Chef Tell: Wedding Cakes and Cliques

At the start of last night's Top Chef Just Desserts, Princess Dexter was not really lamenting his huge blow-up -- wait, make that blow-ups, plural, because he clearly didn't remember all of them -- on last week's episode. Others were sad that Mama Bear Tim had been kicked off, and the rest were just making coffee and trying to live with too many people. Seriously, these shows need to start with 10 cheftestants max -- I'm only just now beginning to be able to tell apart any of the relatively sane people.

We were quickly ushered into the Quickfire Challenge where Sylvia Wienstock, o' petite she of enormous round glasses and wedding cake know-how, was waiting next to Gail Simmons. The challenge, though predictable thanks to Queen Cake's presence, was insane: Make a beautiful and flavorful wedding cake -- yes, wedding cake -- in one hour, 30 minutes. WTF?! I thought the group of chefs was either going to faint or crap their jorts.

Fortunately, sheet cakes were provided, so the bake time issue was essentially eliminated, but still, most cake makers take days, sometimes weeks, to prepare a special occasion cake. Zamboyant wanted to know if Sylvia and Gail had been "snorting buttercream." Though the logistics of that statement sent my mind into a tailspin, I was with him.

Various chefs gave the "I've never made a wedding cake" or "I've never made a tiered cake" excuse, including Princess Dexter. He decided to eff the whole thing and make an "engagement cake" of a tiny size because, he's going to cook the way he wants and respect an industry legend, what? Nevermind that. 

Dallas' own Morgan Wilson was quiet for most of the challenge, smoothing fondant and wearing a diaper on his head...until he lost it on his table mate, the emotionally fragile divorcee Malika. She was struggling to right her off-center catastrophe of a cake and was shaking the table, see, so like any normal person he yelled at her from across the kitchen, "Hey, Shaky! I see you shaking the shit out of this table and it's driving me crazy." Classy. And effective...you know, if you're looking to make someone cry.

While the judges circled and her cake began literally falling apart, Malika started hinting that she was not feeling good about cooking competitively, baiting us all into believing that she'd be quitting the show. Except, we all know that in reality TV no one ever gives up that information so far in advance, so it was easy to guess that something about the next challenge would inspire her to stick around. Lame, and totally correct, just so you know.

Princess Dexter got a talking to from Wienstock for not even making the effort to satisfy the challenge requirements even if it meant stepping out of his comfort zone -- and by comfort zone she didn't mean dramatized bitching and moaning or hyperactive behavior. Zam was also embarrassed by his lack of effort. I was embarrassed that he said it was his favorite dish so far this season. What an asshole.

Taking the cranial diaper off before presenting the ladies with his nuptial nosh, Morgan wowed them with an Italian cream cake soaked in coconut rum syrup with cream cheese icing and toasted pecans. It looked neat and tidy. He told Wienstock he adored her cakes, and I'm pretty sure she slipped him her number. OK, maybe not, but let's just say the man cannot avoid flirting with someone he's not verbally accosting.

Morgan, Erika and Heather H. (who made her own wedding cake in real life because she is ca-ra-zy) landed the top, with Erika winning immunity.

The Elimination Challenge proved less technically tedious, but even more irritating. As it was a team challenge, the chefs had to draw cookies from the cookie jar to determine the two groups. Really? They couldn't draw whisks or spatulas? Cookies. Fake cookies.

The two groups were Glee and Pep and, you guessed it, it was Glee Club versus Pep Squad oriented. St. Monica's' specifically. The actual school organizations came in and performed a song and cheer, and let it be said the St. Monica's mascot is absolutely terrifying. A giant-headed man-thing possibly more alarming than Mavs Man. Anyway, the challenge was to bake items (one per chef) for a bake sale fundraiser to raise money for group trips. Tickets were sold ($1) and the team with the most tickets at the end of the bake sale would be the winning team, allowing their junior group to go on their trip. The chefs got three hours of prep in the kitchen and 30 minutes of prep on site.

Glee Club was composed of Eric (peanut butter krispy bars with chocolate topping), Erika (chunky chocolate chip walnut cookies), Morgan (black and white cupcakes), Malika (toffee brownies), and Heather H. (dulce de leche cookies). Pep Squad was composed of Yigit (chocolate pudding with ginger), Zam (strawberry shortcakes), Heather C. (peanut butter cookies), Princess Dexter (mocha financier), Deadpan Danielle (coconut cupcakes).

There was drama early on during kitchen prep when Heather C. snagged all of the peanut butter available for her cookies, leaving none for Eric to use in his krispy bars. He was dismayed but Morgan was pissed. "Sabotage time? OK, I can do that." And then he strode to the refrigerator and removed all of the butter. Totally logical. "If somebody wants to share peanut butter, they can have the butter back." Eric wasn't sure it was a good solution, but he thought it was cool someone had his back. Zam just wanted to know if water and flour were still open-sourced.

Heather shared the peanut butter after measuring her ingredients but it wasn't enough and Eric improvised by adding Nutella. Princess Dexter improvised a different way by performing a one-act play wherein he talked to himself in a crazed manner over a big bowl of butter and for no live audience.

Back at the chef house, or chouse, as I like to call it, Morgan maintained his position on Team P-Dex, sitting at an uncomfortably close distance and listening to him ramble. Morgan feels PD has potential. Whatever.

The next day at the bake sale, there were just too many loud sounds and a ton of kids. Princess Dexter didn't want to interact with them, instead choosing to prep in the back, and for once, I kind of agreed with him. The judges (Gail, JohnnyPomp, Danielle of DailyCandy, and Sylvia Wienstock) sampled the offerings while wearing noise-cancelling headphones. Not really. OK, really, but they were invisible. At least, I hope they got the invisible headphones...or at least earplugs. That glee club song was way irritating.

Morgan worked the St. Monica's pep squad with his charm and charisma and an attempt to do the splits. They were crushing on him. At first I found it mildly disturbing and then I remembered he's a dad so he probably just knows how to make kids feel comfortable. I'm sticking with that.

The Pep Squad won with $250 raised, beating the Glee Club by $10. The Glees were clearly dejected but, um, hello, Top Chef Just Desserts isn't going to let kids be sad. Each group was given enough money to go on their trips and the school was given an additional $5,000. Oh, sweet relief! And no sponsorship name-dropping! It was a bake sale miracle!

Eric won best dish with his peanut butter/Nutella krispy bar, and the Pep Squad was given just props for clearly working well together and choosing desserts that kids would actually like. After a team meltdown in front of the Judges' Table and in the Stew Room, Heather C. was sent home for making an ordinary peanut butter cookie "any housewife" could turn out (yikes). Seems like making a coffee-flavored financier cake with creamsicle drizzle would've been a greater sin, but alas. Deadpan Danielle agreed that Princess Dexter deserved the oust but for a different reason: "You should go home because you're a dick." But P-Dex makes for better TV than the reserved girl with the mysterious bandage on her forehead. So goes it.

Next week: Princess Dexter scares everyone with another freak-out. An ambulance is called. Surely, mayhem ensues.

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