It was fun to see this week's guest judge, Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar & Grill in NYC, on hand for the catch & cook round. His restaurant is an institution in Manhattan -- a truly beautiful place and he is legendary. Man, you can read so much in his facial expressions as he samples all of the quick fires. I can't believe how expressive it is ... it speaks volumes. Thanks for that lovely introduction to the Quickfire, Sara N. However, I don't want to hear you whine over a wimpy net. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS. Season 2 would have had both our hands bound behind our backs and we would have to catch the clams with our mouths ... you know, Eddie Murphy style -- "Goonie-Goo-Goo!" LOL! Howie ... Love ya', babe, but please wipe your brow. I'm trying to watch my salt content! And thanks to Lia for having the balls to confront Hung over his sloppiness in the kitchen. How a chef conducts him or herself in the kitchen is also so much a part of being a "Top Chef" and is so often overlooked in this competition. I haven't seen much of Lia so far, but I like her style. Is she perhaps the dark horse who will emerge victorious?
Congrats Brian on your Quickfire win! Other than your straightforward approach, you were wise to pretty much stay out of the way of the seafood and let it speak for itself. You're on a roll now, kid. Stick with it ... You know, I get jealous every time I see the contestants lounging in that Jacuzzi, but my therapist tells me it is natural. HA! When I packed for TC2, a swimsuit was not on my list!! "Family Favorites" conjures up so many meanings, not just awful cafeteria food. America is a great melting pot ... literally. There are so many great traditions that are personal to each family. I was a bit disappointed to see so many turn their noses up to these classics, rather than embrace them. This challenge really gave them a chance to have fun and be creative with these old favorites. Unfortunately, several chefs viewed this assignment with dread -- and it showed.
There really wasn't much wizardry to talk about. I again commend Brian for your lobster & cabbage roll. It should have gotten more props. I was a bit taken aback by the judges seeming obliviousness as to the realities of cholesterol and fat content in Lobster. Lobster Facts: According to the American Heart Association, the daily recommended allowance of cholesterol is not to exceed 300 milligrams. A 3-ounce portion of lobster has only 61 milligrams of cholesterol, 83 calories and only .5 grams of fat. So you can see that he was well within his limits. I'm just wondering if he knew this and didn't say anything (since he had immunity), or if possibly he did confront the judges and it was edited out.
Congrats to Howie for your fennel crusted pork with apple fennel salad and a cider glaze. This dish really shone in its simple elegance. Seems that Howie really got this challenge. It was also good to see him vindicated after the first two very difficult episodes for him. I cannot wait to make this recipe both here at the Hi-Life Cafe and on the Cada Dia morning show on Telemundo on July 11th. It looks and sounds simply delicious! It was a tough choice as to who should go. While not totally ambitious, neither Lia nor Sarah's dishes were worthy of the boot. I've got to say that CJ's tuna dish looked abysmal ... he was obviously saved by the flaxseed tuile; that left only Micah. While I have loved her creativity on the first couple of episodes, I was disappointed that she seemed to approach this challenge from the wrong angle. Since she lived in South Africa, I just kept wondering why she didn't turn her dish in to Baboti -- a traditional dish with many of the same ingredients as meatloaf, but with many more refreshing herbs and spices that would truly give the dish a lift. It can also be prepared in a much healthier style. What did her in, though, was that she seemed to be looking down on Americans with her ketchup remark -- that obviously and understandably put off the American judges.
That being said, I like Micah a lot and think she is very talented. I had the opportunity to meet her at the South Beach kick-off event and she is a great spirit. I am sorry to see her go, and I hope I get the chance to taste her cuisine in the future! I have no doubt that she will do very well for herself. That's it for this week folks. Have a happy and safe 4th of July and I will see you back here in two weeks for my take on episode #4. BTW ... check out this week's webisode for my bronzed tuna recipe. It is delicious and easy to make. As always, I welcome your thoughts. Stay tuned ...