Friday, September 30, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef Rebecca Masson

Top Chef Just Desserts contestant, Rebecca Masson talks about her experience on the show.

Click here for the podcast.

Click here for the Fluff Bake Bar website.

Thank you Chef Rebecca!

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Bravo Exit Interview - Rebecca Masson

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Congratulations, Chef Matthew Petersen!

This was a bizarre challenge involving some bizarre ingredients. Gravy in dessert? Yes, and somehow Chef Matthew made it work (even if it still smelled and tasted like gravy). Somehow, that seems to make this victory all the more sweet.

Congrats, Chef Petersen on your first solo win!

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Peterson. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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ATC Love to Rebecca Masson

Chef Masson fractured her arm fairly early in the competition, but she didn't let that handicap her in any way. But then she received the curveball of falafel, savory chickpea fritters usually served with a garlicky yogurt sauce. Unfortunately, the garlic aspect of the dish got in the way of her creation and earned her the invitation to pack her tools and go. The only up side - an autograph from her fave Beastie Boy, Ad Rock.

Chef Rebecca - we've cheered you on the whole way and are sorry to see you go. We wish you much luck in the future.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Masson. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Episode 6

Both challenges this week involved savory ingredients. First up, the pastry cheftestants had to create desserts using root vegetables. And there was a real incentive - $5K from Valrhona chocolate.

Somewhat-smarmy chef Jordan Kahn of LA restaurant Red Medicine was the guest judge. He chose Rebecca's lame potato dish and Carlos celery root and peanut butter creations as his least favorites. On top were Matthew with a nice-looking parsnip cake and Sally with a Southeast Asian concoction using turmeric. Sally - who is working my nerve - gets the win, the money, and immunity in the Elimination Challenge.

Jordan Khan is out and Beastie Boy Adam Horowitz, aka "Ad Rock" is in. So what does the Beastie Boys have to do with food? Apparently they mention a lot of food stuffs in their songs. Bravo staff wheels out a display of various of these items from which the pastrycheftestants must create a dessert for 150 people to sample at an art show. Each chef picks two items they want to work with, and then are "Sabotaged" by an additional item picked by another chef.

Got that?

Chris sabotages himself by choosing pesto pizza and franks and beans. He is then gifted with a can of ravioli. How the heck is he going to get dessert out of that crap? Amazingly, he does. Not only that, he ends up on the top of the heap with Matthew, who's made something with mashed potatoes and gravy, and Sally, who has prosciutto and cheddar cheese in her dish. It all sounds rather disgusting, but Matthew ends up as the winner.

On the bottom are Katzie, for making french fries with dipping sauces. For dessert. Megan, for her dry cake, and Rebecca, for putting too much garlic in her panna cotta. Yep, you read that correctly. Garlic. And that was enough to get her the boot in my book.

So - interesting challenges. Did you watch? Would you have tried these dishes? Please leave a comment!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Episode 6 Previews

BRAVO's Top Chef Just Desserts, tonight, 9/28 @ 10/9c: This week the chef'testants get a surprise guest, Adam Horowitz of the Beastie Boys. They may be excited to see Adam, but will they be excited to create a dessert out of the Beastie Boys food pantry? With everything from bacon to ravioli, these chef's certainly have a challenge ahead, putting together a hodge podge of ingredients to make a delicious dessert. Working solo this week, the chef's will have their chance to shine, but not all chef's will survive the challenge. Who's dessert will be rockin' and who's will get them out of the game?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Just Desserts 2.5

Jordan Baker on sore losers: "Morning! Los Angeles! At the Dessert Loft, Katzie is pleased with herself for winning. Sally doesn’t think she deserved it. She says something ridiculous about Katzie being young, which is made even stupider by the fact that Sally was the one dragging Craig around by his apron strings for the last five weeks."

CultureMob on d-bag or not?: "The chefs scramble wildly around the kitchen, and nothing of real note happens until Rebecca’s desserts wind up on the floor because of her arm injury; in a move unexpected by anyone who watches this show, Orlando steps up and helps her to finish as his candy bar is done. See, here’s the thing about this: it means one of two things. One, Orlando is actually a nice guy and is being edited to be a d-bag, which is unlikely since most of the d-baggy-ness comes from actual quotes in a confessional. Or two, Orlando isn’t a a d-bag he just plays one on TV in order to get camera time…which kind of makes him a different kind of d-bag. I’m going with option two."

TWOP on the Elimination Challenge: "Once again the chefs are required to form teams. Does Top Chef have this many team challenges? I can't remember, but it doesn't seem possible. Anyway the chefs draw popsicles and are informed that they are going to whatever Southern California water park wanted to pony up the cash to Bravo to be featured as the venue for today's event. The teams have to make a dessert to serve outside to, I assume, kids at the park. Sally, Carlos and Amanda are making smoothies? Because kids love yogurt at an amusement park? Amanda feels like she is at a disadvantage because she didn't go to water parks as a kid because her mother was an immigrant from Communist Russia. Not just Russia, mind you, but COMMUNIST Russia. So, I guess they were too busy standing in lines for bread to go have good clean American fun."

Picktainment on sartorial choices: "The next morning, the gals discuss what to wear to the water park and make me sad to be a girl. Also Sally has a big old lady crush on Amanda. Orlando evidently didn’t join the what to wear discussion since he chose “fashionable” plaid shorts. That is an oxymoron, my darling. Try again."

Eater on equipment: "There's a major traffic jam at the two ice cream batch freezers. Chris opts out of using those machines for his ice cream, and pre-loads a bunch of Pacojet cylinders. We'll see how that goes — Pacojets are pretty awesome, but if you're looking for traditional ice cream texture, you can be in for some trouble. Ice cream machines make ice cream; Pacojets make something else."

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Monday, September 26, 2011

TC News and Information 9.26.11

Given the heavy advertising, if you haven’t heard that The Chew, featuring Top Chef’s Carla Hall, premieres today in the All My Children timeslot on ABC, you’re probably living under a rock. We’re happy to let our readers follow whatever shows they choose (or “chews” not). If you’re interested in more about how Carla got this gig (her first audition didn’t go very well, but she got a second chance after being voted Fan Favorite on Top Chef: All Stars), you can find linkage here The New York Times places the show in a larger context of food-watching and daytime TV demographics here. Grub Street is not thrilled with what they saw during rehearsal. Feel free to share your reactions in our comments.

If you’ve been following Top Chef since Season 1 (before the Fan Fave award was conceived of), you might be happy to know Lee Anne Wong will appear on Iron Chef battling IC newcomer Marc Forgione October 23.

Food Network has also announced the contestants for its upcoming Next Iron Chef competition, dubbed “Super Chefs,” debuting October 30. You’ll find some TC familiar faces, including Marcus Samuelsson (winner of TC: Masters 2), the inimitable Spike Mendolsohn (TC Season 4), TC: Masters contestants Elizabeth Falkner and Michael Chiarello, Chopped judges and other FN hosts. Reality Blurred reports that in a format change, the new season will pit the two chefs at the bottom of the pack against each other in a sudden-death cook-off with only one ingredient. Hmmm, kind of like the upcoming Top Chef: Texas where the first eliminees from the starting 29 contenders get a chance to battle back to be on the on-air finale?

Rick Bayless won the first season of TC: Masters, and he’s continued doing what he does, with dedication to Mexican food and building his Chicago-based restaurant empire ever since. But here is something completely different. Eater reports Bayless will play a chef in 1940s Mexico – and provide appetizers and a three-course meal – for a March 2012 production with Chicago’s Looking Glass Theater that sounds like a whole new spin on dinner theater.

Meanwhile, Michael Voltaggio's much anticipated "Ink." has opened. Reservations are hard to come by, but KevinEats apparently scored one. Check out his report (and excellent photos) here.

And Tiffany Derry's Private Social is now open, with a lotta help from her TC friends.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Top Recipe - Rebecca Masson's Lemon Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwices

Not the winning recipe, but this one seems a lot more do-able at home than spumoni on a stick!

Lemon Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Lemon Ice Cream:
6 lemons, zested
1/2 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup agave
4 yolks
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
Cinnamon and sugar, to sprinkle on dough

White chocolate, melted
Lemon drops, garnish

Lemon Ice Cream:

1. Combine lemon zest, juice, agave, and salt. Let macerate for 1-2 hours.

2. Heat milk and cream to a boil. Temper yolks into milk and cream. Cook to 85 degrees Celsius. Remove from heat. Strain. Cool down in an ice bath.

3. Right before placing in ice cream machine, combine lemon juice and cream base. Strain and spin.


1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs. Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.

2. Let dough rest in fridge for about one hour. Scoop cookies and toss in cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 9-11 minutes until light golden. Let cool.


1. Sandwich 1 scoop of ice cream between two cookies. Let set in freezer. Dip 1/2 of cookie in white chocolate and roll in lemon drops.


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Friday, September 23, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef Amanda Rockman

Chef Amanda talks about her experience on the Bravo show.

Click here to learn more about The Bristol.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Amanda!

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Exit Interview - Amanda Rockman

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Congratulations, Chef Katzie Guy-Hamilton!

Chef Katzie is proving to be the one to beat with her second win in a row. Her inventive take on baked Alaska - a spumoni on a stick with a meringue toasted a la minute - was impressive and unique.

Great job, Chef! Keep up the good work!

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Guy-Hamilton. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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ATC Love to Chef Amanda Rockman

In week one of this competition, Chef Amanda seemed really poised to go all the way, so it was a bit of a shock that she got eliminated so early. Her idea to make funnel cake for the amusement park was a strong one; unfortunately, her inability to serve it to the judges the minute after it was made threw the textures off. They expected a pillowy soft cake, but got something crunchy instead.

Chef Rockman, you did so well and we thought we'd be seeing you in the finale. We're sorry to see you go and wish you great success in the future.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Rockman. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Episode 5

This week, the pastrycheftestants get judged by pastry chef extraordinaire Pichet Ong who, for the Quickfire, wants them to create a fancy candy bar from scratch, using innovative techniques and ingredients.

Matthew tries to be too innovative by making cylindrical candies covered with chopped nuts. It's pretty amazing that nobody made a poop joke, because that's exactly what they looked like. Also on the bottom was Katzie, for having a too-soft banana filling in her bar. On top were Sally's treat that incorporated black forbidden rice and Ovaltine, and Rebecca's round candies with white chocolate and panna cotta. Rebecca got her arm whacked during the race for ingredients and was a bit clumsy and in pain for most of the challenge. Surprisingly, Orlando (who's obviously not there to make friends), came to her aid and helped finish her dessert. Would have been just desserts indeed had she won the challenge, but no...Sally took it, receiving immunity from elimination.

The next challenge was fun. The chefs formed three teams to create fun and unique summer treats that were served at Raging Waters, a water-themed amusement park.

Of course ice cream seems like the perfect thing to serve to hot sweaty kids and their parents, so Carlos and the rest of his Blue Team (Sally and Amanda) hogged the two ice cream machines for as long as possible. Katzie, on the Green Team with Rebecca and Megan, also wanted to make ice cream and had to squeeze herself into the small time slots Carlos would allow. Matthew, on Team Orange with Chris and Orlando, decided to use the Pacojet for his ice cream, freezing it solid and then trying to incorporate air into it the next day at the park.

Carlos first thought he was clever making ice cream bars, but then he realized he needed to make 150 of them using only two molds, which meant making batch after batch after batch. At one point, he let out a cry that sounded a whole lot like, "oh! vagina!" but I'm sure he must have said something else. Right?

After 90 minutes of set-up time at the park, the pastrycheftestants are immediately inundated by grabby children and Orlando likens it to a zombie attack. Before long, Gail strolls by with Johnny, Dannielle Kyrillos, and Pichet Ong to judge the summertime treats. There seemed to be more negative reactions than positive overall, but Team Green was most successful. Katzie's baked Alaska on a stick was the biggest hit and earned her a second consecutive win. Amanda was shown the door for her too-crisp funnel cake.

So did you watch this week? What did you think?

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just Announced: Top Chef Texas!

From the press release:

It’s a whole new ballgame for the competing chefs on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Texas,” premiering Wednesday, November 2 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. For the first-time ever, season nine will boast a record 29 chefs - almost double the amount of chefs in season’s past – who will see if they have what it takes to become an official chef’testant and qualify to wear the Top Chef coat. Only 16 will go on to compete across the Lone Star State – in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. In what will prove to be the most challenging season yet, some of the biggest names in food, music and entertainment including Charlize Theron, Pee-wee Herman, Cat Cora, John Besh, Tim Love, Patti LaBelle will be featured this season on “Top Chef: Texas.” Returning to the Judges’ table is host Padma Lakshmi and head judge, chef Tom Colicchio, alongside judges Gail Simmons and new this season, famed chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse and critically acclaimed chef Hugh Acheson. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter at

Head judge Tom Colicchio says, “Just like Texas, this will be our biggest season ever.”

Adds Host Padma Lakshmi, "I'm so excited for everyone at home to get a glimpse of all the great and talented chefs. This season is bigger and better than ever! Yum!"

The “Top Chef: Texas” chef’testants will be skewered down week by week as they compete to out-flavor, out-cook and out-do their competition. The winning chef will receive $125,000 furnished by Healthy Choice, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and will earn the title of "Top Chef." The Emmy Award-winning Magical Elves return to produce "Top Chef: Texas." Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz serve as executive producers.

New this season, eliminated chef’testants will have a second chance at the “Top Chef” title through a “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen” webisode series, hosted by “Top Chef” lead judge and culinary mastermind, Tom Colicchio. Each week, two eliminated chef’testants face-off to compete for the ultimate prize -- a chance to return to the show and compete to qualify for the on-air finale. Fans can follow the “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen” challenges and vote in each week's Tweet Battle on, as well as join in the social conversation on the Tweet Tracker. This exciting new series can be seen on,, on BravoNow iPhone, iPad and Android apps, as well as Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, VOD, Zune, Playstation and wireless carriers.

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Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Episode 5 Previews

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Just Desserts 2.4 on happy chefs: "Unlike any other episode of Top Chef Just Desserts or Top Chef (that I can remember), the contestants had seemingly unlimited resources to meet such an extravagant challange that there was no quickfire, they just got right to it.

"Well, not right to it. First, the chefs sat down with popcorn and candy and watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a surprise treat from host Gail Simmons. You think you like Willy Wonka? These are professional pastry chefs. They looove Willy Wonka. They were all smiley and giddy throughout the showing."

TWOP on movie etiquette: "The dessert chefs all die of childhood joy relived and start reciting the lines and thinking back to their joyous childhoods on dairy farms or wherever pastry chefs are grown and their eyes glow and their cheeks get rosy and they start echoing their favorite lines from the movies. The random people staged around the auditorium obviously all glare at the chefs for talking nonstop throughout the film, because that is annoying and, this show is filmed in Los Angeles, so have some respect for the craft. Orlando, who proved himself to be a real ray of sunshine (if by ray of sunshine you mean complete jerk) last week, laughs that the woman sitting next to him thought it was hilarious that he knew all the lines to the movie. Umm, it's probably more likely that she thought you were an ass for talking nonstop through the movie."

Culture Mob on the challenge: "Gail quickly announces the elimination challenge…apparently we’re foregoing the Quickfire this time around. I wonder if that has anything to do with Craig’s survival last week. The chefs are tasked with transforming the Top Chef Dining Room into a land of pure edible imagination. They’ll be working as one team…this should lead to a lot of pleasant conversations and new friendships. The chefs decide to divide into two main sections: one team pumping desserts out of the kitchen and one constructing their world of sweets."

Picktainment on dum dum dum!: "The others are working away as well, but Johnny decides he needs to cast a pall over everything by announcing the double elimination. This also makes people start focusing on their own stuff rather than helping the team. Chris also lapses into thinking that he is on Big Brother proposing something of a creative alliance."

Eater on winners and losers: "For Judges’ Table, Gail pulls a Project Runway and invites in the top and bottom performers. Apparently one of them will be the winner and two of them will be out. Carlos (PB&J macaroons and edible wallpaper), Matthew (bonbons and profiteroles) and Katzie end up on top – with ultimately Katzie pulling out the win. Congrats to her for being the only one to do something original and telling Chris to shove it."

Finally, Jordan Baker rewrites some classic lyrics:
"Oompa, Loompa, Doompity-Deg
Finally we have got rid of Craig!
Oompa, Loompa, Doompity-Do
And then Melissa had to go to.

What do you do when your chef is a dope?
Cannot make de-sserts, and runs out of hope?
Dragging down everyone else on the show?
Then they must pack their tools! And! Go!
(it’s really for the best you know)

Oompa, Loompa, Doompity-Derts
Only one can win Top Chef, Desserts
S/he will live in happiness too
Like the Oompa Loompa Doompity Do!
(Doompity Do!)"

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Monday, September 19, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef Melissa Camacho

Tell us about your family.
I’m an only child and lived in Haiti until I was 18. We’re all close, but my creativity comes from my family. Also, my sassiness. My husband is also a chef, and fantastic, so he always understands what I go through. We just found out we’re pregnant, so maybe another chef on the way? Future cheftestant?

Where are you working now?
I had joined the team at ilili Restaurant just before leaving to film, so it felt great to dive into my job there after leaving LA. Working with Lebanese and Mediterranean flavors has been a great challenge, though nothing like Top Chef. It’s also been fun getting to know diners who watched the show, they’ve been so supportive!

Click here to continue.

Thank you Chef Melissa!
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All Top Chef Interview With "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef, Craig Poirier

Craig Poirier talks about his experience on Just Desserts.

A highlight: Craig is now working at Holstein's at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

Thank you Chef Craig!

Did you watch Season 1 of Just Desserts?

Absolutely, I have always been a huge fan of Top Chef and was so excited to hear they were doing Just Desserts.

What did you do to prepare for the competition?

I studied episodes of all seasons of Top Chef and Top Chef Just Desserts while trying to give myself quickfires in my kitchen at home.

When you first saw the other competitors including your instructor, Sally, did you feel like you might be “out of your league?” Were you concerned?

I knew when I saw Sally that this season of contestants were going to be some extremely tough competitors. I would be lying if I said it didn't concern me, but I knew that with the amount of experience I had I was going to have to push myself as much as possible.

Click here to continue.

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TC News and Information 9.19.11

Stephanie Izard is on a mission to raise $500,000 for Share Our Strength, and one facet of that effort is a national tour – cooking with local chefs and promoting her upcoming cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen. Eater has coverage here. More on the Goat Tour website – and whether she’ll be coming to your town – here.

Steph will also be in charge of creating the menu to feed this year’s CMT Artists of the Year nominees, according the press release here.

In a similar gig, TC Masters contestant Tim Love was the chef behind the performers’ food at last week’s Austin City Limits Festival. Check out what he has to say here about cooking on that scale since he started doing it in 2009.

Michael Voltaggio’s Ink. is now set to open this Wednesday in LA, and brother Bryan hosts a benefit for Share Our Strength at his Baltimore restaurant Volt September 27.

Another long-anticipated venture, Richard Blais’s haute hot dog restaurant, HD1, is opening Thursday, reports Eater Atlanta.

Fabio Viviani tells Grub Street he’s done building Bravo’s legacy for free and instead building his own. You can read what all up to, in inimitable Fabio fashion here. (P.S., since it seems to be a topic of endless fascination, he says he has a girlfriend.)

Author and frequent TC judge Anthony Bourdain gets his own imprint (that’s publishing-speak for “line of books”), for which he will act as talent scout to acquire three to five books a year written by other authors that “reflect his remarkably eclectic tastes,” according to this item from the NY Times.

And the Emmy went to - Amazing Race. Despite Top Chef's upset last year, the best competition-reality award is back in the hands of the long-time winner in the category.

Need something to sweeten the blow? As you look forward to Wednesday's episode of Just Desserts, you can brush up on some of those terms they throw around on the show with this handy translation guide.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Top Recipe - Katzie Guy-Hamilton's Carrot Patch

Carrot Patch

Carrot Cakes in Chocolate Dirt:
12 ounces butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups carrots
1/2 cup apple, grated
1/2 cup hazelnuts, ground

10 ounces milk chocolate
4 ounces 66 % dark chocolate
6 ounces oil
10 ounces toasted chopped hazelnuts

Green Apple Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound 8 ounces cream cheese
1 pound butter
1 pound sugar
2 teaspoons green apple extract
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Strawberry Cream Flowers:
5 pounds cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1 pound crème fraiche
1 pound sugar
26 yolks
14 eggs
1 pinch salt
1 pound strawberry jam

White Chocolate Glaze:
1 pound white chocolate
4 ounces canola oil
1 ounces almonds, toasted and ground
3 tablespoons raspberry powder

Chocolate Cookie Crumbs Soil:
300 grams butter
225 grams sugar
20 grams ground coffee
300 grams cocoa
100 grams flour
10 grams salt
100 grams egg whites

Carrot Cakes in Chocolate Dirt:

1. Cream butter and sugar on high speed for six minutes.

2. Sift dry ingredients and add spices to butter. Scrape down. Add eggs slowly, scraping down. Add vanilla. Add dry ingredients, scraping down. Add grated carrots, apples and hazelnuts.

3. Bake in a sprayed sheet trays at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden. Store in freezer until ready to serve.


1. Melt together milk chocolate and 66% dark chocolate with oil and emulsify. Dip frozen cakes into glaze and coat with toasted chopped hazelnuts.

Green Apple Cream Cheese Frosting:

1. Paddle cream cheese with softened butter. Paddle in sifted sugar, scraping. Add vanilla, salt and green apple. Dip carrot cakes into green apple cream cheese frosting.

Strawberry Cream Flowers:

1. Paddle cream cheese, sour cream, crème fraiche, and salt. Paddle in sugar. Add eggs and yolks slowly scraping down. Paddle in strawberry jam.

2. Bake in hotel pan at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until set. Chill. Scoop balls onto silpat and freeze. Insert sticks.

White Chocolate Glaze:

1. Combine oil and melted white chocolate. Dip strawberry cream flowers into white chocolate and dredge in ground toasted almonds and raspberry powder.

Chocolate Cookie Crumbs Soil:

1. Cream butter and sugar. Paddle in whites and then paddle in cocoa, coffee, and salt. Paddle in flour.

2. Bake at 310 degree Fahrenheit whisking on sheet tray until dry. Place carrots and flowers in “soil.”

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Congratulations, Chef Katzie Guy-Hamilton!

Chef Katzie knew that it was important in this particular challenge to stick to one's guns and make impressive desserts. While her idea for a carrot patch and bee hive were pooh-poohed by others on the team, she plugged on, creating something that impressed the judges and the children alike. Her carrot cake pops, buried in "dirt," were especially whimsical and fun.

Great job, Chef! Keep up the good work!

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Guy-Hamilton. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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ATC Love to Chef Melissa Camacho

Chef Camacho had her ups and downs this season. Her highs were very high, but her lows...well, this week's was enough to get her eliminated. While her idea of creating "cactus" out of donuts with green glaze seemed fine, she wasn't able to produce a light and fluffy confection that would wow the judges. Her other dessert, whoopie pie sunflowers with chocolate leaves, was delicious, but unfortunately not enough to save her this week.

Chef Camacho - we loved your lively personality and are sorry to see you go! We wish you much success in the future.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Camacho. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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ATC Love to Chef Craig Poirier

This week, Chef Craig had a great idea - recreating the giant gummy bears from the original Willy Wonka movie by using paté a fruit, a type of jellied fruit candy. Unfortunately, things didn't come out as planned, and while gummy, the candies weren't particularly flavorful.

Chef Craig - we're sorry to see you go. We wish you much luck in the future.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Poirier. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts 3 Episode 4

Rather than having a Quickfire this week, the pastrycheftestants take a trip to the movies to see the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Unbeknownst to them, some of their fellow audience members once starred in the film: Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt); Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee); Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde); and Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket). Gail introduces them after the film and presents the Elimination Challenge: to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Willy Wonka movie, the chefs must recreate the chocolate factory, working as one team.

Immediately, the pastrycheftestants set to planning. Chris thinks that it's a good idea for there to be two groups - a creative team responsible for design and planning and a production team responsible for cranking out desserts. While the chefs seem to fall in line with the idea at first, once Johnny comes in to tell them that this week is a double elimination, it's every man for himself.

The end result of their labors is quite wonderful. Bravo/Magical Elves produced a set reminiscent of the interior of the chocolate factory, which the pastrycheftestants filled with waterfalls, pumpkin patches, and edible flowers.

Joining Hubert Keller, Gail, and Johnny for tasting are the four former Wonka stars, a gaggle of children and their parents, and wedding cake guru, Ron Ben-Israel, who is also the guest judge for the episode.

Later, when everyone has come down from their sugar high, Gail calls out Craig, Sally, Katzie, Melissa, Carlos, Matthew, and Megan, who are the top and bottom for this contest. Matthew, Katzie, and Carlos really paid attention to creating special, magical, desserts. Katzie's "carrot patch" full of carrot cake was charming, as was her bee hive/honey dispenser, and good enough to get her the win.

Craig, Sally, Melissa, and Megan didn't fare as well. Both of Megan's desserts were failures and it looked like she would be going home until Carlos stepped in gallantly to say that she had been so busy helping everyone else. Melissa didn't have a savior for her hard green donuts, nor did Craig have any excuses for his flavorless pate a fruit gummy bears, and both were given the boot.

Did you watch this week? What did you think? Please leave a comment!

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Episode 4 Previews

The cheftestants are welcomed into a world of pure imagination when they get their challenge this week. Of course the world of Top Chef Just Desserts isn't all fantasy and sweets and this Wonka-inspired challenge won't be any different. Creating a fantasy world of treats has the chefs in a frenzy. Who will hit the mark this week and who will fall short of sweet success? Find out tonight 9/14 @ 10/9c on BRAVO's Top Chef Just Desserts 2!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef Nelson Paz

Chef Nelson Paz talks about his experience on the show.

Click here for the podcast.

Nelson is the Executive Pastry Chef at Asana in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston.

Thank you Chef Nelson!

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Recap Roundup: Top Chef Just Desserts 2.3

TWOP on Gail: "Lemon mascarpone pancakes with amaretto macerated strawberries. These pancakes make Gail wish her Barbies were here, because they would have had so much fun being out of the Barbie Dreamhouse, driving down the open road in their Bitchin' Barbie Camaro, and being on the Top Chef set with their BFF Gail. She could have fed them tiny little bites of tiny lemon mascarpone pancakes through their tiny smiles. It's nice to know that Gail is as crazy as I think she is. It's in her eyes; so don't try to deny it."

Picktainment on the Quickfire verdict: "The least favorites are Rebecca (who had too much going on to fit in a stick of gum), Melissa (because coffee breath usually isn’t the goal of gum chewers), and Matthew (who basically made a granola bar). Top three are Craig with his pancakes, Nelson’s Black Forest thing, and Carlos’ lovely tapioca, with Craig ending up the big winner. This gives Nelson sad puppy dog eyes."

Jordan Baker is annoyed: "And the winner is…CRAIG. HOLY JESUS, that dunderhead won! He’s super excited, and says that while he had thought he’d use the $25K to pay off school loans, he’s probably going to go shopping. Carlos, who had earlier talked about using it to send his five kids to college, looks pissed. In my own home, I am probably making a similar face since the 6th of the month is when Citibank dutifully sends my student loan bill. And Craig has immunity. Jesus. Another week where we won’t be getting rid of him."

Eater on team challenges: "Another team challenge. This makes three in a row, and it's getting old. Craig picks Amanda to head up the other team for no apparent reason other than it's the first thing out of his mouth. We smell a crush! Melissa is pissed for being 'picked last.' Again. Should we break it to her that she really wasn't picked last (twice)? She wasn't picked at all (twice). Later she declares: 'I am dead inside from this team (challenge) shit.' Honey, we are too. However, do the words 'suck it up' mean anything to you?"

Culture Mob on plastic: "It’s showtime, and the client walks in; she’s clearly Vanderpump-ed her face full of snake toxin. I’ve seriously developed a deep distaste for this woman and the only sentence I’ve heard her utter is 'Oh, that’s absolutely gorgeous.' Gail’s forced to smile through the pain of sitting with these people and introduces them; they all appear to attempt to show emotion on their face, but they’re unable to smile for some unknown reason." on excess: "Too bad Rebecca’s team’s table 'looked like an episode of dessert hoarders,' as Hugh Acheson put it. Lisa did not like the over-use of flowers and flower petals on the display, and it ultimately put a relatively talented team on the bottom. Unfortunately, everyone on the losing team seemed more technically skilled than everyone on the winning team, with the exception of the team leader, Craig, who had immunity."

If you're doing a recap for Top Chef Just Desserts, let us know!

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Monday, September 12, 2011

TC News and Information 9.12.11

This week’s Willy Wonka episode of Just Desserts rated inclusion by producers The Magical Elves in their top 10 list of favorite episodes of all the shows they’ve produced, saying it “may be the ultimate episode of Just Desserts. . . ." Click through the slide show for the 9 others, many of which I’m sure our readers will recall.

Have you been reading Just Desserts Season 1 winner Yigit Pura’s Bravo blog about this season? You can also find him “half-naked and sugar-coated,” Yigit says, in a calendar for Meals on Wheels, one of his favorite charities. You can glimpse him in the right-hand sidebar, or purchase one, here.

Were you as glad as I was to see TC Masters contestant Hugh Acheson as guest judge on last week’s episode? He’ll be back as one of the judges on TC9: Texas with Emeril Lagasse, reports Entertainment Weekly.

Frequent TC judge Eric Ripert’s Le Bernadin recently reopened and Feast has before, during, and after videos about the restaurant’s renovation. Meanwhile, Ripert protégé and TC All-Star Jen Carroll has announced she is leaving Ripert’s 10 Arts restaurant in Philly, according to Grub Street.

Three Top Chef chefs make the New York Times list of this fall’s most hotly anticipated restaurants: Masters 3 winner Floyd Cardoz’s North End Grill, Season 3 winner Hung Huynh’s Catch, and All Star contestant Dale Talde’s Talde.

Those Voltaggio brothers are busy too. They have a new cookbook coming out, and Michael’s long-promised LA restaurant Ink. (reported here to be opening in late September) has been upstaged by his new sandwich shop, Ink.Sack, which opened recently a few doors down. LA Weekly’s Jonathan Gold reports here. Yum Sugar has a great video interview with Michael Voltaggio here about his numerous new ventures.

All-Stars winner Richard Blais tells Eater his wife came up for the name of his next restaurant, The Spence, slated to open in winter 2012. He’s also a finalist for Restaurateur of the Year from the Georgia Restaurant Association. Winners will be announced in November.

All-Star Casey Thompson has teamed up with Sam’s Club and is eyeing new opportunities in Napa, according to this interview with Eater. Dale Levitski has been enlisted by Sam’s Club too.

Here's a report of Season 4 of Top Chef Masters filming in Vegas (scroll down to the second paragraph under The Scene and Heard).

Finally, if you’ve ever dreamed of being on Top Chef, you have something in common with Marge Simpson, reports Zap2It. Tom Colicchio will appear in animated form on The Simpsons season premiere on FOX September 25. Is it just me, or does this rendering look more like Hosea Rosenberg?

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Top Recipe - Rebecca Masson's Rhubarb Rose Crisp with Crème Fraiche Sherbet

Lisa Vanderpump called this her favorite dish of the challenge.

Rhubarb Rose Crisp with Crème Fraiche Sherbet

Rose Rhubarb Crisp:
10 cups rhubarb
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
2 teaspoons rose water, to taste

8 1/2 ounces flour
8 ounces brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces butter
1 3/4 cups oats

2 1/2 pounds crème fraiche
2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 pinch salt

Rose Rhubarb Crisp:
1. Toss rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, rose water and let macerate for about 30 minutes.
2. Place in ramekins to bake.

1. Place flour, sugar, butter and salt in food processor, pulse until it resembles coarse sand.
2. Place in a bowl and with hands blend in oats until large crumbles.
3. Sprinkle over top of crisp filling

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or using an immersion blender.
2. Spin in ice cream machine and place over top of crisp.


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Friday, September 9, 2011

Exit Interview - Nelson Paz

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Congratulations, Team Amanda!

Amanda, Carlos, Melissa, Katzie, Megan, and Chris - you did a fantastic job with your dessert table for Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump's restaurant party!  Your desserts and decor were impressively sophisticated, despite the rampant use of pink. ;)

Some of you are definitely looking like folks to beat. Will any of you make it to the top? We'll see!

This post is only for positive comments about these chefs. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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ATC Love to Chef Nelson Paz

This was one of those challenges where the losing team wasn't necessarily bad - two of the judges favorite desserts came from Team Craig - it just wasn't as good as the winning team. The same goes for Nelson's desserts - they weren't necessarily bad, just not as good as those created by his teammates. Or maybe they just didn't like cotton candy.

A rough break for Nelson, after coming thisclose to winning the Quickfire Challenge with his black forest dessert, which would have earned him immunity.

Nelson, we're sorry to see you go, and wish you much success in your future.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Paz. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Episode 3

This week, our pastrycheftestants were visited by Bravolebrities. First, Top Chef Master competitor Hugh Acheson joined Gail for the Quickfire Challenge, in which the chefs had to create desserts to inspire a new flavor of Extra gum. The winner of this challenge would get immunity, plus a cool $25K.

All of the desserts were absolutely adorable, since they had to fit on tiny doll-sized plates. It was pretty amazing to see how creative the chefs could be on such a small scale. After tasting, Hugh determined that his favorite was Craig's lemon pancakes with strawberries - much to everyone's surprise, including Craig.

As winner of the challenge (and the money!), Craig was able to choose two team captains for the next challenge. After appointing himself and Amanda, they chose teams:

Team Craig: Sally, Matthew, Orlando, Nelson, and Rebecca.
Team Amanda: Chris, Carlos, Megan, Katie, and Melissa

The challenge was to create a dessert table for the second anniversary celebration of Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Lisa Vanderpump's restaurant, Villa Blanca. Her husband, Ken, and their wee doggie came out to present the challenge. Ken told the pastrycheftestants that Lisa loves pink, and the chefs went crazy with that theme. Both teams turned out tables full of pink desserts and pink flowers and pink everything. It all looked a bit like Barbie and Hello Kitty were duking it out. Or puking it out.

The guests arrive to taste the food. In addition to Gail, Johnny, Hugh, and Hubert Keller, we had Lisa Vanderpump, her husband, dog, and daughter, and two other Housewives of Beverly Hills - one of the annoying sisters, and the one with the huge fish lips.

The desserts seemed to go over pretty well, for the most part, but the decor is what won the contest for Team Amanda. Team Craig's table was too little girl-ish, and too cluttered, causing Hugh to remark that it looked like something that could be on a show called "Dessert Hoarders." Craig had made lemonade for his "dish," which would have gotten him eliminated if it weren't for his immunity. Instead, Nelson got the boot for his pink cheesecake lolly with a cotton candy garnish.

Did you watch this episode? What did you think? Please leave a comment!

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Just Desserts 2.2

Eater on Orlando: "Orlando ends up at the bottom of the Quickfire and didn't seem to understand what Margaret was getting at when she said she 'personally didn't like it.' Instead he goes off into the confessional booth to say that Margaret needs to leave her 'personal shit' at home and judge professionally. Here's what we heard Margaret say: 'Orlando, look, I know you are a bitch in the kitchen, really I do, but, honey, that shit sucked ass. Lemon and chocolate? Really? Lame. I don't want to ride you too hard about your dessert in front of the others, so I'm gonna temper what I say by using the word "personally."'"

TWOP on cliches: "Orlando chooses Craig and interviews that he's staying away from Melissa because, during the last challenge, she 'drove the bus over one of her teammates.' What? Did you just see that? What he did? It's like he took lemons and made a tired cliché new again. Because, who cares about being thrown under a bus when there's some crazy asshole out there who will purposefully just drive the damn bus over your ass?"

Picktainment on Teams and Cakes: "The Red Team (Matthew, Chris, Megan, Melissa) is headed for simple architecture, clean lines, and good flavor. The Blue Team (Amanda, Katzie, Vanarin) is going to marry science and art and make musical instruments. Or something. The Black Team (Orlando, Nelson, Craig) has Nelson who actually studied architecture and Craig who is still a bit off but Orlando picked him because he wanted Melissa less. Not sure what they’re up to yet, but there will be a lot of architecture from Nelson. The Green Team (Carlos, Sally, Rebecca) is clearly being led by Carlos who has a lot of ideas for bike gears and The Twilight Zone."

Culture Mob on technical difficulties: "The chefs then transport their cakes to the concert hall, and start to set up outside. Immediately, problems start and not the fun, fixable ones. Essentially, it’s too hot to serve cakes outside, and the heat is ruining all the chefs’ work. This kind of thing irritates me. The producers should know better; I feel like there’s a difference between setting up a challenge for professionals and setting up unsurmountable obstacles that they have no control over. Like the sun." on Vanarin's chocolate sculptures: "If those instruments made noise, it would be 'womp-womp.'"

After Elton on the losing cakes: "Between the Black and Blue Team, the Blue Team looked the worst. It looked like the cake was starting to eat itself and then imploded. Although the Black Team had more of a problem with a unifying theme and working as a team (Orlando took a bitchy jab at Craig calling him the 'nitwit of the team' which only reinforced Craig's earlier interview where he talked about being picked on because he was an odd child) it was the Blue Team that failed miserably. The cake looked hellacious and, according to the judges, was lackluster in flavor."

If you are a Top Chef Just Desserts recapper, drop us a line and we'll include your recaps here!

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Top Recipe - Matthew Peterson's Lemon Vanilla Créme with Mint Purée & Hazelnut Sable

Lemon Vanilla Créme with Mint Purée & Hazelnut Sable

200 grams lemon juice
200 grams sugar
200 grams whole egg
3 grams agar
270 grams butter

200 grams butter
200 grams sugar
200 grams all purpose flour
200 grams hazelnut flour
1 pinch of salt

Crème Fraiche:
1 cup crème fraiche
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mint Puree:
100 grams mint
500 grams Neutral Glaze
50 grams lemon juice


1. In a medium saucepot combine all ingredients except the butter.
2. Boil for three minutes. Add in butter and stir well. Strain through sieve.

1. Cream butter and sugar, add salt. Add hazelnut flour. Add all purpose flour.
2. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown. Chop coarsely.

Crème Fraiche:
1. Combine all ingredients and whip to fluffy. Reserve in fridge.

Mint Puree:
1. Puree all ingredients in a blender. Strain and reserve.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef Vanarin Kuch

Vanarin Kuch talks with us about his experience on the show.

Chef Van is the pastry chef at Tiny Boxwood's Cafe in Houston Texas.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef!

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ATC Love to Chef Vanarin Kuch

This week the competition held another team challenge, this time creating a cake to reflect the architecture and performances of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Vanarin's team came out on the bottom, producing a cake that just wasn't attractive. Vanarin had a great idea - to make musical instruments out of modeling chocolate - but unfortunately, it suffered in execution.

Vanarin, we hardly got to know you, or what pastry talents you possess, so we're sorry to see you go. We wish you great success in your career in the future.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Kuch. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Congratulations, Red Team!

The Red Team, comprised of Matthew, Chris, Megan, and Melissa, produced a multi-level cake for this week's team challenge that was not only attractive and well-planned, but also each layer was delicious. The judges were especially fond of Melissa's cardamom-flavored layers, which gives a boost of confidence after last week's trip to the bottom.

Congrats to all of you - looking forward to seeing what you can produce on an individual basis in the future!

This post is only for positive comments about the winning pastry chefs. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Episode 2

This week, the Quickfire Challenge involved creating a fabulous and unique lemon dessert for guest judge, pastry guru Margaret Braun. Matthew wowed her with a relatively simple lemon cake, which gave him the Quickfire win and immunity in the Elimination Challenge.

While the QF seemed simple, the Elimination Challenge was far more complicated. The pastrycheftestants had to work in teams to produce a cake large enough to feed 150 people, based on the architecture and events held at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Team Red = Matthew, Chris, Megan, and Melissa
Team Green = Carlos, Rebecca, and Sally
Team Black = Orlando, Nelson, and Craig
Team Blue = Amanda, Katzie, and Vanarin

Time was short, so we weren't going to see anything worthy of Food Network Challenge. Still, I didn't expect cakes to be so...ugly. I'm sure the judges (which included Hubert Keller again this week) didn't either. Team Blue's cake, for example, was pretty nightmarish, with it's preponderance of glitter and one particularly hideous layer made by Vanarin. The three cakes-within-the-cake got mixed reactions as far as flavor.

Team Black's cake was falling apart, and the three layers weren't at all cohesive. Craig's in particular was amateurish. The flavors in their cakes were pretty good though. Team Red, which had four members, got the best reaction. Their cake was not only attractive, but also all four layers were delicious. And finally, Team Green fared well looks-wise, but the cakes weren't all successful.

The team with four members once again is the strongest, with Team Red taking the win this week. Vanarin was sent home for his scary layer.

So did you watch? What did you think? Please leave a comment!

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