Bravotv.com: We’re right into the Elimination Challenge this week! What did you think of the challenge overall? How should the chefs have approached it?
Johnny Iuzzini: This is a really, really difficult challenge. Here is the thing: It isn't difficult to use pastry ingredients to make dishes look like savory food, If you are building it like a showpiece and it isn't meant to be eaten. You could use things that do not necessarily taste delicious, like gum paste, pastiage, marzipan, modeling chocolate etc. The difficult part is that the desserts they have to create not only have to taste delicious, but they have to have an identity of their own and show the chef's creativity and be absolutely delicious, since the judging panel consists of a group of highly-regarded chefs. The best approach would be to think of it as two separate challenges. First come up with the design of the dish you are mocking. Then go through your mental repertoire of recipes and techniques of what you know how to do and find the best fit for the dish.
Bravotv.com: You seemed concerned for Sally when you did your check-in because she hadn’t decided on a dish yet! How nervous were you for her?
JI: I was super-concerned for Sally. Up until this point, she has been quite confident and focused and had a clear idea of what she wanted to do and exactly how she planned on executing it. This was the first time I really saw her nervous, confused, and second-guessing herself. She was actually prepping for two separate dishes and was going to see which one came out better. I thought this was a bold and chancy move since she potentially could have been wasting a lot of precious time. In the end, I do believe it did hurt her a bit, even though she came out on top. The fact that she used a mousse that was originally intended for her other dish which really didn’t work so well for her cubano cost her some points because of its flavor and texture.