Hello, Top Chef fans — I’m filling in for the vacationing Archana Ram this week. I’ve only seen the last few episodes, and I’m harboring an overwhelming urge to call Yigit “Yeast”! I shall do my best to keep these shortcomings from ruining the recap.
Top Chef is like a box of Godiva chocolates: You always know which product placement you’re going to get. [GRAPHIC OF CHERRIES.] For this week’s Quickfire Challenge, the final four chefs — Danielle, Morgan, Yigit, and Zac — had to create four chocolates that represented unique milestones in their lives, including a “Golden Moment” that they cherish above all others. Morgan used bittersweet ganache to represent his failed marriage. Clever! Yigit folded an entire religion/philosophy into a coconut milk and chai tea bonbon, “cause you know in Buddhism, you kind of go through your crunchy core to get to your soft center.” Ha! Zac demonstrated impressive sit-and-reach skills in his attempt to attach significance to ingredients, putting peanuts in one chocolate thanks to a brother-in-law from Virginia and green tea and lemon into another because his friend likes to order Diet Coke when they go out for sushi. Sure! Whatever works. Ever the literalist, Danielle made a baseball for her dad and a “rocky road” — that at one point involved a technique that resembled turds in a litter box — to represent her tumultuous career.
Yigit’s fourth little paper cup was empty due to a strawberry ganache time crunch, so Morgan won. Guest judge Francois Payard, Morgan’s old boss, chose Morgan’s “Top Chef” bonbon — in which he used mendiant to represent “the two plates coming at me from both sides, crushing my soul” — as the one Godiva should use as inspiration for a new chocolate to be sold nationwide. Danielle grossly over-imitated Morgan’s composed reaction to the win, adding a few wacky facial tics of her own and a “Bah, humbug!” for good/awful measure. Lady, Morgan’s face looks nothing like that! You seem insane! Zac had HAD it with Danielle and her cartoon-character ways. “Danielle, you can’t cook,” he confessionalized. “You look like Marilyn Manson; please go home.” It may have been awful thing to say, but I can’t help but marvel at the “logic” of that second sentence. There is beauty in its absurdity. Unlike his anniversary cake….
Side note: Morgan’s “culinary school” treat — a passion fruit and milk chocolate bonbon — made me crave a Trinidad from Fannie May Candies like never before. Do you know about these? “The bright pastel, toasted coconut gives way to a rich velvety chocolate center!” They even come in the form of giant cream eggs (seasonal)! I tend to pack on a pound or three every time my mom sends me Trinidads from Illinois, but the 20 hours or so between ingestion and realization of weight gain have been some of the happiest times of my life. Trinidads are my Golden Moments. Oh, god, I’m suddenly so sad.
The show must go on! An adorable elderly man named Ben and his white sneakers wandered in to inform the final four of their Elimination Challenge: Create an anniversary cake for Ben and his wife of 61 years, Sylvia. You never forget your 61st! Of course, Sylvia was Sylvia Weinstock of Sylvia Weinstock Cakes, who also guested on the third episode. Good thing, because the cheftestants’ blank stares were screaming “really? this guy?” when it was just good old Ben.
NEXT: Ganache! (What, that’s not enough enticement to keep reading?)