Episode 2: Sunny Delights
Top Chef: Miami
Day/Time: Wednesday, 10/9c
I had heard this show was good, but I hadn’t checked it out the first two seasons. I thought I would try it out since I had become hooked on Hell’s Kitchen. I love this show and it makes Hell’s Kitchen pale in comparison. While watching Hell’s Kitchen, you can’t believe some of the people even hold any kind of cooking job. You feel you could walk in and do a better job, and I’m nowhere close to being a great cook. After watching Top Chef, I don’t even know what they are talking about most of the time. They get to be creative and it is more focused on the individual than teamwork (which is how Hell’s Kitchen is set up) so I find it way more entertaining. I watched the first and second episode so close to one another, I thought I’d dig into the second one.
The day began with the contestants coming into the kitchen surrounded by every kind of citrus imaginable. They had 30 minutes to gather whatever citrus they wanted plus any of the staples in the Top Chef pantry to make a unique dish. Guest judge Norman Van Aken (who owns some fancy restaurants in Florida called Norman’s Restaurant) would make the final decision on who would win the challenge. He would judge it based on presentation, taste, and how well it used the Florida citrus provided.
Hung won the challenge with a slow roasted sea bass with citrus crumble, watercress and radish salad. He was safe from elimination. Another standout was Tre’s dish of salmon served hot on one side of the plate and cold on the other. He had made a macadamia pesto to go with it. Howie’s plate of vanilla butter poached lobster tail with blood orange citrus salad and Brian’s Alaskan halibut with pomegranate blood orange molasses were also highlights.
One of the scarier dishes was Micah’s avocado soup which was more mush than soup. Sara N. couldn’t really remember what she had just made so had a hard time saying what it was, which cost her the challenge. Casey made a fancy s’ more with orange in the chocolate sauce and orange/chocolate on the side, but the orange wasn’t present enough in the s’ more to qualify in the judge’s mind, even though he said it was delicious.
The chefs had to create an upscale BBQ dish that would be served to 60 people at an upscale BBQ on the waterfront. They had 30 minutes and $200 to go to the fresh market to get what they needed that wasn’t already in the pantry. Then they had two hours of prep time that day. The BBQ was the following day where they had two hours to cook before the guests arrived.
I was impressed that people came up with ideas immediately on what they could make. I have no idea how people can be so creative with dishes! This is why I am not a chef. I need to get inspiration from looking through recipes. I do love seeing the weird and yummy stuff they come up with though. I would love to be one of the guests trying the dishes.
Many people went for meat, so others went a different route with seafood. A couple of contestants were worried they weren’t going to make their dishes perfect. One of them being Micah since the day before she was an emotional wreck saying it was because she was away from her daughter. This might be more believable if it had been towards the end of competition, but this was the second episode. I think it was more likely that her Quickfire Challenge dish was roasted. Her dish impressed the guests with its taste, but it did seem a very large dish for those trying to eat standing up without utensils.
Micah from South Africa
Lamb with Grilled Halloumi & Pomegranate Sauce
Another one that was freaking out was Sara N. She was a nervous mess during the Quickfire, which caused her to forget what she made. Then she was having a hell of a time preparing things for the BBQ later that same day. She seemed to pull it together the next day at the BBQ since she got rave reviews for her Vietnamese BBQ beef. She was worried that her cucumbers and chiles were going to be way too hot, but no one complained.
Sara N from Santa Monica, CA
Vietnamese BBQ with Pine Nuts, Radish & Cucumber Salad
Camille and Casey’s dishes were also good, mixing a bunch of different flavors in a BBQ setting without it being lost in the charcoals.
Camille from Elizabeth, NJ
Grilled Swordfish with Chorizo & Artichoke Potato Salad
Casey from Cedar Hills, TX
Strip Steak, Polenta, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Tomato Salad
Some of the cocky ones were Howie, Tre, Joey and Hung. Tre kept talking about how he was from Texas and going to do his home state proud with the BBQ challenge, yet he grilled salmon instead of meat. He also had a problem with some dishes being too bland. When he heard this, he started adding salt, which led to others complaining of it being too salty.
Tre from Duncanville, TX
Peach BBQ Glazed Salmon with Crab Avocado Salad
Howie who bragged in the first episode about being a perfectionist with time, except that he ran out of time and didn’t plate half of his dish, bragged this episode about his skills. Yet, he sliced his pork tenderloin before grilling it, and then put it on way too early so it ended up dried out. Winner!
Howie from Miami, FL
Jamaican Jerk Pork, Mango Slaw with Citrus Vinaigrette
Joey made easy to eat drumsticks, but they didn’t seem very upscale. Hung’s dish did seem to live up to his claims. He also made a tasty drink that was a big fan with the guests. Joey made something similar during the Quickfire Challenge so he ended up yelling about Hung stealing his drink idea. It was a watermelon shooter.
Joey from Long Island, NY
Korean BBQ Chicken with Charred Corn, Tofu & Bean Sprout Salad
Hung from Pittsfield, MA
Flank Steak with Grilled Corn Salad & Bagel Chips
Other contestants were not thrilled with Sandee’s dish, not because of flavor but because it did not seem to be BBQ. She had poached her lobster and was just heating it up over the grill. It was already done by the time she arrived.
Sandee from Saint Simon’s Island, GA
Vanilla Poached Lobster, Pancetta Wrapped Date & Truffle Slaw
Brian made a dish that everyone loved, and he wasn’t nervous or cocky while making it. His seafood sausage was tasty, and was very upscale. He also was able to talk up the guests while serving to them, so his designated area was very popular.
Brian from Bend, OR
Scallops, Shrimp & Seabass Sausage with Ginger Slaw & Chili Glaze
Winners & Losers
The top choices were Brian, Micah and Sara N. Brian ended up winning the overall challenge. The bottom of the pack were Howie, Tre, Joey and Sandee. The main complaint with Tre was his dish was either bland or too salty depending on when you ate during the event. Howie’s dish was over dry and did not seem upscale to fit the challenge. Joey’s dish was tasty, but also did not fit the upscale criteria. Sandee’s dish was decent, except that some of her flavors overpowered the taste of the lobster where half the judges couldn’t tell it was lobster. It also did not fit the BBQ criteria. The judges had to decide what was worse: not being upscale or not being BBQ. They decided that not being BBQ was a worse sin so Sandee was sent off packing.
Source: Top Chef