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Top Chef: Just Desserts – Series Premiere – Death By Chocolate


The judges’ panel for the new show is:
Gail Simmons – The Canadian native worked in the business in the kitchens of Le Cirque, Vong, as special events manager for Daniel Boulud and as a food critic. She’s now the special projects editor for Food & Wine magazine, and a regular on Top Chef: The Original. By the way, all these Top Chef: Fill in the Blanks make me think of the Spaceballs joke.
Johnny Iuzzini – From this point on will be known as Elvis (the hair). He started working at 17 and skyrocketed in the business – including a stay with Boulud as well. He later went with Jean Georges Vongerichten and was the James Beard Awards winner in 2006 for Best Pastry Chef.
Hubert Keller – Affectionately nicknamed by yours truly during his stint on Top Chef: Masters “Theoden” after his resemblance to the King of Rohan from The Lord of the Rings. He’s been called a “Rebel with a Cuisinart” for his advanced veggie menu. Few chefs have been more respected worldwide.
Dannielle Kyrillos – Editor-at-large of DailyCandy. She’s given the title on the show of lifestyle editor. Not really sure what that means. Who gives anyone the right to edit a lifestyle? She also works for Plum TV as an on-camera host. Part of me thinks these media outlets are made up names.

Ok, so the show. I must admit that it was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. It is better than Masters, but not as good as TC Classic. The formula is identical to Classic, and I like the judges so far. I have a feeling this will work, Elvis is not on Tom’s level but I think he has potential. Gail has clearly been getting lessons from Padma, as she seems to have slightly tweaked her style to be a bit breezier, a la Padma. Perfect for being a host rather than a judge – but still has the chops to unleash a critique when needed.

What I am not sold on yet are the chefs. The first episode has come and gone and no one really made an impression on me – other than Zac. And that one was not a good one. Zac is going to massively get on my nerves – he’s every reality contestant stereotype wrapped into one guy. The desperate need for attention, the manufactured drama, you name it.

After the meet and greet on a double decker bus, in what appears to be LA, they head to the kitchen to do their first challenge:

QUICKFIRE – Make your signature dessert. Yeah, right. The fact that they were shocked that this was not the full challenge was very surprising. Soon into the 90 minutes they have to cook, Gail and Elvis come in and instruct them to make that dish into a cupcake. Panic ensued.

Tania – Chicory Mousse Cupcake with Mesquite Flour and Crème Fraiche Caramel
Heather C – Carrot Cupcake, Crème Fraiche Cream Cheese Icing, and Fried Carrots
Zac – Vanilla Bean Cupcake with Lemon Curd and Blood Orange Marshmallow. Elvis can’t cut into it.
Danielle – Chocolate Cupcake with Mint Chip Filling and Toasted Meringue.
Eric – Devil’s Food Cupcake with Buttermilk and Coffee.
Tim – Pistachio Semifreddo. Tim did not manage to actually transform his dish into a cupcake. Which was in fact the challenge. Boo!
Seth – Steamed Malaysian Coconut Cake with Basil Buttercream and Candied Pine Nuts.
Morgan – Dark Chocolate Soufflé Cupcake, Supreme of Tangerine and Caramel Buttercream.
Malika – NothingShe actually failed to plate her dish, as she failed to adjust properly to the twist thanks to an oven which was mysteriously turned up. I can only think of one time (Howie) when that happened in the Original, and I think once (Moonen) on Masters. Gail was actually very nice to her afterwards, saying she was looking forward to her dish the next time. Padma (and I love her as you all know) would not have been so kind. Malika tells us all about her divorce and how it closed her restaurant, I wonder if she is too distracted. Or perhaps edited to look that way.

Bottom Three
Malika – Duh
Tim – Double Duh
Zac – Horrible Texture. Zac correctly points out that he was the only one of the bottom three who completed the challenge, so he was the worst of the completed dishes.

Top Three
Seth – Very interesting and a nice adaptation into a cupcake.
Tania – Very moist and an interesting combination.
Heather C – Elvis loved the carrot and the unique nature of the dish.

Seth takes home the win and tells us that he thought he was being “Punk’d.” How very 2003 of you, Seth. Ashton Kutcher – before he was known for who he married and what he tweeted.


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