Scary Good

Taking the Cake

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Best in Show

Grande Finale

Nobody's Perfect

The Final Four

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Puff Piece

Big News!

Bon Voyage

Carlos vs. Orlando

Life is a Carnival

"Sugar is Not a Flavor"

Original Sin

Strong Competitors, More Insecurity

Civilized Conversation

Rest in Peace, Coco Chanel

Time to Make the Donuts!

I'll Be Back!

Must Love Chocolate

Sugar Rush

Brothers from Another Mother

Everybody Likes a Fried Chicken Skin

Too Sweet to Be Sour

Finger Lickin’ Good

Ad-Rock, Light Up the Place

Top Banana

Splish Splash

Wet and Wild

Like Family

How Melissa Could Have Saved Herself

California Girl

No Whangdoodles or Hornswogglers Here!

Glaze Me a Doughnut

A Chocolate Lake?

Fair Fare

On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink

Glass Half Empty?

Gone to the Dog

If Only Katzie Would Have Won!

Final Warning for THE CRAIG

Scary Good

Episode 4: Tears are shed (on the part of's Senior Editor) as the chefs meet the cast of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Hello my little Augustus Gloops! (I saw some of your tweets requesting his presence.) I can't express how much I loved this episode. It's one of those that gave me the chills, had me tearing up, and just had me lovin' life. So, let's get right into it!

The chefs were brought to a screening room of some sort, with a concession stand outside. Matthew continues to impress me, as he was the only chef that commented that he chose his confections based on what he would want to cook in a Quickfire. Absolutely brilliant. This just showed that he knows how to play a game -- that anything, even a seemingly harmless invitation to a "relaxing night out" from Gail -- could become a challenge. (That Gail is a wily one, after all!)

Fortunately for Matt and the other chefs, he could just enjoy his candy and a screening of the classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I have to admit I've never seen the Johnny Depp remake because, well, it just looked frightening to me, and the original actually scares me sometimes too, but it also delights. I saw it more times growing up than i care to comment (not more than Newsies, don't worry.) After the screening, a few audience members emerged, and Gail introduced them as the original cast members of the film. Orlando's reaction was probably the funniest, not knowing he was sitting next to the Veruca Salt. She obliged Rebecca and the other chefs by uttering her famous line, "I want it, and I want it now." What great sports these guys were.

So, for the Eliminated Challenge, the chefs had to create their own world of Pure Imagination -- a pastry chefs' dream come true. I honestly would've loved to have seen what Johnny Iuzzini would have come up with! Johnny was right in saying the chefs' real hindrance was their own imaginations. Even though they don't usually have to build such an elaborate environment, one would think that they try to concoct desserts stretching their own imaginations every day. Chris suggested the group split up into two teams -- a creative team and a food-producing team. As all of the chefs worked on their own items, it became clear the creative team might not be able to hold up their end of the bargain. I'm starting to wonder to what extent Chris is playing the game -- is he sabotaging his competitors? I'd prefer not to think so because I like Chris. The reason Chris couldn't help out as much as he may have liked was due to the time spent (and others' time spent) creating the classic chocolate waterfall from the film. I actually agreed with him that that piece was maybe the most recognizable element from the film. But then again, Hubert suggests in his blog this week that a chocolate lake could have been equally effective and taken less time, and even Charlie Bucket himself suggests that the chefs could focus more on new ideas, rather than simply recreating ideas from the film. Chris lands in the middle. 

Megan, a member of Chris' team, was all over the place, certainly trying to hold up her team's part of the deal, and her desserts suffered because of it. I love love loved that Carlos stood up for Megan at Judges' Table. He's good peeps, and super-talented. He killed it with his edible wallpaper. 

Megan was safe, but Sally, Craig, and Melissa were in trouble. Sally was spared, although Gail reveals just how close she was to going home. Craig goes home for his poorly-executed gummy bears and Melissa's green donuts sent her home. I'm sure many of you are happy to see Craig go home, and honestly, I'm excited to see what Sally can do without worrying about her former student. Katzie pulled out the win with her amazing carrot cake patch and beehive. She deserved this win -- I thought her ideas were new and very clever. And, well, i love carrot cake!

Before I go for this week, I promised a pic of my friend's Ron Ben-Israel original wedding cake. Here it is!

It was a Brown Butter Cake with Hazelnut Praline Crunch and Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling. It was ridiculously delicious. I always make a point to try the cake of whatever wedding I'm attending, but I made a special point to sit down and really taste this one. It was exceptional. 

Anyone else have any fabulous wedding cakes lately? And, tell me if you cried during this episode, so I don't feel like a crazy person!

Until next week, Have a Nosh!


Best in Show

The final three chefs compete for the ultimate title of "Top Chef: Just Desserts."

Bonjour, mes petits amis! Well, we made it. It's finale time, and wow, was it a nail-biter!

The opening of this episode gave me the chills -- the finalists were greeted by Jacques Torres and his fellow MOFs, Sebastien Cannone and Stefane Treand. I've actually heard the term "MOF" before, but I didn't know much about it. Gail recommends watching Kings of Pastry, and discusses it in her finale blog. You can actually watch it streaming instantly on Netflix -- I plan on doing so this week!

Chris, Matthew, and Sally were issued their finale challenge -- a Meilleurs Ouvriers de France-style challenge where they'd have to make a bonbon, bread, a showpiece, and a plated dessert, truly testing many different pastry skills. Each of the chefs consulted with the culinary legends, as they prepared their desserts. They were also given actual sous-chefs later, in the form of their former cheftestants. They each chose and drew some of the best competitors of the season. I was wondering if anyone would pull Craig (sorry, Craig!) and how they would utilize him. But that didn't happen. Sally seemingly pulled the best pick in Orlando, who executed her showpiece for her -- more on that later!

This challenge was also interesting in that the chefs' plated desserts had to be personal and they presented a story to the diners along with their dishes. This was the first time the judges and their guests really got to get a taste of what everyone was fighting for, what was driving them this whole season. Le's start with Matthew.

I've been saying all season how smart Matthew is, but, unfortunately he sort of faltered this time around. I thick in a lot of ways Matthew was my front-runner going into the challenge in that he always makes smart decisions, satisfying the challenge and the judges, while staing true to his style. First the showpiece. He used sugar. I honestly don't know enough about showpieces to know what was wrong with his because it looked pretty amazing to me. But, the judges seem to think that he should have used chocolate. His bonbon was well-received, and his bread, though tasty, seemed to be too simple. Then came his plated dessert, which looked abstract and messy all at the same time. Although the dish was beautiful in a way, it wasn't composed, and much like Katzie's Beastie Boys challenge dish, the diners didn't know how to eat the components. Matthew has a stunning future ahead of him, regardless of whether or not he lost. The same can obviously be said for Sally. Sally's bonbon went over well and her bread seemed to be the most well-received that evening. I would eat the s--- out of that thing! But her plated dessert, while tasty, was sloppy (she ran out of time), and her showpiece was done completely by Orlando. There was an interesting debate at Judges' Table about this, and honestly, I see both sides, but I'm glad Dannielle stood up for Sally, saying that Sally simply utilized her sous-chef. That's what they're there for, and it was completely within the rules. You can see more of the judges' discussion in our Extended Judges' Table footage.

Finally, we have Chris. First off, congrats Chris!!! Obviously Chris' showpiece was exceptional, despite some falling pieces, and he threaded his concept of industrialization through all of his dishes. His bonbon was polished and flavorful, and his bread was decent. But I really think it came down to this plated dessert, which people loved. It sounded yummy, for lack of a better word. And so, Chris got the money, and I couldn't be happier that he now has the funds to take care of his daughter. He had to step it up that day, and he did.

All I have left to say is that this session was such a pleasure to watch, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

On a sidenote, I had the pleasure of visiting MOF Jacques Torres' wife's, Madame Chocolat's, shop this past week in L.A. and she, well, spoiled me rotten. Now these are bonbons!


Here's my friend Gina and I with Hasty!


Look at all the loot I ended up with! I'm going to turn into a bonbon!


If you've never had Jacques or Hasty's chocolates, you're missing out, so you should definitely stop for some next time you're in either L.A. or New York City. 

I'll see you all next week for the Top Chef: Texas premiere, Until then, Have a Nosh!