Upscale barbecue. That was the theme for Week 2's elimination challenge. South Florida event planner Lee Schrager threw an afternoon party for a bunch of Miami muckety-mucks, and the chefs were pretty much left their own devices to come up with a menu that could satisfy 60 guests.
The main limitations were that the food would be served on paper plates, eaten with fingers or maybe a plastic fork, and that the dishes needed to be cooked on barbecues with charcoal provided courtesy of Brand-Name Sponsor #85. (Bravo, can we please just have companies sponsor the contestants, NASCAR-style, with large logos covering every inch of their whites? Frankly, it would be a welcome relief from the current mode of product placement.)
Long story short: Sara N. is made to look completely incompetent during both quickfire and elimination challenges, through the wonders of selective editing. "Are habaneros hot? I had no idea!" Of course, she manages to land in the top three in the elimination challenge with her Vietnamese barbecue wraps. Smart use of lettuce, the ultimate edible utensil. Way to go, Sara. Next week, remember to breathe.
[Caution: Spoiler after the jump.]
Other stories of worst-to-first and vice versa include last week's bottom-dweller, Brian, serving up a barbecue seafood sausage (at right) that pretty much won the week, hands down. Guest judge Norman Van Aken couldn't stop beaming about the execution of this high-end twist on the humble hot link. Nice job, Brian. Get the recipe here, presented on video by Lee Anne Wong from Season One.
At the other end of the spectrum, a very confident Tre let his Texas brethren down by tanking on the barbecue. His peach-glazed salmon dish was seasoned so unevenly that Top Chef actually aired its first consumer expletive. I'm not sure what profanity was behind the bleep, but judging by the taster's face, it wasn't "Holy shit! This is delicious!"
In other news: Micah has a daughter and misses her. Hung won the quickfire and was immune to elimination. Universally beloved, tonsorially challenged Sandee was sent home for what seemed like a little bit of a technicality, in stark contrast to Howie's dodging of a similar bullet in Week One. I'm sure the message boards will be on fire.