Top Chef Just Desserts
Lucent Dossier

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Top Chef Is Burning

Previously: A Glee Club/Pep Squad-themed bake sale resulted in strained relations on the Glee team, with Heather in particular making no new friends on her way out the door. Case in point: You know things are officially in the shitter when Seth is the one who has to step in and tell people to conduct their business honorably. At any rate, nine cream puffs remain!

For yet another week, we open on Seth, who is getting ready for his day. He interviews that he's the most stressed he's ever been in his life. Oh, come on. I'm not saying this process is a cake walk (ba dum bum), but man alive! Get it together. To his credit, he at least has the self-awareness to acknowledge he's a bit of a (fluffer)nutter. Zac notes Seth's bipolar personalities and says that Seth freaks out (and is unbearable) when he encounters difficulty in life. He thinks Seth's days in the competition are numbered. Seth thinks his problems are purely psychological and that his emotions will be the end of him. For her part, Malika is also having doubts. She reveals that she's growing to hate cooking because the competition is bringing out her OCD and sapping all the fun from cooking. She no longer knows where she fits in the competition but vows to stick it out because she doesn't want to make a decision based on emotion.

This week's Quickfire is ice cream-based! Gale Gand, Executive Pastry Chef of Tru in Chicago, joins Gail in welcoming the chefs. Yigit, my little Turkish Delight, says that Gale is known for putting her own twist on American classics. In fitting with that, the chefs are tasked with using Breyers ice cream to create the ultimate ice cream sundae. As usual, Seth comes out the gate with plenty of bluster to go around, saying he'll definitely win. Then Gail tells him that he can't make his own ice cream. Duh. It's a Breyers challenge, nimrod. He's predictably surly about it, which shows what a classy guy he is. Then things turn scary when he starts shaking, sighing, and generally being a crazypants. Heather can't help but say, "Wow." Except for maybe "Fruitcake." But then I wouldn't have a job, so thanks for helping me out there, H-Bomb.

Ohhhh, but there's more! For the first time, we get to see the teams go back to the stew room while the crew sets up the challenge. As the producers make sure the contestants are clear on the rules, Seth wigs out because a rule changed some time ago that has robbed him of some magical ingredient he will need to win this challenge. Was that ingredient sanity, perhaps? According to Morgan, the ingredient was paper cups, which makes even less sense. So there's Seth for you.

The producer tries to assure him that his lack of paper cups won't affect this challenge, at which point Seth gets actively belligerent (for the millionth time). Seth cries afoul, and the producers tell him to suck it up already because he was the one who actually threw away these mystical paper cups. Zac notes with no small amount of judgment that grapefruit juice and paper cups are all it takes to trigger a breakdown in Seth. Man, if he doesn't go home this week, I might just swear off baking. He actually seems to have some talent and ingenuity, but it's not worth it if you have to slough through all the crazy to get there. It's not even good TV at this point because his crazy is tempered by an endless stream of puff-chested whining.

It might just be our lucky day, kids. Seth calls the producers liars and asks for his belongings and a flight back home. Quoth Zac, "And then... he disappeared." Eric says Seth isn't going through anything worse than anyone else there, and Yigit calls for a vote of who's sick of Seth's antics. It's unanimous! They agree that Seth is a total spoil sport with insufficient maturity to be in this competition. And then the sirens start, and we go to commercials.

When we return, we see Seth flat-out on the ground. He has literally worked himself into a frenzy. Over paper cups. It's like a tempest in a tea cup, but more annoying. Because of the anxiety attack, he's no longer medically clear to compete. He admits that he's crushed, primarily because he did this to himself. So now let's all join together and say, "Farewell, Seth. You were 100 times as sour as grapefruit juice, and your presence has rotted our minds like your desserts would surely rot our teeth."

Johnny joins the cheftestants in the stew room to update them on Seth's untimely -- but entirely necessary -- end. Everyone pretty much agrees that they feel bad for him but are pretty relieved to be rid of his stank vibes. And so the competition begins anew!

Each chef pulls an ice cream scoop to determine the flavor he or she will be building an ice cream sundae upon. Morgan pulls mint chocolate chip. Yigit gets my favorite flavor chocolate chip cookie dough, which I will take as a sign that we are going to meet, fall in love, and make beautiful food together. Erika appropriately pulls chocolate, Zac gets cherry vanilla, Danielle picks rocky road, Eric pulls natural vanilla, Heather gets vanilla fudge twirl, and Malika scoops up cookies and cream. Gail reminds them that they have 30 minutes, and the winner will receive immunity.

Eric plans to play it safe and simple, recalling that this tack worked well for him in the last quickfire. Malika says the chaos surrounding Seth's departure reminded her to chill out (pun intended, suckas) and have fun. Not so much for Morgan, who is running around like a crazy man. He explains that he's not doing a "sundae," but rather a mint chocolate chip cookies and milk "Sunday" because he's recently divorced, and he spends Sundays with his son, who loves Oreos and mint chocolate chip ice cream. He hopes to win for his son. Danielle, who dreams of opening up an old-fashioned soda shop, is doing a take-off on Neapolitan with her rocky road ice cream. Yigit says that he's keeping his emotions in check after Seth's abrupt withdrawal because the name of the game is professionalism. He says that he's been obsessed with ice cream since he grew up in Turkey, but he never had chocolate chip cookie dough, so he's designing his dessert with things he didn't have growing up that he's come to love now. Donuts are fried, sauces are drizzled, scoops are shaped, and the clock finally ticks down.

Zac is first to present his dessert to "Ga(i)l(e) Squared." He makes the show even gayer than before by creating a "Black Forest Is Burning" sundae of panko-crusted, deep-fried cherry vanilla ice cream. Oh, Zac-y, I love you more than words can say. Next, Erika offers up her Chocolate Banana S'Mores Frangelico sundae with peanuts and Godiva semi-sweet chocolate on top of a graham cracker. Morgan chokes up as he explains his "Sunday Snack" of an Oreo mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwich with warm and foamy, mint syrup-infused chocolate milk. Heather made a Vanilla Fudge Twirl Bananas Foster sundae, with a brown sugar-butter rum sauce, fried bananas, and cinnamon cream. Next is Eric's Natural Vanilla with Sautéed Peaches, Brandy & Crisp. Malika embellished her cookies and cream with malted chocolate caramel sauce and bananas. Yigit has plated a decadent and luscious Peanut Butter & S'Mores Cookie Dough sundae. Finally, Danielle shows her elegant Rocky Road Meets Neapolitan sundae in a wine glass, with toasted almonds, honey-and cinnamon-roasted strawberries, and a meringue on top.

All said and done, Gale names her bottom three: Eric because his sundae didn't stand out or make her want to meet him, Danielle because she didn't get the Neapolitan reference, and Erika because she stayed too close to the typical nuts and bananas sundaes we're used to. As for the top three: Zac for his "interesting" panko crumbs, Yigit for combining ganache and sauce, and Morgan for its contrast in textures and temperatures. And the winner is... Morgan! It's Morgan's first win on the show, and he tears up again at the thought of winning with a dessert for his son. Call me a spoil s

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Top Chef Just Desserts

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