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Top Chef 3 Miami: Episode 6 - Cold Shoulder for Cry Baby Joey

August 09, 2007 By Maria de los Angeles in

Good lord, was Joey reenacting a scene from a tragic Italian opera?  There’s one sensitive cry baby under that tough New Yorker skin!  Joey got frozen out of the competition for a sloppy pasta dish and cried us a stock pot of tears!  Looking for show updates? Read our coverage about Top Chef 3: Miami.

Episode 306:  “Freezer Burn”

Quickfire Challenge:  Casey
Elimination Challenge:  CJ and Tre
Eliminated: Joey


Finally, some eye candy for the ladies:  celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito.  There was some static interference on my television set and so I thought I heard him say:  “I think I’ll quit all my jobs and commitments and devote my life to cooking for Maria, if she’ll have me.”

This week’s guest judge was Rocco Dispirito, a James Beard award winner, restaurateur, author, reality show celebrity and the face of Bertolli frozen pasta entrées, oh and did I mention cute as a pie? A manly, handsome, Italian-American with legs pie?

Anyway, Rocco told the chefs that cooking is life-long learning process.  “You guys have to stay curious.  You can never know enough about food.”  So the quickfire challenge involved a “Culinary Bee” in which each of the chefs had to identify an ingredient either by taste or sight in five seconds or less.  Here’s the rundown.

What the heck is this? It’s yuca, baby!  Any self-respecting Cuban would’ve figured that out easily.

Round 1

Howie – tomato paste
Brian – quail eggs
Hung – oatmeal
Casey – fish paste

Joey – yuca
Sara M – tahini
Sara N – raspberry vinegar
Dale – taro root
CJ – daikon radish sprouts
Tre – mirin

Round 2

Howie – tapioca pearls
Brian – kidney beans
Casey – bow tie pasta

Hung - celery seed

Round 3

Howie – cheese slicer
Brian – lime leaves
Casey – chinese five spice

Dale also failed to recognize his tropical starches, mistaking taro root for water chestnut.

Round 4

Brian – miso
Casey - chayote

Howie – hearts of palm

Round 5

Casey - roasted red bell pepper

Brian – japanese eggplant

Casey won but almost hurled.  Ew, gross!  Fish paste!

So Casey won in what was probably the most unfair quickfire challenge ever!  I mean seriously, some of the items were so basic.  Who wouldn’t be able to identify oatmeal, bow tie pasta and a cheese slicer by sight?  Even a shmuck could identify kidney beans and quail eggs!

I was surprised Sara M first identified tahini as peanut butter, as any chef should be able to smell the difference between sesame and peanuts!  I wasn’t surprised that Hung’s ego got in the way when he refused to taste the sample and mistook celery seed for anise.  As CJ said:  “He came out looking like such a douche!”  Douche?  How about dumb-ass?


Shameless product promotion shot.  BERTOLLI.  Say it again, after me:  B-E-R-T-O-L-L-I.  Isn’t it funny I got a Bertolli coupon at CVS pharmacy last week?

The elimination challenge was all about recreating Bertolli’s Mediterranean-Style Frozen Pasta Dinners.  We learned that frozen meals make up an 8.6 billion dollar industry in the US alone and that’s a far cry from the days of tin-foil Swanson TV dinners!

To start, the chefs examined and prepared packages of Bertolli’s meals, which take 10 minutes to whip up in a skillet. They had to figure what makes Bertolli’s meals taste fresh and not like freezer burn.

After shopping, the chefs had only 2 hours to prep and freeze 15 portions of a Mediterranean/Italian style meal for two, followed by 1 hour the next day to pack up and set up at Fresh Market, where they would offer samples to hungry customers.

The stakes were particularly high in this competition.  Each member of the winning team would win a free trip to Italy!

Chefs drew knives to pick partners.  Off to a good start: Brian and Sara N, CJ and Tre, Casey and Dale.  Off to a downhill spiral: Hung and Joey.  And finally, off to a partnership in hell: Howie and Sara M.


Casey and Dale

Casey and Dale:  OMG I was thinking meatballs.  OMG I was thinking meatballs too!

Casey and Dale were a meatball, pesto and orecchiette marriage made in heaven.  Not only were they the first team to give away all their frozen dinners at Fresh Market, they got kudos from the judges, despite some minor imperfections.  Colicchio didn’t like the taste of tinned artichokes and Rocco bit into a meatball that was still frozen in the center, but he also said it was some of the best, well-balanced pesto he’d ever tasted!

Tre and CJ

Tre & CJ got smug about their frozen food prowess.

Tre & CJ were the true masters of freeze.  Instead of freezing their meals in the ubiquitous Gladbags, they employed a different technique, IQF (individually quick frozen), which was a bit more meticulous and time-consuming.  Their strategy paid off with the winning dish!

No cold comfort here; the winning dish warmed the judge’s hearts.  Black Truffle and Parmesan Linguini with Kale, Tomato Confit and Grilled Chicken.

Colicchio was particularly nit-picky about truffles because he didn’t consider them Italian or Mediterranean.  Rocco begged to differ.  Tre defended his choice by pointing out that truffles were that he had lived in Italy, which is known for its harvest of black truffles.  CJ also told Colicchio he had dined on pasta and truffles in Sicily.

It would actually be heavenly to have a fast, frozen meal prepared with truffles, who cares if they’re not Italian enough in Colicchio’s opinion? The fragrant mushrooms are outrageously expensive, but the two winning chefs pared down costs by using truffle butter.  Yum!  I think I’ll try some on whole wheat pasta.

Mangia this:  we’re going to Italy, bitches!
Congratulations, Tre and CJ!


Was the cheese maker topless, smoking and drinking wine in a hot tub?  Oh wait, that’s Top Slut on adult pay per view.

Howie and Sara M

Ouch!  It was actually painful to watch this annoying duo working together as a team.  I think I would’ve kicked them both off Top Chef just for acting like two spouses in a dysfunctional marriage.  Forget the dry, unimpressive shrimp, pasta and fennel dish.  Their passive aggressiveness was the real hot dish!

Of Howie, Sara M could only say:  “Howie is a little bulldoggish and hard-headed.”  Ouch!  Of Sara M, Howie didn’t mince his words. “People like Sara don’t realize that putting a bunch of bullshit on a plate does not make you a chef.”  Double ouch!

High drama and bad food ensued as their egos mixed like oil and vinegar.  Howie treated Sara M like she was his nagging wife whenever she asked him a question.  (But wait, isn’t that what a good leader is supposed to do?  Check in on the rest of the team?)

Sara M: “I was not stabbing you in the back and if you feel that way, I’m sorry.”

And Howie couldn’t stand to have Sara M check on him. God forbid any woman should get in the way of his sweaty forehead!  He said he wouldn’t even hire her to wash dishes in his kitchen!  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.  Howie is also Mr. Attitude!

Howie: “Every f***ing five minutes you got sh*t coming out of your mouth.”

Hung and Joey

Hung:  “When it hits the pan all the separate frozen stuff creates a quick steam instead of one big block of frozen food.”  Unfortunately, Hung got big block instead of quick steam.

Hung initially had the best intentions and highest hopes for his team.  He knew the science behind freezing all the components separately and Joey knew his Italian food by heart.

But Hung, who is usually so cocky and aggressive, didn’t put his foot down when Joey started lumping together the dish for freezing.  At the tasting, Hung was visibly upset when he realized they’d botched their chances at winning, but at least these two were far more civil to each other than Howie and Sara M.

Hung’s frozen stare says it all:  our food sucks!

The result was “unforgettable and mushy,” according to judge Gail.  Colicchio also made Hung eat some humble pie. “Top Chefs are leaders that can convince people this is the way to do things.”  Yeah, Hung.  Use your bravado when it’s really needed!

Poor Joey had a major emotional meltdown in front of the camera when he was told to pack his knives.  Although it was terribly sad to see Joey go, it was also hilarious to witness the former macho potty mouth from New York sob uncontrollably!

Rock on, Joey!

“I’m going back to NY with my head held high.  It’s hard … I’m going to miss everyone . . . I’m a fighter, you’re going to hear from me.”

I’m sure we will, Joey!  Keep up the good fight.  You’ve got a good heart.

Click here to see Joey’s exit interview.


Customers at Fresh Market sample pre-frozen and pre-packaged pasta dishes.


This challenge was actually quite useful for the home cook.  How about freezing meals, not leftovers?  If you’re going to freeze next week’s dinner, don’t just stuff it all into one bag.  Freeze each ingredient separately and then assemble it in one package, which means you’ll have to change your game plan slightly when cooking.  I bet it’s a worth a try!

NEXT COURSE:  A sweet tooth is mandatory in the latest “Top Chef 3 Miami” quickfire challenge, which involves toppings and ice cream. Later, the chefs are challenged to prepare the perfect “hangover” snack. Govind Armstrong (Chef and owner of Table 8 in Los Angeles and Miami) joins the judges table as special guest judge and will help determine who will stay and who must pack their knives and go.

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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