Like we could leave Restaurant Wars out of the picture ... please. I scouted out Lou Mitchell's with production several weeks beforehand. This meant Shauna and company threw me behind the line for two hours on the egg station to see how I fared. The trickiest part was not the fact that there was only one burner to fry the eggs as the griddle was mostly taken up by hash browns and bacon and sausage, but the fact that they used small eggs and a whole lot of diner lingo. One egg meant crack two eggs, and two eggs meant you had to cook four eggs. The trick was making sure there was a stockpile of cracked eggs in the bowl next to the stove. But I did very well (OF COURSE I DID - ha!) and we knew throwing our chefs in the hole on a busy weekend brunch morning would make for a challenging Quickfire.
If you live in Chicago, then you know all about those dastardly donut holes they hand out when you walk in the door at Lou Mitchell's. They run around with an entire basket of them, like Little Red Riding Hood. Cakey, a little crunchy on the outside, and drenched in powdered sugar, I could seriously devour an entire basket and got into giving whoever was carrying the basket a dirty look if they headed in my direction (which was usually Helene). Our contestants all took turns on the line. Each was given 20 minutes in the hole and in the end Antonia and Dale fared the best (I think Antonia made in for 11 minutes, Dale for 9). I was literally standing off camera watching them cook. The toughest part is keeping track of the orders and getting them out in such a small space. As you can see with Richard, it's not often easy for a cook to get the body movement down in a strange space right away. In this case, they could literally only turn around in a circle, so it was awkward for some of them to get their bearings.