So far, the show has proven one thing: Pastry chefs are hypersensitive, emotional and needy. Only four episodes have aired, but who can remember any previous Top Chef season with so many tears and self-doubts on display?
For weeks now, Seth Caro has shown himself to be a volatile presence in the kitchen. He's broken down in tears over a grapefruit shortage, fallen to pieces when a sorbet hasn't frozen and, frankly, hasn't seemed like the healthiest competitor. On Wednesday, he took the crazy one step further – physically inducing an anxiety attack after being told he would not be allowed to make his own ice cream from scratch in this week's Quickfire challenge.
After an awkward scene in front of guest judge Gale Gand, followed by a jittery scene in the stew room that saw him yelling at producers (in their first-ever Top Chef screen appearance), the New York-based chef went into shock. Ambulances arrived, and he melted down – one last time.
Yes, Seth Caro was hauled away – physically removed from competing on Just Desserts by medical experts and producers.
"This is crushing," he said in an interview, once he recovered from the anxiety attack that knocked him out of the competition. "This is the worst thing ever – to have a dream and to achieve it and not to have it taken away but to take it away from yourself. I wouldn't wish it on anybody."
Less disappointed: His fellow competitors.
Talented as he was, Seth proved himself to be a formidable opponent. But the other contestants were fed up with his histrionics. "He takes the fun out of [competing]," said Erika Davis at one point.
More Sour TimesOne Seth sped off in his ambulance, the other chefs created impressive ice cream sundaes for the Quickfire challenge. Zac Young, Yigit Pura and Morgan Wilson came out on top – with Morgan clinching an emotionally charged win, after sharing his fraught relationship with his son, of whom he has custody every Sunday, and ice cream.
So, the three guys were named team captains in the elimination challenge, which found the competitors forming three teams of three. (Heather C., who was eliminated last week, returned to claim the spot vacated by Seth.)
Their challenge? To create three desserts, including one that would be flaming, and a showy centerpiece, all inspired by L.A.-based performance artists called Lucent Dossier, a gothic, R-rated Cirque de Soleil-like troupe, complete with sword-swallowers, jugglers and acrobats.
While newly saved Heather C. seemed most in danger of going home this week, given her clueless kitchen routine – could she have asked more questions of her team or seemed more insecure? – ultimately, the judges never settled on a loser.
Self SacrificeMorgan, again, claimed a victory for his artful and elegant dessert that featured chocolate crescents. (Heather H. wasn't happy, though. "Pretty much, Morgan was a selfish jerk," she said afterward. "He's not a team player.")
This week, determining who to send home wasn't so simple. The judges wanted to question the remaining two teams. But before they could pick an ultimate loser, Malika Ameen, who had just received a pretty sweet critique, sacrificed herself. "I would, perhaps, like to ask to be eliminated today," she said, interrupting Gale Gand, who was in the middle of rhapsodizing about her luscious saffron Panna cotta.
True, Ameen had griped for weeks, saying that she missed her children and hated cooking on the show. But when Seth lost, the chef tabled her self-pity and seemed to rise to the challenge, and even remarked that she wanted just to enjoy herself.
Only that never came to pass, apparently, and the pastry chef voluntarily ejected herself from the competition, thus saving her competitors from elimination.
Next week, let's hope for more sportsmanship. This is a competition after all, and these pastry chefs seem too self-obsessed and emotional to compete at a satisfyingly high level, right?
Tell us: What did you think of this week's challenge? Who do you think has what it takes to win?