'Just Desserts' recap: Cake wrecks, breakdowns and bake sales
Sylvia Weinstock, the queen of all things cake, rocked up to guest-judge Wednesday night's episode of "Top Chef: Just Desserts," delivering the message that the contestants would have to compose creative wedding cakes in an hour and a half.
To be fair, the time constraints were borderline torture, and the chefs were showing it. Curse words went flying as defiant KitchenAids refused to mix and frosting neglected to set. Malika, who's struggled to complete other challenges, buckled under the pressure and sobbed Seth-style as her cake literally fell apart in front of Weinstock and Gail Simmons. Just as Elizabeth Falkner did in the previous episode, Weinstock stepped in to play mentor, encouraging Malika to learn from the experience rather than quit.
Miraculously, Heather H. pulled off a delicate three-tiered masterpiece adorned with dogwood flowers that Weinstock loved. Morgan made a more traditional Italian wedding cake with coconut rum syrup and toasted pecans, topped with little pearls of cream cheese frosting, and Erica put together a tasty mocha explosion with kahlua butter cream that won the quickfire. (After an evening of watching this and the "The Big Lebowski," you can guess what I had for a nightcap.)
Unfortunately for the "Gleeks" out there, the episode's title didn't reflect the elimination's theme. Instead of the cast of the hit Fox show, kids from St. Monica's High School's glee club and pep squads came in jumping, squealing and singing to rev the contestants up for their next challenge. The chefs drew cookies from the cookie jar that assigned them to teams to work on treats for a competitive bake sale.
Though the idea was cute, it seems odd timing for a challenge like this, considering the emphasis on changing school lunches these days. "Top Chef" Season 7 even had an entire episode dedicated to ridding excessive sweets and junk food from the menu.
This time, the teams got an ample three hours to prep their baked goodies, and 30 minutes to set up shop at the school the next day. The Pep Team (Erica, Eric, Morgan, Melika, and Heather H.) sold just $10 more than their Glee Team opponents, keeping them safe from fire at judging time. This episode was Eric's time to shine, as he made not only the winning peanut-butter-and-Nutella-Rice-Krispie bar, but was also the owner of Malika's brownie recipe that was the judge's second-favorite.
Team Glee was hit hard when it came time for the judge's table. Danielle threw Seth under the bus for spending his time prepping the team's desserts instead of interacting with the kids. Remarkably, Zach came to his aid, giving him props for doing the grunt work for the team. Then came the real vengeance, when Heather C. came out and said that she was sabotaged by her teammates into doing a simple peanut butter cookie instead of the whoopie pie she originally intended. Regardless, she was sent home.
During all the hullabaloo, Seth, who was lambasted in our blog post comments last week, kept reminding his teammates that if someone was going home, he or she should do so with honor and that they should stop jabbing at each other. Judge Johnny Iuzzini also commended him for producing a perfect financier, even though it might not have been the perfect kid's dessert. So is Seth turning over a new leaf, or is it just a matter of time before he has another episode?
-- Krista Simmons
Photo: A scene for "Top Chef: Just Desserts". Credit: NBC UMV