Top Chef 3.10 – Nothing + Bad Food = Goodbye Howie

Chef Howie

First Howie shocked his fellow contestants by not coming up with ANYTHING for the Quickfire Challenge and followed that up with ugly and bad food. To no one’s suprise, it was finally Howie’s night to pack up his knives and go home. Sadly, it seemed that he had finally maybe even learned a lesson about his bulldog, uncooperative attitude. Alas, I suppose it was too little, too late…and then there were 6.

Sadly, this was possibly the most dull episode of Top Chef yet this season. Guest judge Michael Schwartz of Miami’s Michael’s Food and Drink was dull and lifeless. The Quickfire Challenge had a clever premise – $10 and 10 minutes of shopping in one particular aisle of the supermarket to create a great dish. It seemed the challenge inspired more oddities than great ideas. Hung decided he needed to express something unique and came up with a sort of multi-colored landscape of food that reminded me of an elementary school art project. Dale put together a Mexican breakfast, and Brian won the challenge with a dish that featured Spam as a main ingredient! The most controversial aspect of the Quickfire Challenge was that Howie, disappointed with how his items were working, produced nothing. I can’t recall another time this happened.

On to the Elimination Challenge – the contestants take to the seas around Miami. For once, all contestants will be working together to cater a party for hot fashion designer Esteban Cortazar. Brian, as winner of the Quickfire Challenge, gets the opportunity to pick the team’s leader, and he picks himself. As leader Brian organizes things in possibly the most boring, safe way possible. Each contestant is given $50 of the $350 total and works to produce 2 dishes on their own or a total of 3 while working with a partner. Howie sees this as his opportunity to recover from the Quickfire debacle…ominous foreshadowing indeed.

The chefs came up with an endless parade of tiny appetizers for the party guests. Far too few of the items seemed to be truly creative and composed. Howie’s food was worst – a mushroom duxelles on a cracker that looked like mud…or worse, and a greasy, oily prosciutto and parmesan food cigar. Although none of the contestants had a particularly great day (Casey did win with some quality food), Howie’s demise was obvious. As the guest judge pointed out, Howie said he didn’t present anything in the Quickfire because he was concerned about the integrity of his work and then in the Elimination Challenge he served crap. Sadly, in an episode with surprisingly few fireworks from Howie, no one really seemed sad to see him go. Perhaps we are finally down to the cream of the crop…next week the finals truly begin!