What are the contestants cooking up on today’s episode of America's Test Kitchen: The Next Generation? Will it be piles of pilaf, loads of lobster, or heapings of homefries?
Actually, it turns out they’ll be cooking… absolutely nothing at all!
They’ll be baking instead.
Today, the cooks are going to be tested on their ability to communicate on-camera in a 90-second baking hack demonstration video.
Cook’s Illustrated Editor in Chief and star of What’s Eating Dan?, Dan Souza, will be judging this round alongside James Beard Award-winning chef, former Top Chef contestant, and Executive Producer of Food and Wine magazine, Kwame Onwuachi, who is wearing the most incredible knee-length denim trench coat I have ever seen.
A spending spree? I’m interested.
So are the contestants. But many, including Robbie, are a little nervous about their media skills, having never presented on-camera before. Meanwhile others are a little unsure of their hacks, like Antoinette, who doesn’t quite understand how using a wet towel can help to neatly chop nuts.
As the contestants began their presentations, Marc impressed with his hack to fill a piping bag with a measuring cup, and Jessica’s energy came through in spades when she demonstrated how to use an ice cream scoop to portion cookie dough.
But it’s Antoinette who takes out the win with her confident presentation skills and engaging personality, and she wins an advantage in the Test Challenge.
And what will that advantage be?
As the challenge begins, Jeannie tells the contestants that they will be randomly selecting a sheet tray that contains a note with two different textures written on it. The cooks are tasked with combining those textures successfully in their chosen bake.
And once again, for her advantage, Antoinette is given the ability to cause complete chaos by switching one of her own textures with another contestant’s (remember the stir that caused last episode?). She settles on swapping out her “fluffy” with Robbie’s “crispy”.
The Test Challenge starts with a flurry around the kitchen, and Garrett—who was given “chewy” and “gooey”—has made the smart decision to set themselves apart from the crowd by making a Key Lime Pavlova… a dessert that is very close to my Aussie heart.
Meanwhile, Robbie (who—I'm sorry Robbie—pronounces “s’more” in the most upsetting way I’ve ever heard: “sah-more”) is making exactly that, a mini s’mores pie. Across the bench, Jessica is sacrificing her fingertips to a pair of oven-hot cheesecakes that she’s attempting to plate up. As she tosses them onto the serving platter, time runs out and the contestants set down their piping bags and blowtorches.
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It’s time to judge these ooey, gooey, crackly crispy treats
“I pav-love it!” Jeannie cries as she tries Garrett’s key lime pavlova, setting the bar high for the rest of the cooks in this nail-biting elimination round.
But the good vibes come crashing down only moments later as Christina steps up to have her strawberry cake tasted by the judges.
“I don’t… like it…” Kwame mumbles as he pushes the cake around the plate.
Christina’s face drops. Jeannie’s shocked side-eye speaks volumes. Everyone is silent.
“I love it!” the judge adds as the room bursts into relieved laughter.
A lot of love going around… so who wins?
For Kwame and Dan, the dish that soared above the rest was Marc’s surprisingly textural and complex brie and strawberry puff pastry tart. He’s the lucky recipient of the baker’s dream package, and his recipe is featured on the ATK website!
Unfortunately, it was Jessica who wasn’t able to deliver on the “crunchy” element of her Oreo cheesecake, and she’s sent home.
“I really wanted this, but I got to cook in America’s Test Kitchen. That’s so crazy! I’m just really proud of myself. What a ride,” she says through tears.