The first thing a Top Chef needs to do is keep a cool head, to enable careful planning and organized action. Right off the bat, our chefs allowed themselves to get into a panicked headspace and it interfered with their effectiveness from that moment onward. Their solution? To work all night. Second bad idea. Frankly, with five talented, capable people on board, and a smart, focused leader like Lee Anne, they should have divvied up the shopping and then returned to the kitchen that night to remove food from their packages, prep vegetables, clean fish and meat, etc. In other words get everything set up and ready to go.
Then they should have broken out the cake mix and made the cake, wrapping the individual layers tightly to maintain freshness. And then they should have gone home and slept for 5 hours. The next morning, they could have started early prepared and rested. This would have enabled them to cook things a la minute, rather than way ahead of time, which makes for flavorless, tepid food. They could have assembled and frosted the cake, then decorated it imaginatively moments before wheeling it out. They would have been tired, but not depleted, and thus capable of making trigger-quick decisions, and paying careful attention to detail. They would have been able to focus on technique and execution, and even add the subtle flourishes that raise a dish from rote to remarkable.
They did none of this.