Wow! Hello, everyone, and please excuse me if I sound extra-hyper tonight. I'll take a deep breath so I avoid too many run-on sentences! (Might be too late on the exclamation point front.)
My heart is beating so quickly it's as if I have been transported back to the taping of this week's final challenge and eaten all twelve desserts the final three chefs prepared so lovingly for us. But this time the palpitations are not from the sugar rush, but rather a result of the sheer thrill of watching our season finale, of finally being able to talk to the world about what happened that night, and of re-living the moment when Yigit Pura became the first ever Top Chef: Just Desserts.
First, I want to thank you all so, so much for watching each week, for reading our blogs, for getting into the show and all its twists and turns, and for all your passionate feedback. It is so nice of you to have taken this wild ride with us, and I am personally so grateful to have gotten to know you a little bit.
The final challenge had all the right components, I think. I liked that the chefs were given carte blanche and very few parameters when told they were to prepare a four-course, progressive dessert tasting. They could interpret that and tackle it however they thought best, and that allowed them to really make what they put on the plates a representation of themselves, their cooking and their visions.
Danielle, Morgan, and Yigit being assisted on the prep day by three of the most famous pastry chefs in the country, Elizabeth Faulkner, Claudia Fleming, and Sherry Yard brought the real world back into the kitchen and reminded the cheftestants of the magnitude of this challenge, that the biggest names in the industry were watching, and that they were representing the hopes and dreams of pastry chefs around the country. Yigit and Sherry seemed to combine fun and productivity in just the right way, and he used her most wisely. It was clear Danielle worshipped Elizabeth and made that clear to her, which I'm sure felt great about, but it was a little jarring to see someone of Elizabeth's caliber spending all that time shelling pistachios.
It was almost as touching and important that the chefs had to work with their former peers on the day of service, and I liked that they were paired up by chance instead of by choice. I have to hope I was misunderstanding Morgan's crazy comments about Zac or that they were taken out of context somehow. I cannot understand why anyone would be so unnecessarily mean and harsh. There just always seems to be a better way through, including letting one's work speak for itself.
Speaking of the chefs' work ... I know it's often hard to tell from just seeing it on-screen, but it was phenomenal in so many ways. Most of the presentations were elegant and smart, and the flavors were layered and intriguing in ways they hadn't been in previous dishes. Each chef pushed him- or herself in ways we hadn't yet seen, and with the freedom to tell whatever story they wanted, rather than conform to the requirements of the challenge (in this case there weren't many!), they were able to channel everything they've learned, and everything they are, into these dishes.
Yigit's tasting was the most cohesive progression. I think Morgan might have hamstrung himself with his "primary colors" theme, because he declared it and then wanted to force every component to fit it, when many of the best parts of his tasting (that unbelievably awesome baumkuchen, for instance) didn't. And they didn't have to -— no one said there had to be a theme. It's more important in a progressive tasting that the dishes flow logically one from the next, that each of them makes sense on its own but also in its place in the tasting. Yigit used the date metaphor in explaining his dishes and his thinking behind them, but it was the flavors and textures he unfolded across four plates that charmed our pants off.
I still can't believe this season has drawn to a close. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have, and that it's inspired you to always save room for dessert, and to take some risks in the kitchen you might not have considered. Happy Thanksgiving, and thank YOU for being a part of this season!
Until next time!
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