A world of pure imagination
Houston's own Oompa Loompa Wonka stars on the greatest Top Chef: Just Dessertsever
Was this a great Top Chef: Just Desserts challenge, or the greatest Top Chef: Just Desserts challenge ever?
Seriously, that it took until season two to bring in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the grand poobah of candy movies, would be a tragedy, except that it allowed Houston's own Sugar Fairy Rebecca Masson to serve her Veruca Salt cupcakes to the original Veruca Salt. (And to make Veruca references today on Twitter. Veruca, Veruca, Veruca. Now we just need some Volcano Girls and all Veruca Salt references will be complete.)
For this extra-special episode, all the normal Top Chef tropes were thrown out the window — there were no teams and no quickfire challenge, just a movie viewing (with four of the original kid cast members: Charlie Bucket, Veruca Salt, Mike Teevee and Violet Beauregarde) and the elimination challenge of turning the dining room into a world of pure, sugary imagination.
(As a sidebar, I can't believe only Matthew Petersen chose his cinema snacks based on the assumption that a movie counter theme quickfire was around the corner. Seriously, have the rest of these guys never watched reality TV? They got lucky.)
That it took until season two to bring in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the grand poobah of candy movies, would be a tragedy, except that it allowed Houston's own Sugar Fairy Rebecca Masson to serve her Veruca Salt cupcakes to the original Veruca Salt.
To create the major elements, Chris Hanmer takes the lead and decides to split the group into a "production team," those creating their individual treats as well as edible orbs, candies and general sweet features, and a "creative team" of himself, Matthew, Orlando Santos and Megan Ketover who would construct the decorative elements of the wonderland.
However Chris and much of the creative team spends the vast majority of their time constructing his six-foot chocolate waterfall, leaving production members scrambling to create their own elements and stretching Megan thin between her own dessert and meeting the needs of the group.
Rebecca, at Chris' suggestion, takes her Veruca Salt cupcakes up a notch by hiding the cake in an egg (although not a golden egg, sigh) and having the icing in a heap to add at will. Rebecca's moon pies are festooned with whimsical swirls and hanging from tree limbs, although she gets knocked for marshmallow that's too thick.
Amanda from Katy (who now works in Chicago) creates raspberry fizzy chocolates and chocolate tulip cups with blueberry cream, which both get good responses.
Both Rebecca and Amanda as well as all the creative team members minus Matt and Megan are safely in the middle and not among the six chefs called to the judging room.
Katzie Guy-Hamilton, Carlos Enriquez and Matt are in the good side of the panel, Matthew for his trio of profiterole flavors, Carlos due to his peanut butter and jelly macarons and edible fruit leather wallpaper and Katzie for her "carrot patch," with buried carrot cake pops covered in chocolate and nuts ready to be pulled out of the fake dirt by the ribbon-festooned stems. Katzie also created a bee hive that dripped honey to be served on cake.
Katzie (who has shown a proclivity for whimsy before) earns the win for her creativity, as the only chef who went beyond the ideas shown in the movie.
Craig Poirer and his giant, flavorless gummy bears are the worst of the group, and for once his annoying, self-effacing schtick does not work with the judges and he's the first to be dismissed. Finally! Hallelujah.
Next on the chopping block are Megan,whose individual bourbon pops didn't wow; Sally Camacho, who made some ugly dirt that Rebecca compared to Oompa Loompa droppings; and Melissa Camacho, who made cute flower petals out of whoopie pies but also a tower of alien-green donuts that was nearly spit out by Veruca Salt herself. In the end, Melissa was sent home, but I'm not sure it wasn't because of her sourpuss attitude rather than her donut disaster.
Sally and Megan, who could both argue that they were team players, survive to bake another day.
Did you think the Wonka challenge was as brilliant as I did? Could Rebecca be an Oompa Loompa, as Orlando claims? And which fantastical dessert did you want most to eat?