'Top Chef: Just Desserts' recap: There's no crying in the pastry kitchen!
Image Credit: Kelsey McNeal/BravoI can barely keep track of who’s whom at the start of a reality-show season. There are too many people on screen, faces start blending together like grains of sugar and salt in a white bowl, and names like Heather H. and Heather C. don’t help much, either.
But thank you, Seth, for coming out so early in the competition as this season’s nut-job. (It helps my brain immensely.) Sure, Angelo’s erotic relationship with food on this past season of Top Chef was weird, but bursting into a crying fit in front of a guest judge? Proclaiming “I didn’t do it!” like a five-year-old? And building armor out of baking tools to pass the time? Yeah, we’ve reached another level of crazy.
Seth’s antics actually called to mind the lunacy that Kelly Bensimon brought to Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York City. In the beginning, we thought, “Wow! What a great, kooky addition to the cast.” Then we began to worry, “This doesn’t seem right.” And finally, it devolved into, “She should probably get off this show for her own good—and ours.”
Similarly, we saw only hints of Seth’s off-his-rocker personality last week (claiming insomnia; speeding through the kitchen), but all was forgotten when he won the Quickfire. This week’s Quickfire, though, was a whole different shebang.
The cheftestants were asked to create a dish that celebrated penny candy. They put down their tuile cups, rolled up their sleeves and dove into the world of Twizzlers, Pop Rocks, and Lemon Drops.
I’m not sure if it was pretension or plain ol’ dislike for candy, but it was surprising to hear that some of these pastry chefs weren’t big on candy. Sugar deserves love whether it’s a skittle or a soufflé, am I right?
Heather H. said she was more of a chocolate person as a kid, Tim declared himself “not really” a candy eater, and Heather C. didn’t even incorporate candy into her dish, which was, ya know, was the whole point. A little Almond Joy topping on her almond financier could’ve done the trick. Either way, guest judge Elizabeth Falkner of San Francisco’s Citizen Cake and Orson was similarly confused.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Danielle made the brilliant connection that candy is fun with her upscale spin on worms and dirt, re-envisioned with chocolate mousse, lemon gummies, and malt balls paired with a Lemon Drop soda to wash it all down. It may have begun to rot her teeth, but Gail was a happy customer.
It was no surprise, then, that Danielle took the win and immunity, beating Heather H.’s vanilla panna cotta and Zac’s chocolate and sour cream-filled Ho Ho. (Confession: Zac’s sounded pretty genius.)
Naturally, this meant that Heather C.’s candy-less candy dessert was in the bottom, alongside Eric’s one-dimensional malted chocolate pudding and Seth’s Whopper chiffon cake. The last of that trio put himself into an emotional tailspin after his passion fruit sorbet didn’t freeze the way he wanted, making his Hulk-like efforts — did you see how he pounded the sorbet in the blender? — all the more hilarious/frightening.
Then came the tears…and the hiding under the table…and the hug from Elizabeth. “The Red Hots are for my mommy,” Seth sobbed about his Red Hot-infused coconut jam.
I felt for the guy because clearly he’s close to his mom (did anyone else notice her number was coded as a “555” number?), but, as Yigit explained, everyone has a story. It’s also television, so of course everyone has a story. More importantly, what kind of Top Chef winner falls to the ground in tears, only to have the guest judge pick him back up?
Things got even worse at The Tar Pit, where Gail and chef Mark Peel told the cheftestants their Elimination Challenge would be to create a dish inspired by a cocktail, using whatever was behind the bar as their ingredients.
Eric got first dibs, and it all went down like Cocktail without anyone actually bartending, but with a flamboyant peanut gallery instead. Then Seth had to go and ruin all the fun when he realized there was no grapefruit for his Greyhound-inspired dessert.
It was a miracle he didn’t just unleash his giant green body at that very moment. Even Morgan, who bonded with Seth because they’re both heterosexual, couldn’t calm him down. Seth lashed out at the other cheftestants for picking on him, even though they were actually cheering for him. Tomatoes, tomahtoes. Forget the effect it had on his competitors, what about Gail and Mark, who was hosting them at his restaurant?
Eventually the gang was able to shake off their collective “wtf” faces and get to work in the tiny kitchen, that is, until Seth started to cramp everyone’s style:
“Working in the kitchen with Seth is a little hectic. He’s the kind of person I stay away from.” – Erica
“Seth is so mentally draining.” – Danielle
“It was like someone put a flaming hot poker up his ass – Zac, on Seth’s head-spinning laps around the kitchen
If this gig as a pastry chef doesn’t work out, I’d say Seth’s more than ready to make a go of men’s track and field. With that kind of form in the kitchen, one can only imagine what he’d do on the track!
Seth apologized for his freak-out, and while most everyone wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole, Zac (sans sparkles) was nice enough to help Seth plate his blueberry gimlet cake.
It was a kind gesture that Zac quickly regretted when his chocolate squares fell to the ground. Now, we don’t know what actually happened, but Seth’s childlike “I didn’t do it!” response was so terribly culpable. His sloppy attempts to clean up and willingness to be stepped on (just please stop, Seth) only made the situation worse.
Much like the kind of task you give to a five-year-old, all Seth was really capable of was standing by the clock. It turned out Zac enacted the best lesson for Seth — to make do with what you have — though Seth probably didn’t pay attention because shiny pots may have caught his eye. Point is: When the Red Bull-addled guy in the kitchen knocks over your potentially prize-winning dessert and advises you to still serve it to the judges, put on your creative hat and make it work.
When all was said and done, Erica beat Yigit and Eric for the win. She earned her sweet spot for the best interpretation of a cocktail, but how come she didn’t get a prize? Not even the traditional/lame “here’s your autographed copy of the guest judge’s new book/product/whatever!”?
The more interesting part of judges’ table was the bottom three, inhabited by Malika, Seth (duh) and Tim. Both Malika and Seth admitted their desserts weren’t up to par, while Tim stood by his “soupy mess.” Obviously they weren’t going to send Seth home, but I could’ve sworn Malika would get the axe. They kept praising Tim’s refined palette, but maybe that was more of a reminder that he still has a future (just probably not on Bravo). Tim himself kept reiterating how old he is, so sure, why not give a chance to the less experienced young’ns anyway? Still, I’m going to miss this House Mama.
What did you guys think of the episode? Did Tim deserve the boot? And who else wants to see Zac do a rendition of ‘On the Good Ship Lollipop’?