Cafe Society

Top Chef Just Desserts: That's the way the cookie crumbles

I'm enjoying Just Desserts more than I enjoyed the regular Top Chef, though in many ways I'm more interested in savory food than dessert. Although the Dessert contestants are pretty high-octane, they're also more emotionally honest, and there's a lighter, more playful feel to the whole thing -- perhaps because Gail Simmons is a warmer host than Padma and main judge Johnny Iuzzini is less self-important than Tom Colicchio.

Gail Simmons's blog might explain the change in tone. She talks about how talented the chefs are and adds, "Whatever happens in the kitchen, whatever happens in the house, in the Stew Room...we will always treat our chefs with dignity, reverence and respect." I like the contestants -- even volcanic, unstable Seth, because he's so transparent, though I probably wouldn't want to share a kitchen with him. Funny how differentiated the group is already; by the third episode of Top Chef D.C., I still couldn't tell Steven from Ed.

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Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman