Top Chef: Just Desserts recap: Black Cake Moan
A daunting challenging of black and white desserts pits the men against the women
Okay, Top Chef, your built-in advertisements are starting to get out of control. Last night’s Quickfire — a.k.a. the Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Quickfire — came with a fun fact: No matter how many times the contestants washed up, their hands would retain their moisture. How was this episode not super-sized just to fit in that mouthful?
Our protagonists, of course, hit the sinks multiple times because they had to create savory desserts — despite the savory thing being so two-thousand-and-late — using a single pot. Yep, no stand mixers, no ice-cream makers, no mixing bowls — just Dawn Hand Renewal and their creativity. Michael Laiskonis, executive pastry chef of Le Bernardin and Most Intimidating Guest Judge, according to Zac and Morgan, presided over the Quickfire.
For me, the highlights here weren’t so much about the food, but rather the little random moments that unveiled new information about the contestants, making them seem more than just fame-hungry TV pawns. As much as I loved hearing Yigit wax adorably about his supportive parents, seeing Zac run through the kitchen was the best. His trot is as wee and dainty as you would’ve imagined. Counterbalancing all the aww moments was Morgan’s display of brute force. You’d think he was rescuing his child from a burning home the way he grabbed those beets. In the process, he elbowed Heather H. in the lip, caused a bump, and she, of course, went on to complain, then complain some more.
But to be fair, Heather H.’s rant seemed warranted this time, as opposed to, you know, turning on the guy for seemingly no apparent reason. See, Morgan doesn’t just have a problem with restraining himself physically; he tends to run off the mouth, too. This time it was about using liquid nitrogen. Yigit summed it up best: “Seth lives.”
Elsewhere in the kitchen, Team Go Diva was as exclusive as ever, with Yigit taking all the bacon and sharing only with Heather H., not Erika (who actually wanted it). Divas only share with other divas, duh!
After all was tasted and done, Eric, Danielle and Heather H. wound up in the bottom three. To no one’s surprise, Eric continued his I-do-what-I-know routine by making breakfast, since he’d never done a savory dessert. Danielle and Heather H. both had problems with timing — the former undercooked her corn, while the latter overcooked her beets.
Morgan (sweet potato risotto with beet sorbet), Yigit (chocolate cremeux with bacon fat) and Zac (steamed beet cake with sweet goat cheese cream) took top honors, and when Zac was given the win (yay!), Gail offered him the choice of immunity or money. And in what had to be a totally planned conversation, Zac asked Gail to up the stakes, because everyone knows reality show hosts have the power to spontaneously tinker with the show’s budget and all. She upped the amount to $5,000 and with that, Zac traded immunity for money, which will most likely be used to fuel his diet of chips and ice cream.
NEXT: Wait! Nobody made a black-and-white cookie? Blasphemy!
For the Elimination challenge, the chefs had to cater the pastries for the Los Angeles Times‘ black and white anniversary party, which is unfortunately nothing like Diddy’s white party or White Party Week.
Who would’ve thought black and white desserts would be so difficult? Said restriction complicated the flavor profiles and presented added work for the contestants who typically rely on bright colors. Danielle, again displaying no semblance of knowing what show she’s on, admitted that she hates white foods, like mayo.
Aside from Eric moping around his stand mixer (for the love of god, please turn that frown upside down), the bigger deal — which wasn’t blown up quite as much as it could’ve been (hello, stolen pea puree!) — was Heather H.’s missing white chocolate Rice Krispie treats. Team Go Diva was quick to point fingers, and let’s face it, they were probably right. I just hope she doesn’t make a “Where’s my white chocolate Rice Krispie treat?!?!?” T-shirt à la Ed for the reunion.
At the end, in a delicious plot twist, the best and worst turned into a boys vs. girls game, putting an end to the age-old adage that girls rule and boys drool. The boys walked away with the best desserts, but the most notable of the bunch, I must say, was Eric’s plating. Boy can dress a plate! Even the judges stopped to commend him on his improvements, and he ditched the Eeyore face for a genuinely happy one. But for Eric, it’s always the baker, never the winner. Yigit took home the prize for best interpretation of the challenge and creativity to match. His cheeks turned bright red, and Team Go Diva had another win under their belt.
As for the ladies, the judges found something glaringly wrong, nay annoying, about each of their dishes. Danielle focused more on presentation, not enough on taste; Heather H. was too stubborn to adapt, plus her gingerbread wasn’t all that; and Erica’s lemon poppy-seed ice cream seemed to overwhelmingly offend the judges. I thought Danielle was a goner for sure, what with her third-grader aesthetic. And while I know the judges always maintain that the contestants are judged on their dish for a given challenge, not their history throughout the competition, Danielle’s had the worst track record of all the remaining chefs. When they sent Erica home, it seemed wrong, confusing and just plain mean. Anyone else agree?
Next week, Restaurant Wars, Just Desserts style. Plus, the members of Team Go Diva disband.
And just because I hate to end on a sour note, with Zac being the show’s one-line king, here are some of my favorites from last night’s episode:
“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride…until today.”—on finally winning a Quickfire
“I am no longer the Susan Lucci of Top Chef Just Desserts.”—again, about his first Quickfire win
“They don’t make black disco dust!”—on the perils of the black and white Elimination challenge
“A flamboyant man with a butch palette.”—Yigit, on Zac
THINK OF YOUR TELEVISION AS A VITAL MEMBER OF THE FAMILY? Then don’t miss this week’s TV Insiders podcast! Michael Ausiello, Michael Slezak, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and Jeff Jensen weigh in on the returning series that are hitting creative peaks this season, and dish the latest happenings on Mad Men, Survivor, and Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to a YouTube embed below!
Top Chef: Just Desserts