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Top Chef: Just Desserts – Ep 4 – The Best Just Desserts Episode Ever!


Wow! Following what may have been my least favorite Top Chef episode, Just Desserts follows up with not only the absolute best episode in its short history, but one that would rank up there with the best of the original show. Hats off, Just Desserts. This one rocked. So shines a good deed in a weary world.

Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of Willy Wonka lines like that, so, try and find them. It’ll be a game you can play at home while you read.
First things first, before getting into it, I was honored to have both Hugh and Johnny (Unibrow and Elvis) tweet back to me this week after I sent them my article. I hope I proved through their ribbing that I can take it as well as dish it out. My cat photo as my Twitter profile came under attack, and I won’t hold it against you guys since you didn’t know that the kitty in question recently left our world to the great Top Chef kitchen in the sky. Also, I stand corrected by Hugh, it is a monobrow, not a unibrow. Duly noted, and nickname has been altered. Again, thank you both for your good humor. Mmmm, Good Humor.

So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.

Last week, I bitched and moaned about cross promotion
and product placement. I hope I made it clear that sometimes product placement/cross promotion can work if done right. Often, on this show and others, it is not done right. This week represented product placement at its best.

Another bit of disclosure, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of my all-time favorite movies. I wanted to be Charlie Buckett when I was a kid. My college roommate dressed up as Willy Wonka. This film has touched my life, my friends’ lives, and the lives of tons of people in my generation. And it continues to reach people every year. With the release of the 40th Anniversary DVD/Blu-Ray, it was a perfect tie in with a show about desserts.

For those who are unfamiliar, and seriously, rent the damn thing, this is the film in a nutshell. A boy in some English-like city has nothing and lives with his mom and both sets of grandparents. The rich reclusive chocolate maker in the region conducts a contest worldwide where five Golden Tickets are hidden in chocolate bars and the winners get to tour the mysterious factory. Five children win, including our hero Charlie Buckett. Bizarre things happen in the factory – chocolate rivers, strange creatures called Oompa Loompas, and the most sinister boat ride in the history of children’s films. All the children except for Charlie are horrible, and things happen to teach them all lessons.
The big scene is where the children, their parent/grandparent, and Willy enter the big room full of sweets and a chocolate river and waterfall. Everything is edible. It is the world of “Pure Imagination.” And Gene Wilder sings a song that I can still mostly recite.

And the Top Chef contestants got to recreate that room. Awesome! Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three.

Boy, did they take to this challenge. The chefs were presented with VIP tickets in the apartment and went to a movie screening. Matt did EXACTLY what he needed to do, because I too was saying, “It’s a Trap!!” That is a common trick on these shows – the night out, the VIP tour, whatever – always turn into a Quickfire or Elimination Challenge. Matt held onto his snacks and drink just in case he needed to make something.

He didn’t. They were actually going to a movie screening. The chefs all seemed legitimately geeked out to be watching the film. After it was over, Gail showed up and invited up the VIPs. Holy crap, it’s a grown-up Charlie, Violet, Veruca and Mike TeeVee. Instantly the first thing that came to my mind was – what the hell happened to Augustus Gloop? Someone get on this, I’m getting worried about him. Maybe he didn’t survive the fudge room after all!


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