Johnny Iuzzini

Johnny Iuzzini empathizes with Seth Caro's situation.

on Sep 30, 20100

Bravotv.com: In the second Quickfire Challenge, the chefs have to make desserts with candy. What would you have wanted to make something with? Did any of them stand out to you?
I’m a huge fan of black licorice. I definitely would have gone more savory like the saltier candies and licorice and stuff, and stayed away from the really sweet stuff and just worked off of those flavors.

Heather C. did a dessert that was inspired by the flavors of the candy, but the whole purpose of the challenge was to utilize the candy in the food, so, for me, it kind of let me down a little bit. I mean, come on, this is a competition, don’t bend the rules and interpret things differently, you know what the challenge was, you're challenged like everybody else, stop playing games. Step it up.

Bravotv.com: And then for the Elimination, the chefs were inspired by cocktails.
I was very excited about this challenge. I’m a big fan of the bar. I work with bars a lot, I work with cocktails a lot. It’s sort of a passion of mine on the side, aside from being a pastry chef, is to some day open a cocktail bar, utilizing everything as a pastry chef, so I was hoping that these guys would really start to kind of show how similar the two mediums really are. It’s a matter of combining flavors, no different than from what we do in the kitchen, just a different medium being liquid verses solids. And some people, I thought, did a really good job, and I thought some people just played it safe and did simple things. I think the winner was definitely a clear winner. The margarita was awesome; a lot of great flavors, a lot of great textures, the salt really brought it all together. She was worried about the salt and if she didn’t have it, it might not have won it for her.

 

Bravotv.com: We're seeing more salt used in desserts, but it seems some people still reject it.
I use salt in almost everything I do in the restaurant. Almost all my recipes have salt in them, and it’s not a matter of being salty, because you wouldn’t taste the salt in a recipe, but if I gave it to you without, you’d notice a difference. It’s not about being salty, it’s about enhancing flavor gently and helping to balance flavors and balance a dish. And I guess opening up your palate is what salt's great for, bringing out flavor notes that you wouldn’t normally taste otherwise.

Bravotv.com: With this challenge we start to see some people getting worried about their presentation because they’re not necessarily pastry chefs, but they’re bakers. How much does presentation matter?
The show isn’t "Top Chef Restaurant Plated Dessert," it’s just "Dessert," so if your flavors are sound and the dessert is delicious, and it's aesthetically pleasing, it doesn’t have to be a hyper component-driven dessert. It doesn’t have to be Picasso on a plate. If it’s visually pleasing, and aesthetically pleasing, and it tastes delicious, chances are you’re gonna place.

Bravotv.com: In this episode we start to see Seth struggling to maintain his game face with all of the things going on in his life.  What was your reaction as a judge?
In the first challenge I really saw glimpses of the fact that Seth does have a good talent. Seth understands how to put flavors together, and they’re unique flavor combinations. And he does have technique, so right away I thought Seth was going to be one of the front-runners, right off the bat, based on the first couple of challenges. But he had some emotional stuff going on with his family, he’s obviously very close with his mother, and I can sympathize. I lost my mom a couple of years ago to cancer, and it does, it screws you up; it’s very hard to be creative in that environment.  Having that in the back of your mind, worrying about someone so dear and so close to you, it's very difficult, so I felt bad for him. But he knew this going into the show and he made a conscious effort to give it his all, so it was his decision to stay on or not given what was going on. 

Bravotv.com: It seems like at Judges' Table these chefs reveal a lot more about what's going on behind the scenes than the chefs on Top Chef. Do you guys want to hear that stuff or do you couldn’t care less?
If you’re in a team effort and you’re being alienated by your team, it’s going to affect the quality of your work. So it does matter, to a point, but bottom line, we care about the food. We care about the dishes. We don’t care about the previous challenge, we don’t care about who stole whose pillow the night before. We don’t really care. But at the same point, the insight doesn’t hurt.

11 comments
sjthrun
sjthrun

I'm so frustrated & I gotta get this out! The fact that Tim was sent home after the judges even said his flavors were "there," and Seth was kept after turning some dried out blue cakes is ridiculous. I can't watch anymore Bravo, you're getting rid of a potential Top Chef and keeping another thats good TV drama? So disappointing! I thought this show was about food.

sarahsauce
sarahsauce

There's something to be said though for being the most talked about contestant. At least hes not boring. His dishes must have been good or I dont think they would have allowed him to stay especially since he consistently did his own thing.

ajparp
ajparp

Exact and to the point sam5. He should have been eliminated.

diane glaser
diane glaser

I happen to love the new show and I gobble up all the drama. the first 2 seasons of "Top Chef" were by far the very best because of all the different personalities and conflicts. Bring on more "Betty's, Marcels, and Stephens". those guys were great and alot of fun to watch. I'm all for the drama and hope we continue to get to know the cheftestants on a more personal level. It's a blast being a viewer and a true pleasure that I look forward to. Okay, maybe I need to get a life ...but in the meantine...rock on!

BLeeinNYC
BLeeinNYC

I'm a big fan of Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, having diligently watched every episode starting from Season 1 more than a few times. I didn't think I'd be a fan of Just Desserts, since I'm not much of a sweets or desserts person. Maybe that's part of my Asian heritage, there are not a lot of desserts in my culture. I must say, though, the show is fascinating and I learn a more from each episode than I thought possible. Many of the desserts produced are simply "works of art." To paraphrase Sylvia Weinstock, such a gracious and talented woman, "everything is a learning experience." Keep up the good work, I hope Just Desserts becomes part of the regular line up.

cheflisa
cheflisa

Seth makes good tv and that is the only reason he is still in the game.He should have been sent packing after last weeks freak out.

NotHappyInVA
NotHappyInVA

Enough drama. I watch cooking shows for the pleasure of vicariously tasting stuff I probably never will (and without having to spend an extra hour in the gym), and to possibly see something I can learn to do.

I don't care about their sexuality or their personal demons, and the flaming and over-the-top drama detracts from the show. Please focus on food and food preparation (I assume that the show is already in the can, so this is probably a foolish request). If I wanted to watch fighting, that's available with a click. I don't.

At least your judges are civilized and constructive in their interactions with the chefs, even when the chefs don't deserve it.

Iron Chef America is, in my opinion, the exemplar. We learn nothing about the challenger other than where he or she trained and works now, we see all kinds of techniques that amaze and astound, and we hear details critiques of taste, texture, and presentation of each and every dish.

Stell
Stell

Why is it that Seth, does NOT directly address a specific challenge, and continues to stay ? Can Not believe his attitude and NON - participation in the Bake - sale.. He has no place in the competition........sgr.

NoDramaPlz
NoDramaPlz

I love watching cooking shows of any kind - actually my husband and I enjoy them togeather. What we don't like is all the drama! I watch TV to relax or learn - life is full enough of drama I don't want it in the shows I watch! Seth is so far over the top and almost looks/acts like he is suffering from some sort of mental disease - talking to himself all the time, etc. My husband and I both agree that if this show is going to continue in the direction it's going right now that we won't continue to "tune in"

FanFare56
FanFare56

Hey Johnny,

If Seth has much trouble playing the game due to being overwhelmed by his mother's illness, then he should have been released from the show (or better yet, not start in the first place). He has become a major distraction from the rest of the baketestants. He's the only challenger to not complete 2 QFs and not pay for it with his exit. That's totally disingenuous and insulting to the rest of PC's (pastry chefs). Obviously, your sympathies have given him a mulligan or two.

sam5
sam5

"I mean, come on, this is a competition, don’t bend the rules and interpret things differently, you know what the challenge was, you're challenged like everybody else, stop playing games. "

so why is seth still there?