Top Chef Just Desserts
Lucent Dossier

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Top Chef Is Burning

The judges think Heather H.'s showpiece stood out impressively and appreciated Morgan's thoughtfulness with his dish considering he has immunity. Cut to a really awkward conversation between Morgan and one of the LDE guys, who says that, since the desserts are inspired by his troupe, he wonders what he tastes like. Morgan humors him, then the guy gets a little touchy-feely, and I suspect Morgan took an extra-long shower that night. Back to the judges, who think Eric's dessert was whimsical, but not very sexy. They do appreciate the sultry, exotic chai flavor in Heather H.'s dessert. When they get to the flaming dessert, Johnny gets a piece of star anise in his shot, thanks to Eric's vision impairment earlier, and they are none too pleased.

Onward ho to Team Breakdown. Zac tries to couch the love-it-or-hate-it aesthetic of their showpiece by saying none of his team is accustomed to doing showpieces. It's a tulle-infested, Mardi Gras mask-embellished hot mess of a showpiece, so I'm not sure how well that ass-covering will go over. Then again, this show is a tulle-infested, Mardi Gras mask-embellished hot mess... Zac describes his banana crème fraîche cake with red curry frosting, saying how it conveys the naughty/nice, sour/sweet, spicy/sweet juxtapositions they were going for. Heather C. presents her spiced black pepper pineapple with chocolate sherbet and meringue shards. Malika offers her sweet saffron-infused panna cotta with feuilletine crunch and spicy candied ginger. Zac introduces the flaming dessert by saying they decided to reinterpret his quickfire dessert (the one that didn't quite win, mind you) into a "Black Forest Is Burning" dark chocolate crème fraîche cake with flambéed cherries. By the time the judges leave, Heather is barely keeping it together because she once again doesn't think her dish is good enough.

Johnny kicks off discussion by saying how much the showpiece evokes the LDE's costumes with its burlesque feel. Cut to Heather C., who dismisses their presentation as "weird." Zac rightly points out that they're all weirdos. Also? Hello! Consider the context, dear. You're in freak central. Apple pie a la mode ain't gonna cut it. Back to the judges, who think Heather's dessert was the least cohesive and visually playful. Johnny thinks Malika's saffron panna cotta represents the delicate, feminine aspects of the show. Gail thinks it's the best dessert Malika's made yet. The judges enjoy the look and flavor of Zac's curried banana cake. They also enjoy this risky new spin on black forest cake. Cue token bedazzled carnie: "It went down easier than a sword!"

The judges finally head over to Team Turkish Delight. They too decided to play on the shapes from the show, particularly the ovals, only their showpiece has multiple textures and sizes within their discs and columns that makes it a lot more dynamic than Team Divorced Dad. Danielle offers her sultry chocolate mousse cake with basil ice cream, saying the angular elements of the show inspired her plating. Yigit's crème fraîche and sweet lime Bavarian with Tonka bean sorbet adds a savory element to the mix. Erika presents her almond ice cream bar with roasted pineapple. And the last dessert up in flames will be an almond citrus mirliton cake flambéed with bourbon. Much to the judges' consternation, the chefs pre-fired their dessert, even though they flambéed them to order for the other customers. And with that, the window for tableside disasters has officially closed.

Johnny thinks the team brought a lot of different elements from the show into their showpiece. They like the lightness of the basil in Danielle's dessert but don't think it balanced out the density of her cake. Johnny appreciates Erika's technical savvy in putting her frozen dessert on a frozen plate. That this is something worth noting explains a lot about a season in which Seth and Heather C. are tolerated for this long. Hubert thinks the acidity of the pineapple melds well with the ice cream. Cut to an LDE member offering to give Erika babies because such is the extent of his love for her ice cream bar. Hubert and Johnny agree Yigit's dish interprets the feminine elements of the show. As for the flaming dessert that wasn't, the judges are disappointed across the board that this team was the only one that couldn't be bothered to light that shit up for them. Rookie mistake, guys.

During clean-up, Heather H. is inexplicably upset, though claims she's being stoic, and Heather C. is just as much a mess as ever. Malika tries to encourage her, but Zac figures they might as well let her wallow. For her part, Heather's already resigned to the fact that Zac will probably throw her under the bus and that she'll likely go home if they end up in the bottom.

Bonus: While everyone else runs around like a maniac, Eric does yoga and meditates, thus earning the nickname "The Zen Baker." But does he make Buddha cookies?

In the stew room, Heather C. doesn't think she's strong enough for Judges' Table. Whether she'll have to is still in question because Gail enters and calls Morgan, Eric, and Heather H. As they walk in, the other teams immediately turn surly that this team had the most simplistic showpiece. No matter, though, because this team won. Johnny says Morgan's dessert was his best yet, both flavor- and texture-wise. Heather's torte had a "supple smoothness," and her showpiece was thematically spectacular. Johnny compliments Eric's progression from plain ol' baker to nuanced dessert chef, and Gale appreciated his idea to turn the roulade on its side. It falls to Gale to announce the winner, who is... Morgan! He's happy to win but, since he has immunity, chooses to focus on the next challenge. As the winners exit, Morgan notes that Gail didn't tell them which team was in the bottom.

Back in the stew room, Heather H. pissily tells Morgan "You're welcome." She thinks he didn't deserve to win since his time wasn't divided like hers. A dynamic she aggressively set up, it's worth noting. She refuses to "carry anybody ever again," a.k.a. be a team player. Sour grapes much?

Gail interrupts the shit slinging to say both of the remaining two teams had hits and misses. She calls in Yigit's team for questioning first. Johnny starts the ball rolling by asking Yigit to restate the rules of the challenge. All of which is to say, "Why the eff didn't you set something on fire?" Yigit tries to excuse his team, saying they actually did flambé their final dessert in real time for the other guests. Which totally misses the point because those people are not at judges' table. That one oversight is pretty much the only reason this team is in this position, and Yigit recognizes his responsibility in the matter.

Next, the other team goes before the judges. Everyone appreciated the edginess and flair of Zac's dessert, though Gale thought it didn't look fully finished. Attentions turn to Malika. Gale says the saffron panna cotta was her favorite of the night. Malika cuts off Gale's commentary to suggest that they should eliminate her. Gail reminds her how well she's done and tries to talk her out of it, but Malika's mind is made up. She interviews that only two things drive her in life -- her kids and cooking. She doesn't love cooking, however, in a competitive environment. She insists she's not sad about leaving because her heart is with her kids. She looks forward to challenging herself at home, at her own pace... in a couple of weeks! Everyone knows they keep these people holed up in a hotel for the duration of the filming. That's why they got Heather C. back so quickly. Sheesh. What a worthless self-sacrifice. But there is a silver lining to this cloud: Seth is still gone.

Next week: Battle lines are officially drawn when Yigit, Heather H., and Zac christen themselves "Team Go Diva!" Even Morgan's somewhat unnerving appreciation for women's shoes (which provide the inspiration for the next challenge) won't gain him the keys to the clique-dom. Plus, a dangerous bonbon!

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Top Chef Just Desserts

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