Thursday, November 18, 2010

Winning Was Never So Sweet

Don't know what everyone else thought about the finale of Just Desserts but it was a bittersweet ending to a enjoyable twist to the Top Chef series. In my humble opinion the right person won, the underdog almost took the whole shebang and Karma had a little surprise for the third place loser in the form of unsellable souffles.

One of the biggest surprises, at least for me, was the finalists going straight into the finale. Certainly no rest for the weary. The chefs show up at the Kitchen expecting one more Quickfire only to find Gail in a hot new outfit but apparently unable to move below the waist. Gail fills them in on their final challenge, a four course tasting menu, totally chef's choice of what they want to make. All served to a dining room chock full of outstanding chefs and well known critics waiting to pick apart their desserts.

Gail generously gives the chefs the night off and sends them off to enjoy a night of cocktails at the Edison. It's a dark little spot and there our chefs find Chef Johnny lurking in the shadows, enjoying an adult beverage. After reassuring them there's no twist waiting in the kitchen, Johnny orders some desserts to share.

These desserts look so yummy but sadly there's no hint as to what they are or who made what. Well, no specifics exactly but we do get to meet the chefs.

It's the Three Blond Aces!! From right to left, the very perky Chef Sherry Yard, next to my longtime pretend girlfriend, Chef Elizabeth Falkner, next to old school pastry Chef Claudia Fleming (former pastry chef for Tom Colicchio at Gramercy Park). They made the fancy desserts and they will be serving as Sous Chefs to our finalists as they prepare their final desserts. Yigit pulls Sherry from the Cookie Jar of Destiny, Danielle takes Elizabeth leaving Claudia for last. Danielle, of course has a face for just such an occasion that mixes anxiety and elation.

She really should market this ability. Perhaps Danielle's Face A Day Blog. It could go on for years. There's another night at the condo where more childish stupidity happens but I'm so sick of it that we're just not going there. Back in the kitchen, all the chefs crack down to get as much done as possible in the seven hours they have on that first day. It's uneventful yet productive. It might have even been a learning experience had one wanted a lesson....say in the technique in spherification (the culinary process of shaping a liquid into spherical shapes). Morgan does his best to enlighten Chef Fleming...

(I'm not here for a chemistry lesson, you big mook)

...while Danielle listens attentively, wondering if Chef Claudia will embrace Morgan's methods to her bosom?

Yeah.....I'm guessing Chef Fleming is going to take a pass on spherification. So Day One ends with hugs for Sous Chefs Falkner and Yard. Chef Fleming, having failed Spherification 101, is not rewarded with a hug. Fast forward to Day Two at the kitchen where a whole new set of Sous Chefs have replaced the hard working crew of the day before.

Guess who doesn't play well with most of these folks? It's at this point that the Idiot King makes his last nasty, violent remark. However this post is about the winners of this last episode, not the loser. So the Cookie Jar of Destiny is produced for the last time and Yigit pulls Tim, Danielle pulls Tania and Morgan pulls Heather H. and before you know it their three hours is up and it's time to start serving. Lots of familiar faces among the guests.

Elizabeth Falkner.

Suzanne Goin with James Oseland. While Suzanne is looking really spiffy in her should cut-out dress, James has decided on the outfit he wants to be buried in.

Susan Feniger, another one of my pretend Girlfriends (for when Elizabeth is out of town...)

The remaining contestants not working in the kitchen also get to join in but only after they are segregated away from all the Adult chefs and relegated to the Just Dessert's version of the Kids Table. Damn that's cold.

Now when it comes down to the Finale dishes, it's really about perfection. There's a lot of other criteria but if you fail at one thing, you get shoved to the bottom and then those who performed better are judged against each other. I think I can safely say Yigit had a pretty flawless night.

Yigit's First Course

Cucumber Lime Sorbet with Straus Yogurt Caviar Pearls

Of all of Yigit's desserts, I think I want to try this one the most because it totally challenges my idea of what a dessert should be. It's so intriguing.

Yigit's Second Course

Strawberry Sorbet & Lemongrass Ginger Ice Cream with Berry Meringue & Consommé

Yigit's Third Course

Muscovado Braised Pineapple & Coconut Cake

This is the dish I most want to try and make. Pineapple and coconut? Yes please.

Yigit's Fourth Course

Hazelnut Dacquoise, Milk Jam & Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Everything else just looks amazing. It's a menu full of confidence and energy and really shot Yigit into the Winner's spot.

Team Go Diva, together again.


froggy said...

I think we already had enough evidence of Morgan's poor personality. I was surprised Bravo left in all his highly offensive comments. Shame on them.

Big Shamu said...

Well. Better than covering it up. Let the bastid hang himself with his own stupidity.

Making Space said...

I have really loved this show, and adorable talented Yigit as the first winner? Awesome. I also loved that Danielle made it so far.

Overall, I loved the sense of camaraderie among the group, and I loved how when the early-eliminated chefs returned to help out at the end, they were welcomed back. It was really fun seeing Tim back in action again, for example.

That said, I think Zac would not be overreacting if he took out a restraining order against Morgan.

Yigit combined smarts, talent, sweetness, and just plain adorableness and he'll make the Top Chef folks proud for a long time.

In general, I liked the pace of this particular show. I liked that the judges regarded themselves as mentors and aligned themselves with the contestants where that was appropriate. I felt it set a tone for the show that, while subtle, set it apart from the regular Top Chef atmosphere.

And Susan Feniger is mine. Back off.

Go Yigit!

moi said...

Best part of the show: Old Schooler Fleming giving Morgan the stink eye.

Worst Part: the "kid's tabling" of the former contestant judges. Cold, indeed.

Although I didn't feel 100 percent love 100 percent of the time for Yigit, I was very happy that he won, because there is nothing controversial about it. He made the best desserts, period, hands down, and was rightly rewarded.

Oh, and I notice none of you called dibs on Gail's dress, so I guess that's mine?

Aunty Belle said...

I'd challenge Moi fer the dress, but, really now, at a a certain age, knees ain't purty.

The cucumber lime sorbet thang, when ya make it, please post pics.

Thanky fer a fun review.

Big Shamu said...

Well Moi, maybe you should hold out for Gail's final dress? I'll post that later.

We'll see if I can get into that cucumber dish Aunty. I doubt however I'll be serving as a Thanksgiving dish.

I see a tug of war between MS and myself over Pretend Girlfriend Rights to Chef Feniger.

moi said...

Aunty, two words: black tights. Or, if those don't float in Florida: Fish Nets.

Shamu, I forgot about the last dress. Although, my memory is drawing up a blank. Do you and MS need a moderator?

Making Space said...

Rolling up sleeves and preparing to arm-wrestle over the delightful Susan Feniger. Yes, Moi, your services will be required.

Dani said...

Just got home and watching it now. Ugh. Morgan is hard to stomach.

Big Shamu said...

Yes, Dani, very hard to stomach.

Dani said...

Gail is lookin' HOT!

Intuitive Eggplant said...

Yigit's cucumber lime sorbet really intrigued me too. Very happy to see Yigit win, as well as how strong a showing Danielle had toward the end of the season.

Methinks that, had Morgan won, he would have gotten a different edit. The Elves know that having a winner fans like (especially in a first season) helps keep people coming back to a show. And since this finale was filmed without a break from the rest of the show (unlike regular Top Chef and Project Runway), they knew Morgan wasn't going to be the season winner when they were editing the early episodes. Not that I'm in any way condoning Morgan's behavior or remarks, I'm just saying they could have shaped our perceptions of him differently during the editing process if they wanted to.

Big Shamu said...

Sorry Eggy, I call bullshit on that theory. From the interviews I've read from Yigit, I get the impression that Morgan was much worse than we were allowed to see. I would think you of all people would know that the editors don't put words in people's mouths. I think it's interesting that you want to believe that the editors had more to do with Morgan being an asshole than Morgan. But I would ask you to keep one thing in mind. Chef Claudia Fleming spent less than 8 hours with Morgan and nailed his personae without a moment's hesitation. Chef Claudia after YEARS of dealing with chefs just like him, knew what she was dealing with. I would think you'd understand editing has nothing to do in exposing Morgan for exactly who he is.

Intuitive Eggplant said...

Shamy, I don't think we actually disagree. Started writing a response that turned out way too long, so will save my thoughts for another time.

Have a great weekend and good luck with the leaf raking. I'll bet you're cooking up a fabulous heritage turkey, of which I am seriously in envy. There will be family, but no turkey, for me.