Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top Chef Just Desserts – Pastry Chefs Are Not That Sweet; Plus I Was Bad At Predicting Regular Top Chef Outcomes, But HERE, I’m Abysmal

Please before we begin, may we agree that TCJD will stand for Top Chef Just Desserts? Are you with me?

Art and Science; Science and Art - that’s what the pastry chef business is all about. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing that numerous times over the course of TCJD. (See? Those initials work pretty well.) During this first episode, we also learned that pastry chefs are no sweeter than any other kind of chef.

One of them, Seth, thinks he looks like Marky Mark – Trust me, chef, you are NO Marky Mark!

Tania describes herself as a Jewish atheist and rebellious. Oh puleez, is she 12 years old? Who is she trying to get a rise out of?

Tania HAS to go, preferably before the first commercial. There’s one more reason to root against her - her impossibly short bangs, cut straight across her forehead. WHY do people do that? Is she mimicking the KitchenAid bowl?

I’m wondering why the next gal, Heather, is even there. She’s a graduate of the CIA and winner of the 2009 American Culinary Federation National Pastry Chef of the Year award.

Erika seems nice, maybe too nice. Zac is a pastry chef version of Mario Cantone. I like Tim. He’s older and there’s something about him that’s really hot, even though he does refer to himself as the snow queen, because all his desserts are frozen and he’s gay. Whatever, he’s my fav…even if it’s only been 4 minutes and we haven’t seen everybody else yet. BTW, no less an expert than Andy Cohen, referred to TCJD as the gayest show on television. Whatever.

There’s another Heather, who looks like a younger version of the Millionaire Matchmaker and Danielle, who could be Jenni’s sister. OMG, is this what they’re doing??? They’re casting Bravo show lookalikes, so they can swap people from one show to another. Of course, it’s more likely that it’s just pitiful that I know who all these reality show types are. When I start mentioning the Jerseylicious crew, THEN you’ll know I’M REALLY IN TROUBLE!

Morgan’s bio video shows him cooking with a kid, so I’m guessing he’s not gay, although that means nothing anymore. Oh, he has a girlfriend. Incidentally, I don’t care if they’re gay or purple, but Bravo seems to be leading us down this path, where THEY care…a lot. There were one or two other chefs, who don’t have a special introductory moment. I bet their mothers are mad.

They’re on the top of a double decker bus picking up the chefs along the way. Gail comes aboard and introduces Johnny Iuzzini. The Mario Cantone look-alike has a crush on Johnny. Oh, there’s another woman, Malika, who I’m seeing for the first time. Where did she come from?

They’re all impressed with Johnny. Great, let’s get this rodeo started. (Johnny has enough product on his hair to keep a 10 tiered cake erect.)

The first Quickfire Challenge is to create a signature dessert which shows their skills and talent. But no one is moving. Are they supposed to do this on the top of a double decker bus? With mime? Now THAT would be different.

Oh, they’re going to the store with 50 bucks and then on to the TCJD kitchen, where they’ll have an hour and a half to make their creations.

We meet more of the chefs. Yigit is from Turkey. He’s very OCD he tells us and he worked for Daniel Boulud. Eric calls himself a pastry chef because he works at a bakery. That’s like calling an intern at the White House, the President.

Erika is nervous because they can’t use recipes. If you knew you were going to be on TCJD, wouldn’t you spend every free moment memorizing every last recipe in your repertoire?

Malika is going through a divorce, plus the restaurant she opened with her husband went out of business. That’s never a good thing for a relationship. She wants to win Top Chef for her three boys.

Forget the kids. Win it for yourself, Malika! And the boys will be proud. I just had an AHA! moment. Whenever people say they want to win for their kids, THEY NEVER DO. And your kids don’t care. They want you home making macaroni and cheese and Jello. Do the thing for yourself. Let the kids know you have a life outside of them and THAT will be a powerful message!

(WHY do women insist on being walked on by their kids?!! Sorry, can we break for a minute? I have to get the cookies out of the oven to send to my son. Oh, and I promised I’d mail my daughter a meat loaf before dinner, along with the dress I hemmed. Be right back.)

Where were we? They’re leaving the store and they arrive at the Top Chef – wait! – the TCJD (that’s better) kitchen. Each station has a different colored KitchenAid, but they’ve kept them to red, black and stainless. Seth is impressed with the anti-griddles and the huge liquid nitrogen tank.

I pick Tim to win. Not just this Quickfire, not just this week, but the whole thing. (Incidentally, they haven’t made one single thing yet. I just like his jacket.)

I still don’t like Tania. Seth is running around, not getting too much done. Uh-Oh, Gail and Johnny walk in and Gail asks the chefs, “Did you really think it would be that easy?” THIS I don’t like, especially if they’re actually baking something. How can you interrupt that?

They want them to transform their signature dish into a cupcake. How is Tim going to do that if he’s making frozen stuff? He says he was making a semifreddo and that he’s just going to freeze it in a cupcake shape. Malika doesn’t finish in time.

Let the judging begin. Johnny’s hair has its signature swirl, high in the front of his head. Is that supposed to echo what you do with a pastry bag?


Chicory Mousse Cupcake With Mesquite Flour And Crème Fraiche Caramel

I know sweet and savory is the new black, but I wouldn’t eat chicory if it were sitting next to a slab of pork, much less IN A CUPCAKE.

Johnny wants to know if it’s filled with the chicory mousse. Yes, it is.


Carrot Cupcake, Crème Fraiche Cream Cheese Icing And Fried Carrots

I had fried carrots recently on top of carrot ice cream. (More about that soon, but they don’t really do anything for me.)

Johnny: “I get the sourness of the crème fraiche, it’s nice.”

Zac (aka Mario Cantone wannabe)

Vanilla Bean Cupcake With Lemon Curd & Blood Orange Marshmallow

Yum! That marshmallow, which I think I saw him blowtorching to get browned, looks awesome! And vanilla cupcakes are my favorites! PLUS I LOVE lemon curd. I think I’m in heaven.

Johnny takes a bite and gets marshmallow on his face. He says “I’m stuck.” I guess the marshmallow was too sticky.


Chocolate Cupcake With Mint Chip Filling & Toasted Meringue

Why did she have to ruin it with mint?!!

Gail says, Mmm, after tasting it.


Devils’ Food Cupcake With Buttermilk & Coffee

It looks pretty basic, but he did pipe a beautiful rose on top.


Pistachio Semifreddo

Unfortunately, Tim served up his dessert in a little bowl and Johnny says it was great as a semifreddo, but not as a cupcake. Whatever...he may not win this one, but he’s going all the way. I can just tell.


Steamed Malaysian Coconut Cake With Basil Buttercream And Candied Pine Nuts

I’m not a fan of his, which isn’t fair because I don’t really know him from Adam…or Eric or Tim, but basil in buttercream just sounds awful…I suppose not as bad as the chicory, though. And candied pine nuts could never be bad.


Dark Chocolate Soufflé Cupcake, Supreme Of Tangerine And Caramel Buttercream

You know how I think chocolate is always the coward’s way out, because it’s so easy to make it taste good? But that does look SO good. Who cares if he’s pandering by making something that no one could possibly dislike?

Malika is last and has nothing to serve, but why couldn’t they taste the meringue in the bowl. Gail says timing is the trickiest thing.

The least favorite cupcakes:

Johnny says Malika is obviously on the bottom because she didn’t finish her cupcake. And TIM! Johnny says that just wasn’t a cupcake. Drat! I’d much rather have a semifreddo than a cupcake anyday, but I guess Tim has to be careful not to avoid the actual challenges in the future. Johnny doesn’t like Zac’s marshmallow with its “horrible texture”. Oh gosh, don’t let chicory girl or basil boy win!


Seth’s cupcake is one of Johnny’s favorites. Of course, it is, because I said I hated that one. And, OMG, Tania is another favorite. I am at ZERO here. And of course, Johnny LOVED Heather#2’s fried carrot garnish. I couldn’t have done worse in predicting the outcome. (I might as well be giving directions – whenever I say go right, inevitably the correct way to go is LEFT!)

The winner is Seth. He has immunity.

The Elimination Challenge is to create the most luxurious chocolate dessert possible. They are serving Jacques Torres and 50 other chocolate experts. Johnny makes the point that chocolate is very temperamental and difficult to work with.

The chefs are all set up and the judges come in. Dannielle Kyrillos is the first one Gail introduces. Even though I don’t approve of how her first name is spelled, I like her. I’ve seen her around. She’s fun and she knows her sweet things.

Gail introduces Johnny and “Mr. Chocolate Himself”, Jacques Torres. THAT is kind of a thrill to have him in on the first elimination challenge.

Here are pictures of all the desserts.


Chocolate Fried Pie with Milk Chocolate Bourbon Flan

Morgan says his pies are fresh out of the fryer. He warns everyone to be careful. I don’t think that will be good if a judge burns his or her mouth on molten chocolate. I’m nervous now.

Heather C is Heather#2. I think I’ll use the C from now on.

Bittersweet Chocolate Torte With A Mini Whoopee Pie

Jacques says, “Very clean dessert,” before he’s even tasted it. He’s never had a whoopee pie before. He would have liked it with a citrus filling, not something “fluffy”.


Spiced Brownie With Ancho Chile, Ginger And Cinnamon

Looks kind of simple, but GOOD!

Johnny: ”It’s very moist, very rich.” Jacques: “I don’t think that’s the most decadent dessert he can do.”


Dark Chocolate Mousse Torte With Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce

Dannielle: “More elegant” than Eric’s, “and Grand Marnier, always a good idea”, except if you’re a freak like I am, who doesn’t like orange with chocolate…or mint either. Johnny tells us that Heather’s is more of a plated style of dessert and Eric is more of a baker.


Chocolate Fondant “Brownie Sundae”

He’s really impressed with himself using “disco dust” glitter on his dessert, which he says is a reflection of who he is. He takes way too long describing the dessert to the judges. THEY don’t care what he has to say.

Dannielle: “You can taste the disco”. Jacques: "Eet’s a complex dessert. A lot of texture.” “Well balanced,” Johnny adds.

BUT Jacques is APPALLED that Zac BLEW his glitter on the food. Oy! I can’t believe I didn’t catch that! I went back and looked and YES, he was blowing his spit all over the dessert! OMG, he’s gotta go.


Flourless Chocolate Torte With Earl Grey & White Chocolate Mousse

(I would rather have my Earl Grey in a teacup.)

Tania tells the judges that the texture was all wrong, but she hoped the flavor made up for it. Dannielle agrees about the texture, but she loves the teardrop shape. Johnny is not impressed.


Chocolate Tart With Hazelnut Brittle & Banana

Zac says (to us) that her dessert is kind of sloppy and the texture is wrong. He says you need an ice pick to get through it. Judge Dannielle says the same thing, “You have to work to get the right bite.” Jacques is not a fan. “If you eat things separately, it’s not very exciting. The whipped cream is not sweet…banana not caramelized. Put everything together and then you get something pretty interesting.”


Madras Curry And Chocolate Palette With Raspberry Gelée

(Seth is very deliberate as he pronounces the word, pal-LET, not PAL-it. Even though I love correct French pronunciation, he’s kind of a jerk about it.)

Dannielle: It’s “like the pug of desserts. It’s a tiny little body and it’s powerful”. Hmm, that’s kind of a random remark...comparing a dessert to a doggie.

What kind of animal would you want your favorite dessert to be? I want my ice cream cake to be like a cougar - sleek and fast. Or I sure hope my apple pie reminds people of an elephant – massive and…See? It just doesn’t work.

Johnny likes the intensity of the curry and says it melds well with the chocolate.


Flourless Chocolate Genoise With Custardless Ice Cream

Yigit is about as bland as you get. His dessert sounds the same. He kind of seems like Brad from TNFNS.

Jacques: ”Something is definitely wrong with the ice cream.” Johnny: “Kind of rubbery.” Jacques: “This is so sad. I was so excited.”

Where in the world is Tim? Oh finally, he’s next.


Chocolate Cake With Ganache & White Chocolate Cream

Johnny says Tim promised chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and “it looks like a whole lot of chocolate.” Jacques: “The cake is a little bit dense, but the flavor is actually pretty good.”


Bittersweet Chocolate Layer Cake With Braised Cherries And Nougatine

Johnny: “This screams chocolate.”

There are still more chefs???!!!


Chocolate Banana Caramel Crunch Bar

Dannielle and Gail like the crunch on the bottom.

Back at Judges' Table, Gail calls in Seth, Heather and Zac. They have no clue if they’re on the top or bottom. They’re the top three. Zac starts to cry, saying, “Making dessert is kind of like giving birth to a baby.” I’m guessing, despite his high-pitched shrieks, that he has no first hand knowledge of that.

Johnny says it was well-conceived. (Was he referring to the baby remark?) Dannielle tells Zac his dessert was like a party in her mouth. Jacques mentions the blowing on the food. Zac says he never thought about that until now.

Johnny says he loved the esthetic of Heather’s dessert. Jacques liked the crunch. Seth had immunity and he still was in the top group.

I think the winner will be Heather. And…it IS. Yay, I got SOMETHING right. Heather doesn’t appear to win anything other than being called the winner.

Danielle, Tania and Morgan are called in. I like Morgan and I want Tania to go home, although Danielle wasn’t that great either. She pretends to have no idea why she’s there.

Johnny says Danielle’s dessert went all over the place on the plate.

Tania at least admits the texture of her mousse was off. Gail liked the chocolate layer underneath, but says there wasn’t enough of it.

Johnny didn’t like the gelée on Morgan’s dish and Dannielle says the elements didn’t belong together. Morgan says he wanted to be sure he wasn’t judged badly for not doing enough, so he did TOO much.

The chefs go back to the stew room. Jacques says to the other judges that Morgan’s dish didn’t focus enough on the chocolate. And they don’t excuse Tania’s broken mousse. AND they did NOT like Danielle’s dessert, because it was impossible to eat.

I don’t hate Tania so much right now. I actually want Danielle to go, because she was so defensive. And it’s…TANIA. Gosh, I really do stink at this. She’s particularly unhappy about being the first to go. Maybe she’ll grow her bangs out for the reunion.


Anonymous said...

I just watched it during nap time.

Johnny's kind of boring. Like he's trying to act like Tom, and he clearly isn't. Maybe he'll get better as he does it more. And it was weird when he was going in during the elimination challenge, he specifically talked only about 3 chefs.

I didn't think it was fair to switch up the quickfire. You're right, what if they already had something in the oven? I'm assuming the pantry had all the ingredients for cupcakes, for people like Tim who would've bought none of that, but still. That is a dramatic switch in thought process.

Morgan I have seen somewhere. Danielle looks familiar as well. Were they on a FN challenge?

I thought that Zac should have blown NOT IN THE OPEN! I'm never a good duster, too clumpy, so I may have blown too. Gently though, so as not to spray spittle!

Seth looked angry that he lost. Then he's yelling in the previews that he's not there to make friends. That is always so annoying. You can go to compete and to win, but that doesn't mean you have to be a jerk about it all.

Sue said...

Yeah, Johnny's hair was the most exciting thing about him, but I think he'll improve.

I hate those switching-up things.

Morgan AND Tim look familiar, but I didn't recognize anythings in their bios.

Seth seems like he'll be a bit of a hothead. They always cast a few jerks each season and it sometimes seems like they're often the best cooks.

Lys said...

I watched it but can I say while I love Jacques Torres, I was disappointed to not see Hubert Keller :(. I don't know if I'm going to like this season of TCJD - and I think Seth is totally there for the drama. When they boot him, that's when I'll tune in :)