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anthonylee86

Top Chef: Just Desserts -Season 1

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Good on 'ya, Seth. You are passionate about what you do. I respect that. I try to be the same way behind the bar. I wish you success in moving forward and recovering from this disappointing experience, both personally and professionally. If you're ever coming to Philly, let me know. I'd love to buy you a drink!


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Sethro -

Along with your talent in pastry you have proven (here) to be an excellent writer as well. It appears to me that what might be best for you as you move forward, and you will move forward from this experience, is that you find an investor as passionate as you are so that you can create AND control the way you want to cook.

I know that is not as easy as it sounds, however from my own personal experience (I always considered my self the "second bannana") when that happens you will find the fulfillment and creative outlet you deserve.

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It’s so easy to criticize from the stands. Easy to pick apart Seth's participation on the show, his reactions, his missteps without really knowing what truly transpired behind the camera. It's a little on the arrogant side to dissect his character or define his persona from those few unfortunate minutes on TV. I honestly feel repulsed reading the sanctimonious and self-righteous attacks towards Seth. I'm sure that those who are throwing stones at him have never had an outburst of frustration in the kitchen. I'm sure you always remain impeccably calm and always have the most mature reactions under any stressful situation. Good for you! Just have a little bit more of grace when judging others, particularly a fellow pastry chef( who,in addition, has an obvious passion and talent). I taste a little schadenfreude here...

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yaslh -

I've been won over by sethro's last, very classy response in this thread, but seriously - it wasn't one outburst, it was a string of them. And with lots of other "cheftestants" who were under their own individual experiences of pressure. Seth himself said, "but of course I could have behaved like a sane adult and not soured the soup. It was a mess all around."

I think he's amply defended himself for what was defensible, and owned up to what could have been better. Time to let the thread move on from Seth, and on to the rest of the competition, no?

(Or, if we're going to focus on Seth - how's your mother, sir? I hope she's doing as well as one can hope, given the circumstances.)

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I wonder how much Gail was authorized to offer for that immunity deal.

I wondered that too. I am guessing that $5,000 (which Zac took) was not the last, best offer.

I certainly wouldn't have given up immunity for the first offer of $1,000, and I am not sure I would even have done it for $5,000, but it turned out well for him. At this point, Morgan, Yigit and Zac are looking like the three best chefs there.

Incidentally, I think that both the wedding cake and the "pastry dress" were reasonable challenges. Even Johnny Iuzzini said he had done a pastry dress, and wedding cakes are CLEARLY "desserts" by any rational definition.

Now, the quickfire was dumb, in that they had to prepare a savory dessert using one pot, and most of the usual tools were off limits. That was Top Chef at its worst, where there were artificial limitations that no chef would face in real life.

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The quickfire "twist" was a low point for me. The savory challenge could have been really cool. I love working with traditionally savory items in my desserts and I was looking forward to seeing what people came up with. Then they throw in a "one pot meal" theme and take all of the fun right out of it.

The Black and White challenge, on the other hand, would be really fun to do. That's the type of challenge I would like, boundaries but no real restrictions. "Do whatever you want with whatever you want as long as it fits in this box."

I enjoyed seeing Michael Laiskonis as a guest judge. He's on my short-list of pasty heroes. Now if they'd just do Pastry Chef Masters...


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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Most clever product placement concept ever - only able to use one pot so Dawn was "essential" to clean said pot.

What didn't make sense is that deep frying Zac's panko coated whoppie pies turned them a golden brown. That should have eliminated him from winning a black/white competition. I was hoping someone would do settable type reproductions - black or white cubes with the raised type in the contrasting color.

Curious what else could have been used, other than chocolate, for black. I was thinking licorice, but combined with what?


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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There's not a lot of actual black, especially that will work in a sweet setting. Licorice, black sesame paste, black cocoa, some coffees, teas and chocolates are pretty close. Tough color but doable. Any dark purple ingredient that works with dark chocolate could be tweaked in a ganache or sauce or something. It would be fun. Maybe a black sesame pain de genes with a ginger parfait or ice cream and a few other components to pull it together as a complete dessert. Licorice would be fun to work with but would require a lot more restraint than some of the other flavors available in black to do well.


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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Most clever product placement concept ever - only able to use one pot so Dawn was "essential" to clean said pot.

What didn't make sense is that deep frying Zac's panko coated whoppie pies turned them a golden brown. That should have eliminated him from winning a black/white competition. I was hoping someone would do settable type reproductions - black or white cubes with the raised type in the contrasting color.

...

I had both those same thoughts myself.

With the whoppie pies, especially. The judges were so all over Heather H. and Erica for using dark reds and purples, but let Zac slide on the obviously brown panko. To me the reds and purples were a whole lot closer to black than the brown was....


--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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My only problem was that the judgement of black and white became entirely subjective in the end. As I was doing the play at home version in my head, I threw out a few things as 'not black enough'. Things that actually would've turned out to be acceptable.

For the quickfire, I think cooking with a single pot is a valid challenge. I think that regardless of specialty, a cook should be able to come up with something good without all the gizmos. On 'Masters' I think Hubert Keller made good use of a dormroom bathtub. Having to cook in a deficient environment is certainly something that could be encountered in real life.

It's great to be able to create great things when you have everything you want, but that rarely happens in real life. To me, it's far more impressive when someone can indeed make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.


Edited by IndyRob (log)

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For the quickfire, I think cooking with a single pot is a valid challenge. I think that regardless of specialty, a cook should be able to come up with something good without all the gizmos. On 'Masters' I think Hubert Keller made good use of a dormroom bathtub. Having to cook in a deficient environment is certainly something that could be encountered in real life.

I don't have a problem with "cook with one pot" as a challenge, or with "use vegetables as the main ingredients in your dessert" as a challenge. I thought putting the two of them together was unnecessarily restrictive though.

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I was also a little annoyed with the lack of consistency in the black and white challenge. I could see the blackberry creme brulee as clearly purple, but Zac's whoopie pies were just as far off. It seems like the judging is a little bit arbitrary...

I thought the one pot challenge and the savory challenge would have been more suited to two separate quickfires, and the unceasing Dawn product placement was super annoying and invasive.

But I'll still keep watching, if only to be snarky and critical!

PS- Seth, thanks for that last post, I'm glad you seem to have your head on a lot straighter than they showed you on the show...you clearly have talent as a pastry chef and hopefully your next adventure will go a little smoother!


If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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Obviously I have some personal problems but cooking ability isn't one of them.

When the producers selected the contestants, do you think the producers for the show knew that you had these personal problems and were thus a ticking timebomb or were they surprised by your mental break down?

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I have a half batch of Eric's winning nutella/peanut butter/chocolate/rice krispie treat dessert from the bake sale challenge setting up right now. It's supposed to sit overnight, unfortunately. The nutella layer was delicious when I was licking the spoon.

The recipes available on the Top Chef website are interesting; they don't seem to have been edited for the average home cook. The measurements are mostly in grams, and the recipe calls for spreading the Rice Krispie treats out in a full sheet pan. I just wonder how many people out in the world realize that the largest a home chef generally gets is a half sheet. On the Food Network recipe reviews, people always complain about it if the recipes are by weight instead of volume. Oh, and the sugar for the Rice Krispie treats (not melted marshmallow) is cooked to soft ball stage without any temperature listed.

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I did the same recipe and it turned out well. I saw him using a full pan, so I was prepared for that.

The only changes I would make would have been to do a bit more of the rice krispie base. My bar seemed a bit top-heavy...too much chocolate/PB/Nutella and not enough base. Other than that it was perfect.

By the way you can find the recipe in the Baked cookbook, except without Nutella.

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I am not too sure whether I like them or not, so I had to make another batch so I can keep sampling until I figure it out :raz:

The show this week was pretty good. I was happy to see Heather leave, because I really like Zac but I thought she was bringing him down attitude-wise. It seems like a pastry chef should know how to make a thin tart crust in her sleep, so it was a good choice. Morgan's team really did make a better looking bakery and I'm glad Eric hung on one more week.

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The reaction of the so-called "Team Loser" to the verdict was the high point of this season for me.

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I am not too sure whether I like them or not, so I had to make another batch so I can keep sampling until I figure it out :raz:

The show this week was pretty good. I was happy to see Heather leave, because I really like Zac but I thought she was bringing him down attitude-wise. It seems like a pastry chef should know how to make a thin tart crust in her sleep, so it was a good choice. Morgan's team really did make a better looking bakery and I'm glad Eric hung on one more week.

I wouldn't say that I was happy to see Heather go, but it did seem inevitable - especially once her team lost. Just being a home cook I've made good mousses and ganaches without a fail. Not all of my crusts have been been up there. That's the sort of thing that should make a good pastry chef shine. And she went her own way with it. The fact that it failed in not one, but two dishes means that, IMHO, this was one of the least controversial Top Chef eliminations ever.

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To her credit, I thought that Heather showed real class by making it clear that she was responsible for the poor quality of the crust in Yigit's dish as well as her own.

I was sorely disappointed by this week's episode. I think the banning of chocolate would have been a perfectly legitimate twist to throw in there if they had warned them at the outset of the challenge. I could have even been OK with it when they entered the store. That was just a nasty twist to do it after they had already left the store and had no opportunity to purchase other ingredients. Zac and Danielle were given a huge advantage in having adequate planning time and shopping time just because they had happened not to use chocolate. I think it just broke Eric and Yigit's spirit.

I was really sorry to see Eric go. While I think that the championship will go to Morgan or Yigit, I would have loved to have seen him make at least the top 3. If given the opportunity to go to a bakeshop owned by any of the contestants, I would most like to go to Eric's. I just think his flavors would be great and accessible. If I were to be having a big affair catered, though, I think that Zac would do a great job --- it would definitely be fun and memorable event. I do think that Seth would be able to pull off the most amazing affair, however, and that Morgan would do an excellent job as well.

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I enjoyed it with the exception that there were a couple of the pastritestamts that were far less qualified and seemed set up to fail. I'm sure it was intentional casting and a common ploy, but lessened my enjoyment.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I'm pleased to see Hubert Keller there and that Johnny shaved off those awful sideburns. I have to say that I wish there were more European-trained chefs. The American chefs and their "I'm the baddest chef in the kitchen, yo!" attitudes get on my last American nerve. If you're going to act like a pompous bad-ass, have the skills to back it up.

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      *made the baby's flower bonnet
      I modeled the baby's neck and shoulders, then stuck that right on the top pot. Then I cut the skewers that are coming out of his head to the right length and pushed it down through the neck and shoulders.

      I placed the arms and formed the hands. I stuck my umbrella stem through the arm and down into the cake so there would be adequate support......but darn, I wasn't watching carefully, and the skewer came out of the side of the pot because my angle was a bit off. Oh well, I'll cover that up with a leaf. At least you can see where the umbrella stem is on the skewer. On top of the umbrella stem is a little half dome of modeling chocolate, to support the gumpaste umbrella. I dab a bit of melted white chocolate on that, and stick the umbrella on top. Now all I have to do is place my flowers, mount the banner, and put his little bonnet on.

      And here we have the finished product. It's sort of hard to read the banner....it says, "May Showers Bring Adorable Flowers". One thing I always seem to to do.....I'll shoot the picture of my finished cake and I'm always tired.....so I'm too lazy to find a good backdrop. Then I curse myself later when there's that yukky kitcheny background. God, in one picture I took, my cake had a dirty mop bucket behind it! All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop......I can always "fix" it later.
      It took me 8 hours to put this together and that's not counting all the prep I did the whole week prior. I don't think a whole lot of people realize the time that goes into this stuff.....and it's also why you don't see it very often.
      Anyway, the girl that's getting the baby shower has NO IDEA this is coming. Surprising her is going to be the best part!
      Fast forward to the next day. My boss's wife and I are bringing the box inside the house, then removing the cake from the box. Kids are dancing around us....."is that a CAKE? Is that a CAKE?" People gather round, and the girl who's getting the shower sees it and starts crying. She gives me a big hug and says "I don't know how to thank you!" I told her she just did.
      The shower went on, presents were opened, food was eaten, champagne was sipped.......and then.....it was time......the part that the kids almost couldn't wait for.....time to eat cake! Which of course, means, time to cut cake. And guess who gets to do it. Yep. Me. I don't have to cut my own cakes very often, and that's a good thing. Usually I'm nowhere in the vicinity when my cakes are cut and consumed.....I have only the memory of a photograph and my labor. This time I also do the deconstructing.....and I gotta say it was bittersweet. Especially since knowing it took me 8 hours to build it and only 15 minutes to take it apart. May I say.......wah? Yes. Wah. Luckily I'd had a couple glasses of Mumm's so my "pain" was numbed a bit.......
      Hope you all have enjoyed this bit of cake sculpting. Now back to our regular programming.......
    • By Nn, M.D.
      I'm very excited to share with you all a recipe that I developed for a double crust apple pie.  I had been inspired a few weeks ago to come up with a series of 3-ingredient recipes that would focus on technique and flavor but still be simple enough for the unseasoned chef.  I decided to make an apple pie as a challenge to myself--never having made one before--and as a way to show those who might find pastry intimidating how easy and adaptable it can be.
       
      Basic Shortcrust Pastry
      Ingredients:
      - 300g flour
      - 227g salted butter, cold
      - 2 lemons, zested with juice reserved
       
      1. Cut butter into small chunks.  Beat butter, zest of the 2 lemons, and flour together with an electric mixer OR combine with pastry blender OR rub together with fingers OR blitz in a food processor until it resembles sand.
      2. Add just enough water to bring the mix together into a dough (about 20g for me).  You'll know your pastry is ready when you can press it together and it stays in one piece.
      3. Divide dough in two and wrap tightly with plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
      4. When ready to use, roll out each portion to 13 inches in diameter. (I do this between two sheets of parchment paper.  Don't worry too much if the parchment sticks to the pastry. I periodically placed mine in the freezer to help keep everything cold, and the butter will separate from the parchment when frozen.)
      5. Take 1 portion of rolled dough and place it in a 9-inch tart tin with a removable bottom.  Gently press into the sides to ensure even coverage.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Freeze the other portion of dough in-between the parchment pieces.
       
      Apple Filling (and Assembly)
      - 1 kg apples (I used about 7 apples for this recipe.)
      - 220g dark brown sugar, divided
      - 1 egg, separated
       
      Making the apple butter: 
      1. Cut and core 500g of your apples, but do not peel.  Add cut apples, juice of the one lemon, about 100g or so of water, and 170g of sugar to a large saucepan.
      2. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Let the apples cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
      3. Remove from heat and blend until smooth.
      4. Return puree to saucepan and simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for an hour.  Color should deepen and the mixture should thicken slightly, but do not allow it to scorch.
      5. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.
       
      Apple filling:
      1. Peel, quarter, and core the remaining 500g of apples. Slice on a mandolin to about 1/8th inch thickness. Place sliced apples in a large bowl of cold water while slicing remaining apples.
      2. Once apples are sliced, drain water and add the juice from the remaining lemon, as well as the remaining 50g of sugar, over the apples. Stir to coat.
       
         
       
      Assembly:
      1. Remove pie base from the freezer.  Dock with a fork and brush on egg white.  Place back in the freezer and allow to set for for about 5-10 minutes.
      2. Pour the entire recipe of apple butter into the pie base and even out with an offset spatula.
      3. Arrange apple slices over the apple butter.
      4. Remove remaining pie dough from the freezer and cut designs in while still cold. Transfer to the surface of the pie and seal overhanging edges.  Trim excess dough.
      5. Brush top pastry with egg yolk (beaten with any remaining egg white) and bake in a 365˚F oven for 60-70 minutes.  Crust should be shiny and golden brown.
      6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from tin.
       
      Some notes:
      The reason for using salted butter is I think the flavor incorporates a little better into the mix than if I were to use unsalted butter and added salt.  That being said, you could do that instead, though your recipe would then have 7 ingredients The addition of apple butter here takes the place of the normal apple pie filling, which is usually thickened with cornstarch and is typically quite sweet.  By using the apple butter, I push the flavor of apple forward beyond what you would find in a typically apple pie.  Also, the apple butter acts as a glue of sorts so that my slices are always clean, so no need to resort to adding thickeners or extra sweeteners. I'm always looking for a way around blind baking, and using an egg white seal has worked out very well for me. The egg white creates a water-tight layer between the crust and the filling, so no matter how wet my filling is, the crust will always bake crispy and won't get soggy for as long as the pie is around. Feel free to change this up as you see fit.  Obviously you can spices to this (I recommend cinnamon, clove, and cardamom) but the beauty of this pie is that it's really not necessary.  Although at first blush it may seem one-noted, the harmony between the flaky, almost savory crust and the bright and refreshing filling is one that doesn't need any help, in my honest opinion.  

       
      So there you have it! My 6-ingredient apple pie, sure to become a go-to for me, and hopefully for you as well!
       
    • By ResearchBunny
      Posted 6 hours ago Dear EGulleters,
      ResearchBunny here. I've just found you today. I've been lolling in bed with a bad cold, lost voice, wads of tissues, pillows, bedding around me. I spent all of yesterday binge-watching Season 2 of Zumbo's Just Desserts on Netflix from beginning to grand finale. I have been a hardcore devotee of Rose Levy Beranbaum since the beginning of my baking passion -- after learning that she wrote her master's thesis comparing the textural differences in cake crumb when using bleached versus unbleached flour. I sit up and pay attention to that level of serious and precision! While Beranbaum did study for a short while at a French pastry school, she hasn't taken on the challenge of writing recipes for entremets style cakes. That is, multi-layer desserts with cake, mousse, gelatin, nougatine or dacquoise layers all embedded in one form embellished with ice cream, granita, chocolate, coulis. After watching hours of the Zumbo contest, I became curious about the experience of designing these cakes. Some of the offered desserts struck me as far too busy, others were delightful combinations. I was surprised that a few contestants were eliminated when their offerings were considered too simple or, too sophisticated. So I'd like to hear from you about your suggestions for learning more about how to make entremets. And also, what you think about the show. And/or Zumbo.
      Many thanks.
      RB
      ps. The show sparked a fantasy entremet for my cold. Consider a fluffy matzo ball exterior, with interior layers of carrot, celery, a chicken mince, and a gelatin of dilled chicken broth at its heart!
    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
    • By pastrygirl
      Anyone have a favorite recipe for chocolate cake using semisweet chocolate?  My usual chocolate cake recipe uses cocoa, but I have some samples of chocolate I want to use up for a workplace party.  Yes, I could make brownies or ganache frosting, or chocolate mousse or chocolate chunk cookies, just feeling like cake this weekend ...
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