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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Top Chef - Timing is Everything

Last week, it was Camille who heard Padma utter the dreaded words, "Please pack your knives and go." Who will it be this week? We're down to eleven contestants yet no one has emerged as a clear-cut favorite - despite Tre and Hung's early proclamations about their culinary skills.

Quickfire Challenge:

This week's Guest Judge is chef & owner of the French Bakery Cafe, Maria Franken.
The theme of the quickfire is "timing" - use the frozen pie crust any way you can in 90 minutes.

Hung is doing a chocolate banana pie - but it's not setting. Oh, this is delicious when things don't go well for Hung. His pie is runny. He thinks it "tasted delicious."

Worst - Lia, Dale and Hung. (turns out Hung is the only one who thinks his dish is tasty)
Favorit - Tre, Sara M and Joey - the winner of immunity is Joey! (and he thought he was on the cutting block at the beginning of the day)

Elimination Challenge:

The group will be cooking for the cast and crew of a Telemundo show and cater a latin-flavored lunch menu.

There is plenty of time (3 hours) to prepare today's meal. Everyone seems relaxed. Chef Tom comes in and says - "Change of plans, everyone. You only have 1.5 hours to get this done." Well, that's a nice twist and a sense of panic settles into the kitchen. People are running - Casey says it's dangerous with hot pans and sharp knives. Stress and Howie don't mix. Lia and Casey seem to have made appropriate adjustments. Lia says "this is what happens." Hung is frantic. Chef Tom is concerned about how Hung runs around the kitchen. Howie didn't make the appropriate adjustments.

The set is actually on "Star Island" - where all the fancy people live. And the crowd comes for lunch. The dishes look good. Hung speaks in Spanish, and "they're loving it!" Casey: "It's Hung being Hung."

Howie describes Joey's dish as "delicious." Has Joey hit his stride this week?

The case loves Sara M's chile relleno. Howie's braised pork works as well! They didn't like the polenta or Casey's coffee chicken dish.

Judge's Table:

The favorites are Joey and Howie. Joey talks about how he learned from some of his staff back home as to how he developed this meal. Howie says the timing caused him to worry. The winner of the challenge is Howie. This makes him the first repeat winner of the season. Is he now the favorite?

The worst chefs are sent into the room - Lia, Casey, Hung and Sara N.

Hung has no idea why he's here. Is it because it was it was too classic? Hung is pissed. Chef Tom asks Hung to be careful in kitchen. Casey didn't like her rice, but did like the coffee molasses. Lia thought she was trying to move a little beyond the latin flavor - which is why she served polenta. Sara - what were you thinking calling guacamole as ceviche?

The Judges call Hung arrogant - and want to tell him how "UNPERFECT it was." Sara's dish was more of an appetizer. Lia's was mushy and not balanced. It wasn't good or presentable. Casey's was dry, overcooked and the sauce was like "cough syrup."

The Final Decision: Sara mischaracterized the dish. Hung missed the mark. Casey's dish was cooked improperly. Lia's tastes were bland.

Padma - "Lia, please pack your knives and go."

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