Setting up the table was even better as we had crammed every single fridge in the TC kitchen with cake boxes. After pulling it all out the morning of the Quickfire to see how much I had to set up, we were like, "WOW. That's a lot of pastry (stop licking your fingers)". Surprisingly enough, we managed to plate and display it all without eating any of the sweets (It was also 7 a.m., not an ideal time for Death by Chocolate). We had the table ready by 10 a.m. and when Shauna and the rest of production came in to look at the table, they went nuts. Wouldn't you?
Those of you who bought the TC cookbook already know that Richard was going to win the Quickfire. I tasted all of the desserts and some were good, some not so good. It's nice to see a lighter side of Dale in this episode and his take on halo halo was strangely addictive, with a spicy, avocado-coconut milk mixture poured over the shaved ice and other components. I was actually rooting for him to win this one because it was so unusual and so good. Spike's Pineapple Rum Raisin Cavity was just that ... it was so sweet I almost had to spit it out. The buttermilk cake was very classic, though a little dry. The chocolate cake was good, but unrefined in appearance, the same applying to Lisa's dessert, which tasted nice, but I wasn't a fan of the way it was plated (as the wontons got soggy, the whole thing just kind of melded together on the plate in a multicolored pile of sweet). Mark's plate of mini pavlovas lost points for being a petit four plate rather than an actual dessert. I love lemon desserts but unfortunately Antonia attempted to make a lemon crÃƒÂ¨me brulee that never set and ended being lemon crÃƒÂ¨me anglaise soup underneath that sugar crust. Richard's banana scallops were very tasty. He accented the combo of bananas and chocolate with the creamy avocado guacamole and tarragon and minced cilantro stems. It was conceptually the most creative dessert and Richard won the Quickfire, deservingly.
What struck me as so great about this episode is that we get to see the lighter side of the contestants. I adore Richard's earnest confidence. Antonia's and Stephanie's sense of humor remind me very much of my own. Mark's fashionable dry wit and even Spazz McGee made me laugh (a couple of times, too). I think the only one still complaining is Lisa. I was sad I didn't get to go to Second City, but it's actually the first time the contestants have EVER gotten to go out for a real night on the town. We caught a quick drink in the Mission after shopping for the street cart challenge, but it was one drink and it never made it to air. I think Season 2 contestants were locked in their loft the entire time, and we know how pissed the Season 3 chefs got when they arrived at Nikki Beach and found out they had to cook. I was happy to see them have such a great time at Second City and I had wanted to know how their improv categories actually came to be. The best part was seeing their realization of why they were there. At the end of the day, this was a fun challenge and I'd say half of our chefs embraced the concept.