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Top Chef 3 Miami: Episode 9 - Tre Takes Down the Ship

August 29, 2007 By Maria de los Angeles in  | 4 Comments

Tre put his neck on the chopping block and lost it.  “If the executive chef can’t lead a team to success, then that executive chef has a flaw.” Looking for show updates? Read our coverage about Top Chef 3: Miami.

Episode 309:  “Second Helpings”

Quickfire Challenge:  The Garage Team
Elimination Challenge: Sara M
Eliminated: Tre


Exhausted from the previous evening’s restaurant openings, some of the chefs chose to sunbathe while others were eating breakfast.

Ah, typical Miami life ... NOT!

Hung found two envelopes slipped under the door, which were Andrea Strong’s critiques.  “How can you go wrong with an oyster?” was Howie’s reply to “The oyster was a disaster.”  OK, we are so OVER that blogger!  Moving on ...

My prayers were answered.  We got huge servings of Colicchio in this episode!  It was great to see him more involved behind-the-scenes.

The restaurant teams “April” and “The Garage” competed in a mise en place relay race to win an extra $200 for wine and the chance to work with a “surprise” sommelier.  The chefs also learned that they’d get a little extra last minute help from Madonna’s brother, renowned designer Christopher Ciccone, to upgrade their restaurant décor.

Ready, set, go!  This was actually a really good basic skills challenge.  You either did it quick or had your ass whooped.

This challenge was all about speed.  Faster prep means a tight ship when it comes to running a good kitchen.  Here’s what one chef in each team had to do: chuck 15 oysters, finely dice 5 onions, break down 4 chickens, and crack and separate 3 eggs, then beat the whites stiff enough to stick to an overturned bowl for at least 5 seconds.

Look at her go!  Sara M is the onion chopping queen!

Not surprisingly, seafood chef Brian beat Howie at chucking oysters.  It was hare and tortoise between the gals:  Sara M diced like mad while Casey practically massaged the onions, holding her team back. Hung was the chicken man, separating the bird parts in two minutes flat.  Tre had barely started quartering the poultry when Dale whipped up a super-stiff meringue.  “The Garage” won so fast it was completely embarrassing for team April.


Surprise! It’s sommelier Stephen Asprinio from season one in all his arrogant glory.  Actually the guy knows his wine like nobody’s business.

All the fun and frenzy of the quickfire challenge settled into serious business as we watched the chefs prepare for the hard opening of their new and improved restaurants.  This was the real thing.  No fussing and no drama.  They got to work.

After meeting with designer Ciccone about improving the look of their restaurants, the chefs went back home for an evening of menu deliberation.  The next day, they shopped for food and wine and headed straight into the four-hour prep, which seemed to go rather smoothly for both teams.  Everyone seemed focused.  Colicchio stepped in just before service to let them know he’d be observing them behind-the-scenes instead of dining at the front of the house.

Stop staring at me!  You’re making me nervous!

Dale at the newly revamped and renamed Quatre:  “It looks like Valentine’s Day spit up all over it.”

Team Quatre (formerly The Garage)

Sara M and Howie had a little tiff about the doneness of lamb.  But she was the boss and he obeyed, not without slamming the door to the oven.

Other than a couple of spats in the kitchen and Dale telling sommelier Asprinio to tone down his chattiness about wine, Quatre’s performance was superb.  Sara M rocked in her delegation skills as executive chef and although Dale looked like he was dressed to work at a cheap diner, he put on a smooth show at the front of the house without losing control of the kitchen.

Team Quatre didn’t have to fish for compliments. The halibut was a big hit.

Ted Allen, Padma Lakshmi and guest judge Geoffrey Zakarian sat down at Quatre first.  They critiqued Hung’s tuna tartare for being cliché, but not for quality.  Allen loved Dale’s poussin with mint gnocchi and Howie’s “beautifully seasoned and beautifully cooked” lamb.  Zakarian complimented the fish course:  “This is a very smart way to serve halibut.”

Team April

This expression did not bode well for Team April.  Tre’s salmon course was so bad, Allen had to take a big swig of wine:  “I need to get rid of that somehow.”

We didn’t get to see much of what happened during prep time for this team, but did get a load of critique from the judges, who had just dined at Quatre.  They liked the first course, a “well balanced” scallop on corn custard.  Unfortunately, it was downhill from there. 

A dish not to remember.  Zakarian didn’t care at all for Tre’s tenderloin.

Zakarian couldn’t believe Tre had let his salmon dish out of the kitchen:  “This dish is a car wreck in Times Square.”  CJ’s lobster salad was lovely to look at but salty.  Casey’s carrot ginger soup was a favorite but the monkfish was overcooked.  Zacharian called Tre’s tenderloin “forgettable” and dessert was no better—the brioche bread pudding was simply bad. The apples were undercooked and chewy.

Dude, we are so up brioche creek!

Judges Table

It was no surprise at all that Sara M won the elimination challenge with great leadership skills. She may not have been shining very much so far this season with her cooking, but she can definitely run a kitchen.  Save for Dale’s outfit, the team’s performance was practically flawless!  I mean, the judges didn’t even have much to say, which is always a good sign, right?

Sara M, Howie, Hung and Dale are now major equal contenders with this experience under their belt.  It will be interesting to see them compete against each other in episodes to come.

A win well deserved for both Sara M and the rest of the team:  “I couldn’t have done it without them.”

For Team April it was a different story.  The chefs look positively mortified. Tre was gulping his throat and Casey was practically hyperventilating.  It was one thing after another:  the awful salmon and pesto, the overcooked halibut, the salty lobster and the boring dessert.

No fake acting here!  Everyone was poo-pooing in their chef’s pants.

Colicchio’s main critique was that the winning team had taken their first mistakes in the soft opening and really stepped up.  But Team April “didn’t act like chefs.”  Ouch!  CJ should’ve watched Tre’s back because he had put the team together.  Zakarian said:  “It’s a team.  Everyone needs to make sure that the food goes out great.”  Brian wasn’t cut any slack either.  Whereas Dale had been personable in the front of the house and had even prepared a dish, he didn’t carry much weight.

So it was the captain of the ship, Tre, who had to take responsibility for the ship going down.  But Tre took it like a man:  “I feel like this show has really given me the knowledge to open my own restaurant and be very successful.  I guarantee you that when I’m creating new menus and executing more food, I won’t be making these same mistakes.”

Click here to see Tre’s exit interview.

Tre will be going to the gym to work on his fabulous biceps and ponder what he’s learned from Top Chef.

NEXT COURSE: The remaining chefs must prove they have aisle style and get creative at the supermarket in the 10th episode of “Top Chef 3 Miami.” Later, it’s sink or swim when the contestants cook on the high seas and put together a fabulous buffet spread on a budget. Special guest judge Michael Schwartz (chef and owner of Michaels Genuine in Miami) will help determine who moves one step closer to winning the coveted title of “Top Chef.

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About the Author: Maria de los Angeles is a freelance wordsmith who loves to write about all things travel in Florida and the Caribbean. She is also the author of the award-winning blog Sex and the Beach.

See more articles by Maria de los Angeles.

See more articles by Maria de los Angeles

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4 Comments on

"Top Chef 3 Miami: Episode 9 - Tre Takes Down the Ship"

Tom Parr says:

How could you can Tre ????? Sending tre home instead of CJ is a mistake. Regardless of Tre’s mistakes,he is a better composed professional with superior management and cooking skills than virtually anyone you have left. Its agreed that pesto with salmon is a pretty high crime, but not higher than adopting a strategy of ‘just getting by’ as CJ seems to have.

Posted on 09/05/2007 at 3:08 AM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Hey Tom!  Thanks for stopping by.

What I’ve learned from watching every Top Chef show so far is that they don’t really care about the overall quality of each chef.  It all boils down to what happens in each competition.  Even though CJ took a passive role, Tre played executive chef so ultimately it all fell on his shoulders.

It’s sort of like a track meet.  Even the best runners have bad days.  Those are just the rules of this particular show ... not to mention what’s in store as far as drama and reality TV manipulation.

I agree, Tre was one of the finer contestants, but the competition rules trump quality.

Posted on 09/05/2007 at 9:57 AM

Li Battise says:

It sucks to see the only black person on the show go home for an executive team decision and the next show the executive team leader not get sent home sounds like some racisum to me. I think all the judges should be fired and replaced.

Posted on 09/07/2007 at 5:13 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Li, I don’t think this decision was racially motivated.  Just look at everone else who’s packed their knives.  It really all boils down to what happens and who does what in any particular episode.

Posted on 09/13/2007 at 2:09 PM

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