Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Episode 1

Top Chef Just Desserts has returned for a second season, and in this first episode, we find the pastrycheftestants gathering in front of a shop called "Soda Jerks" in Santa Monica. They are soon met by Gail Simmons - looking sporty in a grape-colored motorcycle jacket - and Johnny Iuzzini, who waste no time in giving them their first challenge: they must raid the soda fountain for ingredients with which they will create a modern, fountain-inspired dessert.

But first, they must break up into pairs. Fun!

When time's up, Gail and Johnny taste what ends up being many variations on a banana split. Their favorite dessert belongs to pastrycheftestants Amanda and Nelson, who are awarded immunity in the next challenge.

Later, they meet up at the Top Chef Just Desserts kitchen for the Elimination Challenge. Each chef is encouraged to choose one of four books which tell a famous fairy tale: Hansel and Gretel; Goldilocks and the Three Bears; Jack and the Beanstalk; and Little Red Riding Hood. Thus divided into teams, the chefs are expected to create a showpiece and 150 portions of two desserts for a fairy tale-themed gala. With six hours of cooking that day, and 4 more the next, there's not a whole lot of time to do all that work.

Quickfire winners Amanda and Nelson are allowed to choose the teams they wish to be on, which gives them four members. Perhaps an unfair advantage?

After the struggles with pulled sugar and chocolate are over, the guests arrive, attired in "wacky outfits." The judges - Gail, Johnny, Hubert Keller, and Dannielle Kyrillos, are also dressed as fairy tale characters. They visit each team's table to taste their wares and inspect their showpiece.

Four-member Teams Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood do well on all fronts, with beautiful showpieces and delicious desserts that relate to the theme. On the other hand, Team Beanstalk and Team Hansel & Gretel miss the mark completely, so it's pretty easy to figure out who's on the top and who's on the bottom this week.

Overall, Team Red Riding Hood did the best job and were awarded the win. While Team Beanstalk was a mess, Team Hansel and Gretel was worse, complete with under-the-bus throwing. Pastry Chef Lina, who wanted to make the showpiece out of cake, rather than chocolate or sugar, and did not create the candy-covered-gingerbread house of the story, is out.

So did you watch? What did you think?

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Anonymous said...

It seems like there is a huge range of experience and talent in this year's crop of pastry chefs. I hope that the overwhelmed contestants go early, even if they might be more 'tv worthy.' If you watched last night, you know who I'm talking about.
The added element this season of having to make food displays seems to throw off many of the cheftestants, who don't have appear to have that skill set. Did they not know this in advance? Are they going to be judged for creativity, presentation, or taste and in what measure? Will definitely watch what happens next.

Intuitive Eggplant said...

I liked the ideas behind both challenges. But I think the contestants would have brought more whimsy to them (especially the fairy tale challenge) if they'd had a chance to get their feet under themselves first.

And I wasn't crazy about the fact that the sizes of the teams were uneven, especially since the teams with more members also got the Quickfire winners. Still, there's clearly a lot of talent this season, and I'm looking forward to more!