Thursday, August 09, 2007

"Top Chef: Miami" Episode 7

This week's guest judge was Govind Armstrong, the chef and owner of the Table 8 Restaurant in Los Angeles.

Quickfire: I really digged the subject of this challenge- it featured Cold Stone Creamery, my family's favorite ice cream!!!! Here, the nine remaining contestants had to create their own ice cream creation using the company's Sweet Cream ice cream. Many toppings were provided.

Tre Wilcox added candied hazlenut, raspberry ginger sauce, shiso and cherries to his dessert. It looked OK to me.

Hung Hunyh's toppings were candied pistachios, white chocolate, mint, gelee, tempura flakes and cauliflower foam. This could've been a sleeper.

Casey Thompson's selections were Sriracha sauce, poblano, dried apricot and potato chips. Another possible sleeper.

As for Dale Levitski, he added cobbler topping and flambeed peaches with candied pecans. Call me crazy, but I didn't really dig this one.

Howie Kleinberg threw into his ice cream macerated mix berries in balsamic vinegar, sea salt and vinegar. Another sleeper.

Not everyone's desserts were shown. According to Armstrong, he disliked Hunyh and Thompson here, because he felt in both desserts that there was too much going on. He liked Levitski and Kleinberg the most...and declared Levitski the winner, meaning he's definitely going on to the next round. This was the first challenge he ever won. In addition, he was also EXEMPT from the Elimination Challenge!

Elimination Challenge: Prior to this, everyone was given the chance to experience Miami's nightlife. They were taken to a spot at Nikki Beach where catering trucks were awaiting, along with the host and the guest judge. Here, they had to create food in their mobile kitchens that would be served at late night.

The shopping budget for this challenge was $300. The eight contestants were divided into two teams of four. Here were the two teams:

Black: Hung Huynh, Sara Mair, Tre Wilcox and Brian Malarkey
Orange: C.J. Jacobsen, Sara Nguyen, Howie Kleinberg and Casey Thompson

Each team member had to do at least one dish. Here were everyone's intended menus:

Kleinberg: Cuban sandwiches
Nguyen: Sliders with milkshakes
Thompson: Quesadillas and chocolate-covered bananas
Jacobsen: Ceviche tacos and Cafe con Leche
Huynh: Teriyaki chicken wings and onion rings
Wilcox: Bacon-wrapped shrimp with grits
Mair: Jerked soft tacos
Malarkey: Raw bar (what the heck is that?!?)

Malarkey's actual dishes were oyster in a half shell with watermelon and spicy ceviche tacos.

Mair did a jerk flank steak soft taco with cilantro cream and pico de gallo.

In addition to his shrimp, Wilcox did cheese grits with tomato chipotle butter.

After Huynh presented his chicken wings and onion rings, we got to the orange team.

Nguyen's sliders were beef burgers, and they were served with caramelized onions and plantain chips.

Jacobsen's ceviche tacos came complete with shrimp, scallops, chili, green onions and cilantro.

Thompson's quesadillas had four cheeses, and they came with a roasted tomatillo salsa.

To wrap things up, Kleinberg presented "Media Noche" Cuban pork sandwiches with plantain chips.

I was leaning slightly towards the black team. The winners were....

...the black team! According to judge Tom Colicchio, it was because their dishes were well-seasoned and were very accessible. The individual winner was Wilcox, winning an elimination challenge for the second time.

Thompson headed cooking in the clothes she went out in. Nguyen said the challenge demoralized herself. Colicchio said to Kleinberg that his sandwich wasn't a Cuban one, and Kleinberg admitted that he had no press to work with in the kitchen. Jacobsen said that he didn't take full control as the leader of the team.

The one(s) being told by Padma Lakshmi to "Pack up your knives and go", and were now reduced to nothing but helping hands for the rest of the season in designated challenges was/were....

...Nguyen. At one point, based on Colicchio's comments, it was possible that Kleinberg could've also been eliminated with her.
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