Photo: Kelsey McNeal / Bravo
Let us take a moment to dissect the phenomenon that is Team Go Diva. We're long overdue -- to be frank, we thought it was just a silly name that a trio of pastry chefs would give themselves on Bravo one night, and totally forget by the next.
How foolish we were. For in the world of Top Chef Just Desserts, no action -- however flighty, emotional or throwaway -- is taken lightly. Whether it's borrowing a lemon or two, spilling some whipped cream or admiring Gail Simmons' shoes, these are acts of chefs who take everything very, very seriously.
So if three of them -- namely the bubbly Yigit, the positively twinkling Zac and the grumpy, defensive Heather H. -- decide to christen themselves BFFs because of their shared belief that they are the most fabulous pastry chefs on TV, we won't argue.
The three remaining chefs who weren't invited to the Diva lovefest are another story. "I can't stand them and I want them to go home!" yelled Danielle, speaking on behalf of the rest of the group. And when Just Desserts decides to implement its own version of Restaurant Wars -- always a high point on the regular Top Chef -- you've got one big kitchen full of dueling divas.
It didn't help that each member of Team Go Diva managed, somehow, to pull the same color chips out of Gail's bag, ensuring that they'd work together. Their juggernaut secured, they set about creating the "ultimate dessert candyland," while Morgan, Eric and Danielle (what is she still doing in this competition?) set about arguing and letting Morgan call the shots.
What started as a train wreck actually ended up working pretty well. Day 1 wrapped up with Morgan, the alpha-male tryant of the season, whining like a baby that he wasn't going to get everything done: Not his pretzels (the offerings were to include at least one savory bread item), not his chocolate mousse cake with a little window of creme brûlée filling, and certainly not his fried lemon pie, perhaps the most elegant version of those McDonald's dessert pies you'll ever see.
As for his underlings, Danielle made an unchallenging-if-creative sorbet-ginger-ale float, and Eric stuck to what he does best: unpretty baked goods that pack an insane amount of flavor. His banana bread with tangerine glaze didn't taste any better than its pallid tan crust suggested, due to some bad yeast. If we could get the recipe for his lighter-than-air malted-milk chocolate cake, on the other hand, we'd appreciate it.
It didn't help that Danielle tried to serve throngs of guests with a haltingly alien-sounding greeting: "Welcome. To Whisk. Me Away. Our New. Dessert shop." We think they might have had better luck if they propped up a Speak & Spell on the counter.
As for the Divas, they strutted along with confidence, even if their display case ended up looking barren compared to their competition. As Yigit took orders out front, Heather bickered with waitstaff about plating, customer requests, and just about everything else. We won't even get into the endless "shut up"/"don't tell me to shut up" loop she started with Zac.
This is not to say that Yigit and Zac didn't turn out impressive treats, including a peanut-chocolate tart (with a too-thick crust rolled out by Heather), and hard-crack bacon caramel corn, the latter of which sounded so delicious to us, we had to disregard Gail's probably valid complaint that the drizzle wasn't even enough across all pieces.
In the end, Go Diva didn't go as well as planned. Although the performance of both teams seemed a draw, the judges had to slight one of them, and the Morgan-led underdogs ruled the day -- allowing Danielle to see at least one more challenge. As for the deflated Divas, one had to go home. While Heather seemed to know her number was up, what surprised us were the profuse tears from everyone when she packed her things and left. Was her bitter tough-girl stance throughout the season just an act, or tricky editing?