The empty house phenomenon happens every season. You either go through it very calmly, satisfied with the notion that you'll make it to the end, or your eyes start to get shifty, realizing every single person left in the house is your competitor, and pretty boy Ryan might be gone but now you've got Spazz McGee and Mr. Wizard to deal with. (And Jen, who is still doing it for Zoi.)
The Dessert Quickfire. First of all, these contestants HAD to know this was coming. When I heard we secured Johnny Iuzzini as a judge I knew he would be perfect for the challenge. Johnny and I know each other very well from NY and I consider him to be one of the top pastry chefs in the country, let alone New York. We always have to think about the "reveal" for the contestants, meaning where they are, or what's on the judges' table for display. Shauna had approached me and wanted suggestions for the reveal. We didn't want to dump a mountain of sugar and eggs on the table and put a bunch of raw ingredients out. Instead, I suggested smothering the table with pastries (I knew Johnny would look good on camera -- I wanted the table to look better). In a ho hum sort of way, she gave me the green light. My production vehicle happens to be a minivan. Why do I have one you ask? Specifically because you can fit so much shit in the back, and believe me, there are times when Shannon and I cram it full. Everyone on set likes to make fun of the soccer mom mobile. I love it; so does Shannon. However, production needed to borrow the minivan to shoot B-roll (sliding side doors) on the day I went shopping for the pastries for the Quickfire. In all of my minivan paranoia I said, "What are you going to give me instead?" I need a vehicle with A LOT of space. I had called Whole Foods the day before to warn them that I was cleaning out their pastry case. We ended up driving something the size of an Escalade. Let's just say the only way we could see behind us was if we used the side mirrors. We stuffed the SUV with boxes and bags of cookies, cakes, and pastries from floor to ceiling. It was very laughable two hours I spent with Shannon in Whole Foods because as he shopped for all of the Quickfire pantry ingredients and I just stood in front of the pastry display case and recited, "I'll take two of those, one of these, two dozen of those." Mind-boggling fun. So much fun I almost went into diabetic shock. We pasted the receipt next to the door in our culinary office, which everyone got a good laugh out of the remainder of the season ("What the hell is THIS for?"... "Pastry Quickfire." ... "Really?!?!?" ... "Yep, guess how much?") At this point the person tries to find the end of the receipt. We could've decorated a Christmas tree with it, it was so long.