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'Top Chef' Finale Recap: Nicholas Beats Nina For Title Of Top Chef

'Top Chef' Finale Recap: Nicholas Beats Nina For Title Of Top Chef

02/06/2014

Nicholas Elmi is crowned the winner of Top Chef in the season 11 finale of the cooking show, beating out longtime favorite Nina Compton.

To kick off the finale, Padma Lakshmi brought in previously eliminated contestants to act as helpers. As winner of last week’s challenge, Nick got to choose his team first, selecting Jason, Louis and Brian. Nina chose Shirley, Stephanie and Travis – her top three regardless of Nick’s “advantage.”

Each chef is tasked with preparing a four-course meal for an entire restaurant. During prep, Tom visited the kitchens and gave the chefs some last minute critique. He played mind games with Nick first, clearly disapproving of Jason as his first pick helper, before moving onto Nina where he questioned her dessert choice.

Nina planed her four courses as Island with an Italian twist, serving a first course of tuna tartare with tomato water and jalapeno. Tom loved it, and the second course was also a hit among the judges. It was the third course that began to count against Nina. She made a swordfish dish that the judges agreed had excellent flavor, but lacked a certain texture. Finally, her dessert also failed to grab any adoration from the judges.

Nicholas Loses It In The Kitchen

Nicholas’ time in the kitchen was far more dramatic. He took his role as chef by the horns and screamed at his staff all night.

Nicholas’ first two dishes were duds with the judges, who felt Nick got the balance of flavors all wrong due to underseasoning and then overseasoning. His third course, a duck dish, was also problematic for the judges. Emeril thought his duck was chewy, but Tom enjoyed the dish despite its flaws. Tom was particularly forgiving that night, as he also criticized Nick’s panna cotta dessert for being too gelatinous, but said he liked it overall.

The judges had a tough deliberation, as both Nina and Nicholas had given uneven performances throughout their four-course meals. Tom was a firm Nick supporter, with Hugh and Padma in camp Nina and Emeril torn between the two. In the end, Nicholas won the prize of being crowned the new Top Chef.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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More on Top Chef:

'Top Chef' Recap: Shirley And Louis Eliminated In Hawaiian-Themed Challenge

'Top Chef' Recap: The Chefs Butcher A Pig; Louis Is Eliminated

'Top Chef' Recap: Nick Gets Strep Throat, Patty Is Eliminated

Read more: Top Chef, Nicholas Elmi, Nina Compton

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