Top Chef Recap

By David Mumpower

February 5, 2014

We were sad to see you both go.

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Previously on Top Chef, Carlos won the battle and a new car as his prize. Alas, Nick won the war, at least for the time being. The two gentlemen who have feuding bffs for a large portion of the season finally locked horns in a Quickfire challenge. Carlos claimed that prize only to see himself voted out of Top Chef later that evening as Nick simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief.

With Carlos (temporarily?) out of the game, Top Chef claims only three players in the winner’s bracket. They are Nina, Shirley and Nick. Two of them absolutely deserve a spot in the finale. Nick should be happy to be there in more than just a proverbial sense. He has narrowly avoided doom at Judges Table so many times by now that I wonder if he is the illegitimate son of John McClane.

Nick’s most famous incident occurred a few episodes ago when he won immunity during the Quickfire challenge. He then proceeded to lead a three player team off a cliff before reminding his cohorts that he had packed the only parachute. Shirley managed to survive. Stephanie, the narrator of season 11, was removed from the competition for cooking exceptionally well in that challenge. Nick was offered the chance to fall on his sword, and the judges strongly hinted that such a move would be the right thing for him. Since he has earned a place in the final three, his selfish but understandable decision has been validated. It just sucks for Stephanie.


The good news for Nick is that the location has changed to Maui, Hawaii. No, I am not saying that Nick has a natural advantage with Polynesian cuisine. My thought process here is one I have noted in recaps for previous seasons. The last thing a chef wants to do is lose a hot streak due to a sabbatical for Top Chef filming. That especially applies to Shirley, who has been the alpha female during the second half of the season. Taking a couple of months off from competition has historically cooled down some of the hottest chefs. Conversely, the people who are in Nick’s “happy to be there” category are playing with house money and they know it. They have nothing to lose, and the lack of restrictions enables them to take chances with their cooking. Nick is free rolling tonight, and that should be to his advantage.

With regards to Nina and Shirley, there is not a lot that needs to be said. Nina has been the perceived champion chef since her arrival. She has suffered through a few hiccups here and there. Overall, her cooking has been exemplary as well as consistent. Nina also possesses a rare level of self-confidence. The daughter of a former Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Nina has demonstrated no issues with entitlement. To the contrary, she is the proverbial coach’s son, outworking the others in order to demonstrate that she is not the beneficiary of nepotism.

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