Saturday, November 20, 2010

Top Chef Just Desserts - And The Winner Is...

I'm not going to make it THAT easy. You’ll have to read to the end to see who won.

We see a quick wrap-up of the whole season. Not a good idea. It just reminds me of what was so irritating about much of this series.

At the beginning of the episode, we see two out of the three finalists without their shirts. I’ll let you imagine which two I’m talking about.

THEN Morgan makes a stunning homophobic remark that I almost miss. He says, “Zac is an annoying little fairy.” I don’t care that Zac’s parting remark was that he left fairy dust under his station. I don’t care that he WAS annoying. JUDGE HIM ON HIS BAKING! That’s ALL I care about. Morgan has an ugly soul and that makes it hard to judge HIM only his baking. He really is a pig. He really should NOT have said that.

They get to the kitchen and there is Gail standing there like a little doll, thinking that WE should be thinking how cute she looks. Yigit LOVES what’s she’s wearing and the fact that her shoes match her dress. They’re both black, so, of course they match. Am I missing something?

Gail announces the challenge. They have to create a progressive four course dessert tasting. They’ll be serving some of LA’s top pastry chefs.

Then Gail tells them they’re going out tonight. They arrive at The Edison. Danielle is pretty sure their mommies will be there, but when they arrive they only see Johnny, who looks right at home in the shadowy, romantic space. Dang, he is REALLY good-looking. The chains don’t hurt either. I wonder if it will be Yigit or Danielle who pounces.

Johnny asks them if they were expecting to see their mothers. Danielle says yes. They have cocktails and Johnny orders some desserts, which turn out to be sensational. Yigit is thinking they are rather high caliber for a bar. He’s right. The creators of those desserts are revealed to be Sherry Yard, Elizabeth Falkner and Claudia Fleming.

THEN there’s a fantastic twist, not a mean, nasty one for once. And it’s not actually a twist, it’s a treat. Those three fabulous chefs will be the contestants’ sous chefs! They pick from the cookie jar to decide who gets whom. Danielle scores Elizabeth, Yigit is thrilled with Sherry; and Morgan gets Claudia, who it turns out has NO idea about the kind of molecular approach he brings to baking and she doesn’t really care to either. Hah! Good! That’s what we call karma. Morgan is ugly to women and gay folks and NOW he’s not getting all the help he could use. Oh well! He’s beginning to actually LOOK like a pig to me, too. Can you see it?

Morgan wonders (to us) if Chef Fleming will think he’s some “ass-clown”. Probably. Yigit is mad that Morgan left the air-conditioning on all night and now he feels like he’s getting a cold. He prays to Buddha so “there’s no sourness” in his food.

They shop. Danielle looks amazingly calm and good-humored.

They arrive at the kitchen and are greeted by their sous chefs. Morgan pronounces to Claudia that he’s been done first every single challenge and he’d “very much like to continue that”. Yigit says he’s “worried” that Morgan is working with the “calm and stoic” Claudia, while Morgan is a “complete dick”. WHY is Yigit worried? He should be happy. Maybe he’s worried for Claudia.

Morgan thinks Danielle is “an idiot” for getting Elizabeth to shell millions of pistachios. The other chefs have no problem with their sous chefs.

Yigit’s menu is going to be like taking someone on a date. He’s going to end with groping the judges in a parked car?

Morgan’s menu is based on primary colors. That sounds dumb.

Morgan is making a baumkuchen, the cake that’s made of many scary-thin layers, each baked separately.

Danielle isn’t doing a theme, just things that SHE would like to eat.

Johnny comes in. He doesn’t love Danielle’s idea of an ice cream sampler. He wants her to come out of her comfort zone.

Yigit tells Johnny that he created a “clever” menu and has taken all his past criticism to heart. Suck-up.

Morgan says he’s having one of his best days of cooking, ever. He proclaims boldly to Johnny that he’s making the 4 best dishes of his life and if THEY’RE not good enough, then HE’S not good enough. Hmmm, I wonder if that will come back to haunt him.

There’s a bit of drama between Morgan and Claudia. She does not understand all his chemical talk. Good!

Yigit tells Sherry he smells $100,000 and dinner for “you and I”. YOU AND ME!

The next day they get ready. Yigit wants to win for his father who passed away.

They walk into the kitchen and are greeted by all the former contestants. Three of them will be their sous chefs and not the famous chefs. Those gals will be at the table tasting, along with the judges and the contestants that aren’t chosen as sous chefs.

Unhappily (for Morgan) they pick their sous chefs by chance. He says if he gets Zac (AND if he wouldn’t get thrown off the show for it), he’d knock “his skull” off. I would say there are some rage issues there.

Yigit gets Tim. YAY! I LOVE TIM! Now, we get to see him again. Danielle gets Tanya. Ick, but she doesn’t seem to have problem with that. And Morgan gets…HEATHER! HAHAHA! Karma is totally at work in the Top Chef kitchen.

THEN Gail tells them they’ll now be serving 17 people, not twelve. Isn’t that a problem? Noone seems to notice or care.

We mostly see Heather and Morgan, so Tim doesn’t get much face time. Darn! After buttering Morgan’s ring molds for his tiny soufflés, Heather sprinkled sugar on them too. He didn’t want her to do that and he’s not happy. Oh well.

Here are all the dishes.

The guests arrive, including Suzanne Goin, Scott Wheatfill and Ron Ben-Israel. Claudia is talking smack about Morgan to James Oseland.

The three finalists walk out and talk about their first dishes. Johnny loves Morgan’s Passion Fruit Cannoli (although the recipe reads more like a science experiment). “It delivers strong flavors in different points.” Ron is intrigued by “mango carpaccio”. Johnny says it’s just sliced mango. Tricky. Susan Feniger says the tarragon gel makes the dish for her.

Dannielle (the judge) loves the brightness of flavor in Yigit’s Coconut Lime Sorbet With Yogurt Caviar Pearls. Susan loves the combination of the sweet and savory.

Elizabeth says she loved working with Danielle and that she likes that her first course isn’t JUST a cheese course, but a dessert too. It does looks sooo amazing. I could see this having this Hazelnut Cake And Goat Cheese in any great modern Spanish restaurant.

Susan says the flavors are quite nice together. Johnny notes that it might LOOK simple, but there was a lot of work in that dish. Claudia (or was it Sherry?) says she would order this.

The chefs come out and describe their second dishes. As they go back in. Danielle waves and grins wildly to some her fellow contestants, I guess. She’s so alive and normal and sweet and she’s not at all floored to be in the finale.

Claudia says the restraint in Yigit’s dish is a beautiful thing. (Didn’t he make sorbet for the first course though?) Suzanne also loves how he deconstructed a pavlova.

Hubert notes that Danielle’s sorbet has melted a bit. Susan says that “Danielle is making the most sense” to her at this point.

I have no favorites, except I don’t want Piggy-Wiggy to win. I LIKE Danielle the most, but Yigit’s food looks pretty great.

Ron says Morgan’s dessert didn’t take it far enough and it wasn’t blue in keeping with his supposed color theme. (Yigit said that too.) But Claudia says the texture was spot on.

Morgan’s little soufflés are falling apart and he’s losing it and Heather actually comes to his rescue and makes sure the judges get the good ones. Unfortunately for Morgan, Claudia’s falls over, even before the chefs come out to talk about their dishes. “Oh pooh,” she says. That CANNOT be good for Morgan.

Yigit describes his pineapple dish as really getting the date moving in a serious direction. Remember his menu is supposed to be like a date.

He’s braised pineapple for 5 hours, which Johnny says later, he was sure was going to take the nice tartness out of the pineapple, but it didn’t. (The recipe says the pineapple is cooked for 2 hours, but maybe that’s for the home cook in a regular oven.)

Again Danielle gestures big to someone as she’s leaving. She’s so joyful just to be there, plus her Baked Alaska, as part of her ice cream trio, looks awesome!

Ron loves Yigit’s use of herbs in desserts. Susan says they’re looking for new desserts and this one would be great one for them.

Claudia says Morgan’s soufflé cake collapsed. James says his didn’t and that Morgan must have felt Claudia’s true feelings about him. Sherry says, SO sweetly, that she wouldn’t be able to sell that soufflé in her restaurant if it fell like that. Eric, who is sitting with the other contestants tasting the food, says Morgan must have ran out of time.

“Thank God for Danielle’s Baked Alaska,” exclaims James Oseland. WHY didn’t I like him before? He’s making a lot of good points. Suzanne loves it. Susan says, “Conceptually, I love her dish.”

We get a three second glimpse of Tim in the kitchen.

Judge Dannielle notes that the next dishes are the very last things they are going to taste in this competition.

James says Yigit’s cake is “pretty brilliant.” There is nothing I love more than a dacquoise, and his does look amazing.

Ron says he doesn’t taste enough caramel in Yigit’s ice cream. Johnny agrees.

Sadly, Susan says there’s something lacking in Danielle’s dessert, like salt. Johnny agrees. Darn, has Yigit just won? James says Danielle’s Chocolate Pudding Cake doesn’t look that great, but it tastes “damn good”. I really don’t mind if Yigit or Danielle wins. I’m just happy she made it to the finals.

Claudia says Morgan’s last dessert was “an inspired combination”. James loves the way the sheet of caramel shattered over the Crème Brûlée so perfectly. Johnny and all of the judges admire Morgan’s baumkuchen and its many layers.

In the kitchen after the tasting, the chefs and their sous chefs are all hugging each other…everyone except Morgan. He calls everyone over for a glass of champagne while telling US that the others made boring food. I’m thinking he won’t win. He better not.

At Judges’ Table, they talk about Danielle’s ice cream sampler and Johnny says, “I don’t even know where to start on this one.” And Danielle gives us one of her crazy screwed-up faces until Johnny reassures her, “NO, not in a bad way.”

Thanks a lot, Johnny, for terrifying Danielle. He says she “harnessed the beautiful qualities of lavender…It worked well with the honey” and Johnny called it a nostalgic dish. Dannielle loved her root beer; Gail loved her honey candy. Johnny did say, though, that the garnish of pulled sugar was from the 80’s. Hubert says Danielle’s pistachio ice cream was great. (It must have been the way that Elizabeth shelled all those pistachios).

Judge Dannielle loved Yigit’s “date” metaphor. That’s good that she didn’t find it creepy. From Morgan it would have been. She thought it looked girly and frou-frou.

Gail asks with great seriousness why Yigit had the waiters pour the consommé at the table for his Strawberry Sorbet & Lemongrass Ginger Ice Cream. Yigit says he likes tableside service and that he thinks it’s elegant. Johnny was a bit miffed that the waiter poured the consommé right ON his meringue kisses, which of course would make them instantly soggy. Yigit looks alarmed.

Dannielle says Yigit’s pineapple course was exactly what she was in the mood for after his first two courses. Johnny says he Johnny) was “dead wrong” to think that the acidity would go away after cooking the pineapple for 5 hours.

On to Morgan, Gail instantly asks, “WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOUR SOUFFLE?” He says the top tray baked a little bit less. Hubert says for the 3 of the judges, “the soufflé had crashed”. The baumkuchen was a greaet success though. And Johnny says that Morgan promised him he wouldn’t make another macaroon, but that he’s lucky it was so good.

Hubert says they all did a good job. Dannielle loved Yigit’s progression. Johnny adds that Yigit just kept showing them more and more things that he could do.

Johnny says Danielle has showed them so much in the last few challenges and that he really thought after the first course that she would win. (Does that mean he doesn’t think so now?) Gail says she will always remember Danielle’s baked Alaska. For Dannielle, it was her pistachio ice cream.

Gail says Morgan went all out and “there were elements of brilliance in so much of what Morgan did”. Hubert says his first course of cannolis was probably the most attractive dish of the night. Johnny says “Morgan is a technician” and noted that he won the most challenges along the way.

Alright, already, who is it? I think it’ll be Yigit, just because Morgan’s soufflé really was a colossal failure and Danielle, unfortunately, didn’t end on an incredibly strong note.

Johnny says they’re really proud of them and they make him proud to be a pastry chef. And it’s…Yigit. Morgan ISN’T a jerk and gives him a hug right away. He kinda backs away and hugs Danielle.

The other contestants come out and Zac screeches and jumps on him. Oh, here we go, Morgan and Yigit hug it out for real. Yigit stands with Heather and we see Zac referentially gaze up at him with adoring eyes. The last scene is so phony with Gail and Yigit standing outside and she hands him the keys to some car or other.

So do you think the right chef won? I suppose out of the final three, the right one did, but along the way, other chefs should NEVER have been eliminated. I’m still holding a grudge about Tim leaving, but I’m happy I changed my mind about Danielle.

However, I REALLY resent my time being wasted in the first four episodes with Seth. That was casting at it worst. It wasn’t entertaining to watch him. It was annoying and pathetic and really ruined the first half of the season.

When we finally saw baking and tasting in some detail, the show worked. When we saw freakouts and frenzy…not so much.


Anonymous said...

I don't quite mind that Yigit won, but I'm not quite sure he was the best. Morgan *did* win more all along. Unless Yigit was really *that good*, and just needed to show some restraint to push him over. He did seem to serve a lot of ice cream though.

I wonder if they made a point of showing Heather calming Morgan down with the "make sure the judges get the good souffles" so nobody could come back and say that she sabotaged him with the sugaring of the souffle molds, since after Top Chef so many people said Kevin won only because of Michael V.'s help.

Hopefully the next season, if there is one, is not filled with such bitchy people. And I want to try and make a baumkuchen!

astheroshe said...

I am surprised Morgan did not win . He was leading all the way!

I am not upset that Yigit won, i was also happy for him. But was it a ""Politically correct win""?

Morgon's remark about Zac was in poor taste. However, He may have been responding to what Zac had to say about him, at the time, was ALSO in poor taste. Zac attacked him out of nowhere.

I was really disappointed with the end. Why did they not fly off to some exotic location , like on "real "top chef, and bake there hearts out?

I also agree. The casting on this show was so poor, it ruined it. My chef friend is also a strong Asian female,living in ATL< and she would not have been the Harpy that that Heather was.

This show was casted with your usual loaded stereotypes. Angry Asian female, flamboyant gays, homophobic males,moms, and schizophrenics.

I only hope there will be a second show, so they can improve on it, like the original :Top Chef

Sue said...

The more I think about it, the more I really HATE what Morgan said and the more I mind that he didn't get called out for it.

AND I couldn't agree with you more...what unattractive personalities they featured - starting with the unbearable Seth and working their way through the useless Tanya (was that her name? and gosh, I sound harsh), the nasty Heather and the contemptible Morgan.

Good luck with that baumkuchen. You'll need it.

Hiya Astheroshe,

That's true that Zac was pretty miserable too and the whole Team Diva thing reeked of a "we against them" mentality, which got nasty at points.

You're right about the location. WHY didn't they fly to Paris and bake in Poilâne's ovens or something? I guess they were waiting to see how the first season went before they upped the budget.

And, YES, the stereotyping WAS annoying. In fact, I liked the folks that didn't fit into that the best - Eric and Danielle (in the later episodes), for example.

Emily said...

You've made so many good points about the show, and so has Amy and Astheroshe. You're brought up so many things I haven't thought about.

I don't even know what to say about the show. I watched every single episode. But did I really like it? No. I was usually half-watching when I was. I didn't really care who did won. Danielle won me over in the end, but it took all season. Haha. Bring on Top Chef All-Stars!