Thursday, October 27, 2011

Top Chef: Just Desserts 10/26/11--"Finale" summary

Previously on “Top Chef: Just Desserts”: the final four are tasked with making dessert that doesn’t look like dessert, but instead like an iconic dish from another country. Everyone picked out countries and got to work. Chris decided beef Wellington was from France, which involved some mighty stretching from Johnny so they wouldn’t have to penalize him for it. Sally made a pretend Cuban sandwich and potato salad, and she won. Orlando made pretend paella, and was sent home, which was slightly unexpected but at least it made him humble. (click for more)

We begin with horseplay and Matthew in boxers, which is a fine way to begin the morning. Everyone talks about how excited they are to be here, and how much it would mean to them if they won. With the added bonus of Sally mentioning that she isn’t married and doesn’t have any kids; all she has is her career.

Johnny and Gail greet the final three and tell them they must make a display table with: a showpiece, an entremet cake, a bread “element“, bon bons, and “one more daring special thing”. Johnny starts talking about those special creations you make, and he says he made his mother’s last birthday cake, right before she died. He actually has to stop for a moment before he can continue. See, that right there will do more to endear me to Johnny than weeks of his commentary. Aww. The “one more daring special thing” is to make a dessert for “that one special person”. Gail says there are special guests, and out come Jacques Torres, Sebastien Canonne, and Stephane Treand. So I’ve heard of Jacques Torres. I don’t doubt that they’re awesome, I’m just saying. Johnny says they each hold the title of MOF, which is a title you can only get in France by being a complete master of pastry. They will be advisors and mentors, and will be around for the final tasting. Wow. I thought they might be sous chefs, but I guess not.

Sally knows she will have trouble making a showpiece. And she’s up against Chris. So she’s going to stick to techniques she knows, and maybe concentrate on flowers or something. Matthew is completely inspired by his wife. Jacques questions everything he says but Matthew is pretty confident. Chris is going industrial.

5 hours to cook. The Frenchmen hover and watch everyone and make them nervous. Well, except Chris, who says he’s competed and been judged by Jacques before so he’s used to it. Sally brags that she doesn’t make anything ordinary. Matthew is a restaurant pastry chef, and the other two have been in competitions before. This only fires him up. Then all of a sudden Sebastien is zesting limes and helping and doing dishes. Jacques makes fun of him and wants to take a picture. Heh. When time is up, everyone seems to be in a pretty good mood.

In the morning when everyone arrives they are greeted with the previously eliminated contestants. Sally is jogging in to start working and she doesn’t even look over there at first. Also she seems really thrilled to see people, even though she complained about several of them. Everyone gets two people. Do you get to choose your people? Of course not. Everyone has a cookie with a number, and the finalists will pick numbers and that’s who they’re stuck with. Sally picks Van, and she sort of smiles but is not thrilled. Matthew gets Megan, who he says is better than Van and will work as hard as he does. Chris selects Rebecca. For the second person, they get to actually pick out people, so Sally picks Orlando, Matthew takes Carlos, and Chris picks Amanda.

10 hours to cook today. Everyone explains their ideas to their sous chefs. Chris basically tells Rebecca he doesn’t know if he’ll have anything he wants her to do. He doesn’t trust her skills. Sally is thrilled to get Orlando, because she can have him do her showpiece. She also is the one to notice that pastry competitions involve teams of three also. Matthew has not done sugar showpieces before, really, and he’s going to challenge himself to do one. Sally decides to make her plated dessert for her mom and sister, with coffee. Orlando gets time to speak, and admits he did not want to work with anyone, but professionally, he has to own the fact that he lost so now he has to do what he’s told. Matthew is combining peanut butter and key lime. Sally puts an insert in her entremet, and realizes it’s too small. Now the cake is ruined and she has to start over. Or at least that layer? Anyway, she’s behind. Chris has a mechanical inspiration, but with flowers. Orlando is making a ton of the showpiece, but Sally is behind so she feels she doesn’t have a choice. There is a TON of flailing and running around. Footage of moving showpieces and how everyone freaks out when moving those things. Time is up, and the sous chefs leave. People seem confident. Well, Sally and Chris say they think they’re good, but Matthew is suspiciously quiet.

The diners and judges (who have been given champagne) come in and stare at everyone for a while, and then start walking around to look at showpieces. They really are impressive. Matthew’s showpiece is clear sugar and red accents. It’s cool looking. Entremet: hazelnut dacquois, passion fruit gelee, milk jam, whipped chocolate. Gail likes the complex texture. Bread: focaccia with olive oil, fresh thyme, sea salt. Bon bon: key lime ganache and speculoos (cookie dough that somehow has roasted flour). Everything looks good.

Sally is up next. Her showpiece is swirly and has great flowers and is Orlando. The same colors are repeated throughout her showpiece and also the food. She also admits Orlando did a ton of the showpiece. Entremet: chocolate mouse, mango vanilla cream, caramel cremeux, lime and almond sponge. Bread: parker house roll with bacon, onions, and gruyere. Yum. Bon bon: salted caramel milk chocolate. It looks swirly.

Chris’s showpiece has what look like iron bars, and then bright orange flowers that I think are sugar. Sadly one of his brioche buns has fallen off. When Johnny points that out, he points out that he did it by himself with no help from his sous chefs. Entremet: chocolate mousse, vanilla cremeux, and raspberry jam. He says he wanted the jam to be “saucy and loose”, and Gail says that describes her and Dannielle. Heh. Bread: brioche with bacon maple butter. Johnny (who is pretty bitchy; does he not like Chris?) says he put more effort into his condiment than his bread, and Chris says that condiments are important. Bon bon: coffee infused ganache and caramel. The chocolate shell is speckled, which sadly looks like the chocolate is separating or something. I think it’s just his design, but it’s unfortunate. It’s served with one bon bon on top of a girder thing. Gail sends them back to plate their last dessert in 20 minutes.

Sally has to cut the glaze from her dish because she’s out of time. White chocolate espresso mousse, chocolate cremeux, cashew nougatine, and ice cream. It’s a chocolate sphere with the mousse and nougatine inside. They say technically it’s amazing, but you could see the mousse through the dome. But it all tastes good.

Matthew was the only one to have a lot of color, as his showpiece is sugar and not chocolate. Dark chocolate cake, raspberry mousse, pecan streusel, and milk ice cream. And some cookie dough. It’s a long plate that is playful. It appears that the chocolate chip cookies he talked about were deconstructed, but that causes someone to just want chocolate chip cookies.

Chris’s bon bon gets high praise. Butter almond cake, banana caramel, banana ice cream, and mango sauce. He was inspired by one of his previous pastry competitions, when he was still dating his wife. The desserts are good, but they don’t seem to connect to his story.

At Judges’ Table, Matthew gets praise for his bon bons, and also they grill him about how he made a sugar showpiece instead of a chocolate one, which seems to have paid off. Johnny complains about his plated dessert being too busy. Sally had a good flavor throughout, but of course they ask about Orlando doing all of the showpiece, and Chris smirks. She seems to explain well, and then she admits she left the glaze off her plated dessert. Chris had a great showpiece, but it fell apart and no one else’s did. But Johnny says that he ate all of Chris’s plated dessert and did not do that with the other two.

Sally wins the bread course, Chris (I think) wins the bon bon course, Chris and Sally seem to be tied for entremet. Johnny seems really unhappy that Sally didn’t make her whole showpiece herself, but Dannielle points out that she understood she couldn’t do showpieces and picked a helper that would compensate for that. And Chris’s showpiece fell apart. Chris’s plated dessert was the most delicious, even though it was not the most complicated.

In the cell phone poll, Matthew seems to be winning, but the judges give Chris the win. The eliminated contestants are there, and they spray him with champagne. He says he’s going to be Matthew’s friend forever. Sally is happy for him.

Next week: Padma, Tom, and the 29 contestants of Top Chef.

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