Thursday, September 16, 2010

Top Chef:Just Desserts 9/15/10--"Mr. Chocolate"

Can I just say that if I knew nothing about this show, if I never watched “Top Chef” and I wasn’t particularly interested in food shows in general, I would have never watched this show. The commercials are horribly annoying and none of the contestants seem like people who I want to watch on a regular basis. Keep reading, though, it gets better.(click for more)

Collection of clips about how pastry chefs aren’t all candy and rainbows. I guess. It’s like they found all the drama and put it all together for us. Our judges are Gail Simmons (yay Gail!), Johnny Iuzzini (who is an actual pastry chef with many awards), Hubert Keller, and Dannielle Kyrillos (Editor-at-large of DailyCandy). DailyCandy seems to be a website like Yelp! It’s got reviews of food, fashion, etc. but only for big cities. Winner gets the same things as “Top Chef”, pretty much: feature in Food and Wine magazine, showcase at a Food and Wine event, a Buick, and $100,000 from Godiva.

Los Angeles. Seth Caro, 34, New York. He’s cute. He was the original pastry chef at Top Chef season 1’s winner Harold’s restaurant. Yay Harold! He says he is a prima donna. Tania Peterson, 39, Boston. She labels herself as a “Jewish atheist artist”. Heather Hurlbert, 40, Atlanta. Erika Davis, 40, Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Those two show up together but don’t get interviews. A double decker bus shows up to get the four of them. Heather thinks some may find her intimidating. And there is more than one Heather, naturally. The bus drives…somewhere else…to pick up more people. Zac Young, 27, New York. He is pretty flamey. He claims he will cut you with his flavor. Uh huh. Train station. Tim Nugent, 41, Oakland, California. Well that explains why he took the train. He says his gelato and ice creams are very good and he is referred to as “The Snow Queen”. “Because my food is frozen? And I’m gay. *giggle*” Heather Chittum, 37, DC. Someone else shows up that knows someone already on the bus. I guess the bus is just sitting at the train station? Morgan Wilson, 37, Dallas. On the website his picture looks like Jon Hamm but onscreen he does not look like Jon Hamm. He thinks a pastry chef can cook savory foods.

Everyone sits around on the bus until Gail and Johnny show up. Seth has a crush on her. Malika Ameen, 35, Chicago, is in awe of Johnny. Time for the Quickfire! Make your signature dessert. Winner gets immunity. They have $50 and 30 minutes to shop, and 90 minutes to bake. This seems like an extensive Quickfire. “Top Chef” never lets them shop for the Quickfire.
Shopping commences. Yigit Pura, 29, San Francisco. He says he used to work for Daniel Boulud. He thinks a pastry chef has to be OCD. Eric Wolitzky, 38, Manhattan. He says he works in a bakery but calls himself a pastry chef, and people may have a problem with that. He wants to make mud pies. Erika is nervous because they don’t have recipes and you need to be exact. Malika says she is a “pastry chef consultant” and also she’s getting a divorce. She and her ex just closed their restaurant, and she wants to win for her kids.

The Top Chef kitchen has shiny equipment, such as anti-griddles and liquid nitrogen. Tania is making “my serious chocolate cake”. She says she’s been trying to get pregnant. Seth curses. He’s freaking out as the last time he met Johnny he screwed up the food. Zac is distracted by Seth.

Gail and Johnny show up with 75 minutes to go and laugh evilly as they reveal the twist: transform your signature dish into a cupcake. Nice. Everyone freaks out. That’s not a lot of time. The cupcakes have to cool before you can frost them. Malika is just making her meringue into a cupcake shape to hold the filling. Tim was making semifreddo, so he’s still going to do that and just have a shape. Why are these people not following directions? Tania was making a cake, so she feels pretty confident. Seth was making something with basil. Somehow he is making basil butter cream. Malika’s meringues are burned but gooey on the inside because someone turned up the oven. They don’t look like cupcakes anyway. When time is called she has meringues in cups, but nothing else.

Tania: chicory mousse cupcake with mesquite flour and crème fraiche caramel. The chicory mousse is inside. Heather C: carrot cupcake, crème fraiche cream cheese ice cream, and fried carrots on top. It’s in a square. So like…a frosted brownie. Sorry, but cupcakes should be either little round cakes or in an actual cup. Zac: vanilla bean cupcake with lemon curd and blood orange marshmallow. The marshmallow is just a giant marshmallow on top that is slightly toasted. Danielle: chocolate cupcake with mint chip filling and toasted meringue. (Danielle Keene, 29, Pasadena). Eric: devil’s food cake with buttermilk and coffee. And there’s a frosting rose on top. Tim: pistachio semifreddo. Which is in a bowl, and is overflowing said bowl, and has not become anything resembling a cupcake whatsoever. It’s not even frozen. Seth: steamed Malaysian coconut cake with basil butter cream and candied pine nuts. It looks pretty good. Morgan: dark chocolate soufflé cupcake, supreme of tangerine and caramel butter cream. Malika: has nothing.

Obviously Malika is in the bottom. Tim didn’t make a cupcake. And Zac’s marshmallow had a “horrible” texture. Zac knows that the other people in the bottom didn’t even make cupcakes so he didn’t do very well. On top, we have Seth (“herbaceous”), Tania (moist and interesting) (ew), and Heather C (contemporary and unique). The winner is Seth! He can’t believe it. He compares himself to Harold.

For the Elimination challenge, the contestants must use chocolate to create a “luxurious” dessert. This dessert must impress Jacques Torres. Wow. I remember when he had a Food Network show about chocolate, and he would make showpieces and stuff. Gail calls him “Mr. Chocolate” but that is really cheesy. They’ll have 4 hours to cook, and 1 hour to plate tomorrow.

The loft is nice. There is a stupid argument about bed arrangements, in that Seth declares his insomnia to try to sleep alone, only everyone totally knows that’s what he’s doing and rolls their eyes. I’ll sleep with him. What? He’s cute. Plus a bunch of them want it cold. Heather C. appears to have bandages on her forehead. What happened there? The boys are picky. Seth tells people this is his “one bitch move”. So…he’s an angel from here on out, apparently.

In the morning, people get started cooking. Morgan is making fried pies. You guys, down the street from me is a little donut shop that has the best fried pies ever. They only take cash and the ladies behind the counter add up your total bill with pencil and paper but their crust is fantastic. It’s the little hole-in-the-wall shops that always turn out so awesome. Heather H. says you have to have a technical background to have the skills to do things. Yigit thinks he and Heather H. have similar skills. Morgan, in addition to the fried pies, is making milk chocolate flan. Why he is making two things I do not know. Anyway, someone turned on the convection in his oven so the top tray is burnt. Zac has taken over several workspaces. He’s making a brownie sundae because he does not like being on the bottom. (Kmanpat: “Girl, please.”) Yigit says “we’ll see how that goes” with a little adorable grin. Eric is just folding things, slowly.

Johnny time! No, that doesn’t sound right. Sigh. Seth says with a pompadour like that, you must mean business. Hee. Then he describes his palette, pronounced “pal-ET”. Tania seems in good shape. Danielle is making a “free-form” tart. Johnny bails.

Tania’s mousse does not look set. In fact, it looks exactly like hummus, which is not lost on Tania. “Pastry hummus!” All of a sudden people are plating and guests are here and people are eating. I guess that’s how it goes when you are serving in the “Top Chef: Just Desserts Dining Room”. Morgan warns someone about the hot pie. Hubert Keller is not here today. I guess one Frenchman is enough. Jacques is reminding me of William Shatner for some reason. Morgan: chocolate fried pie and milk chocolate bourbon flan. Heather C.: bittersweet chocolate torte with a mini whoopie pie. My computer just tried to autocorrect “whoopie”. The flan has separated. Bad news. Jacques has never had a whoopie pie before, which I find interesting. He would have put something else as filling, but then it wouldn’t be a whoopie pie, then, would it? Eric: spiced brownie with ancho chile, ginger, and cinnamon. Oo, I love chocolate with spices like that. Heather H.: dark chocolate mousse torte with chocolate grand Marnier sauce. Yum. Zac is putting “disco dust” on his plate. Which is glitter. Sparkly glitter. Zac: chocolate fondant “brownie sundae”. It seems to be a brownie with ice cream on top, and a tuille cookie thing, and maybe some other things? The other chefs laugh at it, but the judges are mostly OK with it. Except for the part where Zac blew on the food, I guess to spread the glitter around. Eric’s brownie is not the most decadent possible. Heather H. did a great dessert, and then they hate on Eric because he’s a “baker” and didn’t plate his dessert well enough or whatever.

Tania: flourless chocolate torte with Earl Gray and white chocolate mousse. There is also an orange blossom honey ganache. The mousse is the “pastry hummus” and she owns up to the weird texture. Danielle: chocolate tart with hazelnut brittle and banana. She calls it a “free-form” tart, but it’s a base with mousse on top…I’m not seeing anything “free-form” about it except that it’s a little sloppy. It’s not sticking together? Tania is not impressive. Seth: Madras curry and chocolate palette with raspberry gelee. I do love curry and chocolate together, but there is no palette there and he keeps pronouncing it weird. It looks good though. Yigit: flourless chocolate genoise with custardless ice cream. Jacques says something is wrong with the ice cream. Seth’s dessert is like a pug. In a good way. Tim: chocolate cake with ganache and white chocolate cream. Malika: bittersweet chocolate layer cake with braised cherries and nougatine. Erika: chocolate banana caramel crunch bar. Erika’s crunch is good. Tim’s cake looks delicious and has a good flavor. Malika went for it, and succeeded. Heather H. can see everyone else’s food and is a little worried.

Commercial interlude: Zac talks about his glitter. Danielle is not suitably impressed and is giving him shit. Actually, what she does is something like “I have to go throw up now. Just kidding! It’s good!“ Zac gets his panties in a bunch and decides she can go at any time and calls her a bitch. That was…unwarranted.

Stew Room. Gail collects Seth, Heather H., and Zac. It’s unusual because, as Morgan points out, they don’t know if the losers go first or second. I don’t hear a Loser Gong, so that’s a good sign. Oh, this is the top. Everyone is relieved. Zac starts to cry. Then he says making dessert is like giving birth. Gail dryly asks if he has experience with that. Hee, Gail. Then he KEEPS GOING with this analogy. Shush. The judges love that the components all worked together, except that Jacques tells him not to blow on things. Heather’s dessert was aesthetically pleasing and well balanced. There were little bits of chocolate crunch as a surprise. Seth’s curry worked. I’ve had a chocolate bar with curry and lemongrass before. It was so delicious. That was a $6 candy bar and it was worth every penny. Heather wins!

Seth tells Danielle, Tania, and Morgan they have to face the Loser Gong. And then, to thwart me, there is NO GONG. Danielle doesn’t know why she’s there. Johnny tells her the dessert was too messy because her bottom layer was too thick. She wanted it to sit on the plate nicely. Tania knows her mousse had a poor texture, and there is no excuse. Her timing was off. Gail liked the chocolate layer underneath, but there wasn’t enough to counter the mousse. Morgan thought he did a good job. Johnny couldn’t figure out the “gelee” and thought it had two layers, when in fact it was one flavor that had separated. Morgan claims he didn’t notice the flan had separated when he unmolded them “but I guess I hoped you didn’t”. Not a good plan. He was trying to be refined but it failed. He was afraid he’d be penalized for not doing enough.

Back in the Stew Room Morgan refuses to talk about it. He did too much, and didn’t focus enough on the chocolate. Tania had plenty of time to make more mousse. Her flavors were too timid. Danielle was defensive about her dessert, which was impossible to eat.

Johnny does like Tom does where he reminds the bottom three how they screwed up. Tania is out. Gail says “Your dessert just didn’t measure up. Please pack your tools and go.” Tools? I know they don’t have knives, but can’t she pick a specific tool? Whisk? Scale? I don’t know. Tania is upset, because she knows everyone always hopes they aren’t the first one.

This season: cheerleaders, fire dancers, drama. Morgan seems to be an asshat. Some pastry. That’s all I got.

1 comment:

Allyson said...

ya wtf happened to Heather C.'s forehead? She's hiding something