Friday, June 29, 2007

Week #3 of Top Chef: How-WHEE! .....

I suspect that the third episode of Top Chef was NOT sponsored by the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain - but it did, at last, bring success to a contestant I've enjoyed watching from the start of the third season. The series airs Wednesday nights at nine o'clock (central) on Bravo TV.

Howie is a self-taught executive chef from Miami, Florida. Self-taught, but well-read ..... during the first episode, as he was being chewed out by guest judge Anthony Bourdain for not plating all of his food on time, Howie rebutted with Bourdain's own words, quoting from one of Bourdain's own books ..... I loved it!

But, in both of the first two episodes, Howie finished among the bottom tier in the Elimination Challenge, and in both cases was among those who might be told to 'pack up his knives and leave' ..... and it left me wondering.

The elimination challenge for the third episode called for the chefs to reinvent - and make healthier - family classics like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, chicken and dumplings, tuna casserole, chicken a'la king, and franks and beans. The new dishes would be served to the lunch crowd at the local Elks Club in Miami, whose comments would be included in the judging.

I have to admit, I was more than a little put off by the posturing of some contestants, as they showed total disdain for - or total ignorance of - these classic comfort foods that have graced so many dinner tables (including my own) for years ..... perhaps that's why so many of them failed so badly at the challenge.

But not Howie, who selected pork chops and apple sauce, and presented a reinvented, healthier dish - which was one of the Elks' favorites, too - that did not lose sight of the original inspiration for his entry.

Meanwhile, Micah, who had selected meatloaf and mashed potatoes, fared pretty badly and was eliminated ..... which was fine with me, as there was a lot more whine than wine to her character and her work the last couple of episodes.

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