Time to Make the Donuts!

Episode 7: Two chefs go home, while others reveal their true colors to the judges.

Hello my little donuts! Before we get to this week's challenge, I just have to point out the amazing recap at the top of this episode. Our fabulous production team, the Magical Elves, shoved as many Beastie Boys references into such a short amount of time! But Gail tackled them like a pro. 

OK, now onto this week's insane Quickfire Challenge -- talk about high stakes! The bottom chef goes home! It was interesting to see how everyone kept saying, "We could go home for a donut?!" like a donut is any easier to make or less important than any other dessert. In my opinion, donuts are the new cupcakes! And to prove that point, there was no better guest judge than Doughnut Plant owner Mark Israel. I have never had the donuts from the Lower East Side shop, but I have had from the Chelsea Hotel that opened this year. I was planning a housewarming brunch, and I kind of got it in my head that I needed tohave donuts from Doughnut Plant. So, I woke up early, got to the shop about 30 minutes before they opened, and I wasn't the only one waiting!! Here are a couple pics of the ones I got.


If you're interested in what flavors I got, let me know in the Comments below, and I'll try to remember.

Anyway, the chefs all created their own versions of donuts -- some yeast, some cake. Some sticks, some round. In the end, Carlos killed it with Orange & Lemon Zest Bombolinis with Passion Fruit Cream. This might have been a little too much citrus for me, but it sounded interesting and bright. And Carlos won $10,000! Unfortunately, one chef had to go home, and that chef was Megan. Megan was kind of dead in the water when Johnny couldn't get her donut off his plate because the glaze hardened. Although it was ultimately a sad moment, watching Johnny try to get the donut off the plate was like watching Goldie Hawn in Overboard when her "sons" glue her hands to plates. You know which scene I'm talking about?OK, onto the chocolate-tastic Elimination Challenge with guest judge Wylie Dufresne! Love Wylie, and happy to offer this video of the self-proclaimed egghead demonstrating how to poach the perfect egg. I've had more conversations recently about how to poach an egg than I care to mention, so here you all go:

The chefs broke up into two teams, and not only had to create plated desserts, but also chocolate showpieces. The showpiece aspect of the competition put showpiece rivals Orlando and Chris head-to-head. And you know what? Orlando came out on top! Although from afar, I think Chris' showpiece was more enticing, the judges pointed out that up close, Orlando's was more nuanced. And frankly, like the judges, I preferred the story behind Orlando's showpiece -- the history of chocolate. I never go to museums (I know, I know), but I did go to a chocolate exhibit the American Museum of Natural History put on a few years ago, which walked you through how chocolate is made, and Orlando's showpiece brought me right back there.

What Orlando surely didn't win points for was how vocal he was during the tasting. See, this week the judges allowed the chefs to taste their competitors' food and comment. Aaand Orlando did just that. Perhaps too much! It was amusing, but also good insight for the judges into the chef's personalities -- something they usually don't get to see. Fortunately for Orlando, his team won.Therefore, someone on the losing team, the Red Team had to go home. I was personally more nervous than I've been all season with the thought of any of these chefs going home. Unfortuantely for Katzie, it was her time to leave. But I think Matthew or Chris could just as easily have gone home, and I'm sure this challenge proved to be a big wake-up call for them. But alas, their adorable bromance continues.

Do you think Katzie deserved to go home? Let me know what you think in the Comments below.

Anyway, this episode got me super-psyched for my trip to L.A. in a couple weeks, where I will hopefully be visiting Mrs. Jacques Torres herself, Madame Chocolat, and indulging in some chocolate treats! I'll be sure to take pictures of as many pieces as I can, and share them with you when I get back.

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!