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Top Chef: Just Desserts recap: Haute Messes

The contestants tackle a risky souffle, then play fashion designer for the elimination challenge

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Top Chef Deserts
Kelsey McNeal/Bravo

Top Chef: Just Desserts

TV Show
Current Status:
Reality TV

Some words and phrases can strike fear in the heart of any Top Chef contestant. Think restaurant wars, Toby Young and the almighty soufflé.

Yes, although it may look all sweet and gooey, the temperamental soufflé is, to those who attempt to make it, the spawn of the pastry devil himself. It takes serious skill to pull one off perfectly; my own efforts in this arena turned out to be an utter, utter disaster — egg-white peaks didn’t form, texture resembled meatloaf — but it’s not only amateurs who’ve been slayed by the soufflé. You may remember Carla’s cheese variation that never made it to the table in the season five finale of Top Chef, or season 4’s Eric who created one to confusing effect using pepperjack cheese.

It’s all about the egg whites, baking time and airy texture, but as we learned tonight, you can’t always achieve it all, and certainly not under intense mental pressure and tough time restrictions: Erika’s lemon-basil soufflé was too sweet; Heather H.’s rather rote choice of chocolate raspberry had height, but no flavor; and even though I loved the presentation of Zac’s soufflé (apple balls!), it was cold, dense and not really a soufflé at all.

That meant two-thirds of self-dubbed Team Go Diva—comprised of Zac, Heather H. and Yigit—were in the bottom, which was so “lame,” a bitter Danielle said. Elitist or not, I want to be in any club Zac’s in.

But wait! In the end, guest judge Sherry Yard bestowed the win on Diva Yigit for his chocolate soufflé with passion fruit and vanilla bean ice cream. [Insert quippy Zac comeback here.] Luckily for her pride, Danielle’s lemon and lavender soufflé (yum!) also made the top, alongside Morgan’s Gianduja soufflé, an honor that came with a catapult to fling his ego to impressive new heights.

Elsewhere, Eric and Heather C.’s soufflés must’ve been so boring — I’m guessing brownie soufflé for him and drywall soufflé for her — that they didn’t warrant any screen time.

On to the elimination we go!

Taking a cue from Project Runway, the contestants were asked to create edible outfits to match shoes, plus two couture petit fours to complete the “look.” When the shoes were rolled out, even the female contestants weren’t as ecstatic as Zac. He squealed, he jumped, he clasped his hands—he was quite the happy little Zac, and it turned out that Team Go Diva had something of a fetish for Gail’s footwear, because, you know, nothing says “work it, girl” like an open-toe black pump.

But I’ll allow Zac his giddy moment, because there was another reason he was behaving like a kid in Saks’ shoe salon. Turns out he makes dresses for the international chocolate show in New York every year. That said, what takes Zac weeks to do, the contestants were required to pull off in eight hours.

For some reason, haute couture seemed to bring out the crazy in everyone. Morgan waxed erotically about stilettos, Danielle thought those hideous orange heels were classic, and both Danielle and Heather C. assumed vegetables and fruits were totally appropriate to use on a show about desserts. (“What are her accessories? Ranch dressing? Croutons?” Zac wondered.)

NEXT: Wait! The guy who made the pasties didn’t win the $20,000 prize?!