Wednesday night’s episode of Top Chef Just Desserts was a Bravo reality mash-up with Just Desserts contestants baking for Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, Lisa Vanderpump, and her dog Jiggy. The contestants had to create a refined pink dessert spread that Lisa could use in her restaurant Villa Blanca. Lisa’s husband Ken instructed the contestants that they’d be wise to make absolutely everything pink and to throw in some roses, but not to over-do it (ahem. Dude, you’re on Real Housewives). The assignment seemed easy — Pink desserts? Check. Pink roses? Check. But when it came to the details the two teams differed greatly.
Amanda’s team wisely made dog treats for Jiggy (who got even more camera time than Gail Simmons) and put out more innovative desserts. Craig’s team somehow forgot that tiny dogs need dessert just as much as humans (big mistake!) and, on top of that, the team masked the design element of their desserts by throwing rose petals on every possible surface. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough roses to cover Nelson Paz’s lollipop topped with cotton candy. Even though he got points for creativity the lollipop was too large to eat in one bite (the housewives were having trouble eating it at all) and it cost him the competition.
Nelson talked to us about his lollipop fiasco, his fondness for sugar cubes, and how he wants to hug Johnny Iuzzini.
How are you feeling now that the show has aired? Did you feel you were kicked off too soon?
I felt like it was déjà vu because it took so long to make the decisions I can picture that moment I was ready for that moment. They’re advertising me as the chef “that knew” and it’s true I knew I would be sent home, I had a feeling, more than a feeling — facts that were supporting my feelings. I was disappointed with myself. Ambitions can drive me to worry about how long I stay on the show, but the goal is really not about how long, but about the quality.
What would you have done differently if you could do the challenge over again?
A hard question, you know. I really would have focused a little more on the food than I did. I may do the same stuff because I like to learn from mistakes and get it perfect — this is something that drives me. I probably would have made the lollipop a little bit smaller and easier to eat. But I would have presented it the same way.
What pastry inspired you to become a pastry chef?
I have a sweet tooth, I love sugar. When I was a kid I would go to bed with a little hidden sugar cube sometimes. I ate a lot of chocolate as a kid too. My mom always celebrated my birthday with a beautiful homemade cake and for me my birthday cake was the way that my mom was expressing and delivering her love to me.
What would you have made in the finale?
Well I was pacing myself and you cannot plan too much ahead because the challenges are unexpected. But believe me I have so many cards up my sleeve that I wasn’t able to use. I was just unlucky that this challenge was right on the third episode. I would have put everything on the table: my 17 years of kitchen experience, my 12 years of baking experience, my love for that profession.
Would you do another reality cooking show?
What do you want to say to Gail and the judges?
My love! After the three episodes I just want to go and hug them and say, “you are awesome. Thank you.” I’m going to have the pleasure of seeing Johnny in October and I’m just going to go and hug him. I loved him before now I love him even more.
When I first met the 13 other contestants and I saw their skills I evaluated them and during the days I got to see in which aspects they were stronger than me. So next for me is too refine all of those weak points that I have and say, “OK Nelson, you need to do more of this and more of that” and get ready for whatever chance pops up next. This was my first marathon, you never know if you’re going to finish it and when you cross the finish line you just feel accomplished and you think next one I’m going to run it, but I’m going to run it faster. Now it’s about getting better and better.