Chef Tell: Morgan Wilson Is Still a Winner
I can hardly believe that this is possibly the last time I'll have the opportunity to mention Dawn Hand Renewal soap. That is, unless they sponsor Top Chef All Stars and then I'm totally screwed. Yes, last night was the finale of the very first season of Top Chef Just Desserts.
It was a big night, too. Our Dallas boy Morgan Wilson -- he of the perfect sound bites, pristine skin, cocksure swagger, and relentless insults of others' intelligence and gender -- had made it to the finals. And he deserved to be there. He had the talent and the drive...and the superstitious habits to have made it happen. (Morgan, as he noted in a bonus clip, has left the chef loft last and shut the door since day one of the show).
Last night's final challenge was to prepare a progressive four-course dessert tasting for 12 diners with $400 to spend at Albertson's. The chefs were given the opportunity to have three incredible sous chefs for prep: Elizabeth Falkner, Sherry Yard and Claudia Flemming. They, of course, had to draw from them by way of pulling the asinine plastic cookies from the asinine cookie jar.
Yigit scored Yard, Danielle got Falkner and Morgan, as last draw, was given Flemming. Morgan was at odds with the situation: "Having Chef Flemming gives me a whole new challenge to overcome: Will she approve or will she just think I'm some ass clown who doesn't belong here?"
Turns out, thanks to Morgan's um, questionably condescending demeanor and overall lack of good communication in the kitchen, she went with the latter. But she didn't have to work with him the next day for the final three hours of prep.
No, the chefs were to draw again to determine which of their former competitors would sous for them (the unselected would dine with the culinary elite and celeb pastry chefs they had already been cooking for, upping their dining total to 17 last minute). Faced with this situation, Danielle and Yigit seemed certifiably stoked, but Morgan, well, not so much.
"I would absolutely throw my hands up and storm out if I got Zac. If I could punch somebody on this show without getting thrown off, I'd knock his skull right off." And, after the producers made a note to offer him anger management assistance, he drew his cookie...and got the other member of Go Diva he wasn't focusing on, but shares just as much animosity with: Heather H. The bitch was back.
After stating that she had no respect for him and hoped he didn't win, Heather went on to butter and sugar his souffle ring molds, you know, as you would. Other things seemed to be rolling quickly downhill, and it was already time for the first course.
In the dining room as the chefs plated, we got to find out just how Flemming felt about Morgan:.
Flemming: "Morgan: Typical male pastry chef."
James Oseland, editor-in-chief, Saveur Magazine: "Can I say something blunt? Do you have Morgan rage?"
Flemming: "I do."
Oseland: "You hate Morgan."
Yikes. Bold. Unsurprising, but bold nonetheless. Then the food came.
Yigit: Cucumber lime sorbet with Straus yogurt caviar pearls
Morgan: Passion fruit cannoli with mango carpaccio, fluid gel and tarragon jelly
Danielle: Hazelnut cake with Spanish goat cheese and fig jam
Yigit: Organic strawberry sorbet and lemongrass ginger ice cream with berry merengue and consomme
Morgan: Blueberry pavlova with lemon cream in citrus chamomile broth and pearls
Danielle: Meyer lemon frozen parfait, pomelo and tangerine sorbet, and Moscato granita
At this point some of Morgan's souffles came out undercooked and toppling over. Heather ran crisis management and instructed the best ones to go to judges. Morgan, overwhelmed, said he was truly grateful, even telling her, "Thank you for being the cookie in my jar." It was a soft moment for two very hard asses.
Yigit: Muscavado braised pineapple and coconut cake, coconut lime soup with tapioca pearls
Morgan: Manjari souffle cake with raspberry sorbet and cocoa nib paper
Danielle: Ice cream sampler: Baked Alaska, strawberry sundae, root beer float
Unfortunately, despite the love in the kitchen, Flemming's souffle collapsed on the table. Oseland suggested, "[Morgan] felt your true feelings about him and the cake felt it and the cake resisted you." To which she responded, "Wow." As did I, Claudia Flemming. As did I.
Yigit: Light, toasted hazelnut dacquoise, milk jam and salted caramel ice cream
Morgan: White pepper creme brulee with butter toffee shell, black pepper baumkuchen, blackberry anise macaroon
Danielle: Chocolate pudding cake with pistachio ice cream
At the Judges' Table, the chefs faced the inquisition from Gail, Johnny, Hubert Keller and DailyCandy Danielle as they waited to find out who would win Godiva's $100,000 and a 2011 Buick Regal. Morgan stated he cooked some of the best food of his life, was inspired and had fun.
During deliberation, all the cheftestants got high praise with Gail crediting Morgan with "elements of brilliance" and HK freaking over his mastery of the German baumkuchen.
But, in the end, the prize and inaugural title of "Top Chef, but Just Desserts" -- is that how one would say it? -- went to the young Yigit. Though at times a complete dick spawn in the kitchen, Morgan proved his sportsmanship and was the first to rush over and hug and congratulate the winner.
"I'm extremely proud of Yigit winning," Morgan said in his final talking head. "There is nobody in this competition I would feel better about losing to."
It was a surprisingly kind and fatherly statement made all the more humbling by the fact that halfway through the episode Yigit had said the exact opposite about Morgan. But that was when they were at Albertson's. Surely, everything's different when you're shopping a progressive dessert tasting at Albertson's, have a cold, and just spent the entire night with the AC Morgan cranked way down blasting in your face. Yeah, that's probably all it was.
Go Diva may have won, but...Go Dallas.
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