"Top Chef: Just Desserts Is Not A Place To Be Timid"


In the premiere of Top Chef‘s all-pastry, all-the-time spinoff, we’ve already heard someone refer to himself as “the Snow Queen,” seen two whoopie pies, and learned that “if you took a bite out of him, it would ooze ganache.”

Top Chef: Just Desserts” just may be amazing. It’s too early to say, but all the ingredients are there: assholes, drama queens, contrived drama, and, of course, chocolate. If you’ve seen Top Chef, you know the drill, down to the Quick-Fire challenges (twist! they have to make their signature dessert into a cupcake!) and the host, Gail Simmons. (She’s joined by a hot-shot pastry chef with a greaser pompadour in the adviser role.)

The differences are that people are really defensive about being considered inferior to “savory chefs,” no one can taste anything while they’re cooking (this being pastry), there’s the challenge of baking sans recipes (this being pastry) and the contestants are very invested in your knowing their sexuality. “I’m gay,” the self-titled Snow Queen, Tim, explains unnecessarily. The obligatory straight dude not only mentions his girlfriend and kid, but goes out of his way to mention a “schoolboy crush” on Simmons and say that her beauty distracts him from what she’s saying.

There’s the usual posturing (“if somebody finds me intimidating, deal with it,” says one person who, because she’s one of two “Heathers,” has to be identified by an elementary-school style initial after her name) and a ride on a London-style double-decker bus around the city. No one has emerged as that likable, although some of us feel we have to route for the dude whose Brooklyn bakery we’ve been to, even though we’re supposed to be boycotting it because they fired our friend (who, we suspect, may have been kind of incompetent and also giving out too many comps to friends.) The “character” is obviously Zac, who opens his Bravo bio by saying: “While employed in the wig department of the Radio City Rockettes, Zac Young had an epiphany: he would rather be baking cookies than fluffing Santa beards.” Double-entendre intended, we’re presuming, having spent an hour with his relentless innuendo. In the course of this episode, he cries, annoys people, and possibly starts a feud — to say nothing of his actual baking.

Later, they all have to make “decadent” chocolate desserts for chocolatier Jacques Torres, who’s never had a whoopie pie and is predictably underwhelmed. Tania, a “Jewish, atheist artist who’s all about rebellion” gets kicked off (Overbaked? Melted? Regurgitated?) after admitting that there was “no excuse” for her grainy mousse, which they never like. The intimidating Heather wins with a many-layered torte. Seth, who won the quickfire, doesn’t even attempt to hide his sullen rancor.

Will we keep watching? Yes: if only to find out to what they’re referring with the teaser quote “you could almost taste the resentment in her cooking.”

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