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Bravotv.com: We start with the Godiva Quickfire Challenge. Francios Payard is the guest judge.
I am pretty certain that every chef on our cast was just waiting for the moment that Francois Payard showed up on set. Francois is a behemoth in the pastry universe. He was the original pastry chef at Daniel. He and Daniel Boulud were
partners for years, and he is chef/owner of Payard Patisserie which was a mainstay in New York for many years. He just opened a new one downtown. Francois Payard is sort of the last word in chocolate and classic French pastry, so he was the perfect judge for this challenge.
Bravotv.com: The chefs had to make truffles.
The Godiva Challenge was very emotional for all of our chefs, and I think there’s two reasons for it: First, we obviously asked them to dig a little deeper and give these chocolates significance from major milestones in their
lives. Second, it's the penultimate challenge of the season and this is the moment where it’s really sink or swim time. You need to muster everything inside you to get through these last few days. It’s always the hardest. And unlike regular Top Chef where they get a break and return for the finale renewed several months later, these chefs have been going straight, and they are tired. The dynamic between our pastry chefs creates a lot of tension -- it seems they do not like each other very much and they have to live and work together. They were all at their breaking points on this Quickfire Challenge
Bravotv.com: It does seem to be affecting Yigit rather strongly and one of his truffles doesn’t even work out. How'd the chefs do overall?
They all worked really hard to complete this challenge. It’s a really hard thing to do in two hours, especially from early conception to be able to think on your feet that quickly and also execute it all in such a short amount of time.They all did really well over all considering the pressure they were under. True, one of Yigit's truffles didn’t work out, which was a disappointment. It’s always about timing. It wasn’t because he was so frazzled. What he tried to do just didn’t set up properly. Although it would have been delicious if it had....
Morgan's advantage in this challenge is that he is super-fast. But he’s not just fast, he’s also precise, which is a killer combination in a pastry chef because you really need both. His chocolates were tempered beautifully. They showed a diverse range of flavors. They looked beautiful, especially that mendiant with the rocher filling, which I cannot wait to eat again now that it is released in Godiva stores nation-wide.
Bravotv.com: So for the Elimination Challenge we have this elderly man come in, and he puts in this request for an anniversary cake. Little do the chefs know that that’s Sylvia Weinstock’s husband. What was the reaction in the kitchen when they found what they had to do?
I think they were all thrilled! In all the different challenges we’ve given them, we haven’t actually told them to create an ornate cake from scratch. They did a wedding cake challenge for Sylvia in Episode 3, but we gave them the pre-made genoise (cake base), because we wanted them to focus on the decoration of the cake, and the exterior. So I think they were all waiting to be able to make a big cake like this. They knew it was coming. We gave it the twist of Sylvia and Ben's 61st anniversary when we heard their amazing story. I think it made us all melt, pun intended. I mean, just look at Ben. The man deserves an award for being the No. 1 cutest man alive. He and Sylvia are so perfectly paired. They are so in love. And his story was so sincere. This was the real deal. I think his energy and his story, gave our chefs the passion and enthusiasm they needed to get invigorated, get back into the challenge and get their heads back in the game.Bravotv.com: Let's talk about the cakes.
Morgan’s cake: he did a good job. There were some problems with the interior though as some of it was dry. And then there were problems with the exterior. He made an elegant cake for sure and he created a lovely piano topping that was
just beautifully done, but it was just too simple, so you could the cracks in the pavement, so to speak. We wanted him to try a little harder, to push a little more. Yigit and Zac were right when they said that he played it too safe. I think Morgan got a little cocky in this challenge. Because he was on a winning streak, he thought he could just dial it in, and you can never dial it in on our show. We see right through it.
Bravotv.com: Yigit had some problems with doing too much.
Yigit’s cake was absolutely beautiful. We loved the exterior. We loved the design. It was for sure my favorite cake, visually. But visual’s only half the battle, and the major flaw in his cake was that pate de fruit, (solidified fruit jelly) that he put as a layer to divide some of the different components of his cake. It had a terrible texture. It was kind of like eating a gummy bear in the middle of a cake. Pate de fruit should be soft, and smooth, it should be sort of light. Your teeth should melt into it, but his was just way too dense. It had a serious impact on the end result because you didn’t want to eat that piece of cake. What is the use of cake, if not to be eaten?
Bravotv.com: Danielle won.
We were very proud of Danielle. Her cake was excellent overall, in a lot of ways. The boys either over extended or under-delivered in some way or another. Zac overextended himself literally with no editing in his design. Yigit overextended himself trying to do too many components. And Morgan under-delivered, was careless, and a little sloppy. So Danielle, rightfully, won because she focused mostly on the excellent interior taste of her cake, AND she was original with the exterior. Was it the most precise? No. But we were looking for something that came from the heart, that was best all around, that reflected Ben and Sylvia and also tasted delicious. Hers did all of those things. Johnny had a problem with the grey color as it is not a great food color, but it actually looked very modern to me, quite striking and unique, and
that is just what Ben and Sylvia are. The pink flowers she made were well done and the piano keys were beautiful, but most of all the rich chocolate interior was absolutely delicious.
Bravotv.com: Do you think we’ll start seeing more grey cakes?
We just might. I hope it starts a trend. When done properly it can look really cool and interesting.
Bravotv.com: And Zac’s cake was a self-admitted “cake-tastrophe"!
I do not think Zac makes cakes like this very often. He was out of his comfort zone, and he got ahead of himself. He had way too much going on, he couldn’t edit, and yes, it was a cake-tastrophe. It didn’t taste that horrible, it just had no style. It was all over the place, it wasn’t elegant, and it didn’t reflect Ben and Sylvia. I think Johnny said it best when he said, “this cake is all about Zac and it really needs to be about the couple.” Which is why, to all of our dismay, Zac was eliminated that night. Trust me people of the universe, when you start Tweeting and e-mailing that we are terrible people for sending Zac home, it was his time. He knew it. We knew it. It was not a personal decision. It was the right choice. He was not devastated as he had a really amazing run on the show. No one was shocked that this was the end result of our challenge. He will be greatly missed! There is no doubt that he was the break-out personality on the show...
Bravotv.com: So now we have our final free heading into the finale.
I can’t believe it’s almost over. I’m really excited and proud of our finale. If you had asked me at the beginning of the season who would make it to the finale, I would have never guessed correctly, but that’s what's so great about Top Chef in general and the way we play the game: Everyone gets there from hard work. Everyone is on a level playing field. And our finale will be a test of everything they have in them and have learned along the way. The one thing I think that viewers are really going to be love is the guests who come to dine with us in the last episode. It’s a different format than any of the other finales on Top Chef. The many guests at our Top Chef Desserts Finale Tasting are so diverse and interesting, and there are many, many familiar faces that you won’t want to miss!