Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi spills on what went wrong in the BBQ challenge.

on Jun 20, 2007

I don't really care for summer soups that have been turning up on menus these days. Chilled fruit soups, for example, are a real turnoff. I just have no desire to ever order them, preferring to leave the pureed fruit to Jamba Juice. Sara N. should have checked her ingredients before she began, as this is the number one rule in cooking: always prepare your ingredients, or mis en place, before starting the cooking process, especially in the case of a time-tight situation such as the Quickfire. Organization and forethought become crucial in a hot, crowded kitchen.

Sara N. lacked focus and this showed in her presentation to Chef Van Aken. Meanwhile, Casey's twist on the classic s'more was decadent and delicious. What you didn't see in the editing was that she incorporated citrus in the chocolate sauce in the s'more and orange and chocolate is a very classic, old school combination. But it's hard for a dessert to stand up to the might of a main course and that really was her big downfall.

I love summer barbecues so I was really looking forward to seeing what the chefs would come up with in this elimination challenge. I was impressed by Camille, Casey, and Micha's efforts since they made cohesive dishes that had a successful balance of complicated flavors, which is difficult to do in a BBQ setting. The prep work and timing was perhaps the "make or break" aspect of this challenge.

After the grills were fired up and the chefs got to work, I could see the confidence levels rise or fall. Hung and Brian seemed to be having a good time and looked at ease. Unfortunately, not all of the chefs had such an easy time at this challenge. Tre seemed to be struggling in balancing the salt and acidity with his peach glazed salmon. Why do salmon again for a BBQ challenge especially when you're from Texas?!?

Joey's drumsticks were tasty but they were really not groundbreaking or upscale enough to impress the judges or meet the challenge requirements. Sara N's Vietnamese BBQ beef lettuce wraps were delicious and compact which made them easy to eat. The crisp, fresh, cool crunch of lettuce complimented the spicy Asian chili sauce, which was doused over a perfectly grilled succulent piece of meat. It was indeed the perfect bite. Hung's dish was surprisingly simple compared to his previous feats, but I did love the watermelon and champagne spritzer. In fact, I went back for several shots of it.