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 →
Yes, they’ve decided to make another installment of what has to be the craziest season (in every sense of the word) that the Top Chef franchise has ever seen.
Top Chef Just Desserts will premiere on Wednesday, August 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo, bringing 14 new pastry chef contestants to duke it out — culinarily speaking.
Famed pastry chef and Johnny Bravo look-alike Johnny Iuzzini will return as head judge and Gail Simmons, judge on regular Top Chef, will play host once again. Critically acclaimed chef, Top Chef Masters finalist and superstar DJ Hubert Keller will also be on the judges’ panel along with that blonde chick from last season, Dannielle Kyrillos, whose name we could never remember (let alone pronounce).
Special guests to include Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad Rock” Horovitz, The Cast of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (the original film), Renowned Pastry Chef Francois Payard, Acclaimed Chef Cat Cora and the “Hughnibrow” himself, Chef Hugh Acheson, among others.
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.)
For the Quickfire, Chef Hotpants McGee (a.k.a.: Curtis Stone) tells the chefs they’ll be “going back to their roots” and have to create dishes with roots, herbs and some fierce-looking insects. I just want to know if they’ll have to kill the bugs themselves or if they were given live ones for gross-out effect.
As for the Elimination Challenge, Bravo is giving us no clues this week, but it looks like something challenging, stressful and it has to be executed in a short period of time (just going out on a limb here). It looks like, whatever the challenge is, Naomi Pomeroy steps up and takes charge of the kitchen, making sure everyone’s dishes are in line with what’s going on their menu. (Group challenge?). Anyway, some folks aren’t too happy about being “bossed around.”
We viewers got a nice surprise when we found out that Hugh Acheson was back to to compete in the show, but were sad to find out that it was because John Sedlar had to leave the show for personal reasons. I am happy that Hugh’s wit and talent is back on the show though.
For the Quickfire, the master chef’testants had 30 minutes to grind meat with a hand cranked grinder for the meatballs they were to create for singer Kelis — you know, the “Milkshake” gal? Apparently she has “culinary training,” but it looked like no one gave her training on how to critique dishes by chefs of this caliber, as she was serving up quite a lot of criticism and cojones with not much experience or decent reasons to back it up with. Hugh Acheson called it “pointless criticism,” and I think many of us viewers agreed with him. In the end, she preferred John Currance’s Vietnamese-style chicken meatball over all the others.
As for the Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to take classic (as in “classically awful”) dishes from the 1960s, put a modern spin on them and serve them in bite-sized form at a cocktail party where Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks and her husband Geoffry Arend would be critiquing them. They also had to make a miniature version of the original dishes to serve alongside the new creations. So, two apps: one fancy, one old school, one hot redhead thrown into the mix. Got it? Read the rest of this entry →
Kelis is bringing her milkshake to the Top Chef Masters yard tonight, charging the chefs with grinding their own meat and making something delicious from it (these previews don’t give me much to work with), as well as acting as Quickfire judge. Did you know she was a trained chef? News to me.
As for the Elimination Challenge, my girl crush for Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks is fully realized when she and her husband, actor Geoffrey Arend, give the chefs their challenge of modernizing some popular dishes from the ’60s. I’m hoping to see both a Jell-o mold and some form of meatloaf revamped with a fabulous new makeover — and will sneer at any chef who creates some deconstructed mess. (Extra points for any Firefly references during tonight’s live tweet party.)