Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Top Chef Just Desserts - A Strawberry Filled Cake Does Not A Fraisier Make Plus Dessert Wars

Top Chef Just Desserts - Dessert Wars

The episode starts with the usual - Heather is being kind of full of herself. Then Yigit is kind of full of himself. Oh, and Morgan is DEFINITELY full of himself. Is there a pattern here?

Gail greets them in the kitchen with Johnny and says that there are no more immunity wins in the Quickfire Challenges.

They’re doing the Mis En Place Quickfire and funnily enough, just by chance, “Team Diva” is working together, which leaves Morgan, Danielle and Eric on the other team.

The chefs have to form 12 perfect tart shells and pipe 8 perfect buttercream roses; then they have to separate and whip 6 eggs (by hand) until they’re firm enough to stay IN the bowl when it’s turned upside down for 10 seconds. THEN, as a team, they have to stretch strudel dough over the entire length of the table and put together a strudel.

Each member of the winning team will get $3000. That’s pretty sweet.

Danielle and Yigit do the tart shells for their respective teams. Interestingly, Danielle is beating him and whipping them out like crazy. She finishes first. Yigit has to correct some poorly made shells before he can move on.

Eric gets a start on the roses. Heather is next for Team Diva to do the roses and she finishes before Eric.

Zac tackles the egg whites and he beats and beats and beats, while Morgan beats his while barely breaking a sweat. Morgan finishes first and holds the whites over his head. Zac finishes a few seconds later. Both teams move on to the strudel dough. Team Diva finishes first. They are delirious. I don’t like them…at all.

Gail announces the Elimination Challenge – the first ever Dessert Wars. Each team will open a Dessert Shop with each chef being responsible for making three items. One of each team’s dishes has to be a bread item.

They look at their adjoining spaces. There's a nice display case on each side. Morgan and Danielle argue about decor. Danielle, surprisingly, is not at all annoying. In fact, I quite like her. Maybe she just seems normal in comparison to Morgan, but for whatever reason, she seems like a perfectly sane regular person.

Heather is describing the challenge to us saying that Team Diva is on one side and Team Loser is on the other. She is NOT a nice person. We also hear from her (for the first time) that 2 of the dishes have to be à la minute. I wonder why Gail didn’t say that.

Morgan is bellyaching about Yigit taking all the lemons. Who cares, just cook. Morgan is cursing up a storm and basically losing it because of all he has to get done.

Back at the house, Eric says,” Do we have to have a talk?” Luckily, Morgan comes back down to earth and says, “Yeah, it would go something like I’m sorry, we’re f#$%ed.” Eric is worried that Morgan is going to bring their team down and he says this is the first challenge he cares about.

The next day they have 2 hours to finish their prep and set up everything. Yigit opens the refrigerator and a bowl of whipped cream falls out all over him. They all rush to finish everything. Eric’s team seems pretty well organized and Team Diva is still running around.

Folks arrive and Yigit and Zac both are taking the front of the house duties, while Heather stays back in the kitchen to do the cooked-to-order dishes. Yigit tells us that Heather is not the best person to have in the front of the house. Ya think?

Danielle and Eric are in the dessert shop and Morgan is in the back assembling last minute items.

The judges arrive. They go to Team Diva’s shop, Pastry Playland, first. Dumb name. Nancy Silverton is a guest judge along with Hubert Keller. Cool. He has such a glimmer in his eye.

Johnny likes Team Diva’s table decorations of lollipops and tulips in a vase filled with yellow jelly beans. Hubert, however, has a real problem with how empty their display case is. There is a big baker’s rack right behind it with lots of baked goods, but hardly anything in the glass-enclosed pastry case. Gail concurs and says it looks sad.

Here are all the dishes.

Yigit introduces the dishes to the judges. He’s reasonably affable. Nancy says Zac’s beignet is very light and his brioche is “terrific”. Hubert likes the beignet too, but thinks the shake is a bore. Gail is not happy with Zac’s caramel bacon corn. It’s unevenly coated.

They like Yigit’s Margarita sorbet. But, um, what part of sorbet says PASTRY shop to you? You don’t see those crazy kids over at Carlo's Bakery making sorbet.

They notice that Yigit’s dough for his chocolate tart is really hard to cut through and unevenly rolled. In fact, Hubert almost broke the plate trying to work at it. (Heather made and rolled out the dough.)

Yigit’s last dessert is a Fraisier, not pronounced like the television show, but like the French word for strawberry. But no matter how you say it, YIGIT’S CAKE IS NO FRAISIER!

I’m all for innovation and interesting takes on classic recipes, but no matter what else it includes, a Fraisier requires cut strawberries arranged along the outside edge of the cake.

Yigit made a layer cake and then threw a bunch of strawberries on the INSIDE. He did arrange beautifully-made white chocolate leaves (I think) around the edge, but he shouldn’t have called it a Fraisier then.

Oh goodie, Hubert agrees with me. He says when you hear Fraisier, it should look a certain way and this cake doesn’t. “HERE the visual was not Fraisier,” Hubert says.

Zac goes in the kitchen and tells Heather to give him the plates for the judges. She tells him to shut up a few times. She’s so NOT charming.

Hubert notices fingerprints on Heather’s frozen dessert. That’s pretty bad, isn’t it? And Nancy says, “The flavor of the key lime is SO timid. Whenever I hear the word citrus I want to pucker.” Hubert likes her pudding, but Johnny notices that her pastry is the same as Yigit’s and he doesn’t like it any better here.

Just as the judges are about to arrive at Whisk Me Away, the other team’s pastry shop, Eric runs into the kitchen to see what he can do for some guy who’s allergic to sugar and nuts. Morgan whips something up, because he doesn’t “work at the NO factory,” but that leaves a long line building up.

The judges come in and see a hole in the service. That can’t be good. I can’t tell if they actually wait in the line or just cut and get in the front.

Danielle is perfectly sweet attending to them, but later Gail says she showed low energy. I think she was okay, even though she didn’t personally escort them to the table.

Even though Hubert doesn’t usually love layer cakes, he says Eric’s buttercream is “really well done”. Nancy likes his chocolate chip cookie, because it’s NOT made with ready-made chocolate chips. Gail wonders if the cookie is too simple. Johnny says you need things on the menu that will sell.

Hubert says Eric’s banana bread is not browned enough. Johnny has a more serious problem with it. “The proportion of chemical leaveners is off a little bit.” Did he take a baking soda meter and measure the levels? Gail says the flavor is “really nice”.

Next up are Danielle’s desserts. They love Danielle’s homemade ginger ale. How did she do that, I wonder? But Nancy thinks she should have gone with ice cream over sorbet to make a float. Johnny likes her shortcake in little paper brioche cups. Nobody loves the coffee pie. It doesn’t have enough coffee flavor.

The judges love Morgan’s lemon fried pie. They like the distinct lemon flavor. Morgan’s pretzel stick looks absolutely burned, but no one says anything. Johnny loves the fact that he seems to have brushed it with butter. I guess the butter made up for the overcooking.

For Morgan’s last dessert, a chocolate mousse cake, Johnny says, ”The construction…is just perfect.” Nancy: “I think it’s the most sophisticated of any…that we’ve seen so far.” Gail says that Morgan showed “the most range of any of the pastry chefs”.

Back at Judges’ Table, they all get called it. Nancy tells Eric’s team that their pastry shop felt very comfortable. But Johnny tells Danielle that she was a bit lackadaisical and casual.

She makes the same kind of ugly screwed-up face that my son makes sometimes and I have to say to him, “STOP IT, no girl is going to want you with that face”. Danielle, stop it!

She says she’s sorry he felt that way and that she just felt their place was casual. Johnny makes the good point that just because the food is casual doesn’t mean the service should be. I, 100%, believe that, but I don’t think Danielle was that bad.

BTW, I’m much more apt to jump on poor service than poor food. I can’t actually remember when I’ve had REALLY bad food in a restaurant. Really bad service, on the other hand, is a dime a dozen.

The judges dump on Eric’s banana bread and Nancy also mentions problems with the leavening. Eric says they’re absolutely right…that he just couldn’t remember the recipe. They loved all of Morgan’s chocolate dessert and not Danielle’s coffee tart.

I love Nancy’s statement: “There are those flavors in life, whether they’re coffee, chocolate or lemon that when you say those flavors, they have to be assertive or don’t do them.”

They move on to the other team. Zac makes the point that THEIR desserts were complex and not like at “a grab and go bakery”. He’s obviously hinting that the other team’s desserts were too simple, especially after Eric said that they concentrated on homey desserts.

Hubert loved Zac’s doughnut, but not the milkshake, which Hubert says was of a different caliber (as in worse). Nancy loved his brioche.

Heather says overall she was happy with her frozen key lime bar. Good for her, but the judges felt differently. Hubert tells her about the fingerprints. Johnny says the key lime flavor was weak.

Yigit says his pastry shell was a little bit thick. Johnny corrects him and says it was A LOT thick. Hubert says the pastry was too hard, which was “a shame because the ganache was sensational”. Let’s see if Heather speaks up.

Before anyone can say anything, Johnny asks if Heather and Yigit used the same dough. Yigit says yes and Heather immediately says she wants to defend Yigit and that the pastry was hers. At least, Heather’s not a complete snake.

Gail mentions that their showcase was virtually empty. Zac says right before the judges got there, they were really busy and didn’t have time to refill it.

Gail asks whose responsibility the display case was. Zac instantly says that they were a team and they’ll win or lose together. That’s kind of a moronic thing to say when, same team or not, it’s only ONE person who will go home.

Nancy announces that Whisk Me Away wins and the three chefs are thrilled to split $30,000. So Team Diva DOES lose and they go back to the stew room to await their fate.

They go back in with the judges and it’s…Heather who goes home. Who would have thunk that? That Heather would go home before Danielle? Quite an intriguing outcome, but I don’t disagree. Each of Heather’s desserts had a problem.

The worst part was that in the stew room Yigit starts crying…no, he's weeping…NO, HE’S WAILING. This is awkward.

The preview features Yigit A LOT, so I’m wondering if he’s the next to go. We’ll have to wait and see which way the cookie crumbles…


Anonymous said...

Let's see, where to start.

Heather is a witch. I get she doesn't like Morgan and thinks Danielle sucks, but isn't she friends with Eric? So to call his team "team Loser" makes her the loser.

Eric's roses were much, much prettier than hers. Hers looked like they were wilted and on their way to death.

She did with the dough what she did with the centerpiece and the fashion challenge. She does too much, figuring if it pays off she'll get super kudos and all the credit, while seemingly forgetting that if it doesn't pay off, she's the one who's screwed. And seriously, it probably took her 3 times as long to roll out the dough by hand as it would've taken her to wait for Danielle to finish using the dough sheeter.

Why was Eric's cookie "maybe too simple" but Erica's a few weeks ago at the bake sale challenge just fine? I'm glad Johnny pointed out that it's a bakery, you need to have chocolate chip cookies. Plus I think they featured it well - it wasn't a main "in the display case" item, but instead in a little glass cookie jar on top.

Danielle didn't seem casual, just kind of low-key.

I liked how Hubert said that though he doesn't like layer cakes, Eric's was well made. That he was able to put aside his taste preferences to recognize that Eric did a good job.

Tracy said...

I was looking forward to this series but somehow it isn't doing it for me.

astheroshe said...

I was so happy to see Heather go.. I did a dance!

She "Talks the talk" but has no skill to back up her mouth.

Eric's chocolate chip cookie recipe is avail online. I may try it. I am a chocolate chip cookie snob. So we will see if it hold up to the hype.

I was impressed with Danielle's skill with tarts. They were done perfectly! However, she does have a strange personality, and face..LOL

Yi was very dramatic with the over crying. He knew that dough was too thick yet he went with it. Maybe he feels guilty for not helping roll it thinner? That seemed the downfall for that team.

Looking foward to tonight! :)

Sue said...

Hi Amy,

Heather leaving is going to leave a much nicer atmosphere in the house. For all her accomplishments, Heather didn't seem to connect with the challenges or the judges for that matter.

I don't think it's ever a mistake to have a chocolate chop cookie.

Hubert IS a total cutie.

Hiya Tracy,
The episodes are getting somewhat better, but Just Desserts had such an awful start, it's not surprising that folks have lost interest.

Hi Astheroshe,
I think Heather has talent, just not as much as she thinks she does.

Poor Danielle('s face). I'm still not sure what's up with that.

Yigit is a crybaby. I don't think Heather would have cried that way, if Yigit had been eliminated instead of her.

astheroshe said...

That's what i meant about Heather. If you are gonna say you are the best, and call everyone else Team Loser, then you better destroy the competition. She has talent, not as much as her mouth lets on :)