The latest desi entrant to the reality TV world, Chicago pastry chef consultant Malika Ameen, has a spot on the premiere season of Top Chef: Just Desserts. The series is a Padma Lakshmi-less but pastry and pompadour-laden spin-off of the popular Top Chef.
In its initial quickfire challenge, Ameen’s meringue was all wrong, mostly because she didn’t complete the coconut concoction in time. But the cookie couturier to the stars hustled for the next round, producing a decadent and bittersweet chocolate dessert for the elimination challenge. It made the cut and kept her on the show for another week.I’ll probably dig into the second episode over the weekend, with its purportedly monumental freakout by another chef-testant, Seth Caro, who won the last challenge with a Madras Currified dessert. (By the way, if sweets aren’t your thing, it looks like this season will have more drama than sugar anyway.) Even though a clip for the second episode shows Ameen in the bottom three, it can’t be the end for her.
For one thing, she hasn’t used green cardamom pods yet as far as I can tell. The fragrant ingredient is one of five that she keeps on hand at all times. I’m curious to see how Ameen, who was raised in Chicago “eating mostly traditional Pakistani food” might use them in the kind of refined, artistic desserts featured on the show.
That, and the preview for episode 3 with single mom Ameen feeling homesick and wanting to leave to be with her three boys, suggest that she’ll stick around for a little while longer.