Food News

Chowhounds, Get Ready for Top Chef Finale

Those of us who have tuned in to watch Top Chef: Miami this season know why: Seeing the sights. And you know that by sights we mean Padma Lakshmi.

But seriously, there has been a lot of local action around the production, which wrapped its stint at the Fontainebleu months ago. Here's a quick recap to get you ready for tonight's finale:

Episode One: As is generally the case with reality show participants a la The Real World, our cast acclimates to the kind of swanky pad not a one of them -- nor of us – could afford in the real world. In this case, a Fontainebleu penthouse. The contestants do their shopping at a local Fresh Market*. Guest judge: Anthony Bourdain.

Episode Two: We meet guest judge Norman Van Aken (owner of Norman's Restaurant in Coral gables, soon to shut down). Eliminated: Sandee, a former executive chef at SoBe’s Tantra. She lives by the motto, "Dream as if you'll live forever; live as if you'll die today."

*Correction courtesy of ED

Episode Five: The chefs have to create a Latin-inspired lunch for the Telemundo telenovela Dame Chocolate. Winning the elimination challenge: Miami native Howie, previously a chef at The Food Gang in Surfside. (Here’s his winning Braised Pork Shoulder with Yuca Sour Orange Mojo recipe.)

Episode Six: Rocco DiSpirito!

Episode Eight: Christopher Ciccone -- Madonna’s brother -- an interior designer!

Episode Ten: Just in time for peak hurricane season, Miami peaks on Top Chef. The task: Chefs cater a party for designer Esteban Cortazar ON A YACHT*. Appropriately in the episode before the remaining finalists decamp to New York, Howie gets the boot. From Bravo’s site: “And Howie, perhaps this year's recipient of the most negative comments on our Top Chef blogs, goes home.” Guest judge: Michael Schwartz – owner of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, winner of New Times’ 2007 Best Restaurant to Open Past Deadline.

Episodes Eleven, Twelve, and the Finale: We go from snacks on a plane in Newark to Manhattan, to Aspen, and, tonight, at some point, live results from Chicago. They’ll probably drag it out, as they do with all these reality show finales. But remember: At least there’s Padma Lakshmi. --Frank Houston

*Correction courtesy of ED

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Frank Houston