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Top Chef: Just Desserts – Episode 2 Commentary – The Red Hots Were For My Mommy


Look at that – 900 words already and not a bit about the sweets.

Bottom line – I watched the episode and am very impressed with the talents of these chefs, and have enjoyed the challenges. It is a solid derivative of Top Chef so far, and already has a villain after two episodes – something Top Chef has never really had. Some may dislike Marcel – but it was hard not to feel badly for him when he was bullied. Angelo was a nut, but he was easy to mock, not really hate. But Seth…hard to find anything to like so far.

Quickfire Challenge – Use penny candy to inspire a dish. Faulkner is judging it, and the kitchen looks like a Loews Theater lobby.
Yigit – “Strawberries and Cream” with red licorice and citrus

Heather H (HH) – Vanilla Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit Gelee – Wow, this looked good.

Tim – Orange and Pistachio Parfait with Mascarpone and Cream – and lots of lollipops. He wanted to make his kid friendly – which is good since it is about candy.

Morgan – Chick-o-stick Sable with Malted Milk Ganache and Repulled Banana Lollipop – The banana lollipop made me think of Finn, who was inexplicably left off the All-Stars cast.

Malika – Lemon Drop and Strawberry Parfait with Yuzu Cream, and Pop Rocks Her love of candy came from having three kids. I must say, for a non-celebrity to have three young children, Malika looks great.

Heather C (HC) – Browned Butter Almond Financier with Strawberry and Balsamic Vinegar Gail questions the lack of candy, to which HC claims to have just sought flavors. Cop. Out.

Zac – Chocolate Sour Cream Ho Ho with Red Hot Cream Cheese Filling

Eric – Malted Chocolate Pudding and Malt Ball Cookie

Erika – Strawberry Pop Rocks with Lemon Drop Cookie and Sour Lemon Gelee – Gail likes the popping rocks.

Danielle – “Worms in Dirt” – Chocolate Mousse with Lemon Gummies, Malt Balls and Lemon Soda, with a Red Licorice Stick straw

Seth – Whopper Chiffon Cake with Red Hot Coconut Jam and Passion Fruit Vanilla Sorbet (albeit melted sorbet)

Bottom Three – HC (for no candy), Eric (for not doing much with the malt) and Seth (for being a douche).

Top Three – HH (for a beautifully made combo of acid and candy), Danielle (for playfulness), and Zac (for his cake and sauce). Danielle takes the win and the earned immunity.

At Mark Peel’s – in between Seth outbursts, the others get their ingredients. The interesting moments include Eric going first and taking every bit of pineapple. Erika gathering up her margarita supplies, and Yigit going third in the editing. Interesting how those three are the first we see…

Zac is called “Lady Gaga” by HH, and I may have to go along with that. He finishes early and does a little dance. Seth smells the liquor and Morgan thinks he stuck the spout up his nose. Remind me to drink only beer at The Tar Pit if I go to LA.

HH astutely points out that these challenges are hard because they have no recipes – a must in dessert making – and they have to rely on their confidence, their techniques and quick thinking. Eric notices the fancy techniques and is a bit nervous – he is just a baker, not a pastry chef. This is also his first time plating! Simple works on this show, just as long as you make it delicious. Just ask Kevin from Top Chef: LV. However, Eric, perhaps you should have practiced presentation before the show started.

Malika is shown trying to correct some errors and given advice to add powdered sugar and perhaps honey. Oops. Tim runs out of basil, and has to adjust. In Elvis’ walk-through he points out that Tim is adding the liquor directly to the custard ingredients, and that could change how it bakes. Seth ran out of blueberries, so he is adding food coloring and doing about 150 different techniques.

Elimination Challenge – Make a cocktail inspired dessert at Mark Peel’s new restaurant, The Tar Pit. For some good cocktail advice, check out this from an old friend of mine. Judges are Gail, Elvis, Théoden, Faulkner, Peel and wife.

Erika – Margarita Bombe with a Lime Cookie, Tequila Mousse and Grand Marnier Crème Brulee with Salt Peel found it bland, but then had the salt and “ohhh.” Elvis thought she truly embraced the cocktail challenge.

Danielle – Lime and Lemon Curd Tart, Toasted Coconut with Rum Sabayon. Faulkner wanted more caramelization. Elvis can’t find the cocktail in there, and Gail and Théoden agree. Danielle is lucky she has immunity.

Eric – Pineapple Bourbon Upside Down Cake. Gail found it simple, but with the most flavor. She couldn’t stop eating it. Faulkner enjoyed the texture and could really taste the bourbon.

Yigit – Campari and Blood Orange Agar Agar with Citrus Vanilla Panna Cotta and Basil Ice Cream. Yigit had trouble plating the ice cream, but Faulkner just loved the colors. Elvis criticized the melted ice cream and Yigit’s time management.

Morgan – Cola-Spiced Whiskey Cake with Coke Fluid Gel Morgan barely plated in time, and Théoden loved the gelee, but Gail just wanted one more thing.

HC – Gingerbread Cake with Rum Caramel Sauce Elvis didn’t think it tied together, and Faulkner didn’t get a lime in the middle, which I assume others got.
Seth – Blueberry Gimlet Cake with Lemon and Lime Juice, Juniper Soda Faulkner found the cake off-putting – It seems blue cake is a faux pas in baking, one would imagine due to the teeth staining issues. Elvis can’t taste the gin (a sentence not often written in the 1970s)

Malika – Blood Orange and Blackberry Mojito Cake with White Chocolate Mousse. Faulkner got the mint, but not enough rum or orange. Gail found the cocktail, but it was heavy handed. Théoden found it way too sweet, almost to the point of making you pass out.

HH – White Russian Stack-Hardly anything is described about it or said about it. Clearly middle of the pack.

Gaga – Benedictine Bombe with Dark Chocolate Malt Cake with Benedictine Cremeux Gail doesn’t get a “twiddle” on hers, part of the plating issues. Elvis found it to be bold and elegant. Faulkner did not get the full effect of the cocktail, other guests disagree.

Tim – Basil Pudding with Orange Kumquat and Lime Granita I must say, this looked gross. Elvis criticizes Tim having two consecutive bowl dishes, showing lack of skill, I would think. Faulkner described the texture and appearance as that of “scrambled eggs in soup.” Ew. Peel found it messy, but enjoyed the flavors.


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