Top Chef: Just Desserts recap: Ice Cream, Seth Screams
While the challenges focus on sundaes and 'showpieces,' two contestants produce white flags instead
And then there were nine eight.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Seth is the Kelly Bensimon of Just Desserts. There was a moment during last night’s episode—somewhere between the shakes and the ambulance—that I thought to myself (much like I did during that train wreck dinner on Scary Island): This is just frightening now.
To recap: after learning that he wouldn’t be making his own ice cream for the sundae Quickfire, Seth launched into a nervous fit of rage like we had never seen before. He kept pacing, shaking and saying “weak sauce.” Things got even weirder in the back room, when he flat-out disappeared. Some minutes later, sirens blared (were they really loud enough to hear in that dungeon?), a stretcher was rolled out, and Seth confessed that he had had an anxiety attack. Producers wisely decided he wasn’t allowed to continue the competition, and off he went.
Now, as Danielle said, if you’re a human being with compassion, you have to feel for the guy, but at the same time, I’m still unsettled. We can’t be sure what demons are actually ticking in his head—too much nitrogen?—but from a TV standpoint, Seth was becoming as exhausting as he was boring.
“You have to be crazy to be a great artist so, I mean, I’m a little bit crazy I guess,” Seth said. Ah well then, I bid you adieu. May you and your Red Hots find peace elsewhere.
“I’m just ready to eat some ice cream, man!” a relieved Erika then told judge Johnny, who seems like the least warm person to have a pep talk with. For the Quickfire, Gale Gand, executive pastry chef at Chicago restaurant Tru, was on hand to judge the remaining eight contestants’ ice cream sundaes. They wouldn’t be making the ice cream themselves — okay, let’s not get back into that — but they’d be using Breyers ice cream. Did you know it was Breyers? Because it was Breyers. Thanks, advertisers! Must.buy.Breyers.
In the top were Zac’s “black forest is burning” deep-fried cherry vanilla sundae (with panko crumbs!) and Yigit’s peanut butter and s’mores cookie dessert, a very American choice for a Turk without much ice cream experience. But Morgan, who I now realize is the pastry equivalent of chef Todd English, claimed immunity for his tears an Oreo mint chocolate chip cookie that paid homage to his son, whom he only sees on Sundays. Sundaes on Sunday—get it? Somewhere, snow queen Tim is kicking himself for missing out on this challenge.
Last week’s Elimination winner, Eric, continued his inconsistent run with a poorly reviewed vanilla and sautéed peaches sundae. But Gail, you said he had good instincts! You lie!
And for an ultimate slap in the face, Gail ranked Danielle’s rocky road-meets-Neapolitan sundae in the bottom as well, which was probably for the best since I can’t see her cracking a smile, let alone running a cheery soda shop.
NEXT: Hang on, judges. Don’t pick this week’s evictee just yet!
For the Elimination challenge, the contestants had to watch a performance of Lucent Dossier (think Cirque de Soleil meets vaudeville) and create desserts inspired by the show in teams of three. If you aren’t mathematically challenged like I am, you probably realized that with Seth having flown the coop, that wasn’t going to add up. So in came last week’s eliminee, Heather C., who is about as fun as a dried-up pastry bag.
So each had to make one dessert, and as a team, figure out one showpiece, which is one of those crazy edible architectural structures you see on Food Network cake shows that inevitably always fall. To round it out, they also made a flaming dessert. With this crop of contestants, that should be easy. Hi-o!
The majority of the drama focused on Heather C. and her sour mood. When she wasn’t brooding with sunglasses on, she was off in a corner worrying about her dish. When she wasn’t feeling left out, she was over-baking her meringues. Get it together!
But even with all her bellyaching, I thought her team, Naughty and Nice (with Zac and Malika), best reflected Lucent Dossier in their menu, with major props going to Zac and his face. Yet somehow, even with Eric’s lemon roulade that Johnny didn’t “get,” not to mention a CHUNK of star anise in the flambe, Team Exotic (Morgan, Heather H. and Eric) were named the top team, and Morgan won again for his mango panna cotta. Was it just me or were Morgan’s chocolate crescents—a nod to Lucent Dossier—a bit amateurish? I would’ve thought Zac’s banana curry frosting and Malika’s saffron panna cotta were the clinchers.
But I wasn’t the only one unhappy with the outcome. Heather H. came out of left field, blasting Morgan for relying on her showpiece efforts, forgetting that she was the one who wanted to make the showpiece. She is quite the spitfire, that Heather H.
That of course meant Yigit and Zac’s teams were both in the bottom—the former for the lack of flames in the flaming dessert and the latter for…
Well, we actually didn’t get to that part because right after the judges praised her panna cotta, Malika told the ’em that she wanted out. At the beginning of the episode, she had said she didn’t want to base an early exit on emotion, but based on that huge grin on her face at judges’ table—which by the way is the happiest we had seen the girl all season—I think she made the right choice. Her breakdowns have no place in the obsessive-compulsive world that is Just Desserts.
Next week: shoes! Zac is giddy with joy, and, oddly, so is Morgan. Plus, Zac, Yigit and Heather H. form a diva bond, which is no surprise given how sassy they are individually.
What did you guys think of all the drama last night? Are you glad to see Seth go? How about Malika? Should she have sucked it up and stayed? After all that’s happened, what’s left for the rest of the season?
Top Chef: Just Desserts