By: Monica A. Reyhan i
*This title is meant to be read in the same inflection you would "Duck Tales woo-oo."
Hello my little choctails! (This is a word that my good friend and Television Without Pity editor Mindy Monez uses for "cocktails," but it seems especially appropos for this week's show. It's chocolate! It's cocktails!
So, I skipped a couple of weeks of Top Chef D.C. commentary because, well, I was swamped. But I'm re-emerging from the mess that was last week, and can start anew with Top Chef Just Desserts, which I believe I may have mentioned in one of my previous posts is amazing. Like, I love this show. And, I really hope you guys are enjoying it as much as I am. Last week, I had the good fortune to spend some time with our judges. Gail and I go way back, and I've met Johnny on a few occasions during my Top Chef time, but I finally met Dannielle Kyrillos, who I had only had conversed with via e-mail until this point. Well, she's absurdly nice, and she might be the most chipper woman I've ever met (in a good way). I also got to meet her husband (equally friendly) at Johnny's premiere party at the Ava Rooftoop at the Dream Hoteal. Here's a pic of the two of us outside our 50th Street adn 6th avenue free desserts truck last week!
So, the premiere, in my opinion, was very, very strong and left me wanting more. A colleague said in a meeting that they never got as hungry watching Top Chef as they do withDesserts, and I have to agree. You literally just want to lick your screen (don't try that at home!). I've always had a sweet tooth, and always, always order dessert so this show is pretty much right up my ally.
But, let's focus on this week, where the drama really came out. I've seen some comments on the site about peole not liking the focus on the drama. I think we're just starting to see that these chefs have larger-than-life personalities and really are this dramatic, something the chefs on Top Chef don't always let out. Maybe pastry chefs are simply a bit more over-the-top. And maybe those pastry chefs will forgive me for that baseless overgeneralization!
In the Quickfire, Gail introduced Top Chef Master and Top Recipe host Elizabeth Falkner for a candy challenge. I immediately wanted to head to Dylan's and grab as much loose candy as I could, but I guess I had to sit and finish watching. Sigh. The challenge was to create a dessert inspired by penny candy. When I think of penny candy I think of the old-timey-type stuff like root beer sticks and peppermints, but it looks like the category was expanded to modern-day goodies. Danielle won with her "worms in dirt" dessert. I thought this could have gone either way for her as sometimes adding a shot of something -- which she did -- can ruin the whole dessert, and I wasn't sure the judges would be down for her slightly -- what I thought -- amateurish inspiration. I kind of wanted something more adult. But what do I know? The judges loved it. The other standout for me that could have gone horribly wrong was Zac Young's Fireball-inspired Ho-Ho. Let me divulge that Zac's desserts are the only ones I've ever actually had. I'm a fairly frequent visitor to his Upper East Side restuarant, Flex Mussels. If you go there, you have to order the Bisque mussels, which are my personal favorite, and then there are Zac's desserts which are just fun and decadent. I know the donuts are a diner favorite, but the fried whoopie pie is tops for me. Go visit and let me know what you think! Anyway, his dish sounds a little gross to me, but was apparently successsful. I'll take the judges word on that.
Of course, I have to mention Seth. As a child I couldn't really eat fireballs because i have a really mild palate, but I thought it was sweet that he wanted to create a dish for his mother, inspired by a candy she could no longer eat when she got sick. Now, say what you will about his actions later in the episode, but as far as his self-admitted breakdown during the Quickfire, I sympathized with him. Although it seemed like his crying came out of nowhere, I understood where it came from. As someone whose mother passed away from a chronic illness, I know how it can be -- you never know what will set you off. And I applaud Morgan for trying to comfort his fellow chef. I think the reason the chefs later became so enraged was becuase Seth became defensive about his situation, and as Yigit (who I'm sure I'll be talking about a lot because I think he's adorable) said, Seth has no idea what the other chefs are going through in their personal lives. They're just not bringing that emotion to the kitchen. I don't know -- should Seth be ostracized for bringing that emotion? Who's to say? Now these thoughts are based solely on the Quickfire "breakdown." I'm not sure yet what to think about what transpired later.
But enough about that, back to the food! In the Elimination Challenge, the chefs headed to Chef Mark Peel's new joint, The Tar Pit. They had to go behind the bar to choose ingredients for their dish, which would be inspired by a cocktail. I have to say I kind of hate when desserts taste like alcohol. This goes for candy too. Those liquer chocolate cherry things that always seem to pop up around the holidays are vile to me, but i was interested to see how the chefs would be inspired. I sort of knew Erica would win. Why? Because she calmly changed up her plating plan when she saw she didn't make enough "bombs." Also, margaritas are my favorite, and if you want to know where to get the best ones in NYC, just ask. I think Yigit's looked pretty awesome too, even though I'm still not sure what agar agar is.
But, alas, Tim went home for his basil pudding. His dish was something I may have ordered out of curiousity, but probably wouldn't have enjoyed. I don't like basil unless it's in a tomato sauce of some kind, and I'm not one for citrus-y desserts, let alone a citrus granita. If I'm having fruit on my dessert, which I do love, it has to accompany chocolate or something doughy to break up the tartness. It's moot though because my Assistant Editor Andrew and I (OK, just me) couldn't care less about the actual challenge and just keep calling Tim Nugent Tim Nougat because he's in the sweets business, see. I hope this catches on.
And now that I've made a significant number of random references in this blog, I bid you adieu for the week.