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If Only Katzie Would Have Won!

Hubert Keller makes a case for Katzie's Quickfire Challenge gum.

By Hubert Keller

How to Watch

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

This third episode of TCJD2 was very unique because I think it really got our chefs out of their typical chefs mindset and pushed some of their creative and sensitive capabilities to new direction and heights.

Quickfire Challenge: To create a new exotic flavor Extra Dessert Delights Gum.

Chef Hugh Acheson was a guest judge for this episode and was responsible for declaring a winner for this Quickfire Challenge. What made it interesting is that the winning chef took home a $ 25,000 cash prize! How’s that for a kicker? You could see the chefs' eyes light up with excitement! When the chefs began to explain the direction they would take and the flavor that their gum would be, you could sense right away who really got the idea of the challenge and who didn’t.

Amanda’s idea of a pina colada gum seemed in tune with the challenge and on the mark. A cocktail you could chew? Brilliant! Matt and Melissa could have had breakfast together with the recipes they came up with. I like oatmeal and coffee, but that’s the visual I got when they were describing their flavors. I’m not trying to be too critical, but I’m not sure if America wants to chew on something that will give them coffee breath all day long. I don’t usually chew gum, but when I do, it’s to refresh my breath. Rebecca seems to have great ideas, but I guess the execution just isn’t there; her raspberry-flavored gum obviously didn’t measure up. That’s too bad -- she seems to be really trying and has had some bad luck. And although Katzie's gum wasn’t a hit with the judges' panel -- pardon my French -- but I would have loved it! Chocolate, caramel and salt. Chantal, my wife, was disappointed that I didn’t have a pack of that gum to bring home. If only Katzie would have won!

It was a good effort by everyone, but the obvious front-runners in this competition to me were Carlos and Sally with the passionfruit flavor idea. I think you think sweet and tangy when you think of passionfruit, a flavor that I could see as a popular gum. I did like the extra touch that Carlos had by adding the tapioca for texture, as he said it would be like the white specks on a stick of gum that would pop with flavor in your mouth… that was a pretty thoughtful idea! Chris, Orlando and Megan were on the right track, but didn’t quite capture what the judges were looking for, and Nelson with his black forest-flavored gum I thought had great presentation and was a strong contender. Craig? I must say, Craig did step it up! His lemon pancakes and strawberry petit fours were presented well and kept him in his safe zone…. I’m not sure if that would have been my winning flavor, but good for him!The Elimination Challenge - to create a showpiece and dessert table for Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Lisa Vanderpump

Team 1 - Craig, Sally, Matt, Orlando, Nelson, and Rebecca

Team 1 seemed to have much more of a whimsical approach than you would expect, understanding that they needed to produce for clientele that seemed sophisticated and well-traveled. And although Lisa loved the crumble(her favorite dessert) that Rebecca made(good for you, Rebecca), the overall presentation would have been stunning to a 16-year-old girl maybe, but not for the transformation of Villa Blanca to Villa Rosa. 

It’s a shame that Orlando’s beautiful sculpture wasn’t more of a focal point. There was too much distraction from all the extra flowers on the table, and I think overall the team lacked vision and maybe a real leader in the kitchen.

Team 2- Amanda, Chris, Carlos, Megan, Katzie, and Melissa

Amanda impressed me. As the leader of her team, she was intuitive enough to make Chris in charge of presenting their concept when she wasn’t feeling well. She also was able get Melissa moving in the right direction and become a factor for her team instead of a hindrance. It only takes one spoiled apple… well, you know where I’m going with that…. Chris said it best when he said that they were able “create beauty out of chaos." All of Amanda’s ideas seemed to pay off! This team from design to dessert execution seemed to find a good rhythm and come together just in time.

It’s starting to heat up…. Wntil next week!

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