Top Chef: All Stars

2006, TV Show

Top Chef Episode: "Latin Lunch"

Season 3, Episode 5
Episode Synopsis: It's a dessert storm when the chefs are challenged to create a sublime pie crust, after which they must cook up tasty fare for personalities of the Telemundo television network. Chef Maria Frumkin serves as guest judge.
Original Air Date: Jul 18, 2007

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Season 3, Episode 5
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Aired: 7/18/2007
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"Latin Lunch" Season 3, Episode 5

Oh, what a fun episode of Top Chef this week, wouldn't you say? The curveball thrown to the chefs tonight made the episode for me, but we'll get to that shortly. This week certain personalities really got to me. If you go back to my first blog, you'll see that I've liked Hung from the beginning, but he's been wearing me down a bit. His arrogance has certainly gotten notice from the judges, and while it was always prominent, it never really came back to bite him as much as it did this week. Sara N. on the other hand has always annoyed me with her whining about how hard things are, how she doesn't have some expertise, or how this went wrong or that went wrong. I wanted to strangle her when she starting whining in the Quickfire challenge. But she surprised the heck out of me during the Latin cook-off when she said she wasn't worried about the lack of time. I would have naturally assumed that she'd moan that it wasn't fair, but for once she kept her poise. And finally, what do you say about Howie and Joey? These two were at each other's throats just a few episodes ago, and now they are like lifelong pals. But still, could they brown-nose each other any more? I get it, they love each other now, they want to push each other to be better, blah blah blah. Now cook some food and make sure the other guy gets eliminated, because clearly you think that's your main competition at this point. But the personality I like the most is Dale. Dale seems like he'd be a cool dude to hang around with. He's laid-back, fun-loving and quite funny. His reaction when they brought out the pie crust for the Quickfire was great. A nice simple (and tongue-in-cheek) "F--k you" based on the judges' knock of his dessert skills from last week. For the Quickfire, the chefs had to create a dish using a frozen pie crust for a remarkably honest, and maybe quite mean, judge - pastry chef Maria Frumkin of the Duo restaurant in Miami. It was very interesting to see that many of the contestants didn't go straight for dessert: In fact, Brian made an entire meal. As much as I used to wante to be a chef, this is where I would have failed miserably. The only thing I thought was, "Mmmmm, pie." It never would have crossed my mind to make a four-course meal. But if you couldn't tell from the look on Maria's face when she tried Dale's dish, it failed. Hung really had an off show as well, starting with this. Oh boy, a chocolate banana mousse. Heck, I understand all the words in his dish without looking them up, so clearly it couldn't have been that creative. On the opposite foot was Brian with his meal, Tre "getting girly" with his shaped pieces of crust and fruit, and Joey, whom Maria gives the win to after telling him he has "a future in tarts." I'm expecting that one day I'll see Joey in a magazine being touted as "Tartman" or "King Tart," and yes, maybe one day he'll even be the " owner of a lonely tart."* Of course that's much better than the owner of a broken tart. The elimination challenge was to create Latin food for the cast of a Telemundo show called Dame Chocolate. Everyone is really cool and laid-back when they are told they have three hours to cook the meal, and then Tom throws in a "twist" once they planned their dishes and started cooking by telling them that the lunch has been bumped up an hour and a half. You saw that coming, right? And I ask that seriously, because it seemed like half the chefs didn't. They are always rushed into doing everything. That's part of the game. So I can't believe some of them really thought they would just be able to take their time during this one. But then again, I can also see getting caught up in the euphoria of thinking that for once you have the opportunity to make a well-planned dish and not run around like you're on fire. The two best dishes ended up being from best buddies Joey and Howie. Joey did a bean stew with lobster, shrimp, chicken and chorizo and even Howie said, "I don't get blown away by food too often, but it blew me away." But I guess it didn't blow everyone away, because Howie won the challenge. His braised pork shoulder with yucca with a sour orange mojo ended up being "fantastic," and he took home the bottle of wine. Howie then gave his prize to Joey, which I know I should see simply as a nice gesture. But me being me, I figured they were going to start with the "you're the greatest, man - no, you're the greatest" thing and then cry themselves to sleep while holding their teddy bears. Continuing with his miserable episode, Hung had one of the bottom-four dishes. I understand what he was going for by creating arroz con pollo: Create a dish that everyone is sure to know, and it should be easy to slide through. But what he failed to understand is that by choosing the dish that all his customers are eating on a regular basis, the meal would have to be absolutely perfect to impress them, and it wasn't anywhere near that. Speaking in Spanish to the cast was enjoyable to them but certainly didn't win him any points when it came to judging the quality of the food. Sara N. again showed her lack of confidence at the end when she couldn't put together a sentence after the judges asked her questions. In the end, they were all right when they said she just created guacamole, not the seviche she claimed to present. It came down to Lia and Casey, however. I'm actually really surprised that Lia went home. She made a polenta dish, which wasn't Latin at all. This was another one of the cases when the chef just needed to find the middle ground between too simple and way too different. The judges said that it was the only one where "everyone left the dish on the plate." But they were really ripping on Casey and said that "everything was wrong about the dish." The rice was overcooked, the chicken was dry, and the coffee sauce "was like cough syrup," according to the judges. And really, that was the whole meal. But I wonder if the fact that Casey admitted she messed up big time and understood what she did wrong had anything to do with her staying. Although Lia didn't pull a Hung and say her dish was great, she didn't seem to think there was anything so wrong that she should be sent home. From being a manager myself, I have to admit that I'd rather hire the person who makes the mistake but takes responsibility for it and tries to fix it. Actually, I'd rather hire the person who doesn't make the mistake, but then everyone can't be perfect like The Steed (wink, wink). The biggest thing, though, is not Lia's elimination, but that Chef Tom called out Hung for wielding a weapon in the kitchen. Jeez, have some common sense, Hung. There are a mess of other chefs around and you're running with a blade in your hand that could probably slice off an arm. They should institute some kind of 15-minute personal foul for that crap. So it's time to tell me what you thought. And while you're at it, check out our Online Video Guide for more Top Chef. It's awesome. Until next week, friends. * I'm gonna bust out a footnote for this one, because unfortunately my wife once again threatened to come on here and out me for not giving her credit for something. So it's true, my lovely wife was the one who came up with "owner of a lonely tart." I was LMAO when she said it, so I had to put it in. It's clearly much funnier than "King Tart" but hey, I had to give you something that I thought of on my own! Just in case you don't know the reference, I've linked it up for you. show less
Oh, what a fun episode of Top Chef this week, wouldn't you say? The curveball thrown to the chefs tonight made the episode for me, but we'll get to that shortly. This week certain personalities really got to me. If you go back to my first blog, you'll see that I've liked Hung from the beginning, but he's been wearing me down a bit. His arrogance has certainly gotten notice from the judges, and while it was always prominent, it never really came back to bite him as much as it did this week. Sara N. on the other hand has always annoyed me with her whining about how hard things are, how she doesn't have some expertise, or how this went wrong or that went wrong. I wanted to strangle her when she starting whining in the Quickfire challenge. But she surprised the heck out of me during the Latin cook-off when she said she wasn't worried about the lack of time. I would have naturally assumed that she'd moan that it wasn’t fair, but for once she kept her poise. And finally, what do you ... read more

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Other Links:
Maria Frumkin, Tom Colicchio, Top Chef, Padma Lakshmi

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Premiered: March 08, 2006, on Bravo
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (310 ratings)
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Premise: A reality competition in which aspiring chefs compete for culinary stardom. Each episode features two challenges---a short test of basic cooking skills and an elimination challenge, in which one failing contestant is sent packing.

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