Too Sweet to Be Sour

Episode 6: Ad-Rock issues the toughest challenge yet to our Beastie Boy fan chefs.

Hello my little sardines in a tin. Just when I thought we couldn't top our Wonka episode, we go and do it. I'm really curious to hear which episode you actually preferred. I was positively giddy today promoting this one, encouraging our Twitter users to hashtag their tweets to @BravoTopChef with #beastieboyfoodlyrics, and seeing the awesome fake ones people came up with. Although I will say that a lot of them were "Fight for your right to [fill in food that sounds like "party" here.]

Anyway, before we get to the glory of King Ad-Rock's guest judging, let's talk about the Quickfire, where the chefs were greeted by Jordan Kahan, who I honestly didn't know much about before, but I was digging his hipster style. He presented the chefs with this week's challenge: to create desserts using root vegetables. I actually think I've only had one root vegetble dessert before, and that was at Harold Dieterele's Perilla. Coincidentally -- if I can remember correcty -- it had beer foam, an ingredient (beer) we'd see used later in the Elimination Challenge. It was fairly amusing to see how few of the roots the chefs were actually familiar with. Gail didn't seem amused, something which amused me even more. I love hard-ass Gail, just because she's so sweet usually. Seeing Dannielle angry would probably send me over the edge. The chefs tried their best though, of course with quite a bit of bitching, especially by Rebecca who declared that she can't cook. Gail already told her how stupid saying that on national television was, so I won't beat a dead horse. Sally and Matthew found themselves on top, with Sally claiming another Quickfire win. Good for her! Her dish really was beautiful, but I have to say, Matthew's idea was just so smart, so kudos to him as well!

And if you thought those ingredients were challenging, check out some of the trials and tribulations the staff and crew of the show have had to overcome:

OK, the moment we've all been waiting for... Ad-Rock enters the Top Chef: Just Desserts kitchen! Everyone goes nuts! I think only Matthew got the "Roots Down" clue at the end of the Quickfire, which showed what a big Beastie fan he is, which was adorable. Ad-Rock presented the chefs with the Beastie Boys pantry. I have to say when I first heard about this challenge from our Executive Producer, the incomparable Dave Serwatka, I lost it on the phone, and it was nice to see that the chefs had pretty much the same reaction. My personal love affair with the Beastie Boys actually didn't start till high school becuase a boy I was obsessed with was, well, obsessed with them. Ad-Rock was his favorite Beastie, and although I love him dearly too (obviously even more now!), I've always been an MCA girl. Although the Beasties mention plenty of sweet treets in their lyrics, the pantry contained some really nasty stuff too. And the chefs embraced it, perhaps no one more so than Chris. Each of the chefs chose their two ingredients, but were then "sabotaged" by a fellow chef, being given another ingredient from the pastry. There was no sabotaging Chris, who pretty much sabotaged himself! Luckily it worked out for him, as his "pork and beans brownie" landed him on the top. He didn't win though. His good friend, Matthew, won with his cheesecake. Again, brilliant. His dessert looked like a dessert. Sally's dessert also got good reception. Again, she's killing it now that Craig is gone.

Megan almost went home for a dry cake, but alas, it wasn't her time. I really, really like Megan, and almost get sad when her dishes have issues. You can just tell she really works hard, and that's something I really respect. Katzie's fries with dipping sauces and sugars almost sent her home. Her concept was akin to a poorly deconstructed dish. The judges usually say, "Why didn't you just put everything together?" In essence, I don't believe Katzie really made a dish because she didn't make a decsion about how anything should have been eaten. But she was lucky and her fries just tasted better than Rebecca's falafel disaster. Like Johnny said, Rebecca's dish was a garlic bomb. Listening to arguably my favorite song off of the Beastie Boys' album To the 5 Boroughs, "Oh Word?," Ad-Rock actually spits the line, "What the falafel?" What the falafel, indeed. I liked Rebecca through the competition so far, but her attitude this episode kinda sucked, and it obviously seeped into her dessert. She never really complained about her arm injury, so why complain about difficult ingredients? That confused me.

I have one final point, and that is: How adorable is Matthew's daughter?! Those eyes! 

Aaand I think that's it for now. I'm almost sad to finish this recap because I feel like there's so much more to say about Ad-Rock's appearance, but I'll leave that to you in the Comments section below. I'll also leave you with a ridiculously awesome clip of Ad-Rock demonstrating how to make his "Finger Lickin' PB&J Roll-Up" -- it's not to be missed!

Until next week, Have a Nosh!

Oh, and P.S. It was so fitting to see Top Chef's resident rapper, Marcel, cameo in this week's episode. Did anyone kinda want to hear him try to rap in front of Ad-Rock, or would that have just been embarrassing for everyone involved?

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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!


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