Matthew Petersen took a risk and it didn't pay off. Far from a showpiece specialist, the Top Chef: Just Desserts finalist opted to make a sugar showpiece instead of a chocolate one — which he was familiar with — in the finale, only to have head judge Johnny Iuzzini criticize him for taking the gamble. "I needed to do that to have a chance," he tells TVGuide.com. "It's not something I do. I make plated desserts. I don't make showpieces. ... But I was totally stoked [with how it turned out]. It was standing! It looked good and more importantly, I was proud of it." See what else he has to say about being the underdog, why he didn't want sous chefs and blowing Gail Simmons' mind with speculoos.
Top Chef: Just Desserts' Orlando: I'm sorry if I came off as the villain
Were you surprised Chris won?
Matthew: Well, I wasn't sure from the judges' perspective. But quite honestly, that style of finale was best suited to Chris and Sally because they have done that kind of a competition before. They've both done major competitions like that and I just felt like the odd man out because I don't do that and I never really cared to do that, so I was the underdog. It was frustrating when I found out what the challenge was because it wasn't what I wanted to do, but I didn't have a choice. I had to put my happy face on and make the best of it.
Johnny criticized you for doing a sugar showpiece since you're more comfortable with chocolate. Do you regret doing sugar? I feel like if you had done chocolate, they could just flip it and say you should've taken more risks.
Matthew: You are exactly right! [Laughs] And that was the way I thought about it. I'm more comfortable with chocolate, so from my point of view, if I could make that sugar piece look better than anything else in the room, then I had a better shot at winning. I needed to take every shot I could because Sally had Orlando. Had she not picked him, I would've picked him, so I knew I needed every millimeter I could get to move ahead of those two.
Did you have a lot of trouble making it?
Matthew: Oh, sure. There's stuff that you learn when you go along and you make those things day in and day out. But I don't [make them] normally. I realized things I should and shouldn't have done. I mean, it's just one of those things you need a lot of experience with. I remember asking Orlando a couple questions about what I should do. He was gracious enough to help me.
What did you think of Sally having Orlando basically make her whole showpiece?
Matthew: I had mixed feelings at the time, but quite honestly, when you think about it, they gave us sous chefs to do stuff for us. You know what? If it was her vision and she said, "Go do it," then kudos to her because that's what you do as a chef. I do it every day at the restaurant. I tell my cooks I need this, that and the other thing, and they go do it. That's the way it is.