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Top Chef: Just Desserts – Ep 6 – Fight For Your Right To Gravy Foam

In a sentence I never thought I would say – this week we get to have a Beastie Boys themed cooking competition show. And if that wasn’t weird enough, both challenges involved non-dessert foods. Because nothing sounds more delicious than desserts made out of baked beans and ravioli. Heck, you wouldn’t even eat those things together normally! I will admit, I like these wacky Top Chef challenges – sure, it doesn’t prove anything about a chef’s marketability or talents to do what they will eventually sell to the public, but it is a fun twist on the competition and does show the adaptability of these chefs.

Even if none of them will ever make another dessert containing falafel again.

Kudos to Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys for being a good sport and doing this show. I can’t imagine doing a Bravo Junior Varsity cooking show is high on the cool street cred meter, but nevertheless, here he is being a very good sport. Of course their recently released album – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two – may have something to do with the appearance.

The chefs lose their ever-lovin’ minds when Ad-Rock enters the room, especially Rebecca. It almost gets to the point where Ad-Rock may want to consider a restraining order. Later on, he signs her cast and her internal monologue becomes external, as tends to happen with Rebecca. She tells him she will keep it forever. Her sweaty, germ-infused forearm cast. Yeah, I think there may be legal action coming.

Another unfortunate side effect of the Beastie Boy’s appearance – waaaay too much rapping. Matt and Megan – how do I put it, um, just don’t do that again. You can’t make exotic foods with Wonder Bread.

The other non-food aspect of this episode is the budding Macho-Katzie rivalry. And yet again, it seems Bravo is manufacturing a rivalry for the sake of having one. I am sure the two of them clashed, but it seems a bit gratuitous. Katzie got offended because Macho implied that putting a chainsaw in Katzie’s hands would be scary? Um, it would. It would be scary in the hands of any of these people. When Katzie went back into the other room with Rebecca to complain about Macho’s teasing, she uttered this, “You think you’re so gangster in the hood?” At first I was baffled – Macho? Gangster? When did she become a John Singleton movie character?

However, my answer presented itself during the Elimination Challenge. Our old friend Marcel randomly showed up and shared an enthusiastic hug with Macho. It seems they are long time buds. Ahhh. That’s where her bitchiness and cattiness comes from. That would explain the strange attempts at street cred – I remember Marcel rapping on the roof. Boy, I really want to stay very far away from that circle of friends. Marcel’s extreme douchiness qualities came out to play in his limited exposure this week when he told Hammer he didn’t plan on finishing his dish. No offense, of course. You’re a dick, Marcel, no offense, of course.

As for the nuts and bolts of the episode, it was bizarre foods challenge day. First the chefs had to use random root vegetables to make a dessert in the Quickfire. Then, using foods and drinks mentioned in Beastie Boys songs; they had to make a dessert out of that. Needless to say, they didn’t have much in the way of chocolate, fruits or whipped creams. We are talking about pizza, beer and various vegetables. Chefs pick two items for themselves, and then get to pick one item for another chef as sabotage (my favorite Beastie song, and coolest video).

Honestly, these challenges are fun, but I would have a hard time going home because I couldn’t make a cake out of a falafel. But it is part of the goofiness that this show brings to cooking. Macho and Matt really excelled this week for some reason, oh wait, there is a reason. It seems both have actually cooking experience and were thus able to correctly prepare the foods and manage the flavors well. Macho edged him in the Quickfire by going Asian with a mango pudding to go with her vegetable. Nice job in using your strengths to power through a weird challenge. Matt also made a wise choice in making a parsnip cake. As we know, carrots translate well to cakes and parsnips are at least a distant cousin of the carrot.

In the Elimination Challenge, Macho chose prosciutto and cheddar cheese before getting saddled with chicken. She chose to take the skin and turn it into a chip or crisp, and made something so good that Ad-Rock was haunted by it and all of the other foods he could put on it. Meanwhile, Matt dominated. He had chosen cornbread and whiskey, which is fairly safe, but had Hammer put mashed potatoes and gravy on his plate. The cheesecake he made was inspired, as was the whiskey caramel. But the clincher was his last minute decision to put the gravy in a cream whipper. The resulting topping to cheesecake not only looked great but it actually tasted like gravy. The judges were literally giddy tasting it. Easy win.

And an easy loss to predict as well. Katzie got knocked to the bottom because she totally copped out by using french fries as, well, french fries. That dish did not take very long to conceptualize or to generate. Boring. Megan’s cake was crumbly, and one of her ingredients conspicuously lacking in presence, but it was clear that the One Armed Bandit was done. Rebecca really struggled to make the falafel. She wound up infusing the flavors into a panna cotta, but the problem was that she chose to heavily douse it in garlic. She really had little chance at that point. The look of horror on Elvis’ face upon his first bite said it all.

So, she is gone and we are all of a sudden down to seven chefs and we are halfway through the competition. If they go with a Final Three to end it, we only have four weeks to go before the end. This makes sense as Top Chef: Texas is promoting an early November kick-off. Sigh. Bravo. You really want me to be checked into a home, don’t you? Reason for committing – ran out of food-related jokes. Somehow, I always knew it would end that way.

Quickfire – Guest judge Jordan Kahn joins Gail and looks like he just came from the 15th Annual Hipster Emo Convention. He hasn’t said a word, and I already want to key his Prius. Anyway, he’s there to judge the unlikely ingredient challenge, as chefs approach a portable garden and dig up random root vegetables. Make a dessert out of it, succeed and win immunity and five grand. Megan has never even heard of her root and looks incredible awkward chopping hers up. Carlos is going to the peanut butter and celery well again.

Rebecca – French Fries, Chocolate Sauce, and Malted Milk Ice Cream

Megan – Five-spice Burdock Root Fritter and Candied Burdock Root Compote – Hipster likes the root. Whatever.

Katzie – Soy Milk Panna Cotta, Mascarpone Cream Caramel, and Turnip Chips – The dish is too confusing, and is a melty blob.

Hammer – Jicama Watermelon Jam with Panna Cotta and Jicama Salad – He is disqualified because he put jicama fries on top at plating, but last second garnishes have to be temperature sensitive. So, no soup for you.

Carlos – Celery Root in 3 Textures with Peanut Butter Pudding

Matt – Caramelized Parsnip Cake with Banana Puree and Caramelized Hazelnuts

Macho – Mango Pudding with Turmeric and Curried Popcorn

Orlando – Peach and Radish Crumble with Kataifi Crunch and Vanilla Bean Sherbet

Bottom Two – Rebecca for a whimsical idea, but something that looks like “our fury a birth” in my notes. That’s not helpful. Carlos is also on the bottom for a great idea, but not good execution. Like my notes.

Top Two – Macho for vibrant colors and solid tumeric and South Asian flavors. And Matt for the most beautiful dish and smart carrot cake-like dessert. Macho wins for serving the one dish Hipster would eat again.

Eliminaation Challenge – The Beastie Boy kitchen challenge – make desserts from other crap. Judging will be Gail, Elvis, Dann and Ad-Rock.

Carlos – Popcorn Panna Cotta, Spicy Cucumber Air, Bacon Caramel, and Popcorn Glass – The glass looks really cool, and Carlos describes it as Cracker Jack-like. Dann likes how you can taste the cucumber.

Orlando – Coffee, Strawberry, and Rum Parfait with Green Peas – Elvis gives O crap about not making his own cookies. Ad-Rock rightfully says that he could buy cookies. Dann thinks it is an artful dish, and she’s right, it is very pretty.

Megan – Chivas Whiskey Pudding Cake, Brass Monkey Sorbet, and Caramelized Onions – Gail can smell the onions, and is drunk from the smell of all this liquor. Elvis’ cake falls apart.

Macho- Prosciutto Cake, Chicken Toffee Sauce, and Cheddar Ice Cream – Yes, she made cheese ice cream. Ad-Rock thinks the chicken skin crisp she added tastes like chicken. Hmm.

Katzie – Sweet Pommes Frites with Sweet and Savory Sauces – Elvis says it is all over the place, sweet, salty, sweet. Gail wanted the cheesy sauce to be more intense.

Rebecca – Falafel Panna Cotta with Ham Pecan Brittle and 40 oz. Ice Cream – Elvis is overwhelmed by garlic.Gail can’t taste the beer, but Dann can taste the falafel.

Hammer – Pork and Bean Brownie, Pine Nut Cream, and Naked Ravioli – I don’t love the lack of real pizza on the plate, but whatever, it was a crazy hard challenge for him. Ad-Rock loves the brownie and describes it like a dog with peanut butter in his mouth. Elvis wishes for more pork and bean flavor.

Matt – Cornbread and Mashed Potato Cheesecake, Whiskey Caramel, and Gravy Foam -Oh that gravy. Elvis gives the best complement – they can taste all of the pantry items in there.

The judges confuse the room by calling back Katzie, Megan and Rebecca. This week the bottom goes first. I was expecting Orlando, Megan and Rebecca, but not so much. Rebecca and Megan try to blame their ingredients, but the others had the same obstacles, in fact, many of them had it much harder. Rebecca’s was all garlic and not enough beer. Megan called it a pudding cake, but it was dry. Plus, she should have used the onions in a cake or something, instead of as its own dish. Ad-Rock wanted a hot dog. Katzie was boring.

Matt, Hammer and Macho come back for the win. Hello fourth and fifth place for Carlos and Orlando. Macho’s haunted Ad-Rock and dann loved the many textures. Ad-Rock tells Hammer he made a mean brownie, and Elvis loves how Hammer sabotaged himself. Massive level of difficulty. Matt’s gravy won the day. Inspired. He takes the win.

I loved Ad-Rock’s take on Katzie – she made french fries with dipping sauce, not a pork and beans brownie. “From my culinary standpoint…I’m just sayin.” And on Rebecca, “From my culinarry standpoint, she effed up. It was nasty y’all.”

Rebecca leaves, and then there were seven.

Quickfire Hits
• Rebecca tells Hipster and Gail that she can’t cook to save her life. Gail’s response is classic, “You probably shouldn’t say that on national TV…on a cooking show.” HA!!!! Love you Gail! That joke makes up for wearing pants to the water park last week (that one is for column reader Brian who correctly pointed out that omission from last week).
• I just don’t see Drakes making any desserts based on the crap we saw this week.
• Katzie feeding the Bravo rivalry – upon Macho’s win, Katzie stands next to her and utters the most half-assed “woo” ever uttered.
• Speaking of Katzie, is she competing against hobbits, or is she eight feet tall?
• Cute Gail moment as Ad-Rock gets the huge welcome from the chefs – “That’s how I feel!”
• Did Rebecca really use the term “bananas awesome?” Not sure if I despise that or want to use it in every day life.
• The Sabotage scorecard – Macho gave Carlos cucumber. Carlos gave her chicken. Matt gave Orlando peas. Orlando gave Katzie the cheese. Katzie gave Megan the onions. Megan gave Hammer the ravioli. Hammer gave Matt the potatoes and his date with destiny. Macho gave Rebecca the falafel and her date with destiny.
• After Matt’s rapping, I not only want him to never do that again, but I want to make sure he’s always wearing pants near the mashed potatoes.
• Best Orlando moment – getting drunk off the rum and falling down. “That was intentional.” HA!
• Katzie keeps saying that she took a risk making fries. I don’t think that word means what she thinks it means.
• Personally, I thought Orlando should have been in the bottom for using the pantry cookies, but he gets a pass this week for that. Megan quips, “For someone who thinks he is better than everyone else,” it’s a strange choice.
• I just love the cooking frenzy montages.
• I miss Rockman, but Megan snuggling with Katzie while wearing her cute glasses is a pretty darn good consolation prize.
• Hammer is on this show despite having a one-month old baby with a congenital heart defect. Yikes. I am partially rooting for him now, but the other part is mad at him for being on the show while his wife deals with that.
• Katzie lashes out at Rebecca in the Stew Room as Rebecca jokes that Katzie the Giant should stop stress eating. Oh, come on. Lighten up, Francis.
• Extra – The chefs like putting bananas on people. Ok. The best part though is Marcel’s reaction upon getting bananaed. He is trying way too hard to be whimsical and have a sense of humor. He’s fully aware of the camera and it just looks fake.

Next week – Chocolate any way. Orlando vs. Hammer. Orlando can’t shut up, and Matt calls someone an a-hole.

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