Top Chef Just Desserts Exit Interviews: Episodes 3 and 4

We’ve got TONS of TCJD content to round out this Friday, as we chat with the three latest chefs to hit the chopping block.

Last week, the chefs were given the challenge to create the ultimate table of dessert wonderment for Lisa Vanderpump  from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star. We chatted with the chef-testant who didn’t make the cut — plus heard from this week’s loser — after the jump.


ES: Why did you choose a lollipop?
Nelson:  We were talking about whimsical. I wanted something happy and that the ladies would enjoy. I didn’t over-analyze my choice.

After the judges’ table you said, “Wrong decision. Wrong execution. Wrong way.” What was the analytical hindsight you had there?
I would have spent more time analyzing what I was going to do. I was feeling good about the quickfire, challenge being that I was on the top. I also felt good about having 6 different techniques in my dessert, so I thought there was no way I would be in the bottom. I was careless about my performance at that moment. I was feeling safe.

At one point you mention Craig didn’t have a clue and that you didn’t see him as a leader. Did you or anyone try to step in and fill the gap?
He told me it was a personal challenge, but he didn’t measure the consequence, but I also thought we should respect him and we should help him. He was the captain at the moment.

Then, it was Willy Wonka’s world re-created 40 years later. The chef-testants were given an open canvas and are left to their own creative devices, but both Melissa and Craig were sent packing.


ES: What was the intended vision for the green donut?
Melissa: It was supposed to be the stem of a flower and the top was supposed to be nine inches of flower petals made out of chocolate. The creative team didn’t finish it and since I told Johnny I was thinking of donuts I felt like I had to deliver and throw it out there. I obviously should not have done that.

In the past episodes you mentioned your frustration with being chosen towards the end. Do you think that affected your game?
I think it did affect my game. It made me feel like I needed to impress my fellow contestants, when I was supposed to be on the show to demonstrate my talents. I felt like they weren’t taking me seriously, and that was really annoying.

Why do you think that was the case?
I don’t know, honestly.

You said you were leaving very inspired. What are doing to channel that inspiration?
I’ve been doing this for 6 years and anything you do for that long you kind of get a little bit jaded. You don’t realize the impact you have on something or someone. This made me wake up to a few things I thought wasn’t possible, but now I know are completely possible.

What specifically is possible now that wasn’t previously possible?
Before there wasn’t much detail to the plating because I would just get things out. Now I’ve taken on making things more visual, more beautiful by pushing harder and working faster

You  also left saying you hoped you made everyone proud. What was your proudest moment?
My proudest moment was when I was told my chocolate was beautiful.

ES: Was the technique for the gummy bears something you had experience with or was that something you decided to take on to stretch yourself as a pastry chef?
Craig: I’ve done nothing like that before; I’ve made jelly things in the past, but never that size. I tried to work with different flavors and things I wasn’t familiar with. I pushed it and I was extremely stubborn in the challenge. I wanted those gummy bears bad — I thought it was so important. In hindsight I probably should have realized, it’s not working, maybe I should change it.

Do you feel Sally was a help or was she a crutch?
She’s such an amazing teacher. Every time she found me struggling, she would talk me through it and see what she could do to help me. It was nice to have someone on my side that cared about me and wanted to see me do well, so that was really comforting. She definitely helped me.

In the previous episode, Johnny said that if you didn’t have immunity you would be eliminated. How did that affect your mindset for the remaining competition?
That was a really tough judging table. It was difficult to bounce back for the next challenge and put it behind me and say, “Today is a new day.”

You mentioned at the end that you now felt you could hang with the big boys. Prior to that, did you have hesitations about leveling up with some of your teammates?
I definitely did. Going into the competition I was really nervous, especially with Chris being the youngest world champion. I won a challenge at one point and beat all of them. That was a really awesome thing for me.

What’s next for you?
I started working with Carlos from the show in Las Vegas. I’m learning a lot, he’s an amazing mentor

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