Top Chef Just Desserts Exit Interview: Episode 8
Just Desserts is clearly scraping the barrel. They’ve resorted to edible arrangements for the Quickfire, and the judges, including one Shinmin Li, don’t even bother to eat what the chefs created, just stand and gawk. WTF! For the elimination challenge the chefs had to create a “Celebritea” duo of cakes for a tea party, and apparently some of these chefs have never been to one. Chefs, this is how it’s done.
Keep reading to see who packed their whisk.
ES: Your desserts always seem to fall short on presentation, why do you think that was the case?
Eric Wolitzky: It depends on how you look at it. The thing with me is that isn’t what I do. My thing was not to be a restaurant chef. That’s not what I focused on, I have gone to the French Culinary Institute, I understand the basics of plating but it’s not my interest, it’s not what I do everyday so I really wanted to represent who I am. I was sometimes resistant to doing that, but it’s hard because it’s what they want from you.
As a baker, how do you think you fared against the more conventional pastry chef?
When I went in there I was terrified. I was like, ‘what am I doing?’ I’m the only baker and all these people do something very specific, it was certainly something I struggled with the whole way through. What you learn is that people like Morgan and Zac come to you and go “I can’t do what you do, I can’t make the perfect pineapple upside down cake,” si you realize that it goes both ways.
The edible arrangement Quickfire — did you know that the judges were not going to taste, and instead judge purely on presentation?
Yes, we did.
Did you change the way you cooked knowing that?
No, I make from what I do. I won the restaurant wars and what I do is I stick with what I know, I was actually having a good time. I was happy with what I did. You always have to stick with your style. If I was trying to pull sugar it would have been a disaster. You have to play the game.
In the elimination challenge, when you found out that chocolate was off limits, was there no other route to go other than the short cake?
There was other routes to go, but we had three hours and we don’t have recipes. You’re in panic mode. You have to think, what’s in your arsenal that I can remember and you just have to go, there is no thinking time. The clock is ticking. We’re pastry chefs, we work with recipes. It was also a hard day, I was down from the quickfire, I was exhausted. I was ready, if at that point I had to go I was so happy with what I had done, I was ready.
What is it really like working in the kitchen with Morgan?
He’s inspirational. He is extraordinarily talented, and we have a lot of respect for each other. We had a great relationship. But that’s outside of the kitchen. In the kitchen it can be very difficult. We worked a lot together throughout the show. In the restaurant wars he was really difficult, he did not want to go with our idea, he did not want to play along. He gets aggressive with other chefs. In the end he believed in what Danielle and I wanted to do, but it definitely sometimes gets in the way. You have to wait for him to simmer down.
Are you still with Baked? Any desire to open up your own shop?
I’m still with Baked, in Brooklyn. I’d like to open up my own place, we’ll see what happens. I haven’t figured out the next step. I’m sure something will be on the horizon but will have to figure that out.
What is your must-bake item for Thanksgiving?
I love apples. I’ll make anything with apples. I have a great apple upside-down cake which I like to do. I’ll make a brown sugar bundt cake with caramel rum frosting. I’ll try to make something very comforting. Simple ingredients that really shine through.