On the second episode of Top Chef Just Desserts, cakes crumbled and chefs cried out in despair. OK, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but a piece did break off of one cake and there were some aesthetic “disasters.”
The contestants were divided into four teams and asked to create one layer of a cake that would be served at a party for The L.A. Philharmonic. Out of four teams and four cakes, two looked professional and two were plagued by misshapen instrument globs, broken piping and a drum that reminded me of some of my childhood paint-by-numbers creations. Frankly, the judges appeared to have a hard time deciding which cake was more offensive. What was worse: a cake that broke and looked amateurish or a cake that had melting instruments jutting out of the sides and lacked flavor in one of its layers?
The judges eyes narrowed on Vanarin Kuch from Houston, Texas, who not only served up a flavorless slice of cake, he was also responsible for the wilting instruments. Those errors were two too egregious, and Vanarin became the second chef of the season to be ousted.
Vanarin told us about his Top Chef experience, his recurring pastry nightmares, and his plans for the future.
How are you feeling now that the show has aired? Did you feel you were kicked off too soon?
I am doing great. Definitely less anxious than I was at the beginning of Wednesday. Obviously knowing it’s national TV, I would have liked to stay longer and showcase more of my personal skills, but when it’s your time, it’s your time and you have to “pack up your tools and go.”
What would you have done differently — added more spice to your cake?
It’s the recurring theme of my nightmares. There are a million things I could have done differently. I could have soaked it in simple syrup, added more caramel or made a different kind of cake. There are so many variables and what happens is you get obsessed with details.
What pastry inspired you to become a pastry chef?
Actually, it was the aesthetics that drew me to be a pastry chef over a savory chef. There’s an art form in pastries that you can instantly see when someone is plating a dessert well. It allowed me to release the artist inside myself.
Would you do another reality cooking show?
Of course! It was an amazing experience. I would love to have my own cooking show one day — it’s a personal goal of mine. We need more Cambodians on TV.
What do you want to say to Gail Simmons and the judges?
The saddest thing about leaving early is that I won’t be able to see the montage of Gail’s outfits and her amazing shoes that she changes every day.
I’m still in Houston, Texas and we just opened a second restaurant, so I’m diligently running both places and becoming the pastry chef I’ve always wanted to be. It’s ahard right now because the market is so slim, but sometimes you have to become the mentor you seek.