Top Chef Recap: June 20

In the sizzling heat of Miami, 14 cheftestants cooked for their lives in order to improve their chances of becoming Top Chef of Season 3. Contrary to the exotic proteins of the premier, the quickfire challenge of this episode included a wide range of colorfully provocative citruses. The cheftestants were instructed to create a special dish incorporating some of the gorgeous fruit in only 30 minutes.

Not only were things heating up with the food, things were heating up between the players. “This is the first time we’ve all been in the kitchen together, there’s 14 of us, the kitchen seems to be getting smaller,” one of the cheftestants complained. Scurrying around trying to top all the other dishes, each player put their heart and soul into this quickfire challenge. After 30 minutes, Chef Norman Van Aken, a pioneer of Florida’s fine dining and owner of Norman’s in Orlando and other prominent cities, joined the judging crew, which didn’t relieve the edgy cheftestants one bit.

While Hung was more than confident that he was going to win this challenge, Jacobson seemingly didn’t have his “A-Game”, as he left the seeds in his dish by accident, which did not go unnoticed by Van Aken. Ultimately, Hung did pull through with his dish, as Padma, Tom, Gail, and Norman chose his as the winner of the quickfire.

The elimination challenge tested the cheftestants’ ability to impress the “sexy and sophisticated crowd” of Miami by creating food for an “ultra-glamorous” gourmet barbeque thrown by Lee Schrager. They were aware (and somewhat intimidated) that some of Miami’s finest were attending. Given only 30 minutes for a $200 barbeque grocery shop, Malarkey said even though everyone rushed to the beef, he knew to stick to sea food. We’ll see if his attitude of “go big or go home” proves to be advantageous in the end.

Right on the stunning water of the Intracoastal Waterway in Miami, Micah and her cranked mood were improving by the minute. According to Colicchio, the gourmet barbeque is all about execution, so the players were fighting for more than just the taste.

Well, Sandee’s poached lobster just didn’t pull her through to the next round, and Joey and Howie’s dispute definitely didn’t help their attitudes or chances to move on. In the end, Malarkey’s chancy “go big or go home” approach was brilliant, because he ended up coming out on top.

The competition is heating up as quickly as the Miami temperature; the first two weeks of Top Chef: Season 3 are off to an exciting and delectable start.

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