Top Chef: Just Desserts recap: Haute Messes
The contestants tackle a risky souffle, then play fashion designer for the elimination challenge
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?!
As for the veggie-obsessed ladies, I gave Danielle some credit for creativity for her beet-dying process, but Heather C. brought a whole different level on insanity. Bubble gum, pinto beans, tortilla and turnips? Do those poor judges get barf bags?
During prep time, the kitchen looked more like the Project Runway workspace, supplemented by Morgan’s massive ego and alpha-male behavior. It wasn’t enough that he calls the female contestants “babe” and “darling,” but he went on and on about being in tune with sexy fashion despite his heterosexuality. Not that it stopped him from fashioning a life-size clutch, or blathering incessantly about just how impressed he was with his own work. To jog your memory: “I’m a heterosexual male, I’m not supposed to be good at fashion. But my dress is f—ing hot. I wish I could put it on, and I’m going to have to wear the shoes too!” Alrighty then!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Eric was shaking in his Brooklyn booties. He never does well with twists, so when Johnny announced the winner of the challenge would get $20,000, the guy practically threw in the towel. I can’t blame him, though. As much as he championed the fact that a baker can succeed, this Elimination seemed way over Eric’s head.
The top three ended up being the predictable trio of Morgan, Zac and Yigit, but the judges—maybe the ladies anyway—fell for Morgan’s “I’m too sexy for my chocolate” bit, giving him the win and the $20,000 prize. I did love Yigit’s ode to Alexander McQueen (fierce), but I thought Zac had it in the bag for both taste and creativity. Much like using his face to make the mask for last week’s showpiece, this time around he used the same genius—the mold of a plunger for breasts—and shaped his petit fours like pasties. Pasties, for gosh sakes! His shimmy at judges’ table alone should’ve sealed the deal. Instead, we had to listen to a smug Morgan talk about not getting laid. Again, do they have barf bags under the table?
The bottom three were similarly expected—Eric, Danielle and Heather C. Eric admitted to letting his panic get the best of him, while Danielle couldn’t quite understand why leeks and grapes weren’t the most on-point ingredients. But as we all may have guessed—thanks to her dim presence and dress that appeared to be made by “drunken sorority girl” (as Dannielle put it)—Heather C. and her tools were sent packing.
Next week, Morgan gets even more obnoxious! Hey, somebody’s got to fill the void Seth left.
What did you guys thinks of the episode? Did you like the Project Runway-esque challenge? And what are your thoughts on Morgan? Love, hate, or love to hate?
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Top Chef: Just Desserts