Bravo hopes to keep America drooling long after tonight's finale of "Top Chef: Washington, DC," launching a new spinoff that will send viewers to bed with Willy Wonka dreams of chocolate ganache, caramel buttercream, and raspberry coulis.
"Top Chef: Just Desserts" has the exact same premise as the regular "Top Chef" -- a group of hopefuls compete in quickfire and elimination challenges, are judged by a panel of accomplished foodies, and one is eliminated each week until a winner remains.
The glaring difference, judging by the first episode (at least in comparison to the most recent season of "Top Chef"), is that this particular group of chefs seem to skew significantly more insecure and slightly more, um, psycho than their arrogant counterparts.
It's a colorful cast, I'll give Bravo that. Some of these guys make Angelo look like Ted Koppel. And the season's villains are clearly presented early on so you can know who to hate from the get-go.
Also, I've never seen a bigger bunch of crybabies on a single season of "Top Chef." When these folks aren't busy favorably comparing themselves to "savory chefs" (break out your "Just Desserts" drinking game with that phrase), they are weeping over a separated mousse, an unplated meringue cupcake, or some ill-advised, mouth-blown disco dust (can't believe a working pastry chef had to be told -- by Jacque Torres, no less! -- that blowing on a customer's food is a no-no).
In other words, I'll be watching. There's a nice mixture of appealing, irritating, and downright crazy, and the food looks unbelievable. The trick for me will be not to gain 10 pounds during the season because the show leaves me craving chocolate ganache cupcakes every week.
The spinoff is hosted by Gail Simmons and judged by pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini (head judge), chef Hubert Keller, and DailyCandy Editor Dannielle Kyrillos, with a guest judge joining each week.
"Top Chef: Just Desserts" airs tonight at 11pm, right after the finale of "Top Chef: Washington, DC."