Bravotv.com: For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs have to make innovative ice cream sundaes. What approach would you have taken to this challenge?
Johnny Iuzzini: You know it is easy to say how I would take a different direction, but to be fair, I am not on camera, I am not working against a stop clock, I am not in a foreign kitchen, nor am I working with a bunch of other crazy pastry chefs running around like a bunch of nutbags. That said, I would probably take the elements of what a sundae represents and focus on changing the way in which it was presented. Break down the traditional components, ice cream, chocolate sauce or other sauce, fruit, nuts and manipulate these ingredients into an untraditional take on a sundae. I would first see what was in the pantry and depending on what ice cream flavor i pulled, try and do a vegetable version. Maybe make salty nougatine sheets. Pipe the ice cream into molds, to shape them and plate it in more modern style. Maybe some quick sweet confit or compressed vegetables. Who knows?
Bravotv.com: Seth’s time in the competition comes to an end. What was it like going in and being the one to tell the other chefs what had happened?
JI: I’m very sad to see Seth have to leave the show. He is tremendously talented, and I believe he would have shown us great technique and made really delicious food. Having been in a very similar situation a few years back when I lost my own mother, I sympathize and can relate to his emotional state. The best thing for Seth was to leave the show and to rejoin his family.
Bravotv.com: Which dishes really stood out to you (for better or worse?)
JI: Keep in mind, I didn't get to taste anything here. Just like you guys, I just watched on a monitor. I liked that Zac fried his ice cream -- you know i am a freak for contrast in texture and temperature. Erika did the s'mores with Frangelico. I am not really a fan of s'mores in general, and it just didn't seem like something that grabbed my attention or that I would order. I like the way Morgan thought out-of-the-box a bit and took the elements of a sundae with familiar flavors and did something more creative with them, including a warm drinkable component. I was a bit disappointed with Heather H.'s sundae. She has shown us that she has some serious skill, but here was a chance to get creative and I think she just played it too safe. Maybe if it were an elimination she would have done more??? Eric's sundae actually sounded really delicious to me. I was surprised the judges didn't like it, but then again, I didn't taste it. Malika made one of the more classic-style sundaes we saw, with the exception of the malted milk powder. I thought it sounded a bit pedestrian. Did she really put a canned maraschino cherry on top? Yuck! Yigit took a more plated style approach. It looked good but sounded sweet to me and there is that pesky s'mores again. Also, why does everyone need to use peanut butter so much? Danielle's sundae also sounded appealing to me -- there was a fresh-roasted fruit element. I think if she would have used a bit less honey and introduced a little acid like balsamic vinegar to help cut the sweetness and balance it, that dish would have been much better.
Bravotv.com: Can you say a little something about guest judge Gale Gand?
JI: Gale has been a big name in the industry for quite some time. She has mentored many young chefs and her style of food is very American, so this Quickfire was a perfect fit for her to judge.
Bravotv.com: For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to be inspired by the Lucent Dossier Experience. You seemed fairly amused with the show — what did you find most inspiring?
JI: I love those crazy theatrical performances. Was my mouth open the whole time? Ha! I find the human body very seductive, the shapes, the curves. That coupled with motion and sexuality brings me to my knees. Oops? Is this blog rated PG? Anyway, it is important to find a way to incorporate all these sensations and emotions into the dishes and showpieces. Some did it better then others.