Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Top Chef: Just Desserts 9/21/11--"Make a Splash" summary

Previously on “Top Chef: Just Desserts”: one of the best challenges I think I’ve seen on this show. Recreate the “Land of Pure Imagination” from the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. The first room with the chocolate waterfall. The results were very fun and colorful and impressive. Katzie won, for making super-cute carrots out of carrot cake, and then covering them in chocolate and burying them in the ground. Two people were eliminated: Craig, because he’s been flailing and he made sad, sad giant gummy bears; and Melissa, for bad donuts. In other news, I just read today that regular “Top Chef” will begin with 29 contestants. TWENTY. NINE. Unless they get rid of half of them in the first episode it’s going to be a very long season. (click for more)

Katzie sits on the counter and brags that she likes being clever. Sally (who is 31, let’s be clear) interviews that Katzie is young and inexperienced.

For today’s Quickfire, there is a small cute Asian man with Gail. Several people recognize him as Pichet Ong, a pastry chef. They must make an original candy bar. Of course, Orlando says he owns a chocolate company and has always dreamed of making his own candy bar one day. You OWN the company? Why haven’t you just DONE that yet? The winner gets immunity.

1 ¾ hours to cook. Why such a random time? I suppose we’ll never know. Carlos runs into Rebecca with a cart. Actually, it looks like he was putting something down and the cart got away from him. Maybe he shoved it away from him and it hit her. Of course, it hits her busted arm so she’s out of it for a minute. Orlando says she’s “sensitive” and he doesn’t like crying, but he’s good at making people cry. Ass. Matthew is making a mold to be original. Carlos has chocolate, peanut butter, and banana. Sally goes for Asian to kiss up to the judge. Katzie’s caramel won’t set. Chris is making two candy bars, to kiss up and be an overachiever. Poor Matthew can’t get it to set up and is kind of flailing. Rebecca tries to pour liquid nitrogen over her stuff, but she loses her grip on the canister and knocks all her stuff on the floor. Orlando offers to help her, which doesn’t match up with pretty much anything else he’s ever said. He says he felt bad and that he IS human. I don’t trust it. Rebecca promises him a keg. Seriously, he’s promising her he’s totally done with his stuff, she only has one more, just keep going…like he’s a nice person.

Katzie: “Caramel Cove“: brown butter and caramelized banana curd, ganache with dark chocolate. It didn’t set up right, but she pretends that’s on purpose. Carlos: “Choconana”: peanut butter crisp with fudge cake, banana pudding and chocolate pop rocks. Incidentally, they seem to have had time to print everyone wrappers with the names on them. Sally: “Who’s It?”: peanut butter, chocolate, black forbidden rice, cocoa nibs, and milk chocolate ganache. Matthew: “M Pastry Bar”: hazelnut feuillitine praline with orange vanilla chocolate crème anglaise. Crunchy, I guess. They notice it’s not finished properly. Orlando: “Berry Blast”: blackberry port jam, creamy chocolate ganache and chocolate. The jam is pretty liquid. Chris: “Lil’ Darling”: white chocolate with banana caramel, and milk chocolate with chocolate ganache. So there are two pieces. Amanda: “Royal Chocolate Bar”: Earl Gray tea ganache with bitter orange caramel. Interesting. Megan: “Ginger Buckeye Blast”: peanuts, peanut butter, butter caramel, ginger and feuillitine. Rebecca: “fruit on the bottom” granola, panna cotta, orange marmalade, vanilla, and white chocolate. Weird.

Matthew didn’t have time to finish, and Katzie’s bar melted in his hands. Sally had great ingredients and rice, and Rebecca’s bar had panna cotta and was very interesting. The winner is Sally. She’s glad to be safe.

For today’s Elimination challenge, everyone must draw popsicles. Yeah. Teams. Again. Every single Elimination challenge this season has been a team challenge. Anyway, today’s teams are Carlos, Sally, and Amanda; Orlando, Chris and Matthew; and Rebecca, Megan, and Katzie. Yeah, that’s not uneven or anything. Amanda doesn’t know what a water park is. They will be at Raging Waters, serving “frozen treats” to the people.

4 ½ hours to cook. Rebecca is excited about her team. They’re going to do straightforward stuff, not plated. Something is tart. Orlando’s team, is, of course, going to be refined and “different”. Sally is doing what the team wants, because she has the immunity and knows if she has a crazy idea that backfires, someone else will go home. Orlando says he learned to swim basically by being thrown in the deep end. That explains a lot. There are only two ice cream machines, so now they’re having a fight about it. Carlos and Sally got there first, so Katzie is pissed that one team is hogging the machines. Sally thinks this is not a problem, because it’s a competition. That’s pretty rude, though. Chris hears all the bitching and says he’s going with plan B, which is…a Pacojet? Apparently you put the mix into metal cans, then freeze it solid. Then you stir it in the machine later, to make the ice cream. This way Chris can avoid the ice cream machines today.

Johnny shows up as Carlos is hollering that Katzie can use the machine for 25 minutes, until he needs it again. Orlando is making a root beer float ice cream sandwich. That could be good. Katzie has some kind of spumoni on a stick. She mentions something about a restaurant called Spumoni Gardens, only to discover that Johnny knows everyone there. Oops. Amanda is making funnel cake. Huh. She’d better plan that well. Johnny asks about the ice cream machine drama, and as Sally is explaining that yeah, there’s only two machines and it’s a frozen treat challenge, she looks over and Katzie’s sorbet is leaking all over the floor. She left the hatch open at the bottom. Chris seems to be making an ice sculpture. Carlos didn’t have enough molds, so he has to quick freeze the ice cream with liquid nitrogen, then take it out of the molds. Chris takes the canister to use, and then Carlos and Chris have a fight about it because now it’s empty. But Chris’s idea is to freeze the Pacojet canisters so solid they can leave them on the floor overnight and nothing will melt.

The girls discuss bathing suits and shorts and what to wear. Everyone is wearing casual shorts and their chef’s jackets. Weird. 90 minutes to set up at the park. The ice cream Pacojets didn’t melt, which I thought they would, so good for them. Matthew has a water gun. Hee. Amanda knows she has a time-sensitive dish.

When service starts it is very busy. Dannielle is here today, and Pichet is back. Chris: passion mixer with ginger fizz and cilantro infusion. There’s also sorbet, and it’s poured through the ice block. Sticky. Orlando: chocolate vanilla root beer surprise. I think it’s root beer foam, ice cream, brownie…a cookie…nutmeg. It’s not summery. Orlando tries to argue that he was being creative, so it’s not a real float (which would be refreshing). Johnny says maybe then he shouldn’t call it a “root beer float”. Matthew: strawberry shortcake with sautéed strawberries and ice cream. But when they ask for his dish, he leaves to plate it, so the judges get bored. The ice cream is gummy, and the strawberries are too warm.

Katzie sprays people with lavender body spray. Rebecca: lemon snicker doodle ice cream sandwich. Lemon ice cream, yum. Dannielle likes the old-school wax paper wrapper. Megan: strawberry soda float with white peach and basil sorbet. Katzie: baked Alaska with a spumoni twist. It’s cherry ice cream with pistachios, on a stick. Thankfully Johnny likes it.

Carlos: Cap’n Crunch ice cream bar with white chocolate and Fruity Pebbles. And pop rocks in the bottom of the dish. Not refreshing. Sally: berry smoothie with white chocolate rice crispies. Amanda: funnel cake with coconut sorbet and pineapple jam. She’s worried because of course she’s going last, and so it’s been sitting. Why didn’t they have her go first? She admits she should have insisted on going first.

Commercial interlude: after judging, everyone strips down to their bathing suits and goes down the water slides. Most of them, some of them just sit in the pool. Katzie loses her shorts, but has a suit on underneath.

Judges’ table. Katzie, Megan, and Rebecca get called. They are the winning team. Everything was nostalgic, but upgraded to modern tastes. The winner is Katzie. Gail makes them call back the other two teams. Ouch. But good for Katzie!

First off, they ask Sally if she played it safe since she had immunity. She says no way, except that she’s told us and everyone else that she did what the team wanted. The team wanted to concentrate on other things. Carlos’s popsicle was too sweet. Gail calls it “the dessert equivalent of a lobe of fois gras”. It needed something sour to cut the sugar. The funnel cake failed, and was too hard and cold. They ask why she didn’t make it fresh, and she says she had made it, and then they asked for Carlos and Sally so she just stood there. Johnny thinks she should have spoken up. Orlando, why do you think your team is here? “I’m uncertain why my team’s here.” Of course you are. None of them thought about how their desserts would be consumed. Everyone had a plate and a fork and it was too annoying. Chris’s drink was not refreshing, but sticky. Orlando really shouldn’t have called his dish a “root beer float”. But he says he loved his dish. He made root beer ice cream, from scratch, so Johnny thinks he should have just made his own root beer. That probably would have been pretty good. Matthew stands behind his teammates and himself also. Pichet would like it in a restaurant, but not at a water park. Strawberry shortcake with ice cream is a good summer dessert though.

Some of the chefs didn’t think about the environment they were in. Carlos’s popsicle was too sugary and heavy. Amanda had a good idea, but the execution failed. Orlando didn’t understand why he was in the bottom. Apparently if you say “root beer float” you need bubbles and liquid. Chris’s drink wasn’t cold enough.

Matthew, Sally, and Chris are all deemed safe and sent back to the Stew Room. Amanda is sent home. She’s humbled, but still goes and shakes everyone’s hand. She seems to be at peace, because she knows she took a risk. She’s a little choked up, because she had fun and I think she‘s going to miss everyone.

Next week: BEASTIE BOYS! Crazy savory ingredients. Beer ice cream. I think I see Marcel. Someone isn’t creative.

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