Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Top Chef JD's sweet winner,Work of Art goes pop and TAR tries to get into the spirit of things

The Final Three contenders on Top Chef:Just Desserts had a major feat to pull off for the finale,namely making the best version of a sugary feast.

Each chef had to make one of the following-a savory bread,bon bons,an entremet cake(a chocolate mousse layer cake,to be precise),a plated dessert that had special personal meaning and a showpiece. On the first day of the challenge,they were given help from three of the top pastry chefs in the world,namely fellas who have achieved the title of MOF(which is the top award given to masters of their craft in France).

Day two allowed the chefs to select assistants from amongst their past competitors,one by random and the other by choice. Sally picked Orlando for her team,due to his amazing skills in creating showpieces.

That may have seemed like a smart move at first but the end product was clearly more of a display for Orlando's talents than Sally's,which cost her plenty of points with the judges.

While most of her dishes turned out well,Sally's plated dessert(flavored with coffee and cashews,as a tribute to her mother and sister)had some technical flaws that also pulled her out of the running for the win.

Matt decided to take some risks and do certain things that he's never done before for his presentation. Having never worked with sugar art before,his showpiece was beautifully executed,in my opinion. Judge Johnny kept giving him grief for that,saying that he should have played to his strengths in chocolate.

That's bogus,because if Matt had simply made his usual chocolate work,Judge Johnny would have accused him of playing it safe as he's done in previous rounds. Sometimes,there is no pleasing you,is there,Johnny?

Matt's other edible offerings were pleasing but his plated dish felt a little disjointed. He meant for the strewn about placement of the treats to be a flavorful playground,to honor his wife and child,but Matt made the mistake of comparing the collection of cake and milk ice cream to chocolate chip cookies. Sure enough,everyone wanted a chocolate chip cookie instead!

Chris settled on an industrial theme for his food,starting with the elaborate chocolate showpiece that he put together. All those beams(he even made separate ones to display his bon bons on)had a very steampunk look to them,which elevated the entire set-up there.

Judge Johnny was quick to point out that one of the brioche balls lined up on one of the lower limbs had fallen off,but that wasn't as big of a deal as he was making it out to be. Geez,Johnny,can't you wait until Christmas morning to become a nutcracker,seriously!

Regardless of that,Chris won the whole shooting match with the rest of his food intact. His plated dessert was similar to one that he had made in a prior competition where he met his wife and that combo of almond cake and banana caramel appeared to be a crowd pleaser. Congrats to Chris and best wishes to his loved ones.

Next week,a new season of regular Top Chef begins in Texas,which should mean a rootin'-tootin' time for us all and some good meaty challenges.

On Work of Art,the contenders were lead down a trail of tin cans to their hostess China Chow and mentor Simon to learn the theme of their next challenge. It was Pop Art,as idealized by Andy Warhol and his Campbell Soup can painting. The artists were encouraged to use their own original ideas and modern day notions in making their piece.

Immunity was off the table for the winner,due to the big prize for this round was a two page spread in Entertainment Weekly(which I will be looking forward to checking out soon). The bad side of this was that a double elimination was now in play.

Once again,The Sucklord was overlooked for either positive or negative critique and he really put out an appropriate to the moment piece.

He made a collection of "Winning" merchandise,based on Charlie Sheen's mad media romp,and it was not only awesome but something that would truly be worth paying money for.

Included in his "Winning" showcase were dispenser bottles of tiger blood,jars of warlock dust and "action goddess" figures. Considering the lame products and T shirts that were actually marketed during Sheen's rant phase,these items were a savvy slap in the face on that effort to parley such a sad celebrity meltdown into quick and easy cash.

Only two art pieces were considered for the win and one of them is not work safe,you have been warned! Okay,now that that's been said,let's get on with it.

Kymia's "Greener Everyday" photo was meant to mock sex in advertising and pollution,with the bottle of dirty water held up between her breasts in a mock poster style. Once she had the lighting in the picture better adjusted(Simon rightly pointed out that her first picture made the liquid look more like a mixed drink),it made an impact on the judges.

Personally,it didn't speak to me at all. If she had poised in a fashion model stance and poured some of that grimy water onto herself(sort of like Paris Hilton and that sleazy sudfest of a Carl's Jr. commercial),it might have been more of a slam at the ad industry,in my opinion.

Young engaged his audience with his " A Modest Proposition" poster made into an interactive bulletin board. People were encouraged to write on the back of his piece about their feelings on Prop 8,taking the concept of something to talk about in a very identifiable and tangible direction.

I had my doubts about the piece at first,as Young was making it,but the end result did have the spirit of pop art as well as a combination of public and private response to a critical social issue. Congrats to Young and I hope that we'll see his write-up in EW sooner rather than later.

Four people were up on the chopping block and out of the two that did go home,one of them didn't deserve to. Let's start with Michelle,who has been doing good so far on the show. Her rendition of a Coke can in "Digital Fix" came off as a Warhol homage and not an interesting one at that.

Lucky for her,Jazz-Minh's "Bite Me" said much less than Michelle's piece did about her subject. She was trying to showcase the insincere smile that put-upon celebs like Britney Spears make in public but it wasn't at all apparent from looking at it and leaving that accidental blob of paint on the second photo was a bad idea.

Dusty chose to make a commentary on fast food with his "How Could You" trash can that was such a non statement from start to finish.

For one thing,the phrase on the trash can flap has no discernible meaning to it within it's setting and one of the judges pointed out that Dusty's work was easily ignored by the attendees of the galley show. Also,that box could've used some color,plus it was a poorly thought out presentation of the concept of pop art and fast food criticism.

"How Could You?" is what I wanted to say to the judges for sending Leon packing here. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who was disappointed at this hasty write-off of a young man with real artistic potential.

While I agree that his American flag/corporate logo piece "What's in your Mind" didn't successfully get across the point he was trying to make about pervasive advertising in the US spreading around the global community,Leon clearly put much more thought and effort into his work than Dusty did.

Oh,well,next week might be better. Sarah Jessica Parker shows up to introduce the challenge,which is working with kids on an art project. Should be fun to see how The Sucklord gets along with children there!

The teams on The Amazing Race went to Thailand,where one of the challenges was to disassemble and then reassemble a "spirit house" after taking it from one location to another.

Most of the teams were smart enough to take notes,since only one of them was allowed to put it back together(and that person had to be the one who didn't do the Road Block on this leg already).

The father-son team of Laurence and Zac,who father Laurence claims to be an experienced "adventurer",had some trouble with this one. Zac wanted to write down how the spirit house needed to be set up but his dad insisted that wasn't necessary.Then,when it became clear that Zac needed to go back and see what he was supposed to do,Laurence got a little cranky about that.

Hey,if you had listened to the kid in the first place,you wouldn't have been in a position to lose valuable time. This is becoming a pattern with this team and one that could lead them to elimination:


THE NEXT IRON CHEF: The competition starts this Sunday and with a line-up of big name chefs,this should be quite the culinary showdown. I would like one of the ladies to win,since we don't see a lot of Cat Cora these days on ICA,but ultimately the best chef should be installed in Kitchen Stadium:

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