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Bravotv.com: Sure, they got to relax with a cocktail, but what was the energy like when you shared the drink with the finalists?
Johnny Iuzzini: Of course by this stage of the game they all knew better than to think there wasn't something waiting for them over there. Once they all got a drink in their hands and relaxed a bit, they all began to tell stories of how they got started and some of the battle wounds they had from the industry. I got a glimpse into whom each of them were aside from they culinary talents. I really enjoyed my time with them.
Bravotv.com: Morgan jokes about drawing your name, which of the three finalists would you have wanted to sous-chef for?
JI: Wow -- super tough question. I think my style is most comparable to Yigit's followed by Morgan and then Danielle. That doesn't mean that that is the order I think they are in talent-wise. I think it would be fun and exciting to be able to assist any of the three chefs; they are all talented and skilled in different ways.
Bravotv.com: If you had to create a four-course tasting for this, what would your theme have been?
JI: I work with themes all the time. I think I would have chosen to focus on a theme of the season I was in. At Jean Georges, my FourPlays are based on either a single ingredient like chocolate or a season like summer or even a category like Late Harvest. I think sometime the hardest thing to do and the fastest way to show skill is to continually work with the same ingredients and show its versatility and your knowledge of it. Bring that same ingredient on a journey from something light and savory through a more dessert-orientated dish. Maybe hot in one course, cold in the next, smooth in one course, crunchy in the next.
Bravotv.com: What did you think of the overall concepts when they were told to you?
JI: I thought for the most part they seemed to be playing it safe, afraid to push the envelope. Maybe they felt like every time they did they got burned. I was especially concerned with Danielle's ice cream sampler. I knew she needed to bring more to the table than that, even if all her ice creams were amazing. I guess she didn't want to tell me everything ahead of time and ruin the surprise or maybe she just didn't know how she was going to bring it together. Either way, she delivered and it was really tasty.
Bravotv.com: Chef Fleming called Morgan a “typical male pastry chef.” Do you take offense to that? Were you surprised by how much everyone seemed to hate Morgan at that point?
JI: Yes I did take offense to that. In fact, I didn't know she said that until I watched the video to write these comments. It shows a certain amount of stereotyping, and as she said herself, she is "old school," and rather than turning her nose up at a technique that she doesn't know or understand, why not ask a question to understand it. Just because it isn't her style doesn't mean she shouldn't respect the fact that it is a good technique and her role is to support her chef. I was a bit disappointed in the position she took and how vocal she was regarding her feeling about him. As far as how the other chefs viewed him, yeah, I think they have a right to. He can be smug, arrogant, and downright nasty, but I also think that is part of his game plan in order to throw others off balance and lose focus of their own duties.
Who would you have wanted for your sous chef on the first day, and why?
What would you do to the traditional Thanksgiving PIES to make them super-spectacular?
Tweak the editing please! Yidgit's win was telegraphed from the first few minutes. I'm not a fan of Morgan's personality, but the relentless "Morgan is a D-bag edit" was very upleasant to watch. It really set a dark tone for the entire episode.
Screen your contestants better. Fewer mental cases and drama queens next time, okay? A little more (or perhaps some) emphasis on the FOOD and TECHNIQUES would be nice too, instead of melt downs and p*ssing contests, or am I just being too naive?
Glad you mentioned that had this competition been judged on overall performance, the winner wouldn't have been a different one. This was Chef Wilson's competition to win, he earned & deserved it-so disappointing how these shows are judged unjustly-and for the sake of TV, a villain always has to exist-in this case, he happened to be the most deserving, nevertheless, the villain as portrayed by BRAVO.
Johnny, congrats to you and Gail. Fantastic show, enjoyed every minute.
I did think one judge's comment about Morgan– "typical male pastry chef"–was out of line and unprofessional. Revealing, though.
I really enjoyed this show. I was very disappointed with the finale. The chef should have been judge on their own ability as they were all season. Now I will wonder if Yigit really won or if Heather help him win by not helping Morgan.
I thought Morgan should have won. He clearly had more advanced skills than any other contestant. Yigit should have been eliminated a long time ago for his past mistakes, but he's so sweet & nice. No attitude like Morgan. I'll bet you a dime to a donut that Morgan can out cook any of those so-called judges.
Johnny, I thought your judging was great this season. You were very fair, and even if you seemed heated on an opinion you were able to back it up eloquently with facts rather than just sounding picky. And your blogs afterward are very insightful, thank you. I must say though I hope next season (if there is one) will be less dramatic? It certainly turned a lot of people off to the show, and I personally enjoy pastry more than savory so it was giving it a bad rep! Also, is there some sort of tension between you and Gail? She introduced you as a cantankerous judge, which in no way can be construed as a compliment. And your joking about the 61 year marriage as a battleship with her reply seemed kind of petty. Please find a new host! I personally love Rachel Allen if you could swing that
I didn't take her criticism of Morgan as she didn't like his techniques. It was about his personality, solely. She should know if that is typical of male pastry chefs or not, she has been in the business long enough to have formed an opinion.
Heather threw this for Morgan? Are you from Mars? Who exactly figured out that some of the souffles didn't' fall? It sure wasn't Morgan, it was Heather; Morgan's only assistance on that was to take the souffles Heather unmolded and instruct the waitstaff those were for the judges.
And, Johhny, that wasn't any tactic on Morgan's part. Unless the editing was REALLY excessive (I'm thinking Marcel on TC season 2), he's actually unpleasant, nasty and cruel.
WHAT? Morgan was a misogynistic and homophobic ass. In the same episode he was degrading toward Zak (I believed Morgan called Zak a "fairy" a "bitch" and a "little girl") and toward his professional sous chef, and your going to call HER out for saying he was a typical male pastry chef? In the end, she was extremely fair, even complimentary, about his dishes, which says to me that she put her dislike of him aside and evaluated his food him fairly. Which is far more than Morgan appeared to do when it came to his opponents.
I say good for her for calling it as she saw it. Morgan was allowed to deride, insult, and demean his female opponents all season. If this is the behavior of a "typical male pastry chef" it's time for you guys to get the heck over yourselves.
I must agree that Johnny would be a great dessert. LOL However, on a serious note, I enjoyed this season and hope another follows. Drama or not, I just want to know how all these pastry chefs stay so slim.
Morgan said that he appreciated the fact that Heather was acting professionally when the disaster of the souffles happened. I don't think we ever really know any of the contestants given the magic of editing.
It's been a fascinating season and I am glad that I watched, but there always seemed to be something missing. With the savory Top Chef series there has always been discussion of the classic art of food--from Escoffier to Roubochon. In Just Desserts there was not that same focus. It's said: one has to know what's been done in the past to improve it in the future. So, that said, where were desserts like St. Honore'? How about pate a choux? French and Viennes pastries?
By making every challenge so free-form the chef-testants are left to create ice creams and chocolate chip cookies (some of my favorites, but enough already) when there is such a depth to the pastry field.
Incidentally, sticking Heather (or enabling such a biased individual) to be force-paired with a chef who she hates just gives the Diva faction more control. They proved to be overtly and covertly nasty. Perhaps it was the editing, but I don't belive it. She handicapped Morgan and had I been him I would have had her sit in a corner--I woudn't have chanced letting her sabotage a season's work.
Pastry chefs are artists and technicians in equal part. Morgan did not behave irrationally (contrary to the nervous breakdowns seen on a weekly basis); instead, he played it straight. Was I the only one to notice that in the weeks he did not win he was the first to congratulate the winner...every time? In the weeks he won, he never pumped his fist or acted out. He acted like he had some class...like he had been there before.
Why was Morgan allowed to call Zach, " an irritating little fairy"? I wonder if the producers of the show would have allowed a negative comment about a black chef to be aired? You need to edit what is said and aired.
I agree, I think Morgan should've won. He clearly has excellent skills and he was able to show that during the whole season; however, Yigit is a great chef too. I really loved Yigit this whole season, but when he won, I felt kind of bad for Morgan because I feel like he was able to keep it all together and he really did an excellent job in all the challenges. I wish there could've been more than one winner, because I think Danielle really did well in her last challenge too : / I hope there's a new season! I love all the judges and I love desserts more than savory dishes haha.
The "love Yigit" "hate Morgan" editing was obvious and insulting to those of us who tune in because we love cooking and all the great hints and ideas we can take away from Top Chef. I really pity Zac as a person. His "Aw, he ran out of time" comment was tacky. What a bitter, little man.
If Morgan had any feeling that Heather sabotaged him, he would have been the first to bring it up. There is no love lost there on either side. Don't think for a minute he wouldn't have said something.
Johnny, you absolutely lived up to your own expectations for yourself as a judge. Your comments were *always* offered as constructive criticism, a way for each contestant to learn. Huge congratulations to you for that. Each episode it was a great pleasure to listen to you and Gail and the other judges. I only wish those segments could have been a wee bit longer.
So far as Morgan is concerned, I disagree with Zac's comment that Morgan didn't indicate pleasure when he won any of the challenges. Zac is plain wrong about that. In the dog show world, people have remarked about the "hoydenish howls when a contestant wins," since such behavior is considered to be very unseemly. Instead, each person handling in the ring will rush over to congratulate the winner. The sophisticated winner never shouts with glee at the judges.
Some who've posted have expressed the idea that Morgan behaved as if he were anti-women and anti-gay. Such was not the case at all. Think about it. It was the *behavior* of little girl squeals, for example, to which he objected. I objected to it as well. That doesn't mean we're anti-gay. It may mean we would welcome a social maturity reflected in courteous behavior from all contestants.
I've seen another program in which Morgan was a contestant. I find him to be an amazingly talented chef. I'm sorry that his cakes fell. Cakes can be stubborn performers and souffles the most difficult of all.
I'm sorry that any contestant felt too rushed in the time allotted to deliver his or her best creations. Very, very good show. I just wish each one had more time.
And I definitely wish they would speak more clearly. I said that last week. I still feel the same. Danielle did a super job on the final challenge; just super. I wish she would take lessons in elocution and omit the horrible grimaces.
Yigit worked incredibly hard. He drives himself. Beautiful results this week. Congratulations Yigit.
Johnny has a great idea, and that is to rate chefs on a point system throughout the season, instead of rating them on the last meal that they make. If not, how about changing the names of these shows from "Top Chef" to "Top Meal" ? or "Best food of the Night" ? (They could make it a one show series! ALL of the contestants make their best series of meals for the "First and Final Meal!" What's the difference?)
Its ridiculous that someone who lost several challenges, could win over someone who won exponentially more challenges. That has always been a "beef" of mine with Top Chef, and it is the same with "Top Chef, Just Desserts"- and I don't think that I'm alone here.
Otherwise... this season of Just Desserts was very entertaining, and I loved learning how complex, intricate, artful, and beautiful pastry can be! :)
Excellent first season. I was pulling for Morgan. I felt he was the best pastry chef. But I'm just as happy with Yigit. The two best went head to head and one of them had a better day. Yigit was definitely worthy of winning. Good start.
I completely agree with this sentiment. I would love to see less emotion and more skill and technique. Start using a point system. It would certainly be much more fair and would make up for disagreements between judges. Lowest score goes home.
Johnny, thank you for your judging throughout this first season. I enjoyed getting to know more about you and look forward to more seasons.
I agree--objecting to behavior that annoys you is one thing. Refusing to call women by their given names and resorting to childish name calling is something entirely different. Nothing about Morgans behavior was "socially mature" or "courteous."
I could totally relate with Morgan with the souffles on the top rack. At school we always have issues with the trays on the top rack in the oven.
I'm amazed at the pro/con Morgan comments on here. Just because he wins graciously doesn't make him anti-gay (BTW, he said that after winning he didn't jump around like a little girl, not that Zac was a little girl. The fact that Zac takes offense to that shows his drama-laden tendencies).
I still think it was a dick move to take away the chocolate a few weeks back. If you wanted the chefs to think ouside the box, give them a heads up and wait to be surprised.
Hello Johnny, You did an excellent job and it was a pleasure listening to you give your opinions on the finalist. I don't mean to be so honest,but you are very handsome your wife or girlfriend is a lucky woman! Looking forward to see you next season.
i agree,and i too look forward to next season. baking as they say, is so much more technical and precise.although i have to admit i do make a few deserts with out benefit of a recipe and a couple of things i have made were experimental and came out quite good. so when i see them do it on tv i can relate. although i am not a pro, i just get lucky and bake and cook like one.as you know we foodies are all into the look,texture and flavor as well as all the praise.(smile)