Last night’s premier of Top Chef Just Desserts Season 2 proved that fairytales don’t always come true (we know, it was too easy). The contestants were split up into four groups and their challenge was to construct one showpiece and two desserts based off of an assigned fairy tale. Lina Biancamano from Texas was on the ill-fated Hansel and Gretel team, where she convinced her teammates to make a witch’s house out of cake for the showpiece. “Cake-based?!” gasped her teammates. But Lina persisted and turned what could have been a scrumptious gingerbread house topped with the sweetest candy known to man into something that looked like a ramshackle mud hut.
There is no question that the cake-house was a disaster, but in true Top Chef style during Judges’ Table, Lina maintained that she didn’t demand the team use cake and instead pointed her finger at teammate Melissa. The judges weren’t swayed by Lina’s protests though, and a few final words from Gail Simmons turned Lina’s fairy tale into a nightmare.
We talked to Lina about last night’s episode, her pastry dreams and her reaction to being the first chef eliminated.
How are you feeling after being the first eliminated?
Of course I am disappointed I was the first eliminated, but no regrets.
Anything you would have done differently — like add candy to the house?
No, I wouldn’t have. They were looking for a gingerbread house but in the original story the witch’s house was not a gingerbread house. The windows were made of glass candy is what it said and there was candy on the roof or something like that. But when I think of gingerbread houses I think of kids sitting around a table at Christmas time with their mom and putting together a gingerbread house with mints and Twizzlers…. I thought the team wanted to make the house really dark and dreary because it was a witch’s house, but what was not shown very much was the actual landscape around the witch’s house which had all homemade candies and lollipops.
What was the pastry that inspired you to become a pastry chef?
I would say honestly just the good old chocolate chip cookie, because that was the first pastry-type of thing I had. That and Rice Krispie Treats. Rice Krispie Treats are probably the first dessert that I made when I was a child — I think I made it when I was four or five years old — and it really got me starting to think about texture and how much I just love chewy, crunchy texture.
What would you have made in the finale?
For one of my dishes I would have loved to have done a dense bittersweet chocolate port with a roasted fennel ice cream, toasted fennel tuile, some candied kumquats and basil syrup.
Would you do another cooking show?
I actually want to have my own cooking show, but I don’t know if I would do another competition.
What would you say to Gail Simmons and the other judges?
I would just say that I wish that they could have dug a little bit deeper into my teammates’ and my experience and I feel that maybe if they would have then they may have made a different decision, but in the end they have their array of reasons of why they make the decisions they do and so you just can’t fight that.
Now I’m working on finding employment closer to my home in Fort Worth making pastries, which is what I love to do, and then maybe in the future going back to school for my Bachelors Degree, and then one day maybe have my own café and bakery.