'Top Chef: Just Desserts' recap: Bake me a (wedding) cake as fast as you can

Top-Chef-DessertsImage Credit: Kelsey McNeal/BravoIs it just me or has this competition gotten intense fairly early into the season? Usually at this point in a regular Top Chef season, I can’t remember anyone’s names (though Eric’s is still a troublesome one) let alone feel like I intimately know anyone’s skills or talents.

But last week, Seth spiraled out of control into Red Hot oblivion and this week (episode 3, mind you) the Quickfire demanded our hopefuls tackle one of the pastry’s world’s most difficult, time-consuming tasks—making a wedding cake—in 1.5 hours. That’s sheer genius madness.

They were being judged by Mrs. Wedding Cake herself, Sylvia Weinstock, a mixture of your everyday adorable grandmother and the late fashion editor-turned-Old Navy ad woman Carrie Donovan (R.I.P.).

Making something that normally takes days, if not weeks, in less than two hours prompted Zac to ask, “Have they been snorting buttercream?” And his sentiments were echoed elsewhere in the kitchen. But while most were worried about time, Malika and Seth were just plain worried. Neither had made wedding cakes before, so Seth thought it’d be a good idea to just make up his own Quickfire, because you know, as long as you top your concoction with some wedding terminology, it’s cool. (Note to Seth: It’s one thing to admit your dish wasn’t up to par after making it, but it’s another to decide you’re not up to the task beforehand, then go off and make up your own rules. I’ve had more experience eating dessert than making it, but even I’ve made a tiered cake—hello!)

At least Malika made the cake. Well, she tried. Kind of. Name a problem and girl had it: The cake was too soft, the icing was too warm, and worst of all, when she realized her second tier wasn’t centered, she pulled it out, wrecking the whole darn thing in the process. What a sad development, because coconut custard infused with cardamom and vanilla sounded delectable. Break me off a slice of that!

Malika cried, but not just for the botched cake; she started to wonder if she was really cut out for this competition. It didn’t help that Morgan called her “shaky” (how many times have we seen that in the promos? Finally!). Morgan is really rubbing me the wrong way and it’s not just because he tries to charm high school girls.

Any ounce of hesitation almost always translates to poor performance, so obviously she ended up in the bottom, alongside Seth and Eric’s unevenly layered pistachio buttercream cake. What was that he was saying about this competition not being about presentation?

It was a funny dichotomy because while some were D.O.A. on the wedding cake challenge, others were full steam ahead. Sylvia, being the most precious judge we’ve ever had on Top Chef (or a close second to Seto), is the type of woman who uses words like “lovely,” and that was just how she described Morgan’s Italian cream cake and Heather H.’s lemon and orange zest buttercream. But ultimately, Erika took home immunity for her mocha explosion. Though if we’re going to call anything an explosion, it would be Zac’s hot mess of a toasted meringue.

For the Elimination challenge, the contestants were split into teams (chosen by cookies!) to raise money for one of two teams—the glee club and cheerleading squad—of St. Monica’s Catholic School. Each contestant would bake one item for a high school sale.

Here we got the requisite, “When I was in high school…” stories that revealed Heather C. was a jock, Heather H. was a loser, and, most earth-shattering of all, Zac was picked on. It was fitting that he, a former glee-club member, wound up on the team raising funds for his former peeps.

By the way, bake sales are supposed to be fun, right?

Well, Heather C. pouted because her glee teammates wouldn’t let her make a whoopie pie. It made me wonder, why did Yigit get to claim marshmallow territory? Who made him marshmallow king?

The most mature way to handle it was for Heather C. to take all of the peanut butter, which left none for Eric the Baker (my memory device for his name) and his Krispie bar. The even more mature thing to do, then, was for Morgan, Eric’s pep teammate, to steal all the butter. It was a half-joke, but further solidified Morgan’s role as big baby.

Thankfully, Eric is a normal human being and knew to roll with the punches. He took whatever peanut butter was left over and combined it with nutella (Johnny approved!) for his bars.

When all was said and done, the pep team went traditional, while the glee-ers went more elegant. How elegant? Financier elegant. Nothing says fun bake sale like a dessert made for businessmen in Paris. And nothing says fun and youthful like turning service into a military drill. Cheers to Seth for both.

In the end, the pep team earned $250 for their treats—$10 more than the glee team—and took home the win. So the glee team were the losers, negating any progress a tiny show on Fox has made about the correlation between singing and levels of coolness.

Pep-er Erika was a top pick once again for producing what Gail called the “ultimate chocolate chip cookie.” Even cute old Sylvia wanted the recipe. She asked twice! Malika did a complete 180 from the beginning of the show, landing in the top for her toffee fudge brownie, using Eric’s brownie recipe (aww, see? we can all get along!) and incorporating her famous toffee flavor.

But it was only fitting that Eric the Baker took home the big win for his Krispie bar. How ironic then that glee-er Heather C., who hoarded all of the peanut butter for her cookie, was the one who got the boot this week. You get greedy and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, my friends.

Heather C. tried to defend herself, but it only aggravated the team’s painful-to-watch appearance at judges’ table. Danielle threw Seth under the bus, Zac put on his goody two-shoes act, and Heather C. looked like the sad puppy who didn’t get her whoopie pie. But the best line had to be when Johnny hated on Seth/praised his dish: “I think you have to get it out of your mind that it’s not your role to educate people…. That being said, your financier was perfect.”

But because it’d be just cruel to leave the real glee-team losers hanging, Bravo donated $5,000 to the school and added a zero to each of the total sums. Bravo, Bravo! Now the cheerleaders could cheer, the glee kids could go to New York, and everyone was happy again—well, everyone except Heather C.

What did you guys think of Heather C.’s exit? Did she deserve it? And anyone else worried that this is turning into the weekly Seth tantrum show?

Photo: Kelsey McNeal/Bravo

Comments (87 total) Add your comment
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  • notmizbehaving

    I’m not going to keep watching this program if it continues to include Seth. He seems seriously disturbed, and I’m not enjoying his continued disruptions.

    • KK

      Agreed. It’s totally uncomfortable watching his mental instability.

  • dzzz

    That’s it for me..
    TOO TOO MUCH SETH!!
    He has crapped out 3 times and they clearly keep him just for the drama.
    The show is just not good enough to sit through Poor Poor Seth,….

  • Mikie

    I have to agree with notmizbehaving. Breaking down and crying “I did it for my mommy!” (“Mommy”!?) was bad enough but Seth has demonstrated too often that he doesn’t belong on this competition. The fact that he broke the rules TWICE tonight should have been bad enough and really HE should have been sent home. In fact I’m miffed that the show/judges will tolerate someone who doesn’t follow the rules. Pompadour judge tried to defend Seth for being courageous, but is it going to take that cheftestent serving sh*t bonbons for them to kick him out? Sometimes I think these decisions are about what’s best for the show then what is fair to the other competitors.

    • anabelle

      i agree…they’re onl keeping him on because he’s a “character”

      also he said “the red hots are for my mommy”

      • Jthon

        Seth made a “perfect” dessert for the elimination challenge and that’s why he’s still in the competition, not because of his “character”. You can’t fault the producers/judges for eliminating the chef who made the most uninspired bake sale item.

        That said, I agree that Seth seems like an immature tool.

  • Olive

    I hate Seth. He will get the boot soon and that episode I will really enjoy.

    • Svetlana

      I completely agree with you, but unfortunately he seems to make the kind of pretentious desserts that the judges seem to love and will probably keep him around. This is the most unlikable cast I’ve ever seen on any Top Chef, all whiners and drama queens. These people make the chefs from Top Chef D.C. seem like lovable angels!

      • Olive

        Yeah you’re probably right. I agree that the cast sucks, which is really bad for a show on its first season.

  • thorswitch

    Seth is just … ugh … no other word for it, really. Morgan isn’t much better. That said, I *ADORE* Zac and he more than makes up for having to watch Seth & Morgan for me.

    • Olive

      Zac is my favorite so far.

    • gah

      yup zac is my favorite. he seems so fun. yarit (??) is super cute and the women seem likeable. if only seth would go home!

    • Meier

      I’d be just as fine with Zac going home as much as if Seth did (and after this episode, ditto for Danielle). Zac gets waaay too in his head with his ideas (Seriously, he BLEW the glitter on?!? Unsanitary!), and his tendency for extremities by the finished product either helps him fairly well or hurts him tremendously. When he is asked to leave – and he will be – it will be due to a heartbreaking detail he never considered.
      I don’t think a guy’s going to win this show. It will probably come down to Erika (my fav) and Heather H. (who also has shown hints of an oversize ego).

  • MichaelAnthony

    It is clear that the only one who should have gone home last night was Seth. He did his own thing on the Quickfire and his dessert was not bake sale appropriate. Although Heather C’s cookie may not have been great, she did make an appropriate item and she did make a wedding cake. What good are the rules when someone does not follow them?

    • Mikie

      Hear hear–as I stated earlier remove those who don’t follow the rules; do something like three strikes and you’re out, no question. If that were the case Seth would be already gone.

  • SUZIE

    haven’t watched it yet, recorded it tonight will watch when I get home from work. Looking forward to seeing all the drama. don’t mind reading the results cuz it will make me observe, more closely, the actions of the chefs. I agree about Seth, unfortunately most if not all of the show was already taped so our comments about getting rid of him don’t help. these shows don’t need jerks like him to keep us watching, I want to watch a cooking show not a soap opera!

  • Vanessa

    This show has turned really ugly. The fact that keep on a contestant, Seth, that has constantly verbally abused his team mates, who clearly is dangerously unbalanced and even praised him for not actually doing what the challenges are is a bad decision on the part of the producers. Both Seth and Morgan are actually pretty disgusting and it’s not something I want to watch on TV.

    • Meier

      Way to pick some shining examples of good-hearted straight guys, Bravo! Let’s hear it for unbiased casting!

  • Rose

    I am glad I am not the only one who is fed up with Seth. He manages to mess up the whole show for the other contestants and the viewers. He should have gone home long ago as he doesn’t bother to make what he is supposed to. This show could be a pleasure to watch but the producers think we want to see idiots prancing around.

    • darclyte

      The producers and production team seem to be more about the drama than the people and are missing the “little details” this season. When Sylvia was standing next to Gail, her left breast was perking up above the button on her outfit, while her right breast sagged below it. I don’t know if she had cancer and reconstructive surgery, but the production team’s wardrobe department SHOULD have found a way to fix that. Heather appears to have a growth on her forehead that was covered by her bangs at times, a bandage other times, and sometimes exposed…just choose to use the bandage and stick with it.

      • DEE

        Yes, all the drama with Seth is getting kind of annoying!

        I noticed lately Heather covering up a bandage or something on her forehead, but it looked terrible with her long bangs hanging in her eyes all the time.

      • Gina

        I kept thinking maybe I’d dazed off or gone to the bathroom because I hadn’t seen the “Heather C burns her forehead with hot cupcake batter.” part. So it’s not just me.

  • flplum

    Yeah I think that Top Chef is jumping the shark with contestants like Seth. Top Chef used to be about the food, if I want drama I watch Real Housewives. Top Chef is supposed to be about talent and food. I hope they keep their focus, or I am going to stop watching.

    • Spike

      Despite everything else, Seth does have talent, Johnny has said as much. It’s very possible the producers of the show didn’t know when they cast him that he’s a total headcase. And then once he’s on the show and starts acting like this, what are they going to do? Not show it?

  • Paloma

    Seth makes me not want to watch.

    I loved the wedding cake challenge. Having recently made two three-tiered wedding cakes for my cousin’s wedding (it took three days plus a week for the handmade chocolate roses), I had a lot of empathy for the chefs. I was impressed by how much work some of the chefs managed to get done and surprised at how lacking in skill some of the others were. Frosting a cake is NOT that hard, neither splitting cake layers in two, or putting in filling. Boy they made some ugly cakes. …. Heather C. must not have watched much Top Chef because anytime someone in a team challenge wants to make something else but is “forced” to make what the team wants, they get sent home at the end of the night. If she wanted to make a whoopee pie, she should have made a whoopee pie. Kids can never have too many marshmallows. It’s not like you were making a desert tasting menu for Eric Ripert.

  • D

    Love it. Seth is such a hot mess. He is the best part of the show, even if 95% of his camera time is cringe-worthy. Second most entertaining would definitely be Zac. Bitchy queen + sharp wit = amazing reality TV.

    • Marci

      I don’t think of Zac as bitchy. He may be “up in flames” gay, but hes not hiding that and he is genuinely nice. He helped Seth last week when no one else would and even tried to find the good in Seth’s behind the scenes bake sale prep. I am rooting for him to win! If not him, than Erika.

  • Brixie

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the preview for next week- it looks like Seth the Spazz passes out/gives himself a heart attack. There was an ambulance and a quick shot of someone lying on the floor who looked a lot like Seth.

    • Meier

      Maybe that thing on his neck popped.

  • petra

    Anyone know what was up with Heather C.’s enormous forehead bandaid and the subsequent attempt to hide it with long greasy bangs? All I can say is that I’m glad she’s gone though I think it’s time to let the men in white coats take Seth too.

    • wendy23

      i was wondering what that band aid was for too????

    • TT44

      I was wondering the same thing. WTF is on her head?!?! And those nasty bangs…ugh. Seth has got to go…he’s a freaking whack job! Who knew desserts were so dramatic?

    • darclyte

      She has some sort of growth from the bridge of her nose up her forehead. She tried to hide it with a bandage and her bangs. She needs to get that removed before her upcoming wedding that she mentioned.

    • DH

      I also expect some alien spawn to pop out of that growth on Seth’s neck. Maybe that’s what’s controlling him.

  • DC

    I thought it was a little silly the amount of praise for Pep and disdain for Glee from the judges. Glee won with only 51% of the vote. If 6 people out of 250 had changed their vote would the judges had been as praising Glee and attacking Pep?

    • Merrydan

      Pep won by 10 points.

      • Ann

        Yes, so if 5 people changed, pep would have gotten $5 less ($245) and glee would have gotten $5 more ($245), which would have been a tie. So if six people changed, the final tally would have been $246 for glee and $244 for pep. DC was right on the math.

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