Archive for the ‘Top Chef’ Category

Top Chef. Season 3. Miami. Chopping Block 5.

July 21, 2007

Top Chef Ladies on Balcony

Guest Judge: Maria Frumkin, DUO Restaurant, Miami, FL
Quickfire Winner: Joey Paulino, Cafe des Artistes, New York, NY
Challenge Winner: Howie Kleinberg, The Food Gang, Surfside, FL
Eliminated: Lia Bardeen, Jean-Georges, New York, NY

In the 5th episode of Bravo‘s Top Chef, Guest Judge Maria Frumkin, of the acclaimed DUO Restaurant in Miami, FL, graces us with her presence. The native of Argentina has been decorated with honors as a pastry chef, a skill proven vacant in most Top Chef contestants over the past 3 seasons.

Maria Frumkin, DUO Restaurant, Miami, FL

Evidently, Padma and I think alike on many levels (some unmentionable) in her reference to last week’s “dessert debacle” by Team Dale. So, this week Padma challenged all of the chefs to create anything they wished using a frozen pie crust.

Dale really had aspirations of redeeming himself in the Quickfire, but it was Joey who snatched the immunity with his humble pastry pairing. With roots similar to Tom himself, Joey has begun to understand the competition for what it is. His complaining has never solved anything, and instead has bonded with Howie and has found his groove.

Joey Quickfire 5 Winner

Still, I believe Joey is somewhat immature under all that exterior and the pressure will most likely get to him before it’s all said and done. On the other hand, Hung‘s as immature as can be. He is still challenging the judges and honestly believes the things that come out of his mouth. I’m embarassed for him at this point.

Hung Quickfire 5 Loss

But more importantly, Casey Thompson is beginning to slip in the ranks. Since the show actually has credibility, I’m not sure how long being attractive can keep you in a competition like this. And the whole Lynyrd Skynyrd look just isn’t working either.

Casey Thompson

The problem is if we lose her, then we lose the audience. So Casey better bring her A game next week or we might have to start watching men cook.

Casey Thompson

So, the Elimination Challenge asked the chefs to cater a “Latin Lunch” for stars of the Telemundo novella “Dame Chocolate.” Originally, the chefs were allotted 3 hours to prepare their dishes. After concepts and dishes had already been initiated, Tom entered the kitchen declaring the lunch had been moved forward 1.5 hours. The chefs handled the news in a variety of ways.

Howie’s Braised Pork Shoulder with Yuca Sour Orange Mojo

Howie decided to braise his pork to maintain the juices that are lost often times in a catered lunch. Much to Tom’s dismay, the braised pork dish went over very well with the judges, and Howie triumphed.

Howie Wins Elimination 5

Upon receiving a bottle of Argentinian wine from Frumkin as a token of accomplishment, Howie then awarded the prize to his new best bud Joey. Throughout the lunch, Howie was feasting on Joey’s Bean Stew w/ Lobster, Shrimp, Chicken & Chorizo, an homage to his “Spanish” boys from back home.

Elimination 5

For the elimination proceedings, Hung, Casey, and Sara N. were all at risk, but Lia was chopped as predicted. The judges were lost to the concept of her Smoked Rainbow Trout with Polenta Cake. It just didn’t translate to the task at hand and she was asked to pack her knives.

Lia Eliminated

We are really starting to get an idea of what these chefs are able to bring to the table every week. Some only cook fish and some only pork, but they will be fine as long as the weaker chefs are still around. When we get down to 5, then we will need to see Howie cook some fish, and Malarkey and Hung (if around) cook some meat. Regardless, Harold would demolish any of them in any challenge with only a butter knife.

Harold Dieterle, Perilla, New York, NY
Harold Dieterle, Perilla, New York, NY


Top Chef. Season 3. Miami. Chopping Block 4.

July 12, 2007

Quickfire Guest Judge: Jamie Walker, Global Master Mixologist for Bombay Sapphire Gin
Challenge Guest Judge: Barton G. Weiss, Barton G., Miami Beach, FL
Quickfire Winner: Casey Thompson, Shinsei, Dallas, TX
Challenge Winner: Lia Bardeen, Jean-Georges, Brooklyn, NY
Eliminated:  Camille Becerra, Paloma, Brooklyn, NY

In the long-awaited 4th episode, Top Chef finally featured the female contestants. Last week, I offered opinions on the several ladies competing with about 50% accuracy. We’ll explore in a moment.

Casey’s Quickfire concoction

But first, the Quickfire challenge was judged by the esteemed Jamie Walker, Master Mixologist for Bombay Sapphire Gin. The test was to marry randomly selected cocktails with appropriate complementary dishes. Few flourished.

Jamie Walker, Bombay Sapphire

After receiving strong criticism, Hung naturally assumed Walker was “confused” about the effort. But then, we recall Hung suggesting that Alfred Portale “didn’t understand his dish concept” in Episode 1. I see a pattern forming.

This kid is so pig-headed that he even “called out” Walker after his assessment. Since the show is based on food though and not maturity level, I would like Hung to show evidence that he can prepare more than just seafood.

Hung claimed “sweetness always goes good with creaminess,” before adjoining his raspberry & mint martini to salmon with a sour cream & meyer lemon balsamic sauce. This being enough to hate the bastard, Walker disagreed, choosing Hung and Joey as the worst two in the Quickfire.

Hung Quickfire meltdown

Walker described Joey’s loser dish as “too robust, too heavy, a little bit clumsy…but, with the cocktail itself, it just didn’t balance.” But he could have been describing Joey or his dish.

Joey Paulino

Alas though, the Quickfire standout was Casey, who has somehow yet to be featured. She paired a French toast baguette, pecan-crusted foie gras & raspberry sauce with a strawberry balsamic rickey. With a vast liquor tolerance, Walker was so giddy over Casey’s concoction that he demanded body shots. Apparently, she had interest:

Casey Quickfire Concoction

After things got sloppy, Walker reiterated his satisfaction with Casey’s product.

The richness [of the experience] really worked. I like it. It works. It works very well.

With an afterglow from the win, Casey blissfully ventured into a threesome with Howie and Joey for the Elimination Challenge. When reality set in, Casey couragiously admitted to Howie that a threesome sounded appealing before she realized who would be participating.

Casey Levels with Howie

The power of this awkward triangle thrusted morale to the gutter, and Team Flubber faced elimination. But, Casey had the immunity, so ratings were safe while Howie and Joey were not. Luckily, Team Dale (w/ Sara & Camille) visibly pissed off the Elimination Guest Judge Barton G. Weiss of Miami Beach with their dessert debacle.

Constipated Colicchio

Again, the judges were not impressed. Tom even considers what Camille’s rubbery pineapple upside-down cake will be like on the way out. Then they chop her for having no idea how its actually made.

Camille is Chopped

It’s sad to see Camille go, but she offered no personality and didn’t have top chef skills. She didn’t seem to have very competitive blood either which is a liability among a group of selfish people.

Lia ended up winning the Elimination Challenge, showing skills I didn’t think she had. At the same time, Top Chef is set up to judge the contestants individually from challenge to challenge. Therefore, as we saw with Casey, winning a challenge could simply be the top of the roller coaster. Lia should still be watching her back.

Lia Wins Elimination Challenge

Top Chef. Season 3. Miami. Chopping Block 3.

June 29, 2007

Miami Skyline

Guest JudgeAlfred Portale, Gotham Bar and Grill, New York City, NY
Quick Fire WinnerBrian Malarkey, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, San Diego, CA
Challenge WinnerHowie Kleinberg, The Food Gang, Surfside, FL
EliminatedMicah Edelstein, The Wandering Chef Caterers, Boca Raton, FL

Hung fishing

In our 3rd installment from South Beach, we discover that Hung truly is the doushebag we thought he was. During the Quick Fire, he digs into the shellfish tank like a 5-year old, after screaming, “Yes!” when a shellfish theme was determined. Fascinating stuff.

Passive Lia

Next week, Tom places them into teams and Hung’s attitude will finally affect others’ performances, namely Lia. She is a passive Tiffani from Season 1 without the skill or the switch-hitting. Sucks for her as she was my prediction to be chopped this week. We’ll get her next week though when Hung throws her under the bus.


In the Quick Fire Challenge, Malarkey retains his reign after proclaiming the shame he would endure from the homies if defeated. This is usually a little Bravo chicanery, but this time it doesn’t prevail.

Tom eventually yanks him on to the chopping block with the other losers, questioning whether he can handle his meat…a question we all have pondered i presume.

Micah Rock and Chisel

We also see Micah spaz out on the conch shells, the same way I would, appearing to finally penetrate one with a rock and chisel. Very innovative of you dear. Don’t let the pressure get to you or anything. Unfortunately, the pressure has apparently already changed her accent in a recent story.

Howie Elimination Winner 3

So, the Elimination Challenge featured reinvention skills of high-cholesterol dishes into low-cholesterol dishes. In reverse order of the Quick Fire, they selected from an array of classic meals. Tom wanted to see passion from the contestants in this challenge for they could really show what they were about.

Alfred Portale

The judges were not impressed at all. Other than Howie’s Fennel Crusted Pork Chops, we could see the judges questioning the actual talent of this season’s chefs.

Ultimately, Micah is eliminated by her inedible meatloaf. But this is a great moment in Top Chef history. Now, we will be able to focus on more important aspects like Camille and Casey. Alas, we have two attractive contestants that we actually would like to see naked.

Camille and Casey

Hopefully, Top Chef can get the recognition it deserves for being the outstanding show that it is. Then, we can get Casey and Camille the recognition they deserve with some scandalous pictures passed around the internet when they lose.

Camille Becerra

Casey Thompson

For now, this is all I could uncover. It will have to do until the ex-boyfriends and scavengers surface with the incriminating pictures and video.

Until then, another exciting episode permeates.


Top Chef. Season 3. Miami. Chopping Block 2.

June 21, 2007

Miami Beach, FL 

Guest Judge:  Norman Van Aken, Norman’s Restaurant
Quick Fire Winner: Hung HuynhGuy Savoy, Las Vegas, NV
Challenge Winner: Brian MalarkeyThe Oceanaire Seafood Room, San Diego, CA
Eliminated: Sandee BirdsongTantra, Miami Beach, FL

What a great episode! Hung is still the front-runner obviously after crushing everyone in the Quick Fire Challenge. Although he is gracious, I can see how this guy is going to rattle some cages in the coming weeks with his immaturity.

But, Tom admires Hung’s skills in the same way he did Harold’s from Season One. I think Tom sees something special in Hung and already knows a new great chef is about to emerge. 

The elimination challenge featured Brian’s “Chino Latino“, which represented the soul of the continuing upscale, Miami BBQ challenge concept. Tom appreciated the spirit of the dish but noted seafood sausage wasn’t anything new.

It also featured Sandee, her blonde Sonic the Hedgehog dome, and her non-BBQ poached lobster that she felt was adequate. Padma, Tom, Gail, and Norman did not. Sandee even bolstered a mini-ego-based-tirade right before they disagreed completely with her and chopped her off. Tom was not having it,

“By her own admission, Sandee didn’t truly barbecue her dish. In her effort to go in a different direction than the others, she poached her lobster.”

This is the indirect way of saying, “Not in my house.” That’s why we love you Tom. A class act all the way.

Sandee Birdsong

I will begin analyzing the characters (contestants) next week when we get a little more realistic information. Oh, and we’ll have the characters in the hot tub. Although I saw hints of the Real World from those excerpts, it will be nice to see which ladies cook AND eat the food.

 In the meantime, here is the bonus footage

Top Chef. Season 3. Miami.

June 13, 2007

Top Chef returns for Bravo’s third installment of its hit reality TV show. The all-new season premieres tonight, June 13 10/9c and features judges Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons, and Ted Allen. Bravo has done a really nice job with Top Chef and its appeal branches down from Colicchio. He is not only a pioneer, but the cast members always show him the utmost respect. He has a heart of gold and really tries to teach these chefs to get better at their craft.

Tom Colicchio

The contestants want to win the competition obviously but are more vindictive than most. From burner manipulation to snide degradation of one another’s culinary background, this show packs a punch. And now with some added Miami sizzle, Bravo might have something very special brewing. I watch very little TV but will certainly have this series set for TiVo.

Miami Beach

Here is a taste of Padma and the 4-Star All-Stars that premiered last week…early predictions are encouraged…