Top Chef: Miami
Ah the poor contestants thought they would actually get a night out to enjoy themselves, but none of them seemed to think it might be a trick? Why would cameras follow them around at a night club? Do they think they are that interesting? Also, since they are cut off from watching the news, talking on the phone or reading newspapers, why would the producers risk people talking to them about the show with a night out? There were so many signs that it wasn’t really going to happen. For some of them to pout about having to cook in high heels with their cleavage showing was unfortunate. I can understand being uncomfortable, but if you expected to dance in the high heels, you can stand and cook in the high heels.
The guest judge for this episode was Chef Govind Armstrong, who is famous for cookbooks about late night snacks. The chefs challenge was to take Sweet Cream flavored Cold Stone Creamery ice cream and make a new mix in for it. They had 45 minutes to create it. Chef Armstrong’s advice was to keep it simple.
Candied Pistachios, White Chocolate, Mint, Gelee, Tempura Flakes & Cauliflower Foam
Hung apparently was thinking about how he is an evil genius instead of listening to Armstrong’s advice since he added every ingredient he could find to make something super complicated involving cauliflower. Yes, you read that correctly, cauliflower. He said any monkey can make ice cream and berries, so his solution for being original was cauliflower? I’m sorry. I just can’t get past that.
Sriracha Sauce, Poblano, Dried Apricot & Potato Chips
Casey loves Sriracha on everything, so thought she’d try it on ice cream. That’s a hot chili sauce. Did some of Hung’s craziness rub off on her? And when you are going for full-on crazy, why not throw some potato chips in the ice cream too?
Cobbler Topping, Flambeed Peaches with Candied Pecans
Dale thought his peach cobbler is a no-brainer, and he thought it would be really good and tasty with great texture.
Macerated Mixed Berries in Balsamic Vinegar, Sea Salt & Sugar
Sweet cream and berries were Howie’s plan. He said if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Candied Hazelnut, Raspberry Ginger Sauce, Shiso & Cherries
Tre also went the way of berries and yumminess in his ice cream.
Once again, not everyone was shown during the Quickfire Challenge, so no idea what Brian, CJ, Sara M or Sara N made.
Chef Armstrong’s least favorite dishes were from Hung and Casey. He said Hung had too much going on with all the different flavors. They all didn’t make sense or have a reason to be there. It wasn’t simple enough. He told Casey, he also loves the Sriracha sauce, but it does not work on ice cream.
His two favorite dishes came from Dale and Howie. He said everything in Dale’s dish made sense. It all had a reason to be there. Howie’s textures worked with the salt and it all worked out really well. He decided that the overall winner was Dale, and he was safe from elimination.
They thought they were going out dancing, but once they arrived at the club, they were informed they would be creating late night snack food in “roach coaches” or mobile kitchens for club goers when they came piling out. They had time to figure out what they would make, go shopping and then 90 minutes to prepare and cook before the customers come out. Dale actually got the night off. He didn’t have to participate in the challenge, but go eat dinner with Chef Armstrongat his restaurant. Nice!
The rest of them were divided into two teams. First team was Black, which was Brian, Hung, Sara M and Tre. The second team was Orange, which was CJ, Howie, Casey and Sara N. The Black team decided right away they should figure out where they would all be cooking so they wouldn’t run into each other, and then decide what dishes would work best at those stations. Everyone had ideas and they all reached a consensus quickly. Over on the Orange team, Howie came up with the entire menu. If other people had similar ideas, he would agree with it, but he wouldn’t take any idea that was different. Howie talked about being a good leader, but didn’t listen to anyone else. CJ decided to listen to Howie since he actually lived in Miami.
While shopping for their food, Sara N was already a mess. It was like the end of the world for her that she wasn’t out dancing, but cooking instead. She didn’t want to cook in her high heels and blah blah blah. Pout and get over it, but she never got over it the entire night. Howie was acting like he had never been in the Fresh Market before asking where everything was, like limes. Try produce? It’s the same market they go to for each challenge. Howie apparently takes out his brain when he goes out dancing. CJ was just shaking his head at his team thinking, “What can I do with this mess?” The other team bought what they needed and were off. No drama, even with Hung!
The two teams menus:
Media Noche – Cuban Sandwiches
Beef Sliders with Plantain Chips and Milkshakes
Cheese Quesadillas with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and Chocolate Covered Bananas
Scallop and Shrimp Ceviche Taquitos with Cafe con Leche
Teriyaki Chicken Wings and Onion Rings
Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Grilled Corn & White Cheddar Cheese Grits
Jerked Flank Steak Soft Tacos
Florida Corvina Ceviche and Atlantic Oysters with Watermelon Mignonette
When they were setting up, and serving the guests, the Black team was all smiles and good times. The Orange team seemed annoyed by the Black team’s joyous attitudes. When Tom came around, he was concerned that people were not going to want oysters or any raw food. He did think that the Orange menu looked like a better late night menu, but thought Howie could blow up at any moment and Sara N had her head down and not being involved with her team. I agree that the food on the Orange menu sounded better to me, and also what I would want to eat after a late night out. The Orange team was very slow though. Food was just flying out of the Black team’s kitchen while people were just waiting for anything to come out of the Orange team’s, especially the sliders.
People that were trying the food loved the ceviche taco, onion rings, and sliders. People were not impressed with the cuban sandwich that Howie made since he didn’t use the right kind of bread.
Tom had to wait a long time at the Orange Team for each item. The Black team had a bigger crowd around it all night long. Chef Armstrong loved the shrimp and grits from Tre. Ted Allen said that cheesy grits is a great comfort food and to top it off with bacon is exquisite. Tom also thought the ceviche was really good. Ted said that it is hard not to make a flavorful ceviche so making one wasn’t impressive. Tom though the onion rings were great, but the wings were lousy. Ted, Armstrong and Padma all said their chicken was good, so Tom must have had a bad piece.
Ted liked the slider. Armstrong thought his was too dry and underseasoned. Tom talked about Sara N being out of it. Ted didn’t get to try the milkshake from Sara N, and Tom told him it was a good thing since it wasn’t good. It was milk with a little ice cream. Everyone loved Casey’s quesadilla. No one was overly impressed with Howie’s cuban sandwich. Ted said that if he was going to choose to make a cuban sandwich in Miami, then he better make an amazing one. It was only fine.
The Black team was the overall winning team. Tom told them they did a great job putting together great dishes that were well seasoned, but also very accessible. Brian was complimented for his energy. Tre was complimented on his grits and bacon. Armstrong had to choose a winner and he chose Tre as the overall winner. He won a copy of Armstrong’s book and also a Platinum VIP access card to all the Nikki Beach nightclubs of the world.Losers
The Orange team was the weaker team. Casey talked about the task being horrible. She doesn’t like her cooks to see her dressed up ever since she doesn’t like to mix her personal and professional life. Sara N said the challenge was demoralizing. She felt out of her element. Tom pointed out that Howie’s sandwiches weren’t pressed. He said he didn’t have a press, but did try to press it with a sheet pan. He wasn’t very successful with it. Sara N was informed she had enough other seasonings, but not enough salt, which is huge for a burger to be missing.
Tom commented on the lack of team dynamic when he walked through. Howie took this as a chance to throw Sara N. under a bus by saying she was not pulling her load, she wasn’t up to her top game, and the food was coming out slow from her station. Casey didn’t know about it at all, and said it was the first time hearing about it. She didn’t know every patty wasn’t on the grill. Um, the kitchen was tiny. She had to look around once and notice. Armstrong commented on the lack of communication. Armstrong asked why CJ didn’t step up and lead since he was in the front and could see all of it. CJ gave a weak excuse about how when he saw it, him helping wouldn’t have mattered. Then Sara N. and Howie started arguing back and forth. They were all sent out while the judge’s made a final decision.
Tom asked why Howie wasn’t assertive during the task since he’s so assertive afterwards when he is trying to save his butt. Tom thought CJ could have lead the team successfully, but he decided to back off to save himself and let others fail. They all thought Casey took the safe route with her choices in the menu and on the team. Howie’s sandwiches were a doughy mess. He took leadership of the menu, but didn’t display any leadership in the task or any task so far. They came to a conclusion that the team all thought they would let others crash and burn so they can save their own spot on the show.
I was really feeling that Howie should have gone home, but Sara N. was the one that was sent packing. Her head wasn’t in the challenge from the beginning. She dragged her team down and affected her food service. It was also pointed out that Howie led to the team losing, but felt he was more suited for the challenge of the show compared to Sara N. I think her “demoralizing” comment killed her. If she hadn’t of pouted, the rest of it would have kept her on the show and Howie would have been sent home. Sometimes it’s all about attitude. Even though Howie has a horrible attitude, he didn’t insult the show with thinking the challenge was lousy. He’s just lousy to his fellow contestants. I think that’s what sent Micah home too. She didn’t like the comfort food challenge. Even after saying all of that though, how many times has Howie been on the chopping block, but not sent home? I keep thinking it’ll be the next one that’ll send him home.
Photo Source: Top Chef