Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi speaks candidly about the chef's lack of imagination.

on Jun 27, 2007

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The Quickfire Challenge with guest judge Alfred Portale, chef and owner of Gotham Bar and Grill, was a simple challenge using scallops, crayfish, and conch. The contestants had to catch and scoop out shellfish in 30 seconds. I loved the dynamism that this challenge brought out in all the chefs. It was fun to see them try to scoop out as much shellfish as possible, and I'm glad to report that the women hefted out just as much loot from the tank as their male counterparts...and even more in Tre's case.

Shelling the fish, however, was an issue for Micah, who seemed to have no idea how to release the fish from their tough outer shells. Her conch salad was a failure because it lacked fish due to the fact that she probably could not shell enough in time, and the flavors just weren't there.
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CJ's pan-roasted fruits de mer with shaved cauliflower with saffron paprika vinaigrette and olives was a complex dish, yet somehow the flavors all worked well together. Tre's shellfish poached in fish stock, butter, and olive oil with summer corn and grilled leek compote was lacking. There was not enough shellfish on the plate and too much corn; however, the corn was fantastic and had he incorporated both into one dish the corn would have helped the lack of shellfish and thus would have made the plate look more abundant. It is a shame because the flavors were there.