Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Top Chef:Just Desserts 11/3/10--"Celebritea Party"

Previously on “Top Chef: Just Desserts”: we recycled challenges from regular “Top Chef”. Someone somewhere called it “Top Chef: Savory” and I wish I remembered where I saw it, because I think it’s really cool. Anyway, mise en place relay race time. Magically, Team Diva is all on the same team, and they win, which is sad, but then it’s time for Restaurant Wars, and we all know the “stronger” team has a very hard time winning Restaurant Wars. This does not change, and Team Positive wins, due to Morgan and Eric and Danielle making good food (Morgan especially) and not making thick pastry crust, as Heather did. So Heather is sent home, and Yigit and Zac cried like she was headed to the gallows. (click for more)

Danielle gloats that Team Diva has been reduced. She’s the last girl left. Yigit continues to complain that Heather went home, but I think mostly it’s about how he was in the bottom 3.

Guest judge today is Shinmin Li, who is a cake decorator. Today they will be making an edible bouquet. Eric frowns. It sounds like a showpiece. They will get 3 hours to work, which is kind of a long time. Since they can’t win immunity anymore, they CAN win $5000.

Zac is going to use chocolate instead of sugar. Danielle is trying to go for natural, because she usually uses real flowers. Eric is making a small vanilla cake with sugar flowers. Yigit is going to make his own pulled sugar vase. Morgan is using chocolate too, and is excited about pulling sugar. Yigit is doing this cool thing where he dips ring molds in liquid sugar, and then pulls them up slowly to stretch the sugar up to make a very thin vase. He leaves them to cool, but Morgan puts his elbow through one. Why are they so close to the box thing that other people are using? To his credit, Morgan seems really sorry, even though Yigit in confessional thinks he did it on purpose. But since he can’t prove it, of course, he pretends he’s just a big person. Yigit breaks the other one himself. Zac doesn’t know what he’s doing. When it’s all over Yigit looks around and decides everyone else did worse than he did.

Morgan: he has chocolate flowers and some pulled sugar in a bow, plus some red and orange flowers. But the vase and most of the flowers are uncolored chocolate. It is well formed but brown. Danielle: candied orange zest roses, sugar cookies, and marshmallow hydrangeas. They look pretty cool, except that it’s shown in a low box, and when you turn it around, you can see where she attached the cookies to stems. I like it though. It’s colorful. Yigit: a low glass box with glass rocks, pink flowers, and blue jagged pieces. The blue pieces sort of look like cactus leaves in shape, with weird chocolate paint that looks a little too much like blood. Yigit tells the judges he failed at the vases, while bragging that he was doing something awesome, and that he doesn’t give up. Whatever. Zac: chocolate disco flowers and leaves. Big shocker. It’s a set of mirrored tall rectangles, with chocolate flowers attached, and a pile of leaves. Shiny, I guess. Eric: giant cupcake with gum paste and buttercream flowers. It looks like a wooden flowerbox, with a cake about 4 times the size of a regular cupcake, covered in white and yellow flowers. He admits he is much more comfortable with piping flowers, instead of making pulled sugar.

Shinmin says a lot of people were overly ambitious. Zac was messy, Eric needed more height and his piping is messy (Eric thinks she’s rude), and Danielle has a back view that is not flattering and she tried too hard for contrasting textures. In the top, Morgan should have tried for a unique finish, but his is the most professional presentation, and Yigit’s final presentation is well balanced. Morgan wins. Yigit pretends to congratulate him but complains that if Morgan hadn’t broken one of his vases he would have won instead. Hey, you broke your other vase all by yourself. Morgan tells us that so far he’s won $36,000.

Elimination challenge: cater a tea party for Dana Cowin and her friends. The theme is “celebritea” which is pretty much exactly the kind of vague stupid “theme” I expect from a magazine editor. The contestants have to make a dessert inspired by a celebrity couple. Ugh. Morgan claims to know nothing about celebrities. Oh please. That’s like when people brag that they don’t watch TV. They will make 100 portions of two small “tea party” desserts. Gail also says that Dana is her mentor so don’t fuck it up and embarrass her. Heh.

Shopping. $300 and 30 minutes. Danielle’s celebrity “duo” is Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter. Hee. Zac, of course, loves musicals and celebrities and has selected Julie Andrews and her husband Blake Edwards. Blake Edwards has done some acting but is mostly a director, the Pink Panther movies especially. Sigh…he wants to put a spoonful of sugar on something. Morgan has to pick up a magazine for inspiration, and has decided on Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian. Uh…OK then. But he has an idea. Yigit’s couple is Madonna and Guy Richie. He is drawing parallels to their rocky relationship and the fact that Morgan has started kicking his ass in challenges. Eric’s couple is Oprah and Stedman. He says they’re “larger than life”, except that while I would agree that Oprah is an iconic figure, Stedman really isn’t. Ominously Eric says to save time he’ll just get chocolate from the pantry back at the kitchens.

Back at the kitchen with 3 hours to prep. Morgan wheels his cooler through the pantry and looks at the shelves. Which are empty with a sign that says “Temporarily out of stock”. There is no chocolate. At all. Johnny busts in, trying to be badass with his black T-shirt and wallet chain, and says since it’s the final 5, they need to bring it, plus no one has chocolate at tea parties? Or something? Zac laughs and laughs because after the Quickfire he decided not to use chocolate at all in his dessert. Morgan calls him a little girl which would probably hold more weight if Zac wasn’t like a little girl at times with the glitter and rainbows. Morgan pretends to walk out. Everyone (except Zac) is scrambling and freaking out. Eric had been planning a brownie for Oprah, but now he is doing sweet and savory shortbreads. Morgan is changing his cake recipe. Danielle, like Zac, wasn’t planning on chocolate anyway, but she’s not as loud about it as Zac was. She is making cake with jalapenos for Conan. Creative. Zac uses a lot of butter. Yigit is making his usual fancy stuff with interesting combinations but his heart’s not in it because it’s not what he wanted. Cooking ends and Yigit is still talking about how he’s not confident.

One hour to prep, at a “design studio” that they’ve made up to look like a little cozy country tea house. Yigit says it’s extremely hot, which is a problem. Serving will be staggered, and Eric is first. He doesn’t like his dish, because he had planned on chocolate, and all he’s hoping for now is to make it to the next challenge. He’s freaking out a lot, and seems to really dislike his food.

Eric: rosemary shortbread with apricot compote, and pecan shortbread with caramel. The savory shortbread is square, and I giggle at the “Stedman is square” comment. They’re messy, and Johnny complains they are too big, but they taste delicious and the shortbread is done properly. A random guest complains the display is too average. He had one of those stands with three plates on it, and a handle to carry with, and then the cookies were just put on the plates. I like that they’re both shortbread, like Stedman cannot be defined except as a variation on Oprah.

Morgan moves Zac’s stuff around, and Zac complains and tells him not to touch anything because he shakes the table. I think everyone is using the same plate stands. Zac: mascarpone cheesecake with Cap’n Crunch and tarragon sugar, and pink pavlova with grapefruit curd and meringue. It sounds good and I like how he referenced the couple. Zac says you can stack them on top of each other and eat them together. The judges love it.

Danielle is running around because she’s trying to pipe her cookies. Morgan is in her way and she bitches at him. She doesn’t think she’ll get done, and it’s not clear if she did or not. Strawberry jalapeno cake, and oatmeal cookie with buttercream and orange blossom water. The cake is very spicy, and is weirdly dense. They also don’t like the frosting on the cookie, but Johnny likes the range of flavors in her dishes.

Morgan mutters about chocolate. He tells the judges he picked out a dessert, then worked backwards to find a celebrity couple that would fit it. Eeehhhhhh…I might have docked him points for that. Almond sponge with apricot coulis and citrus buttercream. That is Reggie Bush. Kim Kardashian is a bittersweet citrus macaron. The macarons are really big, and taste good, except that the filling is oozing out when you bite into it. The sponge is great, but is much easier to eat with a spoon than with your fingers. Johnny claims the challenge was to make “finger food” which it was not. But you go ahead thinking that.

Yigit is stressed. He is piping teeny tiny cookies or something. Citrus yogurt cake with baked honey flan for Madonna, and brown butter sable with dulce de leche and calvados gelee. Calvados is a brandy, sables are cookies. Sadly when he was cooking I saw Guinness in his shopping bag but that is not here. The cake is bland and they don’t think it represents Madonna. They think she would be a more powerful flavor. And certainly not bland. At least the sable is masculine, if sweet. Shinmin thinks that his desserts wouldn’t last if they had to sit out. Back in the kitchen, it turns out Yigit didn’t plate all his desserts, and Eric says he might still have a chance to make it to the next challenge, and Morgan gloats that Yigit didn‘t do well. Suddenly the editing becomes crystal clear. And I don’t like it.

Commercial interlude: even though the contestants are living in a house that used to hold 12, somehow it is a problem that Danielle takes long showers, as I guess there is only one bathroom for all the poor boys to share with her.

Morgan, Zac, and Danielle get called first. No surprise there. Morgan admits his sponge wasn’t what he wanted, because he had to change his plan to not use chocolate. Shinmin says that even though you couldn’t really pick it up with your fingers, she was prepared to lick it off the plate. Zac wanted classy, which told him Julie Andrews, and he wants to be Julie Andrews. They absolutely loved both his desserts. Danielle’s desserts were funny, in a good way. Johnny says she planned a dessert, and executed the dessert she planned, finally. The winner is Zac. He claims Julie Andrews for his secret weapon.

Yigit and Eric face the music. Eric had a problem pushing through his problems. He didn’t tie his dishes to the challenge, or something, but I think he did that OK. The shortbread was uneven, though, and Johnny hates his lack of creativity in serving two shortbreads. He says he stalled and then all of a sudden is like “WTF did I just do?” Yigit was going to make two chocolate desserts, and he couldn’t bounce back. Madonna’s dessert didn’t match her personality, as it was mushy and bland. Johnny says it’s like a frozen petit four. Oo. He was angry Yigit allowed it to go out. Yigit says he came “completely undone” when Heather went home. Really? She affected you that much? Get it together.

Yigit embraced the celebrity challenge better than Eric. Eric’s flavor was OK (they said it was better than OK at the table, but whatever) but they are super insulted he served two shortbreads. Yigit had clear ideas about the challenge, it just didn’t work out. See? Editing. Suddenly Yigit did a lot better than Eric, and they can‘t find anything nice to say about Eric. Sigh.

Johnny bitches at Yigit and Eric for a while and then Eric is sent home. Like they’d get rid of Yigit over Eric. They should have, though. Eric has an affirmation that he is a chef. He thinks he became a chef here.

Next week: flailing, truffles, shocking twist. Probably former contestants.

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