Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 1

Bravo gives us no time at all to savor (or rue) Chef Kevin Sbraga's win on Top Chef DC when they toss a whole new season of Top Chef our way, this time featuring pastry chefs. Hello, Top Chef Just Desserts! (Have I mentioned how much I dislike the font they chose for the logo? And the odd off-center placement of the wording? Maybe the knife in the main Top Chef logo should have been replaced with a whisk?)

The show starts off in Los Angeles with the various pastrycheftestants meeting at the airport and at the train station, where they are all picked up by their very own double decker bus. After all of the chefs have been gathered and they sit on the top level, working on their sunburns, hostess with the mostess Gail Simmons and head judge Johnny Iuzzini saunter on board and announce the very first Quickfire Challenge.

It's the pastrycheftestants' first chance to make a good impression and they are directed to show off their talent by creating their signature dessert.

After a mere 15 minutes of the allotted 90 minute cook time, Gail and Johnny enter the kitchen, bringing with them a twist - the pastrycheftestants must take their signature dish and turn it into a...cupcake! Everyone groans, but they get back to work, after all - immunity from elimination in the next challenge is at stake.

In the meantime, we're getting to know the new batch of chefs via confidentials. Apparently pastry chefs don't have any problem with telling the world their personal problems. One chef is going through a divorce, and another has been trying for three years to have babies. TMI, people!

Malika (who doesn't get to plate her dish), Tim (who makes semifreddo), and Zac don't please Johnny Iuzzini with their cupcakes. Tom, Seth, Tania, and Heather C. do. Seth (who was TC season 1 winner Harold Dieterle's pastry chef, once upon a time) takes the prize with his coconut cupcake with basil buttercream.

For the Elimination Challenge, the pastrycheftestants have to create the most luxurious chocolate dessert EVAR, to serve to 50 chocolate connoisseurs including "Mr Chocolate" himself, Jacques Torres. But first - they get to check out their new digs and get a good night's sleep.

At the loft, the two lone straight males attempt to exert their dominance by claiming to be an insomniac and potentially needing the best bed (Seth) and requiring the thermostat to be turned down (Morgan). Zac chimes in with a request for his own bathroom because he "has bathroom issues."

Nobody is shy in this group, that's for sure.

The next day, the pastrycheftestants have four hours to bake in the TCJD kitchen, and an hour to plate and serve in the TCJD dining room. Gail and Johnny enter with permanent judge Dannielle Kyrillos of Daily Candy, and Jacques Torres (who looks to have been tasting a lot of chocolate recently). After tasting all of the pastrycheftestants' wares, they retire to Judges' Table.

It seems odd to see Gail going back to the stew to request the presence of Seth, Heather H., and Zac. She doesn't even try to match Padma's funereal announcement style, perhaps because she's just ingested several pounds of sugar and is feeling rather perky.

Zac is all emotional in front of the judges, saying that making dessert is like giving birth. Jacques scolds him for having blown his "disco dust" on his dessert rather than sprinkling it. (And doesn't "disco dust" sound like something that should be inhaled?) The judges also like Seth's unusual combo of curry and chocolate, but give the win to Heather H.'s dessert, which embodied chocolate decadence.

The bottom three are Danielle, Tania, and Morgan. While Danielle's sablé was too tough, and Morgan's milk chocolate flan separated and didn't work with his turnover, it was the texture of Tania's citrus mousse that the judges found to be most offensive. Gail gives her the first "please pack your tools and go" of the season, and thus concludes episode one of "Drama Queens Make Cake."

What did you think of Top Chef Just Desserts? Did it make you want to run to the kitchen and bake up a batch of brownies? Please let us know your opinions in the comments.


Tina said...

We haven't even had time to miss having a weekly does of Top Chef when they foist this show on us. Not sure this is a wise thing. On the plus side, I guess, there are LOTS of personalities on the show (and some contestants with impressive credentials). On the minus side, it's hard to imagine how this show is going to sustain interest for the next couple of months with everyone making desserts, and not just one dessert, but two per episode! I already feel my interest waning. I also found it odd having Gail suddenly step into the host role. She's no Padhma.

Anonymous said...

I am very shocked they couldn't find a better pastry judge than "Johnny" it is just pythetic.