Top Chef Just Desserts 2.1 Recap: Little Red Riding Hood and the Thrown Under the Bus

Remember when I had Wednesday nights free because Top Chef was finally off the air for the first time in months? Well, all was fine and dandy until I remembered at the last possible minute that Top Chef Just Desserts started last night. So I grabbed my ginger beer and rum and made a nice big Dark ‘N Stormy to get through it.

Just like every first episode of Top Chef, there are far too many people to even care about and all the chef’testants pretty much mix together. There’s sassy black woman, poised to be the villain Orlando and grossly incompetent Craig who can’t seem to do anything but sully the good name of Harry Potter. So the ever lovely Gail and Johnny show up with the first quick fire before anything has really begun.

Being in a soda shop on what looked like an abandoned dock, the chefs got to pick their teammates (Craig was picked last, welcome to gym class) and had to make a modern soda fountain treat. Johnny pointed out that a root beer float wouldn’t cut it, with the prize being immunity for both members.

The montage showed absolutely nothing about cooking and magically everyone made dishes out of bananas. Orlando and Meg seemed to have missed the point and just made a banana split. But last pick Craig and Melina literally just made a banana split. When asked what makes it modern, they had no response. How do you fail that hard up front?

Carlos and Rebecca stole an idea right from Top Chef All-Star winner Blais with their Cap’n Crunch milkshake but the judges loved it though it wasn’t enough. Amanda and Nelson took the win and immunity for their chocolate sponge cake with freshly pickled cherries that was one of the few dishes to actually have any kind of balance.

Then the best thing happened in the entire hour of the show – Bravo showed an ad for the Lion King in 3-D being released in theaters. It was easily the most exciting thing I saw. Then after some awful product placement for Kitchenaid (where’s my check?), the chefs got hurled into the elimination challenge.

In a fantasy themed twist that seems to show Castles and Cooks might be on to something, the chefs pulled books off shelves and inside each beautifully leather bound tome was a classic children’s fairy tale. The teams were assigned Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk or Hansel & Gretel. As an added bonus, Amanda and Nelson got to pick which team they wanted to be on thus giving two sides an extra chef and an obscene advantage. The challenge itself was to make a show piece and two desserts for a fairy-tale inspired event. The timeframe: only 10 hours spread over two days. These time frames sicken me.

After some traumatizing readings of Grimm fairytales, the chefs got to work vaguely building and concepting but mostly just bitching about each other. Between not testing food or people (read: Craig) claiming they can build a show piece when they don’t know how to drill, spin sugar or do anything required for actually building a showpiece, the whole thing was like watching someone slowly drown in a vat of fudge.

But sadly everyone managed to get everything at least kind of completed and the guests arrived in a multitude of costumes that ranged from Renaissance Fair to Steampunk. It was great, plus we got to see Gail dressed in a cape. To help judge, Hubert Keller returns – hopefully he’ll be in more than two episodes this time – along with the I’ll-try-my-best-to-be-nice-this-time-around and fan of us on Facebook Dannielle Kyrillos. Anyway, back to the train wreck in progress.

It was obvious how these two would be split between winners and losers for the challenge. In a move that didn’t surprise me in the least, both teams with four people went on to victory.  Goldilocks and the 3 Bears consisting of Nelson, Rebecca, Orlando and Sally made a stunning chocolate set piece that actually looked like art (though the sugar mask was terrifying). Their play on porridge by making an oatmeal pudding was smart and paired well with their second dish of cherry sorbet.

But the victory went to Little Red Riding Hood team with Amanda, Carlos, Chris and Matt making a stunning showpiece that included spun sugar figures. For desserts, I don’t have a clue what they made because they never seemed to even bother talk about them besides “they were good.” But I guess that’s good enough for a win now on the show.

But the real reason nothing was said because of how much of a mess the losing teams were. Jack and the Beanstalk with Craig, Katzie and Megan managed to make a good recovery with their showpiece – had it be two dimensional. Katzie’s sweet pea sorbet was overpowered by ginger and Megan’s hazelnut cake was “one-note.” Harsh words, but even after Craig’s complete inability to do anything, their team was safe because Hansel and Gretel failed beyond imagination.

Now, when you think of the story of Hansel and Gretel, the most vivid imagery is easily the candy covered gingerbread house. Instead, the team produced this:

Yes, a rundown cabin with what appears to be two orphans. It was well produced provided the entire team was blind. But the judges barely even got a chance to comment on showpiece because Melissa threw Lina under the bus so quick I think it was manslaughter. Right off the bat, suddenly everything was no one’s fault and Vanarin stood quietly after being ridiculed for using smoked pineapple in his desert – which makes almost no sense. But after being run over by a bus multiple times, there was nothing Lina could do and she was sent home. Also, it wasn’t until Gail said her name that I knew who she was.

And so ends the first episode of this wretched tale. Join us next time when maybe you’ll realize just how old the Beasties Boys are or enjoy as Hughibrow rips someone a new one over their lollipops. I can’t wait. We really need an HTML code for sarcasm.