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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Second Helping of Top Chef

Episode #2 - America's Top Chef Miami

It's Wednesday night, 10PM and I've settled in to feed my reality TV addiction. Guest Judge this week is Norman Van Aken.

Quickfire Challenge Round is about "Sunshine & Citrus." One thing is certain: the colors on these dishes are certainly going to be brighter than last week's rattlesnake and liver.

There are two contestants - Hung and Tre - who are already rubbing me the wrong way. They're exuding confidence and they've decided they're the two favorites in the competition. Hung reinforces my dislike when he says of the other contestants in the Quickfire round, "I looked around the kitchen and I saw some 'slummy' dishes."

Quickfire Results:
The Bottom Three - Sara, Sandy, and Micah (she won last itme)
Top Three - CJ, Hung and Tre (shit, maybe they are the favorites) and Hung wins, and he graciously says, "I was thrilled & I didn't expect anything less." The dislike deepens.

The Sunshine Theme continues with the Elimination Challenge - the thirteen chefs will be cooking at a champagne bbq party thrown by Lee Schrager., South Florida's premier party planner and caterer.

On the menu: Brian is doing his 'seafood sausage' - which raises eyebrows among the competitors. Tre, who plans a salmon dish steps up to vie with Hung for the title of most arrogant in Miami by declaring, "I'm a serious competitor and I don't lose."
Sandee is doing a lobster panchetta..hmmm, as a barbecue?

Meanwhile, Micah is grumpy- is it the loss in the quickfire? or does she miss her daughter? Hung, again winning sympathy points comments, "don't use your daughter as an excuse as to why you're crying." Can this guy really be this obnoxious? Or are the producers manipulating me into disliking this guy?

Sara is using scotch bonnets hot peppers that are making her hands burn. She's never prepared them before and is surprised at how spicy they are. Now, this doesn't seem like a wise move. Prep time ends, they're off to the posh digs to get some sleep before tomorrow's big competition.

The BBQ is poolside. They've got two hours to fire up the grill and prepare their dishes. Sara has never started a barbecue. These people are chefs?

Lead Judge Tom Caliccio stops by to check in on the contestants. The only one exuding confidence seems to be ....Hung.

Sandee doesn't seem to be using the BBQ - Chef Tom is worried she might be "trying to put lipstick on a pig." That's not a good sign.

And the guests show up. Micah seems to have impressed. Lia serves cilantro shrimp with couscous. CJ has a NY Steak with baked pineapple. Brian has done well with the seafood sausage, as witnessed by the sizeable crowd gathered around his grill. Tre- peach bbq glazed salmon. A woman response is "bleeped" out. Hmmm. Maybe he's not as talented as he believes he is? Howie's dish tastes like sawdust. Doesn't look good for Howie.

Hung serves flank steak with grilled corn salad. Joey throws a fit that Hung 'has stolen' his watermelon shooter drink.

The BBQ ends and we're heading to the Judge's Table.

During the commercial break, the interactive text question this week is announced: Who is this season's biggest drama queen? Micah, Joey, Hung or Howie. Well, if it was, "who do you like least?" I might consider voting.

Judge's Table - the consensus seems to be that all the food was good. Hung was having a blast today. Tre's wasn't impressive. Sandee's wasn't really BBQ.

Favorite's include Brian's seafood sausage. Sara's dish was "two perfect mouthfuls." Micah impresses, too. They're the Top Three. Who wins? Brian captures the idea of an upscale barbecue. He's relieved and excited after last week's finish in the bottom four.

The bottom four, facing elimination this week: Howie, Joey, Sandee and Tre.

Wait - Tre? Haven't we been told he's one of the favorites?

Why are they here?

Tre - my dish was salty. Chef Tom lets him know some guests thought it was either underseasoned or oversalty. No consistency in the dish.
Joey - Padma asks: "What were you thinking?" The dish was missing the 'upscale' component required in this challenge
Sandee - is shocked she's here. Tom tells here she didn't BBQ. The lobster only tasted like vanilla butter. It didn't meet the challenge.
Howie - maybe my dish was a little too simple. And the pork was dry. It wasn't my best day. I haven't cooked to my potential yet. My money is on Howie being sent home this week. He barely escaped last week.

Who should go: Joey names Howie. Howie lashes back. Catfight ensues in the kitchen. The profanities start flying.

Meanwhile, the judges center on the idea of the challenge - and upscale BBQ. Sandee didn't BBQ. Joey's dish was BBQ - it wasn't good. Howie shot himself in the foot tonight. What's the bigger sin? No BBQ? Or not upscale enough?

In the end, Padma utters the dreaded words, "Sandee, Please Pack Your Knives and Go."

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