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Top Chef 3.5 - Latin Flavor Recap

Okay, Top Chef is finally getting into the manageable numbers. Almost everyone received a little screen time, and instead of flashing each dish for a few milliseconds, the camera hovered over each plate long enough to suck them fully in. And what tasty looking plates they were...

Last night's episode started off with the cheftestants bonding in their fancy digs (honestly, season 1 and 2, you got the short end of the stick). Hung goes on about how it's all about "finesse, style, grace and elegance." Which of course, if you haven't figured out the Bravo school of editing by now, means that Hung's actions are going to somehow contradict his statement. To find out if they do,

When they arrive to the kitchen, Padma and guest judge Maria Frumkin present them with frozen pie crusts. They are then told that they have 90 minutes to come up with some creative and tasty dish using the crust in any way that they want. Of course Dale finds it hysterical - as do I - that the week before he almost went home because they said he wasn't a pastry chef, and now they're asking him to be one. The contestants whip out some mighty fine looking treats, some savory and some sweet. Lia and Dale are in the bottom three, however Hung's entry looks the most questionable. Instead of deconstructing the crust, Hung decides to leave it intact and makes a banana-chocolate-nut mousse. His end result never sets up and it comes out looking like something you would find on Semi-Home Made (although I did like how he used the fresh strawberries to try and hide the rough goopy edges). With the worst dishes identified, Maria announces that the best dishes come from Tre, Sara M. and Joey. In the end it's Joey who wins immunity with an elegant trio of tarts.

After the quickfire, they are told that they will be cooking for the cast of Telemundo's Dame Chocolate and they have 30 minutes to shop, $125 to spend and 3
hours to cook. Oh and the twist? They have to cook Latin inspired food. I could be wrong, but I think this may be the first time a specific type of food was given as a challenge. The contestants plan their menus, go shopping and bond. It's funny to me to see how Joey & Howie are bff now, as are Casey and Lia.

The next morning they begin prepping their dishes only to have Chef Tom come in and throw them a real curveball: lunch has been moved up! Instead of 3 hours, they now only have 1 1/2 hours to cook and the pressure is on! Hung flies around wielding a knife like a mad man (how's that for "finesse"?) and Howie sweats into his dish like crazy. Once the time is up the cheftestants pack up their food (in gladware of course) and head off to the Telemundo set where they serve their dishes buffet style.

After all is said and done - or should that be served and eaten? - the judges decide that Howie and Joey have the top dishes and ultimately Howie's Braised Pork with Yuca is the winner. At this point I am starting to think there is something magical about Howie's sweat. Perhaps it seasons the dishes in the most amazing way?

If there are winners, then of course there are losers. The bottom four are Lia, Casey, Sara N. and - the ever so shocked - Hung. Hung cannot believe he is there, which makes the judges hate him even more, Sara N.'s dish is compared to just plain guacamole, Casey's was overcooked and dry and Lia's was bland and had no texture. Padma calls it "inedible," but Chef Tom cannot believe she said that and feels that Pamda is being "a little harsh." However, it must not have been that harsh, as sadly - I was starting to root for her - Lia was asked to pack her knives up and go.

What did you guys think of this episode? Were you surprised that Lia went home? What about Howie giving Joey his prize? How touching was that?! And Padma's braids - love them or hate them? I loved them!

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Join The Conversation
cupcake375 cupcake375 10 years
Hung is totally annoying. He was so arrogant when his dish was criticized. Not humble at all. Howie can admit when he makes a mistake.
bizzybee bizzybee 10 years
Perhaps some foam ;)
bizzybee bizzybee 10 years
I am one episode behind on my Top Chef. Nonetheless Hung bugs! And I agree Caterpillar Girl, the competition does not seem strong at all compared to last season.
Food Food 10 years
llendril - it was a from a car accident - it's an interesting story actually and i'm still trying to figure out why lia left when she was the winner last week and sara n. really seemed like she would be ousted this week...
sumnboutme sumnboutme 10 years
llendril, that's a scar from a car accident when she was 14 (sadly, i have the same scar...two in fact). I thought Sara N. was going to leave because she did not make ceviche, she made guacamole (as the judges pointed out). It didn't even look like Ceviche. And I agree with everyone the Hung is an a$$.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 10 years
Ilan, the winner from last season, threw his remote at the TV last night, because he would have DOMINATED this challenge. I cant believe Sara basically made fancy Quacamole! Lia did deserve to go, her dish was just banality on some polenta.
derekbrown derekbrown 10 years
I'm beginning to like Joey - only because I like Howie. He gets the job done, and I agree that it's cool that they are both man enough to admit that they can each cook. The wine-exchange made me proud to be a guy. As far as Lia being gone? Good riddance. The ladies are slacking this season compared to previous seasons, though Kasey is beautiful. One more thing - Hung needs to leave pronto.
llendril llendril 10 years
um . . . what was up with padma's right arm? should i know what happened?
ccy ccy 10 years
As disgusting as it may sound, I really do wonder if Howie's dishes would have that right level of saltiness if he were to wear a headband or do-rag to mop up the sweat? And one other thing, (I'm sure it's just me) but I've never understood the concept of "boiling" rice. It just sounds like a guaranteed way to make mushy,soupy rice. How gross is that? unless your intentionally making rice soup or something...
fireyelectra fireyelectra 10 years
I'm not sure its Howie's magic sweat that does it for him, Yum. (Although that's a lot more believable than the magic crab that Sarah Michelle Gellar finds in Simply Irresistible . . .) The man seems to know his way around pork, and pork only.
MotoLinz MotoLinz 10 years
I wish everyone else - I'm so tired of Hung.
stefsprl stefsprl 10 years
I was so sad! I really liked Lia, and I definitely thought that Casey should have been gone. And I really like that even though Joey and Howie butt heads sometimes, they're both man enough to admit when the other one does a good job. And yes, Hung needs a reality check and NEEDS TO GO!
sumbum sumbum 10 years
i hate hung!! ugh, he's is such an ass. i agree, he will be kept on till the end (just like marcel) for drama. blech, i can't stand his cockiness. i'm kinda bummed for lia. i thought she had the most potential of all the lady chefs. i think casey or sara n. should've gotten the boot.
athenac athenac 10 years
I literally jumped for joy when Hung got called into the bottom four. Even though he didn't go, I was still happy. I'm going to love his face when they finally let him go.
Lara16 Lara16 10 years
I cannot wait for Hung to go! But I agree that the producers will probably keep him for the drama. I am hispanic and grew up eating arroz con pollo so I was a little insulted by his cockiness. I laughed hard when he said 'what, it wasn't classical enough?' he sooo full of himself! Too funny the comment on Howie's sweat... I can't belief no one has suggested a bandanna or something! Ans yes, Sara needs to go too..
Seraphim Seraphim 10 years
i'm sorry but sara n. needs to leave pronto,.. her dishes are so UNDERdone... and well as for hung... he'll be on til the shows over cause drama=tv ratings :)
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