Bravo's newest culinary competition, Top Chef Just Desserts, premiers tomorrow at 11 p.m. and to generate a little extra excitement, Bravo has partnering with restaurants, bakeries and retail shops giving out free desserts in honor of the premier.
It looks like the participating restaurants are already available on-line on OpenTable and none of them are in Pittsburgh, but I was able to confirm that some Pittsburgh businesses (maybe some bakeries?) are participating.
As for the show itself, I got a chance to watch a screener last week, and I have to admit I was a little disappointed. I love the idea of a competition between pastry chefs, because the world of high-end desserts is remarkably under-exposed (at least compared to their savory chef colleagues). I also hoped that a new angle would inject a little excitement into the franchise, the way Top Chef Masters did.
Unfortunately, the content of the first episode was a bit stale, especially the quick-fire challenge, which involved a trend that hit its peak years ago. The contestants also didn't seem to come from the same calibre of restaurants as the Top Chef contestants, and already they are aggressively positioning themselves as "characters" in an attempt to decrease their chances of being sent home.
Still, the show has some things going for it. The judges include Gail Simmons, from Top Chef, who has proven her excellent taste ; Johnny Iuzzini, the acclaimed pastry chef at Jean Georges in New York; and Dannielle Kyrillos, an editor-at-large from e-newsletter DailyCandy, who is clearly the lightweight of the group, but may still reveal hidden depths. And given the inherent drama of wedding cakes and chocolate sculptures, this show has got to get more exciting.
I'm going to give Top Chef Just Desserts another chance, but so far this show is too much froth, not enough substance. Kind of like a mediocre piece of cake.