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Gone to the Dog

Dannielle Kyrillos weighs in on the chefs' decisions in the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills challenge.

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

Air kisses seem like the most appropriate salutation in light of this week’s Real Housewife and Beverly Hills-themed episode, but me, I generally prefer something more robust. So, ahoy, SweeTarts, and a heartfelt welcome to Week Three of Top Chef: Just Desserts!

I’m not gonna lie: watching this episode, maybe especially because I wasn’t there for the back-story, I found myself asking a lot of questions. Yes, I shouted them out loud at the TV, as if Johnny, Gail, or Hubert would hear me and take a break from the cacophony of the competition to offer clarity. (I was hoping it would be Hubert who answered, of course, because everything he says makes perfect sense.) Since somehow that didn’t happen, and I think a lot of us are wondering about the same things, I thought it would be helpful for me to share these puzzles and see if the answers reveal themselves.  And if there’s something on your mind I didn’t cover, please leave a comment, and we’ll discuss. 

For instance…

Is Hugh Acheson as mean as some of the contestants think he is? While I’ve never met him in the flesh, Hugh is a great Southern (but Canadian!) talent and is known for his dry but wickedly funny sense of humor. And for his underlying good nature. I think sometimes that type of wittiness can be mistaken as harsher or sharper than the person intended.

Should pancakes be turned into a gum flavor? You know, when I go in for gum, it’s strictly the mint variety, or maybe cinnamon once in a blue moon if I’m feeling frisky, so I’m not as into all the modern advances in the gum sciences as so many other people are. But, I think the Extra Dessert Delights Quickfire was a really fun and important one, because gum fanatics across the country are known to race to the store for the newest flavor — it’s like a cult. Immunity awaited the winner; and most importantly, 25 thousand smackaroos were at stake! Craig’s strawberry, lemon, and marscapone pancakes certainly seemed to hit the mark for straightforward simplicity, which seems most important in translating traditional desserts into other mediums. I’ve always liked coffee-flavored candies, so I can see how Melissa’s idea was not as weird for gum as some thought. Carlos seemed to be the only chef to consider a texture translating directly to the gum, which was smart. He should invent bursting-tapioca bubble gum and get a patent immediately!

Were those the most precious little doll-sized dessert vessels ever in the history of dessert or miniature living? Yes, yes they were.Was everyone in the kitchen as genuinely happy as they seemed when Craig won the Quickfire? While there is always going to be an undercurrent of disappointment when someone else wins $25,000 and you don’t, it felt like, at least for a moment, the other chefs were truly delighted to see the perennially beaten down Craig actually win something. We heard grumbling about dumb luck later, and we certainly saw in painfully living color the (perhaps unfair) power of immunity, but when Hugh announced that Craig won, the cheer that overtook the kitchen felt real and warm.

Is Craig the most self-defeating contestant in the history of Top Chef? He sure works hard to make it seem so. After his thrilling victory in the Quickfire made him a team captain, the first thing he says is, “I have no idea how to be a team captain.” The list of things he states he has no idea how to do or is overwhelmed by is staggering. You could perhaps give him credit for honesty, and for not pretending he’s going to produce something he knows he can’t. I admired how after this admission, he made a point of trying to help each of his teammates with anything they needed. Whether they wanted that help is a different story.

Did any of Giggy the Pom’s four feet touch the ground the entire time he was there? I’m pretty sure someone told me that they did not, that he did not walk on his own at all and was never out of either Ken or Lisa’s hands.

Should Team Craig have prepared a treat for Giggy? Sometimes a question must be answered with a question: I mean, if your client is a couple who carry around a tiny, clothes-wearing dog with them at all times and this dog sits at a table with human beings as if he’s one of them, and is generally addressed as if he’s going to reply with eloquent wit, how could you not make a treat for this dog?Could the famous quote from the great American film classic Beaches, “It looks like a flamingo threw up on it,” apply to either of these tables? I don’t think so. I appreciated that each team took a different tack on the “pink, floral elegance” mandate. Team Craig’s table was fuller, more whimsical, and perhaps more childlike. Team Amanda/Chris’ table was cleaner and perhaps more sophisticated, but neither was horrifying. Pink is hard, and there’s a really fine line between “Princess Barbie” and “Civilized Lady.” Deciding where Real Housewives fall on that spectrum is a whole other ball of cotton candy. It did feel, however, that the Amanda/Chris team did exactly what Amanda said in the beginning was most important with “people like this” -- they listened. They better captured what Ken was trying to tell them Lisa would really want.

Did Amanda handle waking up on the day she was to captain a team with a cold gracefully? Her decision to hand the reigns over to Chris was not just practical, it was gracious. Although she expressed a little regret at the end when everyone was congratulating “Team Chris,” I think she did a nice job in a sniffly situation.

Was Nelson an unfortunate casualty of the rules of the game? Absolutely: whomever went home this episode was going in place of Craig, who clearly and truly deserved to go. Immunity is immunity, and there’s no reversing it. The judges were left with the sad and really hard task of deciding who other than Craig screwed up the most. Sadly, Nelson’s lollipops didn’t turn out well and were hard to eat, but it feels like he had so much left to show us. Alas, such are the highs and lows of this competition. We’ll miss Nelson, but as you saw in the previews, there will be two eliminations next episode, so we hardly have time to dwell. Have a wonderful week, dogs and humans alike!

For more sweet musings and happy inspirations, please follow me on Twitter @DKyrillos.

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