With Zac sent packing last week, I thought the Top Chef Just Desserts season finale might be a little less, uh, dramatic.
But things got pretty intense between the final three -- Morgan Wilson, Danielle Keene, and Yigit Pura -- who were challenged this week to make a progressive four-course dessert tasting for 12 people. And amongst the 12 people included the biggest names in the pastry world.
Sounds simple enough, right? So what's the catch?
First things first, though, the final three meet up with chef Johnny for a drink or two. And a bit of dessert. The ten-layer chocolate cakes and other goodies seem magnificent -- my mouth was watering for sure. Who could have created these works of arts? Well, it's their sous chefs for tomorrow: renowned pastry chefs Sherry Yard (Yigit), Claudia Fleming (Morgan), and Elizabeth Faulkner, whom Danielle had shelling pistachios.
But we can't skip the house drama. Apparently, Morgan strategically left the AC running all night, knowing full well that there's a full AC panel right above Yigit's bed. So, going into the final challenge, he's got a raging cold. Lovely. As they go grocery shopping, the Buddhist in him just gets a hug from Danielle and gets on with it.
Former business student Yigit's plan: a tasting menu that feels like he's taking the judges out on a date, starting with a gimlet, then kisses, then passion and then "cuddly" cake.
Fancypants Morgan is doing "light, broken down into primary colors," starting with a Baumkuchen, a German "tree cake," so he's not playing it safe. And when Johnny warns him that there's major bigwigs going to be there tomorrow, he tells him, "I don't need you to choke me up right now!"
Danielle calls this stupid. She's doing stuff she'd "want to eat," starting with a sweet cheese, a palate cleanser, an ice cream sampler, and finally, chocolate. Johnny's concerned that this is too simple, but she wants to do something that "comes from within me."
So here's the twist: yesterday's sous chefs are bailing on the final three, and instead, going to be at the table with the judges, critiquing the finalists' work.
That's right, Zac's back -- and Morgan's worried that he'll have to work with him. But he gets Heather H., whom he doesn't seem overly fond of, either. "This sucks," he whines. You know, he may be the front-runner, but he sure can be annoying. He gets pissy when she sugars the souffle molds. The other five former contestants are joining the diners -- so there are now 17! Eeeps.
Okay, ready for the food porn?
For the his love and romance themed menu, Yigit's first course is a "Gimlet," cucumber lime sorbet, with yogurt caviar pearls. This is followed by "Kisses in the Park," strawberry sorbet topped with a lemongrass, ginger, and lime ice cream, and a kicky berry meringue and consomme. Then there's "Passion," a Moscovado pineapple that's been braised for five hours, accented with a coconut sponge cake and coconut lime soup with tapioca pearls. Finally, there's "love," a hazelnut dacquoise with milk chocolate at the base, milk jam on the side, plus a scoop of salted caramel creme ice cream. Noting that "love ends with chocolate," Yigit calls the dessert "cuddly" and reminiscent of spooning. Uh, yum.
Morgan's menu is based on the theme of "primary colors," starting with a passion fruit cannoli with mango carpaccio and taragon gel, followed by blueberry pavlova with a lemon cream, citrus chamomile broth with chamomile pearls, then a Manjari souffle cake with raspberry sorbet and cocoa nib paper, and, for the finale, a white pepper creme brulee with black pepper Baumkuchen and blackberry and anise macaron.
Danielle's hodge-podge menu based on tastes she loves, starts out with a simple hazelnut cake with Spanish goat cheese and fig jam and roasted grapes, followed by a lemon parfait, pomelo, and tangerine sorbet and a moscato granita. Then there's the dreaded ice cream sampler, featuring baked Alaska, a strawberry sundae, and a root beer float. I don't know judges, sounds yummy to me. For her finale, chocolate pudding cake with pistachio ice cream. Her aim is to stay in the realm of her food, but to elevate it to a new level.
With Morgan's souffle deflating, it seems that Danielle is the real front-runner. But Yigit's final dessert is bowling them over, while Danielle's isn't as impressive. Morgan's finale is also a winner. So who's going to take the title?
Yigit took the Top Chef title. Morgan's still thinking he's owning it as they head into the final judging, but he's in for a surprise. It's a tight race, but only one chef can win the Top Chef Just Desserts title.
"This is the most spectacular feeling in the world, there's no other words to describe it," Yigit said, falling to his knees, overwhelmed, when he was announced as the winner. "I can't even begin to fathom how it's going to change my career."
Well, that left me craving dessert. I know I'll be stuffing my face -- thankful for Thanksgiving! -- until Top Chef All-Stars premieres December 1.
Are you satisfied with Yigit winning the Top Chef title? Or do you think Morgan should have taken it?
Images via Bravo TV