Top Chef: Miami is the third season of American reality television seriesTop Chef and was filmed first in Miami, Florida, and concluded in Aspen, Colorado. The season premiered on Bravo on June 13, 2007 and ended on October 10, 2007. Padma Lakshmi returned with Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and new judge Ted Allen, who will switch off with Simmons throughout the season. First season contestant Lee Anne Wong was brought in as a food consultant and assisted in planning the challenges. Production took place in April and May 2007 in Miami Beach, Florida, with 15 contestants living, and the production activity centered, at the historic Fontainebleau Hotel. The prize money awarded to the Top Chef was $100,000. As with Season 2, the winning recipe from each week's episode of Season 3 is featured on Bravo's Top Chef website and prepared by Season 1 contestant Lee Anne Wong in a web video called The Wong Way to Cook. Another former contestant, Season 2's Carlos Fernandez, is featured on a Yahoo!/Telemundo blog called Sabrosazon in which he presents recipes and writes about Season 3 in Spanish, as well as a Bravo blog called Miami Spice in which he presents recipes in English.
Beginning this season, Simmons and Allen alternated episodes beginning with the preview episode "Four-Star All Stars", which featured a cook-off between teams of four top chefs from the first two seasons.
^Note 1 : From Episode 9 forward, the winner of the Quickfire does not receive immunity from elimination. ^Note 2 : Episode 6 was a non-competition reunion special. ^Note 3 : Dale, as winner of the Quickfire, was excused from the Elimination Challenge. ^Note 4 : No one was eliminated in Episode 9. While Brian and Dale were brought back for the second appearance at the Judging Table, they were only there as representatives of their teams, not because they were the worst. They were told that the judges chose to give each team a second run for this Elimination Challenge in Episode 9.
(WINNER) The chef won the season and was crowned Top Chef.
(RUNNER-UP) The chef was a runner-up for the season.
(WIN) The chef won that episode's Elimination Challenge.
(HIGH) The chef was selected as one of the top entries in the Elimination Challenge, but did not win.
(LOW) The chef was selected as one of the bottom entries in the Elimination Challenge, but was not eliminated.
(OUT) The chef lost that week's Elimination Challenge and was out of the competition.
(IN) The chef neither won nor lost that week's Elimination Challenge. They also were not up to be eliminated.
Each episode includes two challenges. The Quickfire Challenge is a short, simple challenge with a varying reward each week; in the initial episodes of the season, it usually guarantees the winner immunity from being sent home that week. The Elimination Challenge is a more complex challenge that determines who goes home. One or more guest judges join the show each week to evaluate both the Quickfire and Elimination challenges. Each week's elimination is announced in a segment called "Judges' Table."
Episode 1: First Impressions
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs must create an amuse bouche within 10 minutes using only existing appetizer food and the plastic service-ware from their introductory party. The winner gets immunity from elimination.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs need to create an "upscale barbecue" dish with two hours to prep and two hours the following day to cook on a barbecue grill on location at a barbecue party.
WINNER: Brian (“Chino Latino”: Scallops, Shrimp and Seabass Sausage with Ginger Slaw and Chili Glaze)
ELIMINATED: Sandee (Vanilla Lobster and Pancetta-Wrapped Date Skewers with Black Truffle and Walnut Slaw)
Elimination Challenge Prize: None noted in the broadcast airing.
Guest Judge: Norman van Aken
Original Airdate: June 20, 2007
Episode 3: Family Favorites
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs must “catch and cook” a shellfish dish in 30 minutes after using nets to fish scallops, crawfish, and conch out of tanks. The winner gets immunity from elimination.
WINNER: Brian ("Tres Rios" (3 Rivers): Wine, Butter, Garlic, Chives with Clams, Scallops, Mussels and Crawfish; Oyster Mignonette and Conch Toast)
Elimination Challenge: The chefs are asked to update traditional “family favorites” such as tuna casserole, stuffed cabbage, and chicken and dumplings by creating a healthier, more modern dish with reduced cholesterol in one hour for judgment by members of an Elks club.
WINNER: Howie (Fennel Crusted Pork Chops with Apple Fennel Salad and Sultana Raisin Emulsion)
ELIMINATED: Micah (Italian-style Meatloaf with Smashed Garlic Potato and Roasted Pepper Sauces)
Elimination Challenge Prize: Three books from guest judge, Chef Alfred Portale and an invitation to spend a week at the Gotham Bar and Grill working with Chef Portale and his staff.
Quickfire Challenge: The contestants are challenged to create an appetizer to pair with Bombay Sapphire mixed drinks; the specific drink was selected by random draw. The winner gets immunity from elimination.
Elimination Challenge: In teams of three, the contestants prepare a tasting menu of four courses, each consisting of trios around a central ingredient. The contestants were to divide themselves up into teams, and select the main ingredient for each course and the order of the courses.
First Course: A trio of shrimp (Brian, Hung, Lia)
Second Course: A trio of tuna (Casey, Howie, Joey)
Third Course: A trio of beef (CJ, Sara N., Tre)
Fourth Course: A trio of pineapple (Camille, Dale, Sara M.)
WINNER: Lia (Olive Oil Poached-Key West Pink Shrimp with Avocado, Cucumber, Lime and Grilled Pepper Salad)
ELIMINATED: Camille (Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Ginger Sabayon)
Guest Judges: Jamie Walker, Barton G. Weiss
Original Airdate: July 11, 2007
Episode 5: Latin Lunch
Quickfire Challenge: The contestants are challenged to create a course starting with a pre-made pie crust, using additional ingredients from the Top Chef pantry. The winner gets immunity from elimination.
WINNER: Joey ("A Trio of Tarts": Berry Cream with Balsamic Vinegar, Roasted Mango Purée with Rum, Warm Apple Compote with Brandied Whipped Cream and Cardamom Syrup)
Elimination Challenge: The contestants are asked to prepare a classical Latin lunch course to be served to the cast and crew of the TelemundotelenovelaDame Chocolate. They had $150 in grocery money to spend and initially had three hours to prep but were told, on the day of the lunch, that they only had 90 minutes to complete their meals and pack them for service.
WINNER: Howie (Braised Pork Shoulder with Yucca and Sour Orange Mojo)
Elimination Challenge Prize: A bottle of Argentine wine from guest judge Maria Frumkin (which Howie gave to Joey).
Guest Judge: Maria Frumkin
Original Airdate: July 18, 2007
Episode 6: Watch What Happens
Various chefs from all three seasons are reunited to discuss the series. Hosted by Bravo vice president and bravotv.com blogger Andy Cohen, the episode includes Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and guest judge Ted Allen, along with Season 1 chefs Harold, Lee Anne, and Dave; Season 2 chefs Ilan, Michael, Cliff, and Sam; and Season 3 chefs Clay, Camille, Lia, Micah and Sandee. Participants were asked questions drawn from viewer emails, and were shown video segments highlighting footage from all three seasons. Questions included what Cliff thought when he saw himself wrestling with Marcel; whether Lee Anne and Harold are dating (Lee Anne says "no"); and what Micah really thought about American comfort food. Clips include Harold introducing his restaurant, Perilla, and Ilan competing in a cook-off against Jacques Pepin at the Food & Wine Classic.
Original Airdate: July 25, 2007
Episode 7: Freezer Burn
Quickfire Challenge: The contestants are challenged to the culinary equivalent of a spelling bee, and have to identify foods by either taste or appearance. The winner gets immunity from elimination.
Elimination Challenge: The contestants are randomly paired up and challenged to create Bertolli-inspired Mediterranean entrees that will be frozen overnight. The food will be served to shoppers the next day in the style of pre-packaged frozen dinners. They are given $100 to shop at Fresh Market to buy enough food to make 15 full courses and sampling dishes, two hours to prepare prior to freezing, and another hour after freezing before serving their meals.
Team 1: Hung & Joey (Tri-Color Fusilli with Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce and Chicken)
Team 2: Howie & Sara M. (Mediterranean Shrimp Pasta with Fennel and Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette)
Team 3: Brian & Sara N. (Chicken Rigatoni with Kalamata Olives, Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Rosemary)
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs are given 45 minutes to prepare ingredients to be mixed into Cold Stone Creameryice cream just prior to serving. The winner gets immunity from elimination and gets to have dinner with restaurateur Govind Armstrong at Table 8.
WINNER: Dale (Cobbler Topping: Flambéed Peaches with Candied Pecans)
Elimination Challenge: The chefs initially are told they were to have the night off to enjoy Miami nightlife. They discover later that they would be cooking outdoors for patrons at the Nikki Beach night club. The eight chefs drew knives to divide into two groups: Black Team (Brian, Hung, Sara M., and Tre) and Orange Team (Casey, CJ, Howie, and Sara N.). Each team was given a catering truck to use as a mobile kitchen; thirty minutes and $300 to shop; and two hours to prepare a number of "late-night" bar food dishes. The menus were:
Oysters in a Half Shell with Watermelon and Spicy Ceviche Taco (Brian)
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs are given 30 minutes to prepare a burger, as inspired by Red Robin's line of "Adventuresome" Burgers. The winner gets the first choice of three teammates for the upcoming Elimination Challenge.
WINNER: CJ (Scallop Mousse & Shrimp Burger with Tangerine)
From this point on, immunity is no longer awarded to the winner of a Quickfire Challenge.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs divide into two teams, and each one will be responsible for taking an empty space and opening an operating restaurant out of it in 24 hours; teams have $2,500 and 45 minutes to purchase decor items, and $500 and 30 minutes to shop for food items at The Fresh Market. Each restaurant is connected to the Top Chef kitchens and thus teams would share the kitchen space. As CJ won the Quickfire, he will select all 3 members of his team. The teams are unaware prior to the challenge that Andrea Strong, author of the food blog "The Strong Buzz", would also be dining in each restaurant and commenting on decor, service, and food, with her comments partially influencing the judging decisions.
Restaurant April: Brian, Casey, CJ, Tre
Amuse bouche: Bluepoint Oyster with Ginger and Watermelon Granita
First course: Seared Sea Scallop on Corn and Black Truffle Custard
Second course: Seared Grouper with Shellfish, Basil Pistou and Artichoke Hearts
Third course: Wild Mushroom and Gorgonzola-Crusted Beef Tenderloin on Smoked Fingerling Potatoes
No team won the Elimination Challenge, since the judges felt both teams' respective successes in their restaurants were canceled out by the relative mis-steps. However, the judges decided not to send anyone home this round, rather opting for a re-do of the challenge the next day, where someone will be going home afterwards.
Elimination Challenge Prize: Each chef received a copy of Guest Judge Daniel Boulud's Letters to a Young Chef.
One unusually vocal diner, who complained about food tasting like metal and protested the scented candle on his table by putting it out with his napkin and setting it on the floor, was later identified by Bravo staff as Christopher Ciccone, brother of Madonna. Bravo executive Andy Cohen also mentioned at that time that Ciccone would be appearing in the following week's episode in an unnamed capacity. Ciccone would reappear in Episode 10 to assist with interior decoration for both restaurants.
Episode 10: Second Helping
Quickfire Challenge: Continuing with the same teams from the previous week, both teams compete to be the first to complete the following mise en place tasks, in relay:
Shucking 15 oysters (Howie v. Brian)
Finely chopping 5 large onions (Sara M. v. Casey)
Breaking down 4 whole chickens (Hung v. Tre)
Separating 3 egg whites and beating them until the peaks stand in an upside-down bowl for at least five seconds without falling out. (Dale v. CJ)
WINNING TEAM: Team Garage
The winning team receives the help of Season 1 contestant and sommelierStephen Asprinio for pairing wine with their courses, along with an extra $200 to spend on wine.
Elimination Challenge: Each team reopens its restaurant, using input from the previous challenge, along with the assistance of Christopher Ciccone, who appeared as a diner in the previous episode, for interior decoration. The teams are allowed to change anything else they wanted with their restaurant, including its name. Each team must prepare two different options for three of the four courses. They are given four hours of preparation time before both restaurants opens. Head judge Tom Colicchio is present in the kitchen during the preparation time and into the serving period.
Eliminated chefs were among the diners. Joey and Sara N. dined at Quatre, while Camille and Lia dined at April.
Episode 11: Chef Overboard
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs draw numbered knives corresponding to an aisle in a supermarket. Each chef has 20 minutes to create a dish using only $10 worth of products from that aisle, in addition to a limited selection of items from the Top Chef pantry. The winner receives the ability to choose the team leader for the Elimination Challenge.
WINNER: Brian (Spam, Corned Beef Hash and Fried Egg with Onions and Balsamic Reduction)
NOTE: Howie failed to present any dish for judging.
Elimination Challenge: Working as a team, the chefs are to cater a party for fashion designer Esteban Cortazar and 60 guests aboard the yacht Venetian Lady chartered by the Pure nightclub. The entire team has a total of $350 to spend for supplies, and has two hours of preparation time on board the yacht prior to service.
During Judges' Table, Howie initially tried to withdraw from the competition and his request was denied by the judges. They then said that his two dishes were the worst and eliminated him anyway.
Episode 12: Snacks on a Plane
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs are awakened in their penthouse by Padma Lakshmi and have 20 minutes to serve her breakfast using only a butane burner, a Breville blender, and a selection of ingredients brought over from the Top Chef pantry. The winner receives an early copy of Padma's new cookbook Tangy, Tart, Hot and Sweet and is first to choose a protein for the Elimination Challenge.
WINNER: Hung (Steak and Eggs with Papaya, Banana and Grand Marnier Shake)
Beginning with this Elimination Challenge, no further part of the competition was held in Miami.
Episode 13: Manhattan Project
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs dine at Le Cirque on a classic dish of sea bass wrapped in thinly sliced Russet potatoes over leeks. They then have 25 minutes to recreate the dish as close as possible to the original. This challenge is judged by Sirio Maccioni, owner of Le Cirque and the co-creator of the dish. The winner earns an extra 30 minutes of cooking time for the Elimination Challenge and the opportunity to serve the elimination judges first.
Winner: Casey (Trout Filet with Crisped Skin, Grapes and Summer Corn)
Elimination Challenge: At the Moon Run Ranch, the chefs will cater the annual dinner for the Snowmass Rodeo Riders, using supplies already in place for the event's original caterers. Once the chefs arrive in the kitchens, the protein is revealed: elk. Each chef has three hours to create his or her own menu of dishes, and an hour for service. As the winner of the Quickfire Challenge, Casey is the only one who will be able to use the items she brought from home in the Elimination Challenge. All others must use what is provided. Casey, however, told Colicchio before judging that she had chosen not to use the advantage which she won in this episode's Quickfire in order to save those items for the finale.
Brian: Whiskey-Braised Elk Shank, Horseradish and Sour Cream Potato Purée, Pancetta Corn Asparagus Relish, Blackberry Balsamic and Sage Brown Butter
Casey: Mushroom-Crusted Elk Loin with a Cauliflower Duo and Tomato Butter
Dale: Spiced Elk Loin, Huckleberry and Blackberry Sauce, Cauliflower and Fingerling Potatoes
Hung: Seared Elk Loin, Pommes Boulangère, Chocolate Red Wine Sauce
Note: Chief Judge Tom Colicchio announced that, for the first time in the show's history, three of the four chefs would advance to the finale.
The events in this episode took place approximately one month after the last elimination challenge in New York.
Episode 15: Aspen Finale, Part 2
Final Challenge: The chefs take a ski lift to the Aspen Mountain Club, elevation 11,200 feet. Their instructions for the final challenge are simple: "Cook us the best meal you've ever cooked in your life." They are shown a large, diverse array of proteins and produce and are given 35 minutes to plan a three-course menu. This final meal will be served head-to-head rather than back-to-back: Each chef's course will be presented at the same time as his or her competitor's. The chefs then draw knives to see with which of three sous-chefs they will be paired for the three-hour prep period on the first day.
Dale is matched with Todd English, also a chef and restaurateur.
On the second day, the chefs are given two hours to complete their dishes before service. With an hour left, however, they are told they must now add a fourth course to their menus. It can be composed of any ingredient available in the kitchen, and can be served at any point in the meal. Eliminated contestants CJ, Howie and Sara M. are randomly paired through knife drawing with Dale, Casey and Hung, respectively, as sous-chefs to assist in the fourth course preparation. The four judges were joined at the dining table by the three celebrity sous-chefs and the eliminated contestant Brian. The final menus for each chef (with the surprise course italicized) are:
1st Course: Cinnamon-Scented Scallop with Celery and Foie Gras with Apple
2nd Course: PoachedPrawn with Rice Cake in Lobster Mushroom Broth
4th Course: Chocolate cake with Raspberries and Nougatine Tuile
At "Judge's Table," the judges all agreed that Hung presented the best first and third courses, while Dale presented the best second and fourth courses.
TOP CHEF: Hung
RUNNERS-UP: Dale and Casey
Original Airdate: October 3, 2007
This was the first time that the winner of Top Chef was announced live following the pre-taped portion of the show, at a live event in Chicago.
Episode 16: Reunion
All Season Three chefs were reunited to discuss the season. Hosted by Bravo vice president and bravotv.com blogger Andy Cohen, the episode also included Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and guest judge Ted Allen. Participants were asked questions drawn from viewer emails, and were shown video segments highlighting the season. The chefs joked about Hung's speed in the kitchen, CJ's issues with his height, CJ's flirtation with Padma and Casey, the chefs' time spent in the "stew room" (the room in which they waited while the judges discussed the elimination challenges), and the unlikely friendship which developed between Howie and Joey. More serious issues discussed included Tre's elimination in "Restaurant Wars, Part 2," Hung's refusal to assist other chefs, Casey's performance at the dinner service in the "Finale, Part 2", Dale's regaining his confidence as a chef, and the chefs' back-talking to the judges during Judges' Table. Additionally, Casey was announced as "Fan Favorite" from an online and SMS poll, winning a $10,000 prize underwritten by Calphalon and a suite of Calphalon cookware.