July 24, 2011

Meet the Season 2 Chefs of 'Top Chef Just Desserts'

Following the success of season one (and cutie winner Yigit Pura) Bravo is bringing its cream-filled Top Chef spin-off back for round two.

Pictured: (l-r) Vanarin Kuch, Melissa Camacho, Orlando Santos, Megan Ketover, Craig Poirier, Sally Camacho, Lina Biancamano, Amanda Rockman, Matthew Petersen, Nelson Paz, Chris Hanmer, Katzie Guy-Hamilton, Carlos Enriquez

In Top Chef Just Desserts -- returning Wednesday, August 24 at 10pm -- pastry chefs will see if they have what it takes to out flambé, out-frost and out-fudge the competition. Top Chef judge Gail Simmons will serve as the host alongside head judge and celebrated pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini. The show will also feature judges Hubert Keller, critically acclaimed chef of the world-renowned restaurant Fleur de Lys, and Dannielle Kyrillos, DailyCandy editor-at-large.

Each episode of Top Chef Just Desserts holds two challenges for the pastry chefs. The first is a quick-fire test of their basic abilities, and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and inventiveness of the pastry chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic ingredients or catering for a range of demanding clients.

Keep reading to meet the 14 cheftestants looking to take home title of Top Chef...

Nelson Paz

HOMETOWN: Buenos Aires, Argentina


PROFESSION: Executive Pastry Chef, Mandarin Oriental, Boston

CULINARY EDUCATION: Profesional Gastronómico, I.A.G

FAVORITE RECIPE: Warm 64% Manjari Chocolate Tart, Caramelized Hazelnut, Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanarin Kuch



CULINARY EDUCATION: AAS Culinary Arts at The Art Institute of Houston

FAVORITE RECIPE: Gerber Macaroons

Sally Camacho

HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA

RESIDES: Los Angeles, CA

PROFESSION: Pastry Chef of WP24 a Wolfgang Puck Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton, Los Angeles

CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Program, California Culinary Academy

FAVORITE RECIPE: Pecan and Cashew Pie, Pumpkin Ice Cream

Rebecca Masson


RESIDES: Houston, TX

PROFESSION: Pastry Chef/Owner of Fluff Bake Bar

CULINARY EDUCATION: Diplome de Patisserie, Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, France

FAVORITE RECIPE: Butterscotch Panna Cotta with Chocolate Banana Fluffernutter Sandwich

Orlando Santos

HOMETOWN: St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

RESIDES: Pittsburgh, PA

PROFESSION: Owner/Pastry Chef of Orlando's Chocolate Treasures

CULINARY EDUCATION: Johnson & Wales University, North Miami, FL

FAVORITE RECIPE: Chocolate Caramel Raspberry Entremets

Melissa Camacho

HOMETOWN: Port-au-Prince, Haiti


PROFESSION: Pastry Chef, ilili

CULINARY EDUCATION: Institute of Culinary Education

FAVORITE RECIPE: Classic apple pie with miso caramel and smoked vanilla ice cream.

Megan Ketover

HOMETOWN: Cincinnati, OH

RESIDES: Cincinnati, OH

PROFESSION: Pastry Chef, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

CULINARY EDUCATION: AAB, Midwest Culinary Institute

FAVORITE RECIPE: Warm brown butter apple cake with crème fraiche sorbet, bourbon caramel and spicy glazed pecans

Matthew Petersen


RESIDES: Arlington, VA

PROFESSION: Executive Pastry Chef, CityZen and Sou'Wester at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C.

CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S Baking and Pastry, Johnson and Wales

FAVORITE RECIPE: Griddled pumpkin cake with raisin compote and ginger ice cream.

Lina Biancamano


RESIDES: Fort Worth, TX

PROFESSION: Executive Pastry Chef, Stephan Pyles

CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S. Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu

FAVORITE RECIPE: Fresh berry tart with creme chiboust

Katzie Guy-Hamilton

HOMETOWN: Worcester, MA


PROFESSION: Executive Pastry Chef, New York Central at the Grand Hyatt New York

CULINARY EDUCATION: French Culinary Institute

FAVORITE RECIPE: Sticky toffee pudding with pears and coffee

Craig Poirier


RESIDES: Las Vegas, NV

PROFESSION: Pastry Chef, First Food & Bar

CULINARY EDUCATION: Notter School of Pastry Arts

FAVORITE RECIPE: Warm cinnamon roll with hazelnut ice cream, spiced caramel and toasted hazelnuts.

Chris Hanmer

HOMETOWN: Costa Mesa, CA

RESIDES: Las Vegas, NV

PROFESSION: Owner of The School of Pastry Design

CULINARY EDUCATION: Culinary Certificate from Orange Coast College, CA

FAVORITE RECIPE: Vanilla poached apples with white pepper ice cream and cinnamon churros

Amanda Rockman


RESIDES: Chicago, IL

PROFESSION: Executive Pastry Chef, The Bristol and Balena 

CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S Pastry and Baking Arts, C.I.A 

FAVORITE RECIPE: Vanilla Basque Cake with confit apples, apple cider sabayon with cinnamon candied walnuts

Carlos Enriquez

HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA

RESIDES: Las Vegas, NV

FAVORITE RECIPE: Apple crisp with vanilla gelato

I loved the first season of Just Desserts, so I'm pretty pumped to see the show come back for a second season on August 24.

Which one of these contestants are your favorite? Leave a comment!