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Top Chef Just Desserts Ep 1 8/24 (spoiler)

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  • cmvan Aug 25, 2011 08:11 AM
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Well, that was sort of underwhelming...

Of course, the first episode of these competition shows is often so-so. There were a few people I had to wonder about how they were even brought on the show (case in point - Craig Poirier, who constantly seemed lost and overwhelmed), but maybe that's just for the drama factor, to stir things up.

Speaking of drama factors, I was almost surprised that they sent Lina packing. She seemed to have "Penny Potential". But insisting on not making the Hansel & Gretel house the way it needed to be to achieve challenge integrity was an ego move, particularly when the rest of the team disagreed.

I guess they'll still have drama aplenty with contestants like Orlando and Melissa. But then, they seem to have some serious pros, as well, to appeal to those of us who watch for the learning factor.

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  1. I was also underwhelmed, but any excuse to see Hubert Keller is good for me!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Parrotgal

      True. I thought he looked especially handsome in his blue jacket at the Fairy Tale tasting. He looked quite natural in it.

    2. Craig sticks out like a sore thumb...he seems so outclassed by everyone else. And is it me, or do the pastry chefs seem more emotional than the savory chefs on Top Chef? I spend most of the episode annoyed with their cattiness, but love seeing their creations.

      6 Replies
      1. re: attran99

        Craig reminded me of a deer in the headlights. He seemed so out of his element. His teammates saved him, because their desserts were better than the desserts from the Hansel and Gretel team.

        BTW, why would anyone make the witch's house out of anything but gingerbread?

        1. re: ChefJune

          The witch's house completely missed the mark. What was she thinking? There wasn't a lot of skill in it (compared to what the others did), it didn't look good or scary, it didn't meet the fairy tale of a house covered by candy which was a no brainer.

          I'm impressed with what Craig's teammates were able to do with what he barely started, in addition to making the desserts. I can't believe he whined about how they took over.

        2. re: attran99

          If I remember correctly, the threads from last year's competition included a fair amount of talk about how pastry chefs are definitely a different breed from the standard "regular" chef. They certainly must have a serious creativity bent in order to succeed, based perhaps more on imagination than cooking is, and with a rock solid skills base. What some of them did in episode 1 with sugar and chocolate would be utterly daunting to most savory chefs.

          1. re: cmvan

            Your last sentence doesn't make sense to me. Working with sugar in that manner would be daunting to anyone to has not had the training whether they are savory chefs, neurosurgeons, or truckdrivers.

          2. re: attran99

            I agree. I wonder what Craig thought when he saw the level of skill everyone else has and that he has none?

            We talked about pastry chefs vs other chefs last season here--being a pastry chef requires anal retentive precision and someone who thrives in that perfectionism is probably wound up a little tight (generalizations since someone like Jacques Torres seems so jovial and easy going). At the same time, I could see it attracting analytical mathematical/scientific types who are very unemotional but it doesn't seem to. Those types tend more towards molecular gastronomy.

            1. re: attran99

              I agree, I hope Craig gets nixed soon. I can't imagine why Bravo would place him on the show when they made it clear he hasn't been doing this long and Sally Camacho was one of his instructors in pastry school. That doesn't seem like Top Chef material to me. Poor casting decision, Bravo/Magical Elves...or were they scraping from the bottom of the barrel?

            2. well SHOOT, I didn't realize it started last night. Wonder if my dvr is still programmed for it... well I'll find out soon enough! :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: jujuthomas

                It will be rerun Friday 08/26/11 at 3p EDT and Saturday 08/27/11 at 3a and 9a EDT and Sunday 08/27/11 at 11a EDT. (Not to mention this Wednesday before the new episode). I'm going to have to catch one of those times because I fell asleep during the premier, I don't know if that says a lot about the program or not. It takes a while for me to get interested in regular TC, although I would likexto see the early eposodes of the first several seasons of TC.

                1. re: John E.

                  caught it OnDemand last night - not a bad episode. :)

              2. I thought it was pretty good. There were some funny lines about Hansel and Gretel having some baking in it...though it was about baking children so that might not work. And, the pastry chefs talking about the Little Red Riding Hood story was pretty funny. I don't know how they could get around it but I thought it was very unfair that two teams had four people and two had three--the ones with three were on the bottom. Having an extra pair of hands makes a huge difference in a time challenge. And, Jack and the Beanstalk team essentially had two pastry chefs and one helper. They were seriously disadvantaged.

                2 Replies
                1. re: chowser

                  I agree, I think they stacked the deck in this challenge. 3 people vs 4 is a huge advantage in a challenge like this. And on top of that, of course, the two who got to pick joined what appeared to be the strongest teams, stacking the deck even further.

                  1. re: LurkerDan

                    Exactly--they asked the chefs which fairy tale they wanted to work on when, if they were smart which it seems like, they picked the team. Far more important.

                2. I liked the first series. So I was looking forward to this one.

                  But this Craig dude was so annoying that I just had to turn it off. I doubt he'll last more that an episode or two more but that's one or two episodes that I won't be able to watch.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Withnail42

                    That's the way I felt about the guy with the dredlocks on TC 7, not because of his inexperience, but because of the hair in the kitchen (plus he was weird).

                    1. re: Withnail42

                      I'm wondering if they're hoping Craig will have the opposite effect on most people--that they'll tune in to watch a train wreck, he'll disappear after a few episodes and people will get into the show more in the meantime.

                      1. re: chowser

                        I think the reason he is there is because they tend to have contestants from all skill and experience levels.

                        1. re: John E.

                          I've yet to see anyone as green as he is, on TC or TCJD. I wonder if he feels as completely out of his league as he is.

                          1. re: chowser

                            What we saw might be the fish out of water deal. He has been a pastry chef at a restaurant for about a year. If the measure of a pastry chef is experience in making those showpieces, then I believe the pool of potential contestants would be a lot smaller.

                            1. re: John E.

                              He didn't have the experience to say, "Hey, I can't do this" and make the desserts instead. That's serious inexperience.

                    2. I hate when they cast people like Craig on these Top Chef shows. What's the point? He's totally inexperienced. Why not give the spot to someone who has a complete skill set? Someone's career can literally be transformed (for better or for worse), as a result of being on the show. Long after the this season is over and Craig's skills and knowledge improve, he'll be known by those that watched the show,as being a complete and total goofball.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ladybugthepug

                        The opportunity Craig received should have gone to another pastry chef with more experience. This is a classic case of "casting for the sake of creating television" and it's the downfall of these reality shows where they dumb down the show to manufacture drama.

                        As a whole Top Chef Just Desserts didn't do anything to change my perception of pastry chefs being the "divas" of the culinary world.

                      2. I'm not especially interested in pastry as opposed to savory cooking and the first episode seemed more ... well, bitchy ... than the original Top Chef. But one of the contestants (who did rather well in that episode), Amanda, works at a really great gastropub in my hood. So I found myself both annoyed with the show's cattiness and rooting for her.