Fire up the mixers – it’s time for a Top Chef favorite: restaurant wars!
On Wednesday’s show, the remaining six Just Desserts pastry chefs – in two teams of three – had to create what Gail Simmons dubbed the “ultimate dessert fantasyland” for the franchise’s first-ever dessert wars challenge.
First, though, the six chefs drew random numbers to form two teams for another classic challenge – the mise en place relay race. Call it fate, or just good luck, but Team Diva – the strong alliance of Heather Hurlbert, Yigit Pura and Zac Young – comprised one team, while Morgan Wilson, Danielle Keene and Eric Wolitzky joined forces in opposition.
The winning team would receive $3,000, but first the chefs would have to mold 12 perfect tart shells, pipe eight buttercream roses, separate and whip six egg whites into firm peaks and, finally, as a team, stretch some strudel dough across an entire tabletop.
After a slow start, Team Diva pulled ahead and won the race after literally pulling a small ball of dough across a massive table en masse.
A Diva Battle
With Morgan taking the lead on his team, and determined to put Team Diva in its place, the chefs started conceptualizing their bakeries, planning menus and picking out groceries. To sweeten the deal, the winning team would pocket $30,000.
While the divas were mostly a harmonious trio, with Heather volunteering to hand-roll the dough for all the pastry much to Yigit’s concern, the other team had problems. More accurately, Morgan had problems. The usually calm and collected competitor steamed that he had taken on too much work, ran around the kitchen, focused more on F-bombs than fondant.
Guest judge Nancy Silverton joined the panel this week, sampling all the dishes from the two restaurants.
And Team Diva took that fantasy directive pretty seriously, creating candy centerpieces for their restaurant’s tables and a complicated menu at their shop, which they dubbed Pastry Playland. But they didn’t spend enough time filling up their display case, instead making more desserts to order in the kitchen. The judges noticed. And they weren’t thrilled.
Paying the Price
All the pressure seemed to get to high-strung Heather, as well, who was churning out all the desserts and plating things rapidly in the kitchen while Zac and Yigit worked the front of the house. In true diva fashion, she even told a chirpy Zac to “shut up” – repeatedly.
On the other end of the spectrum, Danielle, who was working the front of the house at her team’s bakery, Whisk Me Away, bordered on wallflower-like behavior. Her presentation and lack of engagement with the judges earned poor reviews, though the judges did rave over the majority of her team’s desserts, especially Morgan’s layered chocolate cake with a crème brulee center.
In the end, the race was tight – but the Team Diva lost out.
While the other team nabbed a big payday, Heather H. paid the ultimate sacrifice: She was booted from the competition for her too-thick pastry dough and fingerprint-laden frozen dessert.