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Top Chef: Just Desserts -Season 1


anthonylee86
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...although one of my few gripes was that the contestants were a little on the... annoying side. Could they not find any party chefs who weren't queens? If every episode is going to involve crying, both in the top three and bottom three, it's going to annoy me. ...

No kidding on the drama. But, I told my wife this would be TC with crying. From guys.

Bolding added by me...

LOL, I e-mailed a friend last night about it (she hasn't seen it yet) and said "apparently pastry chefs are beeee-YATCHES, *especially* the MEN."

But overall, I did enjoy it a lot. Maybe the newness, but I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. Pastry is a foreign and scary world to me, so maybe that's the appeal too.

edit to close quotes !

Edited by Pierogi (log)

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Finally watched it late last night. The drama is building to be an annoyance, hopefully that will mellow with age. I kinda wish they'd let them do their signature dish without the twist in the initial quickfire just to get some sense of what they do unhindered by entertainment value but it wasn't a nasty twist or anything. Shouldn't have thrown anyone calling themselves pastry chef off too much. I wasn't surprised to see Seth and Heather H. in the top 3 after seeing their desserts. I was a little surprised about Zac but I don't doubt the judges call on it. If the drama doesn't overwhelm, I think I'll enjoy this.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Could Seth bee a bigger drama queen?

He could be the single most annoying reality show contestant, EVER. Not just cooking "reality" shows, ANY reality show !

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Certainly for Top Chef. Probably for any cooking competition show. And would be a leading candidate for worst in ANY reality genre. And guess what? We get to see MORE of it.

Ughh.. It just takes so much away from what could be a good show.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I looked at Seth's bio on the Top Chef website. He's worked at some impressive places. But I have to wonder--wouldn't an executive chef fire anybody who acted like that in his kitchen? It's not so much the attitude, but the running around, getting in the way, and knocking over food. It's dangerous, it's inefficient, and it's wasteful. Cleaning up the floor while Zac was trying to plate was just beyond the pale. Kudos to Zac, by the way, for not kicking Seth on his way through. I might not have been able to restrain myself.

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There was a note at the end of the show stating that the producers in consultation with Bravo had discussed the elimination with the judges.

My read is that anyone with an iota of restaurant kitchen experience wanted Seth gone ASAP both for participant safety and Seth's emotional stability. The producers and Bravo on the other hand wanted the drama of train wreck after train wreck.

Seth seems more Hell's Kitchen fodder than the typical Top Chef participant.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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There was a note at the end of the show stating that the producers in consultation with Bravo had discussed the elimination with the judges.

That note/disclaimer is at the end of every single competitive reality show on Bravo, and maybe other channels as well. The regular Top Chef show has always insisted that the producers have never influenced the judges' decision, despite the note.

Of course there's always a first time.

Edited by rickster (log)
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If what Seth said by way of explanation is true, it's a big deal and a huge thorny problem. He said he needs to win in order to be able to pay for $100K of medical bills for his mother. If her only chance is him winning the title, a meltdown could be understandable, if not expected. The fact that he basically dedicated his first entry to his mother, and failed to complete it, might explain a lot. But he was clearly out of control.

Regardless of his talent, it may be that he knew intellectually how unlikely it might be to win the whole thing. Yet pastry is what he does and how else could he help? Putting myself in his place (if I had any pastry skills) I might find it hard to believe, upon being accepted, that I was not destined win my mother's life through pastry. But his two attempts went badly.

But on the other side of the coin, can the other contestants be expected do deal with the possibility that if they win, someone's mom dies, or lives out her existence destitute?

If this post occurred at the same time as the actual competition, I would suggest that they remove him from competition for personal reasons and rework some challenges as benefit events for his mother.

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You can't honestly go into a competition and right off the bat make everyone feel guilty if they win. That's a horrible situation to be in but breaking down, clinging onto a judge and whimpering "The red hots are for my mommy." :hmmm:

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

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From my experience in casting for non-food reality television, participants are screened - medically, psychologically and socially.

The production team knew what they wrought. They wanted drama, tension and tears. Gives the participants "dimension."

Similarly there are many ways the production team can influence results without overtly telling the judges whom to eliminate.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I really liked the elimination challenge theme. I was a bit disappointed at most of the takes on it. I hated the format of "2 minutes to shop from whatever happens to be left behind the bar". But I understand that entertaining the tv audience is of greater concern than culinary excellence so that's what we get. I think I'm going to create some cocktail-inspired desserts just for fun.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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You can't honestly go into a competition and right off the bat make everyone feel guilty if they win. That's a horrible situation to be in but breaking down, clinging onto a judge and whimpering "The red hots are for my mommy." :hmmm:

Yep and when he failed to make everyone pity him enough he turned ruthless. Ironically his awful personality is probably what saved him.

His creations certainly didn't, they were awful!

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Dear Johnny I:

You seem to be a really nice guy, but please keep your paws off the contestants.

They are under tremendous time pressure, and you've just used up a precious minute with your interview, so they sure can't take the time to go and wash their hands after shaking hands with you not once, but twice.

Could you please just give them a friendly nod or a supportive pat on the shoulder?

Thank you.

And I was really sad to see Tim go. He seemed like a really neat guy, and though I'll admit that his dish this time had some problems, it sure looked better than the smurf bites that Seth served. And I really wanted to see him in a challenge where he could really go to town on a frozen dessert, since that seemed to be his forte.

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From my experience in casting for non-food reality television, participants are screened - medically, psychologically and socially.

The production team knew what they wrought. They wanted drama, tension and tears. Gives the participants "dimension."

That screening process is surely not infallible. As others have noted, Seth has worked in places where he would not have survived if this kind of behavior were typical of him. I think it's entirely possible that the issues we're seeing now did not come out when he was screened.

This is the same team that produces Top Chef, and they have no history of casting chefs who have a screw loose. Yes, of course, they do want people with personality, but not whack-nuts who threaten to collapse in a pile of blubber and tip over other chefs' food trays.

Similarly there are many ways the production team can influence results without overtly telling the judges whom to eliminate.

I don't see any need to invent a conspiratorial explanation, when a simple one will do: Tim was eliminated, because he had the worst dessert that day -- not that the producers cunningly manipulated the proceedings to ensure somehow that Seth would remain on the show for another week.

Remember, much of the "offstage drama" is usually unseen by the judges until they watch it for themselves on TV. It so happens they DID see Seth's meltdown, but if they followed the rule of judging what's on the plate, his non-elimination makes total sense.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Hmmm. Looks like nobody had much to say about the wedding cake/bake sale episode. I don't really have much to say about it either other than I kinda get where Seth's at food-wise. His personal maturity is his own thing to work out (refusing to attempt the quickfire because "I knew I was going to lose so I decided to just have fun" is ridiculous) but in regards to his cooking maturity... been there, done that. It can be difficult to have a shot at showing people what you can do and keep the self-discipline and constraint to give them what they probably want instead. The judges have a habit of falling back on "it's not our job to educate" but it's not always a matter of education. Sometimes it's more a matter of "I'm really excited that I can do this" or "I learned this really cool thing that I want to share" that pushes aside the little voice saying "yeah, it's cool but the people you're cooking for don't care that it's cool". I think there are a very limited number of cooking forums where cool factor is an expected part of the show and most of those are built on the reputation of a chef already known for their cooking skills even without the cool factor. Trying to push cool factor in where it's not looked for has at best a 50 - 50 shot at being well received unless you can accomplish it without straying too far outside of the boundaries of what the customer expects. It took a few kicks in the ego for me to accept that... and I'm not working at the level he's working at. He'll figure it out.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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It can be difficult to have a shot at showing people what you can do and keep the self-discipline and constraint to give them what they probably want instead. . . . Trying to push cool factor in where it's not looked for has at best a 50 - 50 shot at being well received unless you can accomplish it without straying too far outside of the boundaries of what the customer expects. It took a few kicks in the ego for me to accept that... and I'm not working at the level he's working at. He'll figure it out.

My guess is that in his real-life job, he's working somewhere that his style of cooking is a good match for the customer. On Top Chef, they throw out all of these hokey challenges deliberately intended to take them out of their comfort zone. Sometimes, the challenges are just plain ridiculous (cooking with a hand tied behind your back). Other times they're perfectly reasonable, but just not what a particular chef is accustomed to.

Of course, it was immature of Seth to completely ignore the quickfire challenge, although it came with no particular risk, as the quickfire has no consequence for anyone but the winner. Plenty of folks have won quickfires that were outside of their comfort zone, so one might as well TRY.

With the bake sale, I am not sure if he was genuinely ignoring it, or if he is so out of touch that he doesn't know what kind of desserts actually work in that setting. But in my recollection, nobody ever gets sent home for making good food that nevertheless fell outside of the challenge requirements. Johnny Z said that his financier was perfect, and despite that being a poor choice for a bake sale, I knew right there that Seth would be safe for another week.

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Hmmm. Looks like nobody had much to say about the wedding cake/bake sale episode. I don't really have much to say about it either other than I kinda get where Seth's at food-wise. His personal maturity is his own thing to work out (refusing to attempt the quickfire because "I knew I was going to lose so I decided to just have fun" is ridiculous) but in regards to his cooking maturity... been there, done that. It can be difficult to have a shot at showing people what you can do and keep the self-discipline and constraint to give them what they probably want instead. The judges have a habit of falling back on "it's not our job to educate" but it's not always a matter of education. Sometimes it's more a matter of "I'm really excited that I can do this" or "I learned this really cool thing that I want to share" that pushes aside the little voice saying "yeah, it's cool but the people you're cooking for don't care that it's cool". I think there are a very limited number of cooking forums where cool factor is an expected part of the show and most of those are built on the reputation of a chef already known for their cooking skills even without the cool factor. Trying to push cool factor in where it's not looked for has at best a 50 - 50 shot at being well received unless you can accomplish it without straying too far outside of the boundaries of what the customer expects. It took a few kicks in the ego for me to accept that... and I'm not working at the level he's working at. He'll figure it out.

When you cater your art at someone else's expectations, you deprive them the thrill of discovery, and yourself the joy of exploration.

It has nothing to do with trying out cool new techniques, or jumping on a fad ingredient. I try to cook honestly and create something that I believe in. It doesn't always work, and it definitely didn't work within the TV format.

Right now I'm not cooking anywhere. I'm only interested in cooking my way, and I'd rather make sacrifices than compromises where that's concerned. When I can't find a place to cook, I do other things for money. Its a personal choice.

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Hmmm. Looks like nobody had much to say about the wedding cake/bake sale episode. I don't really have much to say about it either other than I kinda get where Seth's at food-wise. His personal maturity is his own thing to work out (refusing to attempt the quickfire because "I knew I was going to lose so I decided to just have fun" is ridiculous) but in regards to his cooking maturity... been there, done that. It can be difficult to have a shot at showing people what you can do and keep the self-discipline and constraint to give them what they probably want instead. The judges have a habit of falling back on "it's not our job to educate" but it's not always a matter of education. Sometimes it's more a matter of "I'm really excited that I can do this" or "I learned this really cool thing that I want to share" that pushes aside the little voice saying "yeah, it's cool but the people you're cooking for don't care that it's cool". I think there are a very limited number of cooking forums where cool factor is an expected part of the show and most of those are built on the reputation of a chef already known for their cooking skills even without the cool factor. Trying to push cool factor in where it's not looked for has at best a 50 - 50 shot at being well received unless you can accomplish it without straying too far outside of the boundaries of what the customer expects. It took a few kicks in the ego for me to accept that... and I'm not working at the level he's working at. He'll figure it out.

When you cater your art at someone else's expectations, you deprive them the thrill of discovery, and yourself the joy of exploration.

But then why participate in a reality-show cooking competition? I would guess that everyone on the show had watched at least one episode of Top Chef, so everyone should have known how the show ran. To go into a challenge and say, "Screw it, I suck, so I'm just going to do what I want," seems very self-defeating, and goes against the spirit of the competition.

Like Johnny Iuzzini wrote on his blog:

I was really disappointed. I’m a restaurant guy too, like Seth is a restaurant guy. I make a bunch of wedding cakes a year, and even if I didn’t, I would try. Eric’s not a restaurant chef, but Eric’s doing plated desserts so what’s the difference? Step up to the plate a little bit, ya know?

Like I always tell my students, if you never make the effort, how do you even know what you're capable of doing? You only end up defeating yourself.

If you're not even going to make an effort, why bother being on the show?

("You" is a general "you", not sethro specifically.)

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When you cater your art at someone else's expectations, you deprive them the thrill of discovery, and yourself the joy of exploration.

Fair enough and what I said wasn't intended to sound insulting. It was my, possibly badly worded, way of saying that I understand where you're coming from and that I don't feel all of the bashing is deserved. However, "depriving them the thrill of discovery" makes the assumption that people in general are interested in discovering anything. In some settings, it's pretty much a given that people are looking to be surprised and thrilled. In most settings, they are just there for a decent meal. Outside of those limited settings, following your line of reasoning requires you to be able to say...

I'm only interested in cooking my way, and I'd rather make sacrifices than compromises where that's concerned. When I can't find a place to cook, I do other things for money. Its a personal choice.

I envy the fact that your are in a position to make that stand and I'm glad it's working for you. I'm not enough in demand to be able to dictate that I will do it my way or not at all. So I do what I have to do on the job and get my creativity and attempts at giving others the thrill of discovery out of my system through private catered dinner parties and things like that.

Regardless of all that, I enjoy your contributions to these forums and I'm a fan of the style of work you do. I was hoping there would be more representation of that style for the show than just two or three people. I hope you find the place that will allow you to do what you want to do the way you want to do it.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I made the fun little engagement cake because I was shook up from the previous challenge and I wanted to do my thing and get some confidence back. It was only a quickfire; I was more worried about going into elimination challenge in a negative mind state.

I had no intention of shirking the elimination challenge or defying it in spirit; we were never told who our demographic was and I simply guessed wrong. The coffee flavor was a mistake that I made the best of, which is usually in the spirit of the competition. It wasn't snobbery or anything close.

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A reality show contestant with a wacky personality that keeps him on the show if his product is dicey, who refuses to lower his standards to dumb challenges but makes food that impresses the judges, and who weirds out other contestants and throws them off their game as a result. Crazy like a fox...?

America wants to know, Sethro: strategy, or what?

Edited by Chris Amirault (log)

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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