Bravotv.com: We'll start with the Quickfire Challenge, where the chefs had to design sweet flowers. What did you think about this challenge overall?
Gail Simmons: I was pretty excited for this challenge, partially because, for the first time in all of shooting Just Desserts I didn’t have to eat anything during the Quickfire, and I needed a sugar break.
Bravotv.com: Why didn't you guys taste the food? Was it just the nature of the challenge?
GS: The flower arrangements were really meant to be show pieces. They're all edible, but it wasn't necessary to break them apart and taste them. It was really about the artistry. This specific challenge was the first challenge I think we've ever done in Top Chef history, besides the relay races, that wasn't about flavor. It was about technique only, and seeing what they could create. Doing anything like that in three hours is really difficult, delicate, and exciting. There was just such diversity between what they all did. This is an area of pastry arts that shows, just because you are a pastry chef or a baker doesn't mean you have sugar work experience. This is a very niche area. If you work in a hotel, or if you do elaborate catering, you might have some advantage, but otherwise this is not something that pastry chefs in restaurants do very often, and it's certainly not anything a baker would do. It is why Yigit and Morgan were at a bit of an advantage and did so well. Yigit works for a very upscale company that caterers very high end and complicated events where they do things like this, and Morgan works in a hotel, so he would have experience with a show-piece that would go on a dessert buffet or something like that for example. But the rest of them, like Zac and Eric, as you can see, had certainly never done this before. If Danielle had, it didn’t show. Hers was playful and had pretty elements, but there was also some misguided moments in that bouquet.
Bravotv.com: Yigit said that he thought he would have won if his vases had worked out...
GS: Yes, absolutely. I would agree with him, because from what you saw they were modern, and beautiful, and that takes a lot of effort and a lot of knowledge to be able to pull that kind of work off. He probably would have won. But the cases didn't work out, and well ... that's how the cookie crumbles. Morgan showed great sugar work, great chocolate work, but his design was very traditional, not very innovative in its sensibility. But, overall because of how it played out, his was the strongest final piece. And we can only judge on the final piece.
Bravotv.com: For the elimination they had to cater a tea party for Dana based on celebrity duos. What did you think of the choices?
GS: I was actually sort of taken aback by this challenge overall. When they first told me this was the challenge I was skeptical. I loved the idea of doing high tea, but the celebrity aspect I thought was a bit of a stretch. In the end it added an element that made them have to think a little more. So it gave us a great spin. The celebrity choices were random, but that's because the chefs all sort of worked backwards. First of all, they all had no chocolate so they all had to adapt and they needed to really reach and stretch and find celebrity couples that worked for their desserts. But that kept things quirky and interesting and I thought there was some inspiration to be found.
Bravotv.com: What celebrity couple would you have used for your inspiration?
GS: Good question! Maybe Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. Or Lucille Ball and Desi. Or if I wanted to do something a little more modern, maybe Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks characters from Mad Men. I know that they aren’t necessarily a couple, but they are a duo with a lot of style.