Top Chef – Sunny Delights

Gosh, is this only the second episode of the season? There is still so much whittling that needs to be done that the face time for the contestants is all over the place. Fourteen contestants left.

We start out with everyone getting ready for the day. Yay! They’re all still getting along! And I’m not sure which chef this is, but she was wearing this monstrosity last week too… I guess it *is* a nightgown and not a bed sheet. Well, I hope it’s at least comfortable. I’d worry about the tie coming undone and choking me, but I guess I am an active sleeper sometimes…


Quickfire: The chefs walk into a table full of citrus, citrus and more citrus. Welcome to Miami. Apparently the guest judge, Norman Van Aken, is “one of the Godfathers of South Florida cuisine.” While the chefs listen to the quickfire directions, the camera gets a shot of the chefs lined up in the kitchen. That dude is literally head and shoulders above the rest!! tall.jpgIs everyone else on this show just super short or is that guy seven and a half feet tall!? The quickfire challenge is to create a delicious dish incorporating citrus fruit in 30 minutes. Micah explains that this challenge should be easy, but she has a mental block. She had more ideas about preparing gooey duck than she does about making a dish with these ingredients which she uses every day. Tre and Hung are both feeling like the front runners in the competition.

Last week, the chefs did the quickfire outside of the Top Chef kitchen and the elimination challenge was done with only half of the chefs in the kitchen at a time. Now, with the fourteen remaining chefs all working in the kitchen, things are a little more congested. They show plenty of shots of people rushing around the kitchen and running into each other. Sandee complains, “These torches suck!” Must not be a sponsor, or that wouldn’t have made the cut, right? Although… I think Hung was complaining about a stove burner not working too.

Sara N makes her first real appearance. She was barely even noticeable last week. This week, they were showing a her so much that I thought she must be a goner! She complains that her plans for the quickfire are not really working out because her shrimp needed preparation which she hadn’t counted on. The judge turns out to be kind of a hard ass. He tries CJ’s (giant dude) dish and asks him if he made the decision to leave seeds in. Next is Casey (Celine Dion), whose play on smores was not focused enough on the citrus. Sandee (fauxhawk) makes a trio. Please let this not be a neverending parade of trios and duos again. Judge doesn’t like the mojito or the fact that something needs to be removed from it to drink it. Micah makes avocado “soup” but it looks like slightly watery guacamole. Judge asks simply, “Soup?” and Micah replies that it turned out like pudding. I’ll say… Padma eats it on what looks like a chip. Lia makes crab salad and Padma bites into some shell and says she doesn’t think that’s a crouton. Judge says it sounds like shell. Dale’s citrus salad looks like slop on a plate to me. Judge says he would have like a little olive oil to “go against that sunshine.” Sara N says she wasn’t expecting the judge to be so critical in his critiques. He was a little on the snotty side. Sara N was nervous and it showed. She took her awkward pill and stumbled all over herself trying to explain her dish. Judge was a butt to her.

Hung says that looking around the kitchen, he saw some “slummy dishes” so being such a humble guy, he’s sure he’s got this thing wrapped up. Judge likes it too. Tre’s is also good, along with Howie, and Brian. The judge likes Joey’s drink, although we don’t hear comments about the food. We don’t hear how Sara D or the bed sheet girl did. God, have they covered the bed sheet girl at all? Bottom three are Sara N (no focus), Sandee (garnish in the way), and Micah (unremarkable). Top three are CJ (complex, but coordinated – even with the seeds), Hung (distinct and well coordinated), and Tre (well thought out and plated). Hung wins and I can’t believe his giant head doesn’t explode from all the swelling. It was disappointing to see all women in the bottom three and all men in the top three. Joey is pissed. He thought he did a tremendous job on his dish and expected to be in the top three. His lips get all pursed when he’s pissed.

Time for the elimination challenge. It’s time for a champagne barbecue, brought to you by Kingsford Charcoal and probably a little bit by Moet too. Time to create an upscale barbecue dish for a “sexy and sophisticated crowd” at the event. Tre feels like this challenge is right up his alley since he’s from Texas. Howie feels like he’s got something to prove here. How about putting all the food on the plate? Everyone goes shopping and it’s kind of funny. Casey tries to do math and asks CJ his opinion on how many slices he thinks she can get out of something. He’s going with the same protein so he decides not to help. Casey replies “I’m doing other s***, I don’t need you! Tch. Outta my way.” Heh. Micah sees that everyone has gone to the meat section to start, so she tools around the produce section to start. She’s in a really foul mood because she misses her daughter. Isn’t this, like, day two for them as far as filming goes? Sara N decides to try her hand at math. She orders 20 pounds of rib eye. At $10 a pound, that’s her entire budget. Luckily, Hung points this out to her… that was nice of Hung. I almost thought he might be a nice boy under all that big talk.

treeyebrows.jpgTwo hours of prep time. Hung runs around the kitchen. CJ is making some weird mound with a pineapple underneath. Brian is making a seafood sausage. What’s with Brian making the food that is long and tubular? Tre is making barbecue salmon. He’s a serious competitor and if you’re not careful, he’ll raise his eyebrows at you! I like Tre so far and it’s fun to do screen captures of his interviews and rock between pictures. His face is very expressive. During the prep, there is lots of chopping and slicing. I love watching chefs do this. So quick, easy, and accurate. I’ll never know how they do it. Sandee thinks that, since she’s from the south, everyone expects her to do barbecue chicken (we’ll leave that to Joey), but she decides to go with a lobster pancetta with vanilla bean butter bacon sauce. Um. Sounds like too many flavors to me. I’ll stick to my Hot Fries, thank you very much. She says a lot of people are going the barbecue route, but she wants to go a little bit more upscale. Well, she’s getting one of the requirements of the challenge… Micah is still going on about feeling like crap and it sounds like there has been a little gossiping among the other chefs about it. Casey says, “we’re not sure if it is that she really misses her daughter or if she is upset about the quickfire.” Hung rips on her too, saying that Micah’s using her daughter as an excuse for being upset. Sara N is working with scotch bonnets and didn’t know how hot they were. Apparently, they are the same species as the habanero… but shouldn’t she know that before cooking with it? The peppers start to burn her fingers while she’s cutting them. They run out of time before Sara N is done with some of the stuff that needed to pickle overnight. She’s afraid her food will be inedible.

Elimination day: Time to go out and barbecue in the heat. Sarah N has never started a barbecue before. Micah can’t remember how much charcoal to use and how long it burns. Isn’t there info on the bags? Sara D can’t figure out how to f***ing work the lighter. Heh. Child proof. Some people are putting a lot of lighter fluid on their charcoal. I can’t believe that their food doesn’t end up tasting like lighter fluid. CJ is stooping over his prep table and says to Lia, “It’s like the only time I wish I was 5’3. No offense, hon.” Well, when you call her “hon” I don’t see how the little lady could be offended.

Chef Tom comes around for the sniff n’ sneer. Hung says all the right things. Tre, making conversation, says that he could do this in his sleep and Tom takes that as Tre saying he was coasting through. Joey is making barbecue chicken and Tom asks him if this is gourmet enough. Joey says no, but you’re supposed to have fun at a barbecue. Wrong answer, Joey – why do people have a hard time figuring out that they have to listen to the entire challenge, not just bits and pieces? Tom explains what Sandee is doing as putting lipstick on a pig. Well, that can’t be good. I can’t understand what it is that Sandee is doing, but apparently it doesn’t utilize the barbecue. Something about poaching blah blah blah. I can’t cook, people! Howie is cooking pork and he started too early.

yummy.jpgGuests arrive: Obligatory shot of some gays. Oh, Bravo!, you sure know how to include the gays. Camille is not feeling confident about her dish. Wait. Who the heck is Camille!? I think she’s the bed sheet chick. I have no earthly idea what she’s worked on in the first episode or the earlier part of this episode. She’s kind of cute too… more Camille please! She’s making swordfish and must not have run into any problems because we don’t see her for the rest of the episode again. Micah: more fun with math! “You know, 60 people. That’s not 10, that’s not 15, that’s 60 people.” Sara N has made Vietnamese barbecue and Padma says it’s yummy. With her mouth full. Love that Padma. Everyone loves Brian’s seafood sausage and he’s good at selling it too. CJ criticizes Sandee’s dish because braising poaching blah blah not technically barbecuing blah. Howie realizes that his pork is drying out, but hopes to coast through. Joey says if people said the same things about Howie’s dish in New York, he’d be going home. Shut up, Not Gourmet Boy. Hung made a watermelon champagne and Joey and his stupid sideways baseball cap heard this and didn’t like it. Joey says Hung is a “Kiss ass. That’s why he moved to Vegas, because he couldn’t hang in New York.” Thank god this competition is in Miami, because if it was in New York, Joey would never shut up. In his interview, Hung tries to think quickly to come up with an excuse about where he came up with the idea for the drink. Don’t play poker, dude. You’re a bad liar. Joey makes some comment about getting Hung some knee pads because he’s a kiss ass. How about making some decent food so you don’t have to worry about it?


Casey feels the same way I do about Joey. Everything is always someone else’s fault when it comes to Joey.

Judges table: Tom says that across the table everything was very good. They knock Hung for having a simple dish. Tre’s dish was too salty for Padma but too bland for the others, plus it was lacking acidity. This isn’t the first time that Padma’s thoughts about a dish have been the complete opposite from everyone else’s opinion. Weird. Sandee’s food wasn’t really barbecue. Top three: Sara N, Brian, and Micah. Glad to see it’s 66% chick. Sara gets light headed when Padma announces that they are the top three. She’s very, very honored and surprised, but it’s Brian who wins with his seafood sausage. All three have come from the bottom to stand here in the top and you can see clearly that they are happy to have turned things around, at least for now. Bottom three: Howie, Joey, Sandee, and Tre. Er, that’s four. How are they doing this now? Sometimes two at the top, sometimes three. So far, it’s bottom four. Is that the new format? Tre knows there was an issue with salt on some portions. Joey chose barbecue chicken because his family used to have it when he was growing up. Obviously, not high end then, no? Gail says the chicken was super hot and hard to pick up, Joey replies that he likes to serve his proteins super hot. Guest judge Norm points out that guests were eating without utensils. Joey stares at him kind of slack jawed before saying he failed and he’ll try better next time. Sandee is totally shocked that she is there. There was so much butter and the dates were so strong that no one could taste the lobster, plus it didn’t feel like barbecue. Howie knew what was wrong with his dish and explains that he hasn’t cooked to his potential yet. When asked whose dishes he tasted, Joey replies Tre’s and Sandee’s but he thinks that Howie should go home because of the first elimination challenge and hearing that Howie’s pork was dry. Howie shoots back that Joey’s been doing a lot of complaining and basically says he’s bound to fail. Competition brings out the animal in Joey and that animal is icky. Joey and Howie argue back and forth while they wait for the judges’ decision. Joey offers to go home now. Oh, if someone would take him up on that offer.

Ultimately, the bigger sin was no barbecue at all rather than not upscale enough, so Sandee is sent packing. Oh, fauxhawk, we hardly knew ye. They’re kicking all the southern people out! It seems like people really liked Sandee and they were sad to see her go. It was kind of sweet because everyone gave her a little ovation when she left. Hopefully she’ll continue to do well where she works now.

Product placement logo shots – GE Monogram oven: 1, Rav 4 count:3, Fresh Market2, Kingsford:8, Moet:3. Next week looks like there’s some hot tubbing going on, some Howie sweat, followed by some terrible food, and finally – Ted Allen!


1 Response to “Top Chef – Sunny Delights”

  1. 1 Shel June 30, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks, Amy, we missed this episode for thanks for the entertaining update!! Sad to see Sandee go already. Oh well.

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