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Flame On!

Dannielle comments on this week's fantastic and fiery challenge (and Zac's chocolate bust).

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Catch up on Top Chef: Just Desserts on the Bravo App.

Hi, everybody! Hope you all are feeling fantastic and had a less dramatic week than tonight's episode. My goodness gracious -- that was a lot to process.

Before we dig into it, I have to thank you for all the great bake sale feedback and ideas. I really love hearing from you and hope you will continue to share so many smart, opinionated thoughts. It makes being part of such a fun show even more awesome, if that's even possible, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.

Ok, where to begin? From my perspective, it might make most sense to begin at the end. Obviously, it was Hubert's turn at judge's table this week, so watching tonight's episode was the first time I saw with my own eyes all that had happened. When either of us is not on duty, we're not on the set. So imagine when I returned to the set a day or two after this whirlwind of events for the next episode and was quickly and matter-of-factly briefed on what I'd missed. I remember thinking, "What the what?!" How is it in any way possible that Seth left, Heather C. came back, and Malika volunteered to be eliminated? Oh, and swords and flames were swallowed, and Zac made a chocolate mold of his face.

A lot of you have commented that there has been too much drama among the contestants for your taste. The good news is, while tonight was certainly over the top in many ways, it was almost the upheaval that had to happen before we could move forward on our mission to determine which chef really is the top. Tonight's creations were the most elaborate so far, structurally and flavor-wise, and the chefs who remain are up to testing and pushing themselves even further. Gail warned the gang that this elimination challenge would test the limits of imagination, creativity and teamwork, and that will only continue.

Both the Quickfire and elimination challenge tonight allowed, even demanded, that each chef do something absolutely wild, and in my mind, the sky really was the limit. For starters, the Quickfire was a bit of a double-edged sword (and even Lucent Dossier avoids using those in their acts) because the chefs got to start with a foundation they knew tasted good: yummy ice cream straight from the box. The great part was, they didn't have to worry about making it themselves, so they had a lot more creative freedom and flexibility. But this guaranteed delicious foundation also meant more pressure to do something to really get Gale and Gail's attention, to truly show their skill and talent.

It didn't surprise me, but I still loved it, when Zac said, "If you can cook it, I can fry it," and his "Blackforest is Burning" looked sumptuous, complex, and satisfying. When you're tasting so many desserts, it's really rare to actually want more of one, and Gail and Gale polished off Morgan's "Sunday," which is the ultimate compliment. I liked that he incorporated warmth.

Through my work as an editor at DailyCandy, I have been on the Lucent Dossier Experience's mailing list for a number of years, and have always been fascinated by this band of exotic, erotic, over-the-top artistes whom I pictured living together in a decaying palace/theater that only comes to life at night. Wow, their performances tonight fit the bill and then some. While the chefs garnered so much inspiration from the characters, their costumes, make-up, the sets, the fire, the smoke, and the word, "Overwhelming" instantly came to mind. There was an overwhelming amount of stimuli, almost sensory overload, and the actual details of the challenge were, as Eric said, "So, so, SO much." There was just SO much to do, and I think it was the hardest challenge yet.

Even though there were some (okay, a lot of) moments that made me wonder whether the chefs were glad to have Heather C. back, and even though Heather H. had some issues with Morgan's attitudes and behavior, the level of intense teamwork required to pull off what each team did made it entirely clear they all really were focused on just frantically getting the job done. Yigit's leadership was notable, and, what do you know, Zac's face looks pretty great in chocolate. All three showpieces were visually arresting, I thought. 

Johnny, Gail, Hubert, and Gale all said it, but it bears repeating. Many of the fantastical, exotic, out-there but delicious plated desserts everyone came up with were the best work they'd done thus far in the competition. Morgan's mango pana cotta looked like a masterpiece, and looked like it tasted like one, too. They really pushed themselves, and it showed.

I loved it when Gail said she felt like the chefs had taken everyone on a mystical journey, which means they made the most of this challenge, and which made this episode so compelling to watch, but I'll give Morgan the last word, which was on everyone's mind.

"Game's on tomorrow." You said it, buddy.

Until then, have a wonderful week.

Follow me on Twitter @DKyrillos

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