Friday, September 2, 2011

Watching "Top Chef: Just Desserts" 2.2

Wednesday night was a new episode, number 2 of season 2 so 2.2, of "Top Chef: Just Desserts".  They played the new episode twice that night then again on Thursday plus some of you have DVRs so let's talk about it.

After a recap of last's week's episode, this episode briefly began in their loft condo or wherever they are all staying.   I like that we are not spending so much time with their private lives because frankly I don't care.  For example, Orlando has a nasty attitude but he seems to be very skilled in the kitchen.  I'm watching to see awesome desserts not to see a personality test.  In fact, I'd be happier if they didn't have any personal comments or commentary from the contestants at all about each other.  Focus on the desserts.

That said another contestant's injury was important to spend a few seconds on over and over because it could have harmed her or destroyed her ability to perform in the kitchen.  But Rebecca toughed it out and stayed on doing a good chocolate cake for the big challenge.

The quickfire was about lemons and making something unique and tasty using it as an ingredient.  The big shock for me was that the guest judge Margaret Braun I believe, said that she didn't like chocolate and lemon together. Apparently she is unaware of how popular this combination is because it shows up every where and has almost become over done in my opinions in terms of chocolates though not in terms of cakes.  Now I'll need to think about making a lemon chocolate cake of some type.

Then the winner of the quickfire challenge, Matthew, and three randomly chosen team leaders picked teams.  Again though with 13 people these teams were uneven and I really wish they would stop doing that. How about the quickfire winner not competing with a team at all and just functioning as an over all consultant for the others, his/her opinion being sought by the judges at the end?  I think Matthew could have been more helpful than the caustic Johnny who is one of the regular hosts and judges.

These teams had to make a multi-tiered cake for a Disney Museum, I think, those facts seemed to fly by quickly.  Each member had to make a tier and they had to make all of this in very limited time.  This is failure of the show -- too little preparation time.  In the real world you'd have time to plan and a good deal of time to talk to your clients.  I think the show would be more honest about finding a "top chef" if it mimicked that a bit more.  True we need to have a "fast pace" to try and stir up excitement but how about they are given the task after the quickfire and then have an hour to meet with or read over the desserts of the venue or event. then they have the rest of that day to plan.  They come in the next day and bake or make or whatever they need to do for the entire day.  The day after that they then have to do the final touches and deliver it to the event or venue.

What do you all think of that?  I mean, they have popular TV shows about cake and other food shops that show us a week's or more work in 30-60 minutes plus commercials so I don't think this would make it less exciting, just more of an honest test of all of the skills you need to be a successful dessert maker/seller... is there a single word for this?

The cakes were praised by and large for their designs out in the venue but then two of them were harshly criticized back at the judges' table.  I felt this was very fake.  You could have picked apart each of them but to say one thing out in public then another in private on a competition... that just annoyed me.  If they wanted lovely even perfect products they wouldn't have set up the competition as they did, would they?

Every cake had at least one layer of chocolate so that made me happy.  However, over all I found the layers to be very complex in flavor with a lot of added tastes and textures.  I don't actually think the layers all went very well together yet the judges only seemed to care about the look of the over all cake and the individual tastes.  I think a better evaluation should have been made on both levels for both taste and looks.

Vanarin was eliminated from the show because the judges felt his part of the cake was not tasty even though the other team's over all cake was weaker than his team's. Do you think that was the correct decision?


Emilie said...

I do think that speed and cooking under pressure is relevant for anyone who wants to work in a restaurant, even a pastry chef. If you want to work in a bakery, things might be a little different. That said, this "reality TV" is really more of a game show, as staged as anything else onTV.

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Those are good points, Emilie, but would you really hire a chef to make a cake for your museum in less than a day? Heck even for our wedding we had a week for our cakes to be made.

If they were making small treats to sell at a bake sell or for a restaurant or shop, I could definitely see speed as big issue.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Emilie. I hope we can get others in on this dialogue.

Evan Thomas said...

I've been watching so far this season and haven't been impressed with the contestants. I just don't think they're as good or dynamic as last season.

The two bottom cakes were a mess. I'm not even sure how Craig has skated by this far in the competition since he's clearly one of the less talented and promising chefs on the show.

All of these team challenges haven't really gave a good chance for each chef to show individuality or their own creativity, and with so many chefs working on one project it's bound to look incoherent and sloppy.

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Evan, thank you so much for reading and commenting.

I only saw a few episodes of the first series. But I agree that I'm just not impressed by the designs either plus the teams have been uneven on the basic level in terms of numbers.

Craig, yet, I'm sure he'd better than me but how exactly were these contestants chosen?

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