Posted by Lee Abbott on Mar 1, 2016 in Tips & Tricks


And the “behind the scenes” scoop continues…

So Episode #3…. yeah I can bake….out of a BOX!  The stage is set and there stands the Ace of Cakes himself – DUFF.  And I think…oh shit…Our first challenge is all about Art and Color and we get the color Orange to make a dessert.  Suuuurrrrre…

OK…deep breath…time to just… trust your taste buds Lee.  I know I can cook Filo Dough and if you put ANYTHING yummy in Filo it is gonna be good.  That is…if you bake it just right and it stays light, fluffy and crispy.  VERY easy to burn.  VERY easy to make gummy.  Alex has the awesome idea of making a Squash Pureé so off we go…YOUR TIME STARTS NOW!

BAM!  It happens – Lisa’s Glass Mixing Bowl is SHATTERED by the mixer and she is just darn lucky not to get cut.  Badly.  That could have been VERY dangerous and ugly.  There are huge shards of glass in the kitchen and I drop what I’m doing to make sure she is OK and to help her clean her station.  And promptly burn round 1 of my pistachios – no worries – plenty of time for that – Lisa is back up and cooking again.  Go Team Alex Teamwork!

Back to making layer upon layer of delicate Filo sheets:  Sheet – Butter – sprinkle with Orange Granular Sugar for crunch.  Again.  Again.  Did I make 3 layers or 5 I don’t remember but I do remember how my big adrenalized paws are shaking as I try to not tear the Filo.  Damn!  I burn another round of Pistachios?  Is there time to try again?  Fuck-it here goes anyway and I start another round.

Only minutes to spare and my squash is too savory.  Damn!  What to do.  Wait!….my partner Lisa has extra, bright orange Cream Cheese Frosting – go Team!   I start whipping a touch of it into my squash pureé and here comes the cool moment…

I don’t remember why I was on my knees in the kitchen other than praying to the clock Gods, but I was down behind the counter when Alex smacks her big red button to come help Lisa plate her “Fall Down Cake” (ha – Lisa you rock under fire).  Alex has been suffering my slow filo making and my pistachio burning and my “its not sweet enough” squash tasting (I can tell she thinks we’re in big trouble).  But as she is passing me, Alex dips a finger in my bowl…and her eyes bug out…OMG this stuff is goooooood!

5…..4…..3……2…..1…. I literally THROW hot roasted Pistachios at the plate in the last seconds.  You can see it in the cut.  But I make it – shaking big football player hands and all.  And the filo…is perfectly browned and crispy.

And my classy teammate Lisa… well Duff said off-camera that her cake tasted the best and was incredible.  He only wished she’d had the time to let it cool before her delicious frosting.  This was the “ART” challenge after all, and lets just say that “Fall Down” cake…looked a little Jackson Pollack ;)

And my dish… to be honest I thought I had a REALLY good chance of it being the dish to beat.  Looking over at our Team Competition in Team Robert…well we all know Natasha is fierce and talented as any professional chef.  And with Robert barking at Jermaine, their team got pretty food on the plate.  Could we beat them?

Moment of truth…Duff takes a fork to my plate and I hear it…crispiness.  Duff even says under his breath as he cuts a fork-full… “Perfect.”   He takes a bite…and his eyes roll back in his head with a smile.  Holy Guacamole I just gave The Ace of Cakes… “The Face.”  That is a damn good desert.  But are Lisa and I safe?  See attached photograph as we hear the result…

Nope.  We’re going to the elimination challenge.

At this point the concept of the “SAVE CARD” comes up.  Now here is the thing…you have to use it BEFORE you cook.  I thought it would be used if someone bombed a dish – then the card could come out to save them.  Nope.  This is a preemptive strike SAVE CARD.  And the next challenge is….CHOCOLATE…IN SHAPES OF TRIANGLE, SQUARE, AND CIRCLE.

For a few minutes the competitor in me is thinking, “Go for it Man.  You can do this again.  Trust your taste buds and your coach.”  But reality seeps in.  If I stay in the next round, Lisa is strong with deserts and I am not, so Alex is going to have to be spending her whole time with me – which puts Lisa in jeopardy.  Team decision – Lisa and Alex are gonna go 1 on 1 into the Elimination Challenge – and I get SAVED.  You can barely catch it on the show in the edit…but I get teary eyed.  I hate “easy way out” from anyone especially myself.  But this is a Chess Match for $50,000.  And….I know Lisa is a bad-ass who after the “Fall Down” cake is gonna make sure she doesn’t fall down again.  Look out Zoe and Anna.  And in the end…kind of exactly what I was worried about for my team…played out over there.  Zoe ran into challenges and Andrew, the big hearted stud that he is, talked her off the ledge and Zoe got through.  But #1 ranked Anna…was flying solo.  Recipe for success?….

Lisa knocked it OUT OF THE PARK.  BAM!  I can’t tell you how happy I was (already back at the Hotel bar) to get the text from Lisa as she ran backstage texting me “I made it”.  YES!  Man the relief!  If my partner had gotten sent home when I got saved – I would have felt awful for not even trying.  But… LISA KILLED THAT BROWNIE!  BOOM!

The next text…was gonna be sad either way.  Waiting to find if it was Anna or Zoe getting sent home…  We’ve all become close and both of them are damn good cooks as well as total sweethearts.   And….the message was “Anna is Out”.  Wow.  This competition is TOUGH.   But…so is Team Alex :)

Stay tuned….