Wednesday night on "Top Chef: Just Desserts" episode 2.4, they mixed things up, changing the formula a far amount from the first three episodes.
First there was no quickfire challenge. Instead the competing chefs all found movie tickets in their loft and headed out. They must have had money or an allowance because they all bought treats at the concession stand (one of the lowest stands I have ever seen at a movie theater by the way) and chowed down except for Matthew who was concerned this was a set-up for a quickfire challenge.
Inside they watched part of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Widescreen Special Edition)Family Films), the 1971 version with Gene Wilder. The film stopped after the five children discover the forest or glen or whatever it was made of candy. Then Matthew was partly correct: this was a set-up for a challenge but not a quickfire.
The two principal judges, Johnny and Gail, stepped forward and introduced four people from the audience. These were four of the five child actors who had been in the film: Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket), Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt), Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde), and Paris Themman (Mike Teevee); Michael Bollner who played Augustus Gloop was not there. Julie Dawn Cole seems to have have the most successful career of the five as an actor but I'm getting off the topic, aren't I?
The four actors described the scene this showed stopped after -- what was edible, what wasn't, how did it taste if it did. The Elimination Challenge was then for the 11 chefs to create a similar setting in their display room. They were given the basics and a lot of materials to work with.
Initially the group talked together but I noticed that Matthew, Chis, and Katzie seemed to talk the most but that could have been the editing version. The group split into two teams -- one to do the creative or decorating parts building the sets and displays while the second team was to focus on making the edibles themselves. An immediate problem was Chris's waterfall display seemed far too big, took too much time, and pulled in too much chef power; I would have called him out on that myself if I'd been a judge.
The second big problem I noticed is that some people are more helpful than others. Some like Megan and Orlando spent a lot of time helping with basic things -- Orlando melting all the chocolate and Megan doing a ton of little things to help everyone set up the room.
The third big issues was that the number of treats did not seem organized. Some of the chefs made two desserts, others only one. Obviously they needed many displays to cover the room so why not assign each person to two sections of the room and require each to make their own props and treats and then everyone cooperate to put out the basics that they agree upon? What do you think, Sisters and Brothers?
Johnny came to visit each chef and for the first time he was smiling. However while he had no problem making critical comments to us the viewer on camera he had no advice for the chefs. That is very disappointing. Honestly he should have come in an hour earlier and given them honest feedback; that would have helped some of them rethink their approach and made the over all experience for those who visited the display better.
Let's talk about those visitors. I think our chefs were misled into believing they were making this edible world for the four actors and the judges. They came but so did a group of maybe two dozen or so children with some other adults. I have no idea where those kids came from, it may have gone by too fast for me to note it. Did you see the kids reactions to the food? Kids don't hold back, they had no problem dropping things, making faces or just plain saying "I don't like this." However the chefs were not told that kids were coming and I'm fairly sure they might have made other choices had they known.
Ultimately Katzie was named the winner with her edible beehive even though the bees melted that were displayed around it. That confused me because shouldn't what it looks like matter, too? As some of you will know, your Chocolate Priestess is a feminist but still, I think that Carlos' or Matthew's displays were better over all.
I did agree that both Craig and Melissa were the ones to go. I've felt that way since the first episode about Craig. Melissa, well, I think she talked a lot of negativity about others and seemed inclined to make a lot of excuses. I didn't want to see Megan go because I think she made an error in judgement by helping so many others. Same with Sally who I hope will now shine without her former student, Craig, leaning on her.
How were these competing chefs chosen? How did Craig get into the competition? Was he sat up to be the obviously unskilled chef? If so, that was amazingly mean. If not, their selection process needs work.
If you, like these chefs, love , maybe you should give it another viewing yourself. Perhaps it will inspire your candy making. Which leaves us with today's question: Do you think the judges dismissed the least skilled chefs in episode 2.4?