The Final Four

We learn the sweet way not to judge a book by its cover.

Hello my little faux-rizo! (Thank you, Chef Cimarusti, for providing me with the inspiration for that greeting.)

Let's get right into it, shall we? No Quickfire this week -- we mean business! And the chefs are presented wit their challenge by Gail and Chef Suzanne Goin. They had to create desserts disguised as other desserts. I'm starting to think our producers are obsessed with the CIA. First a sabotage, then spy food?! This challenge immediately made me think of Carlos  -- the "burger and fries" he created for the Top Chef Carnival embodied the spirit of this challenge, if only it had tasted as good as it looked.

So, let's break down the final four:

First we have Matthew's manicotti. I actually don't care for manicotti, as I think it has too much ricotta inside, so, actually, to me, Matthew's overuse of mousse made perfect sense! See, I can't really eat more than three bites of manicotti either. (How amusing was everyone's pronunciation of "manicotti"? Cracked me up.) Anyway, as far as looks go, I think Matthew's really looked like a savory entree. Unfortunately, the flavors were a little flat.Next, we have Orlando. I know many of you were probably happy to see Orlando go, but I've had a soft spot for him all season, and his story behind his paella was so moving. His flavors jus didn't work together. The judges felt that all the elements were obviously made separately, and never really came together to form a cohesive dish. Oh, and that broken rice? Sigh. There's really no excuse making bad rice when you use a rice cooker.

Chris probably would've gotten even closer to the win if he hadn't used store-bought puff pastry. He didn't think he would even use it, but he found that he had to. Johnny explains in his blog just how long it takes to make puff pastry correctly, so seems like Chris' decision was a smart one. Still disappointing though.

Finally we have Sally. I -- and apparently Johnny -- were very nervous for her. She didn't narrow her two ideas down till kind of late in the process, but when she finally went with the cubano… man, she killed it. I mean, my  mouth dropped when she presented her dish -- it looked that good! Like Matthew, her downfall was a mousse as well, but her problem was simply that it made the whole thing messy. When the judges went to eat the dish, it oozed out the sides. Seemed like a minor issue to me, and I was happy to see her get the win. I just couldn't' get over how much her dish looked like a cuban sandwich with potato salad. This challenge really made me think -- creating showpieces, or other challenges and shows where pastry chefs create things that look like other things, as Johnny points out in his blog, sometimes require special ingredients like gum paste, etc. are edible, but do they taste good? The key to this challenge was to truly make a deliciously flavorful dessert -- something the judges wold never have guessed they'd be eating by just looking at the their dish, and i have to say, all the chefs did an impressing job.

And then there were three. Until next wee'ks season finale, have a nosh!


P.S. Mazel tov to Dannielle and her husband!!!

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