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Top Chef 3 Miami Contestants: Who’s The Shark in the Kitchen?

June 09, 2007 By Maria de los Angeles in  | 5 Comments

Above: Chef Micah from Boca Raton, FL. Looking for show updates? Read our coverage about Top Chef 3: Miami.

Get ready for a shark-infested competition on June 13!


1 is a cheese maker
2 are former literature majors
3 are parents
1 meditates with a Zen master
1 is a cancer survivor
1 is a Miami native
7 do not watch Top Chef
8 are self-taught

Did you know certain species of sharks have been documented to eat their own siblings while in their mother’s womb?  Yeah, sharks like to EAT, not cook, but talk about getting rid of the competition!  Here’s a little food for thought on the newbie contestants.


Brian, 34 - San Diego, California
Executive Chef, The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Favorite Simple Summer Recipe:  Cold Beer, Cold Wine & Cold Seafood

Brian lives by the motto “Love, peace and happiness” but we’ll just have to see if such warm fuzziness will keep him from flipping his lid in the kitchen. Haven’t you ever wondered what chefs eat normally?  Well, Brian never eats fast food but his favorite midnight snack is cheese and crackers.  He also secretly splurges on grocery store whole roasted chicken.  Who can blame him?  Cooking after a day of cooking is rough work!


Camille, 34 - Brooklyn, New York
Owner/Chef, Paloma
Favorite Midnight Snack:  Beer and Cheese Puffs

Camille claims that the world would be a better place if everyone knew how to cook, but how does she really feel about her competitors? Originally from Puerto Rico, Camille loves all things criollo, such as sofrito, plantains, rice and beans and the scent of garlic cooking in the kitchen. Her favorite cooking partner is her daughter, “the best stirrer ever.”  How sweet!


Casey, 29 - Dallas, Texas
Executive Chef, Shinsei Restaurant
Favorite Simple Summer Recipe:  Big Burgers

Casey thinks tartare (raw meat) is romantic because “it’s raw, risky, ice cold and delicious.”  Boy, I think that’s something I prefer in a beer!  This Texas gal has cosmopolitan flair:  her favorite inspiration in the kitchen is butter and french wine and her favorite cuisine is Thai.  Casey believes in a simple and practical approach:  “serve food that people want more of.”  Let’s hope Top Chef judges are going to want more of that food too!


Chris, 31 - Venice, California
Private Chef
Favorite Midnight Snack:  Ice Cream and Potato Chips

Holy Beanstalks!  Standing at 6’8”, this former volleyball player is going to make the rest of the chefs look like a bunch of shrimps.  But surely, we’ll see more than just one humble bone in this jolly giant’s body – the chef has overcome testicular cancer and believes in living life to the fullest. Competition will probably a piece of cake for him:  “I thrive on it!”


Clay, 27 - Santa Barbara, California
Sous Chef, Santa Barbara University Club
Favorite Midnight Snack:  Mac and Cheese

This self-proclaimed “good ole’ boy from Mississippi” took Go West, Young Man at heart to forge a culinary career in California. Clay says his must-have kitchen accessory is a cast-iron skillet and that if he could, he’d cook meat and potatoes for John Wayne!  That’s pretty darn Southern, I reckon. Just remember, Clay, the judges want to eat good grub; they won’t be fooled by Southern charm!


Dale, 33 - Chicago, Illinois
Favorite Midnight Snack: Vodka

Like Chris, Dave also has a competitive, sporting background in diving and gymnastics. As the inventor of “flavor math,” he’s also got a brainy side.  I’m looking forward to learning about spice formulas, but please leave quadratic equations into the kitchen!
Out of the closet, Dale is relishing the idea the other contestants could be “out-cooked by a queer.”  It’s all good, Dale, just don’t serve the judges any queer food!


Howie, 31 - Miami, Florida
Executive Chef/Consultant
Favorite Midnight Snack: Frozen White Castle Sliders

Born and raised in the magic city, Howie is the only true Miamian contestant on the show. Interestingly, he says he’d love to eat “El Bulli,” mecca of molecular gastronomy in Spain.  Oh dear, I think we had enough of those frou-frou foams with season two’s Marcel Vigneron!  Let’s hope Howie knows what will or won’t work under the scorching Miami sun, in spite of his sensitive side.  Losing his father at an early age, Howie was raised by women who taught him to communicate his feelings. Just remember homeboy, it’s all cook and no talk when it comes to winning the competition! 


Hung, 29 - Las Vegas, Nevada
Sous Chef, Guy Savoy
Secret Splurge at the Grocery Store:  Pork Fat

The contestant with the best name ever was born in Vietnam and is trained in classic French and Asian cuisine.  The polyglot chef wears a Buddhist bracelet as a lucky charm and considers sherry vinegar, fish sauce, lemongrass and sugar as his go-to ingredients.  Will Hung have a fiery temper?  He claims that if he were a food he’d be a “spicy chili – it takes a while to get used to, but once you eat it you always come back for more.”  We’ll see if the judges want seconds of Hung!


Joey, 29 - Franklin Square, New York
Executive Chef, Café Des Artistes
Lucky Charm:  An Elephant

Joey, how ya doin?  This native New Yorker hits Miami with some city grit and cosmopolitan flair.  A four-star chef, Joey is influenced by world cultures and inspired by listening to music and going to markets.  Joey’s motto – “If you can’t take the heat, get the f*** out of the kitchen” – is probably going to make more than a few tempers boil over during the competition.


Lia, 28 - Brooklyn, New York
Executive Sous Chef, Jean Georges
Dislikes:  Tripe

Lia is originally from Tacoma, Washington but loves New York’s worldly influence, which has shaped her “eclectic” style.  This self-taught, self-starter dreams of opening a small dinner-only restaurant.  Lia believes it’s important “to always be proud of what you do,” but as we know a good chef doesn’t lord it over others in the kitchen.  On dealing with competition Lia says:  “I just take a deep breath and focus on the food.”  That’s easier said than done in Top Chef!


Micah, 33 - Boca Raton, Florida
Caterer/Owner, The Wandering Chef Caterers
Favorite Course:  Cocktails

This South Africa native currently lives in South Florida with her daughter and is passionate about the sea.  The former recreational sailor also enjoys fishing if she can cook her catch. Micah is also writer, but will she talk like a sailor in the kitchen?  “She thrives on usually being the only woman in the kitchen and loves when people underestimate her.”  You might want to mince your words, lass!  It’s the food that needs to do all the talking.


Sandee, 39 – Miami Beach, Florida
Executive Chef, Tantra
Favorite Simple Summer Recipe:  Grilled Watermelon

Sandee is from Georgia but currently calls Miami Beach home, where she leads the kitchen in the only restaurant where she has ever worked—trendy, hot Tantra.  Like Micah, Sandee “is aware that everyone will underestimate her,” but refuses to be a pushover.  Sounds like this mohawk-wearing, self-taught chef may lock horns with our sailor girl!  Sandee refused to answer the Q & A, but we do know she specializes in Southern soul food. 


Sara M., 34 - Miami, Florida
Consultant, Cheese Maker
TV Show:  Paula Dean’s Home Cooking

Sara M. hails from Kingston, Jamaica and trained in South Florida with premiere chefs Mark Millitello and Michelle Bernstein.  Like Sandee, she also worked but Tantra found a different path in her love of cheese.  Anyone who is that passionate about dairy’s gift to humanity is irie in my book!  Let’s hope that Sarah’s motto, “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself” involves a brick of cheddar and some gourmet crackers!


Sara N., 28 - New York, New York
Executive Sous Chef, Boucarou
Favorite Midnight Snack:  Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches

Sara N. boasts a comprehensive, formal education but “attributes her fast rise in the restaurant industry to her innate cooking skills and ability to manage people.” I think it’s safe to say all Top Chef contestants have innate cooking skills, so we’ll see who was really born to slave over a stove!  Like Lia, Sara claims New York City to be her greatest inspiration.  Will one of these city gals be singing “I Did It My Way” to the finals?


Tre, 30 - Cedar Hill, Texas
Chef de Cuisine, Abacus Restaurant
Favorite Midnight Snack:  Nachos

The fit, dimple-faced father of two explains he’s had “14 years of training in the school of hard knocks,” which should be helpful in competition.  Tre focuses on presentation but is serious about quality, of course.  If a customer returns a dish to the kitchen, he re-cooks it and sends it “back out like it was for my mother.”  Tre, you won’t have a chance to re-cook in Top Chef, so make sure you taste first!

SIDE DISH:  Visit the forums to discuss last Wednesday’s 4-Star All Stars episode.

NEXT COURSE:  A recap of Sunday’s event on Lincoln Road with a brief interview of Padma Lakshmi. Bravo partners with Greater Miami Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to preview Miami Spice Restaurant Month while the City of Miami Beach declares June 13 Top Chef Day.

Reality TV Fans Gossip About the Show

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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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5 Comments on

"Top Chef 3 Miami Contestants: Who’s The Shark in the Kitchen?"

Gus says:

Nice roudup, Maria. It’s interesting to learn about the chefs.

Season 3 looks very competitive. With that many self-taught chefs in the kitchen, there’s bound to be some monstrous egos.

At first glance, this is who I pick as the final 4 contestants: Howie, Hung, Joey and Micah - they look the most sharky.

I’m guessing Brian, Clay, or Sandee will be the first contestants to get eaten.

Posted on 06/09/2007 at 5:53 AM

Jesy says:

Any of these guys on myspace?

Posted on 05/24/2008 at 10:11 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Hi, try searching for them by name on myspace.

Posted on 05/26/2008 at 10:37 AM

Jesy says:

Their last names are not listed and do you know how many Brians are out there? lol. Let’s just say there are more than 5000 to look at! Therefore, i was trying to find out if anyone KNEW if they were on there. Even tried top chef, but didn’t work.

Posted on 05/26/2008 at 12:48 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

True, bravo didn’t give their full names but eventually they were all over the internet.  Wikipedia  has a list of the chefs with last names. Google each name ... some of the chefs have their own websites.

Posted on 05/26/2008 at 1:42 PM

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