Monday, October 25, 2010

Top Chef: Just Desserts

I haven't written about Top Chef in a pretty long time, even though I've continued to watch and, for the most part, enjoy the show. I think the reason is that, after 7 seasons, there isn't anything really new to talk about. Some seasons have immense talent, some are duds, some challenges are really cool, others are totally lame, but the overall effect is kind of just more of the same. I was thrilled to see that it finally won the Emmy for reality competition show this year but it definitely felt kind of…late.

But Top Chef has spawned a couple of spinoffs, Top Chef Masters and Top Chef: Just Desserts. Masters has been pretty fun because the caliber of cooking is obviously elevated but also a little less fun because these chefs, while still competitive, don't see the show as make-it-or-break-it, and are so respectful of each other that there's kind of no drama.

Just Desserts though? Drama drama drama!

I hate to stereotype, but it seems that there are more women and gay men who are pastry chefs. This gives the show kind of almost a Project Runway feel, as someone pointed out. And more drama! Although, the biggest drama queen in the first half of the season was Seth, who's actually straight. His antics were all over the place…from crying because he couldn't finish a Quickfire dish that was "for his mom," to freaking out over an ingredient he couldn't find and then lashing out at the other cheftestants for cheering him on to ignoring challenge rules when he didn't like them. And then…he has to leave the show in episode 4 because of a panic attack! I don't even remember if he had good food or not because of all the craziness!

As for the actual basics of the show, they're pretty solid. I love the premise of the show because dessert has always been sort of the ugly stepchild on the normal Top Chef. No one wants to do it because they're not pastry chefs and it's a risk. But here, everyone's a pastry chef, and maybe more than other courses, dessert is something that can definitely be eaten with the eyes. Also, I personally am more of a baker than a cook, so I was excited at the prospect of being able to make more recipes from the show. I've already tried Eric's Peanut Butter Krispy Bars (a big hit at the picnic I brought them to) and have bookmarked a few others as well. It's interesting also to see the contrast between the trained pastry chefs who know how to do plated desserts where presentation is almost as important as taste, and someone like Eric, who's strictly a baker and had never plated in his life. Dessert is definitely much more than just cakes and chocolate!

Gail Simmons, who I've always liked, is the host, and she's pretty warm and natural. Johnny Iuzzini is the head judge/mentor and I was surprised to like him here. He's been a judge on the regular Top Chef and I remember thinking he came off as really arrogant. But I think that might have been because in the past he was judging regular chefs attempting to do desserts. Here, these are people who ostensibly know what they're doing. The other rotating judges are familiar face Hubert Keller, and Dannielle Kyrillos, of DailyCandy, who's generally bubbly and pleasant.

I'm not sure if I have a favorite yet...Morgan is one of the frontrunners but he's rather douchey and Heather H. has maybe the best technique but she's bitter and catty (she and Zac and Yigit have named themselves Team Diva, which makes me want to hate them too). I wouldn't begrudge either the win though. I think it's still a pretty level playing field and am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

The next season of Top Chef is going to be an All-Stars edition though, and I have to say they did an excellent job with the cast, and I think it's coming at the right time after a pretty lackluster season in DC. Can't wait for that!

1 comment:

Mira said...

and yet... there have been just as many seasons of SYTYCD but that hasn't stopped me from posting about that... :) then again they did switch it up this year!