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Top Chef: Just Desserts – Ep 5 – How Can You Go Wrong With Funnel Cake?

Damn.

Just Desserts is just working over my television viewing emotions this season. They send a Real Housewife our way. Boo! Then a Willy Wonka themed episode. Yay!! And now, oh man, it’s just too hard to talk about. Don’t they know who they’re dealing with here? I don’t ask for much in my reality shows, but one thing I want is for the best looking woman to last all the way to the end. I am a simple man, with simple needs; I am not ashamed to say it.

But no. Just Desserts had to go and send home Rockman this week. I know, I know, they tried to even it out with some bikini shots and the revelation that she’s of Russian heritage (I am an unabashed Russophile), but that’s it for my Just Desserts babe. And worst of all, she was done in by something unrelated to cooking or baking. She was done in by passiveness.

At the water park challenge, Rockman had the risky, and yet correct, plan to make funnel cakes. These tasty and wildly fattening treats are a theme park staple. No one else was willing to take the chance and use the fryer at the park, as things could go wrong with the tricky devices. Rockman also made a fruity variation on the cake which could have been very effective. However, teamed with Carlos and Macho, she did not interject when the judges went to the other two first, leaving Rockman with chilling cakes. They slowly got colder, and harder, and less edible. She should have asked to go first. At the bare minimum, she should have asked the judges to wait as she made some new plates for them. Either way, choosing to timidly wait her turn, something which seemed totally out of character for Rockman, led to her demise.

Personally, and not because of her hotness, I thought the axe should have fallen elsewhere. I understand why it was Rockman, the way it was described, those cakes were like rocks. However, as mentioned earlier, it was a good idea doomed by inaction rather than execution or concept. It was also a dish appropriate for a water park, some of the others made no sense whatsoever. Hot strawberry shortcake served on demand? Crazy. A super thick, super sweet bar which Gail described as a hunk of foie gras? Disgusting. A root beer surprise where the surprise is that there is no root beer float to be found? Confusing. I’m not losing my mind over this one, but I though either Matt or Orlando were going to go. Or for karma purposes, Carlos. He hogged the ice cream machines, forcing Katzie and others to scramble. Carlos had no problem with this. However, when Hammer used a liquid nitrogen tank he prepared – tanks they all shared – it was a criminal offense. But, alas, it was the tattooed, hot Russian lady. Not good.

Other than that, it was a fairly non-descript episode. Nothing really all that awful happened, but I guess it was inevitable for the show to have a letdown following the superior effort last week. Both challenges were rather good, and in all seriousness, there were no crimes in the choices for wins and defeats. It was just kind of like a sugary treat, pretty good at the time, but really no lasting effects.

I am starting to come to the realization that Just Desserts will always be the JV squad of Top Chef. I worry that they will start running low on ideas for good and effective challenges. Make your own candy bar is great, but at some point, how many times are they going to be asked to make a candy bar? With Top Chef: Classic covering all aspects of cooking – including desserts – they are open to a wealth of options. The problem with making a spin-off show which has a distinct niche to work from is that you are painting yourself into a corner long term. I look forward to seeing how the show addresses this problem, but for now, there are still some good options left.

Quickfire – Gail and world famous pastry chef Pouchet Ong give the nine chefs remaining instructions to make their own candy bar. My thoughts instantly shoot back to my youth and the Reggie Bar. Man, that was delicious. Chefs get one and three-quarters hours to cook, which seems rather random to me. You have 105 minutes. Go.

The big development here is where Carlos and Rebecca collide and Rebecca’s injured arm gets hit. This could have been a factor as Rebecca later dropped her entire dish on the floor. Stunningly, season-long villain Orlando stepped forward and offered to help her make a dish, any dish. Everyone was stunned – the other chefs, viewers, Rebecca, Orlando, people not even watching the show, and even the recently deceased. And, they made a good dish – to the point where Rebecca wound up in the Top Two.

Other interesting things – Macho wisely tailored her candy bar to the judge by making an Asian inspired bar. Matt ran out of time and had to glaze the bar with chocolate, thus leaving the bottom side free of chocolate. Carlos seems to have a banana obsession – he even had one tucked in his shoulder pocket, and Hammer made what I thought was the best, with a milk and white chocolate bar.

Katzie – Caramel Cove – Brown Butter and Caramelized Banana Curd, Ganache with Dark Chocolate. Hey, where did they get the time to make personalized wrappers? Anyway, Gail commented on the amount of banana in there, and Ong’s was a bit liquid.

Carlos – “Choconana” – Peanut Butter Crisp with Fudge Cake, Banana Pudding and Chocolate Pop Rocks – Pop Rocks? Wow. Just don’t add soda, we don’t want a reality show casualty.

Macho – “Who’s it?” – Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Black Forbidden Rice, Cocoa Nibs and Milk Chocolate Ganache – Ong likes it a lot.

Matt – “M Pastry Bar”: Hazelnut Feuilletine Praline with Orange Vanilla Chocolate Crème Anglaise – It was unfinished. That is all.

Orlando – “Berry Blast”: Mixed Berry Port Jam, Chocolate Ganache, and Chocolate – Again, Orlando is confident and again, he winds up getting critique. Gail found the jam too liquidy.

Hammer – “Lil’ Darling”: Banana Caramel, Cinnamon White Chocolate Ganache with Corn Flakes – He gets the ole “interesting” line.

Rockman – “Royal Chocolate Bar:” Earl Grey Tea with Bitter Orange Caramel – Ong seems to enjoy it.

Megan – “Ginger Buckeye Blast”: Peanuts, Peanut Butter, Butter Caramel, Ginger, and Feuilletine – She makes this to honor her home state of Ohio and manages to pull off something “snappy and sophisticated.”

Rebecca – “Fruit on the Bottom” : Granola with Vanilla Panna Cotta, Orange Marmalade, and White Chocolate – The panna cotta gets rave reviews.

Bottom Two – Matt for time, and Katzie for too melty.

Top Two – Macho for superior ingredients, and Rebecca for some darn good panna cotta.

Macho gets the win, and immunity. When the chefs get divided into teams of three, she vows to make sure that her partners – Carlos and Rockman – not be eliminated due to her immunity. That plan failed pretty miserably.

Elimination – The chefs draw popsicles (heh) and the matching colors get teamed up, and get a cool frosty treat as a result. The team of Katzie/Rebecca/Megan elects to do simple fair-friendly treats, while Matt/Orlando/Hammer goes for refined. Uh oh. Gail, Elvis, Dann and Ong are the judges.

Orlando – Chocolate Vanilla Root Beer Surprise Ong suggested fruits, I think, that was hard to follow. Orlando wanted it to be less heavy and traditional, but Elvis said he should not have called it a root beer float.

Hammer – Passion Mixer with Ginger Fizz and Cilantro Infusion – He built a drink luge out of ice blocks. Cool. Of course, he also made it too sugary, thus leaving a thick coating in the back of your throat. I will not make any jokes here. But I really want to.

Matt – Strawberry Shortcake with Sautéed Strawberries – He leaves the judges waiting for a long time, prompting poor Orlando to have to make small talk. The hot strawberries were a bat idea on a hot California day.

Katzie – Baked Alaska with Spumoni Twist This team sprayed lavender mist on the customers – a good idea. Dipped in toasted meringue. Dann squealed. Literally. Elvis loves the acidity of the sorbet, and Ong likes how it melts in your mouth. Some random guy finds it to be his favorite thing ever. This is the mark of a sad life.

Rebecca – Lemon Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches Dann thought it was nostalgic and got super excited over the wax paper wrapper. Elvis was happy the ice cream was firm given the heat.

Megan – Strawberry Soda Float with White Peach and Basil Sorbet – Elvis doesn’t think basil was a kid flavor, but it was mild and floral. Gail thought it was a bit too sweet, and had some third layer of sticky sweetness, which was just a little bit thought provoking, I must say.

Macho – Berry Smoothie with White Chocolate Rice Krispies – Dann likes the krispies, while Elvis wanted more fruit, rather than chocolate.

Carlos – Cap’n Crunch Ice Pop dipped in White Chocolate and Fruity Pebbles and more Pop Rocks – Ong likes the idea, but it is not refreshing. Elvis thinks it was dipped in white chocolate, with sweet ice cream and sweet cereal. Sweet, on sweet, on sweet.

Rockman – Funnel Cake with Coconut Sorbet and Pineapple Jam – We see her saving a cake for the judges, which is really the crux of the problem. Dann’s pops out of her plate, and it is way too crispy. Elvis suggests she should have served it immediately.

Katzie, Megan and Rebecca’s team wins, and clearly Katzie is going to win based on the earlier input. And she does. Elvis says they all made ice cream truck food and elevated it.

The other teams come in as the losers. Macho is safe with immunity and is called out on it. Dann likes her healthy thoughts, but it was not as refreshing as intended. Elvis wonders how she spent six hours doing this.

Carlos made a sugar bomb, and Gail called it the dessert equivalent of a log of foie gras. Rockman’s funnel cake was more a pretzel in consistency, not a good thing. Orlando didn’t understand why they were there, and had to get schooled on false advertising. Elvis suggested he use the root beer flavors in his water and milk. Hammer’s was refreshing, but not great (he is clearly safe). Dann wanted to lick the ice luge. Well, alrighty then. Matt’s strawberry idea gets hit hard.

Matt comes back and jokes to the winners that he is out, but it is really just the deliberation stage. Rockman’s shaky leg foreshadows her demise and she sadly goes home.

Quickfire Hits
• Does Katzie sprawl out on her countertops at home? That doesn’t seem like appropriate kitchen behavior.
• Katzie – “I don’t want to be a bitch, but don’t mess with my desserts.” Perhaps the toughest way to say something not tough. That’s like saying, “I’ll cut you if you wash my delicates in hot water.”
• How hysterical was it when Katzie mentioned L&B Spumoni Gardens has her inspiration to make spumoni, only to learn that the proprietors are really close friends with Elvis? HA! Talk about pressure!
• More from Katzie, who was a gold mine of entertainment this week, in that after the stink she raised (rightfully) over the ice cream machines, she would up having her sorbet overflow. With Elvis in the room. Heh.
• Macho called Katzie a “hot mess.” I am officially calling for a moratorium on the term “hot mess.”
• Macho has a lesbian crush on Rockman. Word, Macho, word.
• Chefs seem to have been given toys – water guns a bubbles – and I wonder if they could have requested a Snoopy Snow Cone machine.
• Rebecca calls out Macho on her use of the word “sacrificing.” It is not sacrificing yourself for the team when you have immunity, it would be if you didn’t.
• If Carlos’ constant use of cereal in his desserts wasn’t an indictment of the cereal industry, I don’t know what is.
• Extra Scene – Rockman in her bikini. Nice. Also, the chefs get to play in the water park and Katzie’s shorts fall off on the water slide.

Next week – The Beastie Boys?!? Desserts made out of beans and ravioli?!? Beer ice cream?!? That could be interesting….

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