Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top Chef JD goes to a world of pure imagination,True Blood mops up a few messes and the next Design Star is....

There was no Quickfire Challenge on Top Chef: Just Desserts this week,as all of the contenders were treated to a special theatrical viewing of the 1971 cult classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Once the film was over,Judge Gail appeared and called up four people from the audience to the stage to reveal that they were the original child cast members from the movie. The chefs were thrilled beyond belief to have been watching ,what was for many of them, their favorite film with the "real" Violet Beauregard,Veruca Salt,Mike TeeVee and Charlie Bucket.

The Elimination Challenge was to recreate Wonka Land,mainly the main chocolate woodland room that the kids get to visit first in the film. Homage to the movie was encouraged but so was adding your own creative twist to the treats.

The Wonka cast joined the judges for the grand display and tasting,along with a group of children and special guest judge Ron Ben-Israel,who will soon be starring in his own Food Network show entitled Sweet Genius(he does look like a mad scientist type,which makes me want to watch that series quite a bit!).

One of the chefs who did very well here was Carlos,for his peanut butter and jelly macaroons and meringue lollipops.

His crowning achievement was a recreation of the infamous "lickable wallpaper" from the film,which tasted much better than the kind the cast actually had to sample on screen.

The big success,however,was Katzie who made goodies that were in synch with the theme of the film yet her own inspiration. She made a "carrot patch" that allowed you to pull out of the ground a chocolate covered carrot cake. Charlie Bucket himself praised her for such a Wonka type of tasty notion.

She also made an edible bee hive that you could squirt honey out of and then spread on a little cake. Making her sweets interactive was a smart move there. The judges loved everything that Katzie did and gave her the win for this round.

On the bad side of the sugary spectrum,Megan was in trouble for her lavender shortbread served with orange cream. The lavender was nonexistent in terms of taste and the cream was cloyingly sweet. Part of her problem was in helping out too many other people with their projects and not taking enough time with hers.

Sally had that same issue,as her attention was turned towards assisting with the overall look of the room and not focused enough on the "dirt" she made from pistachio financier cakes and mousse. Most of the complaints had to do with how it was served because you pretty much had to take it off the ground with your hands. Since adults were present,adding a couple of garden style scoops to the offering might have made the difference.

Lucky for them both,this week's double elimination found two other folks who needed to leave more. Craig was handed his walking papers for the large sized gummy bears that he made(with a lot of help from Sally)that tasted terrible.

Craig was meant to go home long before this-not to be mean but he's been screwing up since day one on this show. He does seem like a nice guy,so I wish him well and hope that he improves his skills.

Joining Craig out the door was Melissa,whose duel desserts neatly displayed her on-again,off-again performance throughout the show so far. While her whoopie pie daisies were a delight,the green donuts that she made for a cactus stand were dry and just plain awful. She's had trouble since day one,too but I think her skill set is sharper than Craig's and that she'll do great wherever she goes.

Next week,the chefs have to take over an amusement park snack stand and it won't be a day at the beach for any of them-stay tuned for tasty treats,folks!

On the finale of Design Star, Karl and Meg had to film pilot episodes of their proposed shows as well as make over rooms for real families in neighboring brownstone apartments.

Each of them had a producer on hand,along with a carpenter and some of their former competitors to help out(no,Cathy was not one of them,thank goodness).

Karl's concept was "Inspired Design" and he choose to emulate the architecture of the building into the room he had to work with. I thought he did a good job of combining the tastes of the husband and wife who lived there with repainting a Tuscan style cabinet in a Brooklyn Bridge graffiti motif.

Meg's theme was "Design Crimes" and the first crime she spotted was a lovely Buddha head sculpture that was buried in a back window. She made that statue one of the strong focal points of the room and end result was a comfortable yet sophisticated space suitable for a growing family.

The winner for this season is Meg and I'm happy for her. She's had her share of highs and lows here but her concepts are solid,plus the idea of "Design Crimes" is a good one. She'll be seen on HGTV Great Rooms sometime soon but I truly hope that Design Crimes becomes an actual series,because plenty of people would love to watch that.

Congrats to Meg and kudos to David Bromstad as the mentor for this season. He did a picture perfect job and I hope he reprises that role next year as well:

True Blood wrapped up it's fourth season,leaving plenty of questions answered as well as opening up a few more plot doors for next time. As a number of unexpected guests showed up around Bon Temps on Halloween night,one of the most unwelcome was Marnie. In full control over Lafayette's body,she murdered Jesus in order to steal his magic and take full revenge on Eric and King Bill.

Sookie,Tara and Holly came to their rescue and with a circle of salt and the right incantation,the three of them were able to summon up spirits of the dead to take Marnie away.

One of them was Antonia,who no longer was driven to dwell on the horrors she faced in her life time and a very special surprise guest was Sookie's Gran. Gran took her usual no nonsense approach to the situation and even took a moment to offer Sookie a little advice before she departed once again:

Once that was cleared up,Sookie then turned her attention to Eric and Bill,both of whom were willing to be reasonable about whatever romantic relationship she wanted with either of them. She wisely chose to break up with them both and since she also turned down Alcide earlier that evening,Sookie is going solo again.

That couldn't have come at a better and/or worse time as Debbie Pelt popped in with a shotgun at Sookie's house to deliver some payback. Tara got the bad end of that deal and I sincerely hope that this is not the last we see of her. Well,that's one way to keep folks interested in the next season,I guess:


THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: Vampire fans can take heart in the reopening of the next chapter in this sinfully good supernatural soap opera. With Stefan being forced to indulge in his dark side and Damon having to restrain himself more than usual around Elena,this does seem like Opposite Day is the theme for this party:

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