During the newest episode ofTop Chef Just Desserts, there was plenty of drama but not much delivery — delivery of entertainment, that is.
When life gives you lemons, make dessert! The Quickfire welcomed famed cake artist Margaret Braun as guest judge. She challenged the pastry chef’testants to create a delicious and original dessert with lemon as the star ingredient. What we learned from this challenge: Chocolate and caramel aren’t the greatest flavor pairings with lemon. We also saw an infringement of Top Chef Rule #27 by Orlando: Don’t talk smack about the guest judges (the ones who are culinary professionals, that is) — they’re more experienced than the chef’testants and they deserve respect, plus it just looks tacky and unprofessional (and could come back to bite you in the ass later). Matthew ended up taking the win and immunity in the Elimination Challenge with his Lemon Vanilla Créme with Mint Purée and Hazelnut Sable.
For the Elimination, the chefs had to team up in trios to build towering cakes for an event at the Walt Disney Philharmonic in L.A. The rules: each team member had to create a layer for the cake that represented them (in flavor?) and they all had to make it look purty on the outside. Not an easy task when one has to present their creations in the hot sun and/or the person decorating it doesn’t know what they’re doing.
The chefs must team up again this week to make towering cakes with a musical theme. The preview videos don’t reveal if this is for the Quickfire or the Elimination challenge, but regardless, it looks to be challenging enough as they have to display their cakes outside in the hot sun…and watch as they all slowly fall apart (the cakes, that is).
The preview videos were a bit ‘meh’ this week — they definitely could have used a dose of bitchery by sassy Orlando throwin’ some shade or another shot of the inexperienced Craig freaking out. Yes, I know I complained to high heaven during last season that the show was on drama overload and had too many mental breakdowns, but isn’t that what we’ve all come to expect from the show to a certain degree? Bravo knows that drama and bitchery make for “good” TV (and by “good” I mean, gets decent ratings due to the onscreen drama).
Top Chef Just Desserts is back with a vengeance this season with a new cast, new challenges and a new hairdo for Johnny (a more deflated-looking version than his former bouffant). But one thing for sure that hasn’t changed: the bitchery! (Yes, I made that word up. Deal.)
We could already see some of the strong personalities come out in episode one, like the very forthright Orlando Santos whose shop is named “Orlando’s Chocolate Treats” (I swear these jokes write themselves), Sally Camacho who is the head pastry chef of WP24 (a Wolfgang Puck Restaurant) at the Ritz Carlton in L.A., and Chris Hanmer, the youngest American to win the title of World Pastry Champion (in ’04). And then there were those who left us scratching our heads, asking, “How did they get on this show?” (*cough* Craig *cough*)
Of course, the chefs were thrown right into the first Quickfire challenge right after their little meet-and-greet. The chefs had to pair up to create a “modern soda fountain treat” at a Soda Jerks ice cream shop. Some looked avant-garde and chic, while others’ desserts just looked — as James Oseland would snootily quip — too “pedestrian”.
We also learned a new term this episode, “NFG” which stands for “non-functional garnish.” It’s something I have been very vocal about in past seasons of Top Chef and basically means, “if you can’t eat it, then get it the heck off of that plate!” Read the rest of this entry →
Another sweet installment of Top Chef Just Desserts premieres tonight on Bravo, welcoming 14 new pastry chef’testants and some familiar faces as Gail Simmons, Johnny Iuzzini, Hubert Keller and Dannielle Whatsherface (Kyrillos) return to the judges table.
Like last season, one chef will be eliminated each week (unless we have another surprise double elimination or someone gets carted off to the loony bin again) until one chef remains to claim the title. The winning chef will receive $100,000 furnished by KitchenAid, a feature in Food & Wine magazine and a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Cayman Cookout.
Celebrity guest judges this season to include Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, the cast of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, renowned Pastry Chef Francois Payard, and acclaimed chef Cat Cora among others.
During tonight’s premiere episode, we meet these fresh new faces who are immediately thrown into their Quickfire Challenge (though the preview video below gives no clue as to what it is). For their Elimination Challenge, the chefs team up to create fairy tale inspired pastry creations and show pieces.
This is it kids, the episode many of us have been eagerly awaiting: the finale! (a.k.a.: The episode where they’re finally allowed to cook their own food — no crazy challenges included.)
The remaining chefs included Mary Sue Milliken, Traci Des Jardins and Floyd Cardoz, and they were challenged with creating a three-course meal for the judges’ as well as some familiar faces from Top Chef Masters seasons past. With the help of their sous chefs, they were to draw from their own favorite food memories for the first two courses, but for the third course, each had to recreate a favorite dish of one of the judges. Thank goodness Gael Greene got to stand in for Danyelle Whatsherface for this challenge, otherwise, who knows what Traci would’ve had to cook up.
Much like the rest of the season, there was minimal drama — the horrible L.A. traffic that held up Floyd from prepping being the worst of it. Instead of the heat and strife we see during a regular Top Chef finale, there was lots of love and gushing over one another going on in kitchen.
When we do get another Top Chef incarnation, tune in to Bravo every Wednesday at 10 pm EST/9 pm C, check out our own live Tweets during the show (Jeff: @JeffHouck, Katie: @culinarypirate), and listen to our podcast here every week!
These Quickfire challenges are getting crazy! Last week, they had 12 minutes to prep a cheese-based appetizer, while tonight, the chefs only have 7 minutes to create their dish — looks like they have to use high-end ingredients: foie gras, caviar, etc. What’s next? A 2 minute Quickfire?! In the words of Glenn Frey, “The heat is on.”
I am very happy to announce that there will be yet another hottie gracing our TV screens tonight: Adam Levine! Oh yeah, and the rest of the Maroon 5 band members will be there too. (While they’re all very talented, there’s a reason that Adam is the face of the band.) I’m also excited that Gail Simmons from regular Top Chef will be sitting in as guest judge — because apparently Ruth Reichl is pulling an Anthony Bourdain again this episode (as in, not showing up).
The chefs must prepare a vegetarian meal served family-style for Maroon 5 and the judges. The twist? (Spoiler alert because this isn’t mentioned in the preview video.) They have to cook on a tour bus!
Preview video highlights:
Hugh: “I’m making the most elaborate cat food of all time.” I guess we’ll be seeing his mug on cans of Fancy Feast in the near future.
She seems to be rather tame in the preview video (below), but I’m hoping Danyelle doesn’t desperately throw herself at Adam Levine like she did to Curtis last week (there’s a reason they put her at the end of the table).
For as much bragging as these chefs will be doing to their kids about meeting Maroon 5, I’m hoping they got their autographs or something to bring home. Telling your kids, “Hey, I met Maroon 5!,” just won’t cut it.
For the Quickfire the chefs must channel their former college selves and create a meal with budget of $1. If their ingredients came from Wal-Mart, I’d say it’d be an easier task, but knowing Bravo’s hookup with Whole Foods I think they might have a harder time trying to stretch that dollar.
As for the Elimination challenge, the heat is on as the chefs must man the lunch rush at a Farmer Boys fast food joint (it’s like McD’s but with better quality food). They have to cook main and side dishes for 100 people that don’t require utensils to eat, and each order must be completed in less than two minutes. I’m sure at least a few of the chefs will reveal that they’ve formerly worked as a fast food burger flipper when they started out in their cooking careers — and you know there will also be those who are completely lost in this type of kitchen environment.
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Preview video highlights:
Hugh: “…you’ve gotta be able to put something out.” And that’s what he said.
In the second preview video, it looks like some of the chefs need to ‘ketchup’! (Get it? Because they’re working in a fast food restaurant?) *crickets chirping*
Traci talks some shade about Mary Sue in the preview, calling her “annoying” and a “whirling dervish.” Hold onto your weave, girl, cuz them’s fightin’ words! (Seriously, I’ve cut a betch for less.)
I have to say that I love the fact that the chefs had to cook with live insects for the Quickfire Challenge. I mean, when do chefs get the chance to work with these odd proteins? Yeah, they’ve eaten brains and entrails and brains, but when have they ever scarfed down a scorpion? I also enjoyed their grossed out reactions when watching the guest judges sampling their dishes. Hugh ended up taking the win with his tempura fried crickets and sunchoke puree.
For the Elimination, the chefs were charged with creating a ten-course tasting menu for a charity dinner. Sounds easy enough, right? In the middle of cooking their dishes, the water gets turned off in the kitchen. Then Curtis walks in with a double whammy: the chefs have to plate up 30 minutes early and they must be the ones to serve the guests. Panic sets in, tempers flare and mild chaos ensues (definitely nowhere near the level of regular Top Chef, though).
Want to know what happened? Listen to the podcast to find out! (Note: This episode was a bit disjointed — to say the least. Just listen along, laugh and bear with us.)
Tonight’s Top Chef doubleheader brings us the “controversial” Top Chef All-Starsreunion episode at 10 p.m. (ET) followed by the premiere of Top Chef Masters season 3 at 11 p.m.
As for the All-Stars reunion, the previews (below) are making it out to be pretty escandalo — but I’m sure it’s a lot of hype (though it will be nice to see all of them one last time). They will, however, be grilling Jamie about her lack of participation and penchant for cutting herself and hiding under tables during the season. Read the rest of this entry →
It was a very zany episode of Top Chef All-Stars last night, between the loud, crazy antics of the Sesame Street characters during the Quickfire and then the madness that ensued at the Target lock-in challenge. I was mentally exhausted after watching, to say the least.
The Cookie Quickfire with the Sesame Street characters as judges was fun and lighthearted (except for Dale whose name is never uttered with that phrase). For some reason, Blais just didn’t get that an ice cream blob doesn’t equal “cookie” — in fact, it doesn’t even qualify for “ice cream cookie sandwich status”. I really liked Dale’s use of sweet and salty in his cookie and thought it was a fun take on the challenge (despite his dislike for making cookies). And did anyone else catch Elmo calling Antonia’s brown splooge cookies “cow chips”. Get it? Because “chips” kinda sounds like “sh*t” when you say it really fast.
The Elimination Challenge was like one long Target ad. I liked the concept of cooking using only ingredients and utensils found at Target — but that was about it. They could at least have had a spending limit or challenge to feature Target’s healthy/organic products. And why in the heck was it at 3 a.m.?! Yeah, I get it that they wanted the chefs to have free reign of the store, but c’mon! No wonder Dale’s “stoner food” tomato soup and grilled cheese won — because that’s the only thing you’d want to eat at 3 a.m. Read the rest of this entry →