to the finale.

After the commercial break, our four cheftestants stand in front of the four judges.  Emeril announces the winner: Nicholas!

“I think I just made it to the finale!”

Padma asks Louis to pack his knives and go.  I’m genuinely sad for him, because why wouldn’t you be?  But I really think these two ladies deserve it.  Padma also asks Shirley to pack her knives and go.  Padma says this in the saddest way I’ve ever heard.  I’m actually almost crying watching Shirley go, but that means joining Nicholas in the finale is NINA!

So the final showdown is Nick v. Nina!

My money is on Nina, but Nick’s been on SUCH a role lately.  Who do you think will win the title of Top Chef?!

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