Top Chef: No Greasy Tacos

Top Chef: Miami
Latin Lunch

What I find hilarious about this show is when someone states that they have all this experience for whatever they are going to do for one of the challenges, and then they bomb. This time, it was Hung living somewhere for three years so he was going to be the expert, but he ended up in the bottom four. Casey commented that she lives near the border in Texas so she knows what she is doing, but that didn’t work out for her either. Oh silly people.

Also, even though the elimination challenge centered around Latin food, which has a wide variety, it just left me craving greasy tacos. No one made anything greasy, but this episode left me starving for them!

Quickfire Challenge

The guest judge for this episode was Maria Frumpkin, pastry chef and owner of Duo Restaurant in Miami. She was from Argentina and had a very thick accent. The task was to take 90 minutes to create a dish using a frozen pie crust. Here is who made what:

  • Hung – Banana, Rum & Chocolate Pie with Spicy Peanuts
  • Howie – Peach Tart Tatin with Black Pepper & Balsamic Sabayon
  • Joey – Trio of Tarts: Berry Cream with Balsamic Vinegar; Roasted Mango Puree with Rum; Warm Apple Compote
  • CJ – Duo: Duck Lollipop Encrusted with Pistachios & Pie Crust; Duck Tart with Cabbage, Tomato, & Arugula Puree
  • Tre – Fennel and Apple Tart Tatin
  • Brian – Vegetarian Tart with Arugula Pesto, Seafood Tart with Celeriac Puree, Chorizo Tart with Pepper Jack Cheese; Fruit Tart with Grand Marnier
  • Sara M – Braised Swiss Chard and Rabbit Stew: Prosciutto Wrapped Rabbit; Goat Cheese, Feta & Fig Tart
  • Lia – Pork Tenderloin with Artichoke & Chorizo Tart
  • Dale – Spinach & Salmon En Croute; Strawberry, Pear & Saffron Tart

We didn’t see Sara N (again) or Casey’s dishes. They must not have been memorable enough to show. This is the second show in a row where her quickfire dish wasn’t shown. I don’t see this boding well for Sara N if she can’t even make the final edit.

In the voice overs before and during the presentation of the dishes, Hung proclaimed his to be awesome, even though it didn’t fully set. Joey has previous pastry experience, but made a point to tell her that he didn’t have any. Dork! Just don’t say anything. Tre made little stars in his tart to make it pretty and that did not go unnoticed. Dale expected to knock his out of the park and redeem himself from the “dessert debacle” of the last episode, but Maria couldn’t stop making a bad face when trying his salmon dish.

Her least favorite dishes:

  • Lia – the artichokes and pears didn’t marry well together
  • Dale – the saffron was very overwhelming
  • Hung – she believed he had enough time to make his chocolate set, but it wasn’t set

Her favorite dishes:

  • Tre – it was simple but elegant
  • Sara M – the cheese tart was exceptional
  • Joey – she said he has a future in tarts

Her overall favorite was Joey, so he was safe from elimination.

Elimination Challenge

They would be cooking for the cast and crew of Telemundo’s Dame Chocolate. They needed to making something Latin-inspired that they could prepare in the kitchen, pack up and then serve on their tv set catering-style.

The next day, they thought they had three hours to prepare and cook, but right when they start cooking, Tom came in and told them that the lunch has been moved up so they only had 90 minutes to get their food in. Half the people freaked out and the other half took it in stride. It caused Hung to start running around like crazy, including once running with a knife. He almost cut Casey’s face. She called him on it, and Tom witnessed it. Not good spazy boy!


Sara N

Shrimp & Scallops Avocado Ceviche Charred Corn & Picked Radish

Sara N was going to make her tortillas homemade, but when the time was cut in half, she was glad she bought already-made tortillas as back ups. One cast member said her dish was her least favorite. The amount of guacamole was overpowering to the fish.


Casey
Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Rice & Molasses Coffee Glaze

One cast member simply said Casey’s dish was “bleah,” while Padma said the sauce was nice, but had a little too much coffee. Casey had a feeling that she wouldn’t be on top. People commented to her that they loved the salsa, but left it at that. Gail disliked her rice. Tom said the chicken was dry and thought the rice was horrible.


Hung
“Arroz Con Pollo” – Chicken with Rice

According to Hung, he knows everything and this dish was great, but according to the cast, he killed it. The rice was overcooked and dry.


Howie
Braised Pork Shoulder with Yucca Sour Orange Mojo

Tom thought that Howie should have switched his pork from braised to roasted when the time was shortened and it would have been better, but Howie was sticking to his original plan. Maria asked Howie at the lunch how he adapted. He said he cut his pieces smaller and didn’t braise it as long. It worked though since the cast loved his pork dish. They liked the yucca and said it had a great flavor. I think it was his dish they were talking about when they said that they eat varieties of this stuff all the time, but he made it taste the way it should taste. Gail found his mojo and pork fantastic. Maria found the salsa very nice.


Joey
Bean Stew with Lobster, Shrimp, Chicken & Chorizo

Howie and Joey became best buddies during the episode. Howie was next to him at the lunch and would not stop eating Joey’s dish. He loved it. The cast loved it too. They did wish it had a tostada or tortilla to go with it. Joey felt he was going to win.


Lia
Smoked Rainbow Trout with Polenta Cake

Lia thought she would run into the problem with her dish continuing to cook in the chafing dishes when they arrived, so she made something cold. Gail questioned Lia’s use of polenta, which is not Latin. Lia said it had Latin spices and it was a different twist rather than using a tortilla.

Padma found it very bland and thought it was the worst dish. Tom wasn’t sure if it was really bland, or just that it had not enough flavor compared to all the other spicy dishes. One cast member thought it was good, but didn’t like the polenta with it. Gail commented that others were leaving Lia’s food on their plate while other dishes were gone. The polenta was so mushy, and she didn’t do enough with the Latin theme.


Sara M
“Chile Rellenos” – Stuffed Chiles

Sara made fresh queso, which impressed Padma. It seemed the entire Telemundo cast loved Sara’s dish. They said it was awesome and excellent.

Some others were shown, but not really discussed:


CJ
Skirt Steak, Black Beans & Jicama Slaw


Dale
Grilled Poblano & Braised Chicken; Tortilla with Fire-Roasted Corn & Jalapeno


Tre
Jumbo Prawns with Jalapeno Cilantro Dumplings & Lobster Ceviche

Winners & Losers

The top two were Joey and Howie. Joey explained he has a couple of Spanish guys in his kitchen and he made what they make for themselves. Tom asks if they put lobster in it like Joey did, and he said no, that was his own doing. He didn’t think he would have done anything differently if he had more time. Howie thought he was going to be in trouble when the time was cut in half. Gail and Padma asked if timing was going to be his Achilles Heel and he said he hoped not. Padma said Howie’s flavors were spot on. Howie wished he had more time for the pork to rest before he sliced it, but that was it. Joey loved Howie’s pork and Howie thought Joey’s dish was the best out of everyone.

The winner was Howie. Maria presented Howie with a bottle of wine from Argentina. Howie was thrilled he had won two eliminations, but told everyone else that he thought Joey should have won and gave him the bottle of wine.

The bottom of the pack were Lia, Sara N, Casey and Hung. Hung had no idea why he could have possibly been picked. He guessed his dish was too classic. Tom told Hung that his rice was dry and underseasoned. Hung said it was highly seasoned and told Maria that was her opinion when she told him the cast was not thrilled with his dish. Hung is never wrong! If only everyone would learn this. 😉 Tom did comment that Hung needs to watch his knife in the kitchen. Finally, Tom said that Hung did make a classic dish that is well known, but it missed the mark.

Casey admitted to her rice boiling over and it was close to scorching. She was not surprised she was there due to the rice. She was happy with her sauce. She was trying to make a mole-like sauce without making a mole sauce. Tom said he didn’t think her dish reflected a Latin dish at all. Casey let the time crunch get to her and in her running around, allowed her rice to boil over and her chicken to dry out.

Lia thought she was using Latin flavors, but using them in a slightly different way. She was happy with her creativity even though it was not a traditional Latin dish. She didn’t think it was a dish that could send her home. With Sara, she took a dish that her old roommate used to make and did a twist on it with scallops in the ceviche. She admitted that her bold flavors might have masked the scallops. Tom told Sara that she left herself open for criticism since her ceviche wasn’t really a ceviche.

Amongst themselves, the judges commented about how Hung thinks highly of himself and his cooking, but sometimes it isn’t as great as he thinks. He doesn’t seem to take any feedback and just believes the judges are wrong. The judges were concerned about Sara’s dish since it wasn’t really an entree, but just fancy chips and dip. Lia’s dish was bland, had no texture and felt like mush in Gail’s mouth. It also had no Latin spin on it at all. They also didn’t think Casey’s dish was Latin either. Both the chicken and rice were dry, and the coffee sauce tasted like cough syrup.

Lia was picked as the one to leave. The timing didn’t seem to affect her dish at all, but it was too bland and mushy.

Source: Top Chef

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