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The Regift That Keeps On Giving

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Contestants (in order of them entering Cutthroat Kitchen):

JEFF MAURO, host of Sandwich King and co-host of The Kitchen.  This Chicago native got his big break when he won Season Seven of Food Network Star. 

JUSTIN WARNER, the Rebel with a Culinary Cause.  Hailing from Brooklyn, he won Season Eight of Food Network Star.  That season of Food Network Star, to date, is the only season to feature mentors and teams competing against each other.  Alton was his mentor during that season.

ALEX GUARNASCHELLI, Iron Chef and frequent judge on Chopped.  She's known for her New York City restaurants and her other shows on Food Network.  She's also the winner of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption.

MELISSA D'ARABIAN, host of Ten Dollar Dinners and judge on Guy's Grocery Games.  She won The Next Food Network Star Season Five. 


 

Alton walks down the stairs that lead to Cutthroat Kitchen, briefcase in hand.  The only change to his usual suit and Chuck Taylors isn't a change at all.  It's a red Santa hat, the tail of said hat falling on the right side of his face. He stops in front of the kitchen's stairwell and grins.  "Ho, ho, ho.  Greetings, chefs, and welcome to this special holiday edition of Cutthroat Kitchen."   

He walks closer to the chefs, but he's still a distance away from their prep stations.  He puts the briefcase on his auction table.  "I see the four of you haven't suffered enough punishment from your heats in the Superstar Sabotage. You all know how this works: there will be three rounds.  At the end of each round, one of you will be eliminated until one chef remains.  Each round, I will assign a holiday-themed dish.  You'll have 60 seconds to shop for your ingredients in our Cutthroat Kitchen pantry.  Then after you've been shopping, we'll have an auction.  But you can't have an auction if you don't have money.  Don't fret."

Alton opens the case on the auction table.  "In this case I have $100,000 of cold, hard cash.  Each of you will receive $25,000.  The winner gets to keep whatever cash they have left at the end of three rounds, so spend carefully.  So, chefs, take your money.  Two bundles, please."

Alton walks to Jeff and allows Jeff to take out two bundles of cash.  "I missed grabbing these," Jeff says. 

The other contestants take out two bundles of cash before Alton returns the case to the auction table.  "And as you all know, most of that money is going back into this case, so don't get too attached to it."  He shuts the case.  "I'm going to give you 30 seconds to shop for a traditional Hanukkah favorite: latkes.  You know, potato pancakes?   Shouldn't be too hard to make."  Alton walks to the pantry, adjusting his watch.  "Your 30 seconds begin…now."  He opens the pantry door and the contestants run in, grabbing what they need for latkes.

"Hey, don't push and shove in there, kids," Alton says.  "There's enough room for everyone."

Much to Alton's chagrin, all the contestants get out of the pantry before the 60 seconds is up.  These days, Alton can't slam the pantry doors on a contestant's foot.  He keeps his discontent hidden from the competitors.   

"Time for our first auction," Alton says before heading towards the kitchen's dumbwaiter.  He opens the dumbwaiter's door.  Inside is a tray with a bag of frozen shredded hash browns, a box of pierogies and a box of instant mashed potatoes. 

"Uh-oh.  What do we have here?"  Alton pulls the tray out of the dumbwaiter and places it on the auction table.  "We got hash browns, pierogies, and instant mashed potatoes.  Looks like three of you are about to lose your potatoes.  Win this auction, and not only will you get to keep your potatoes, you get to assign who cooks with one of these potato products.  I think this is worth $500.  Who'll give me $500?" 

Jeff starts out the bidding at $500.  Justin places a bid for $600.  Alex and Melissa look dumbfounded at Jeff and Justin as they drive up the price of the potato products to $4900, Jeff's highest bid.  Jeff's strategy is not to win the potato products, but for Justin to win.  That way, even though he'll be stuck with something on the potato products tray, at least he made Justin lose a lot of his cash in the process. 

"Forty-nine hundred?  Do I hear $5000?  Going once, going twice, sold to Jeff for $4900."

Jeff's cringing.  He knows his plan to have Justin stuck with the potato products backfired on him. 

Alton points at Jeff.  "You sir, bring me my money."

Jeff brings Alton $4900.  Alton gives him the tray of potato products.  "Now you have to decide who's getting what.  Choose wisely."

Jeff stands in front of Justin and gives him the instant mashed potatoes.  "I'm sorry."

"Thank you," Justin says.

Jeff goes over to Alex.  "For you," he says, handing the hash browns to Alex.  Alex gives Jeff a half-smile.  He walks to Melissa and gives her the pierogies.  "This means you get these," he says to Melissa.

"Thank you, Jeff." 

Jeff hands the empty basket back to Alton and returns to his prep station.

Alton goes to the dumbwaiter.  "Let's see what else we have to bid on."  He knocks on the dumbwaiter's platform.  The dumbwaiter reveals a baby bib.  The front of the bib has a "C" in a pink building block, followed by a "T" in a yellow building block, a "K" in a blue building block, and a silhouette of utensils in a green building block.  A blue bow is wrapped around the back of the bib.  The contestants groan when they see the bib.

"I forgot to mention, chefs.  You know the holidays are a great time for regifting presents.  I thought I'd take in a bit of that spirit and bring back some of our past challenges for these rounds.  Since we're working with latkes, they're sometimes served with applesauce. Applesauce not only is great with latkes, they're great with this."

A Cutthroat Kitchen assistant wheels out a tall, green high chair.  The table on the high chair has a small burner and colorful mixing tools on it.

"You all might remember this hellacious high chair from last season.  Win this auction, and you can force one of your competitors to climb up into this high chair, where they'll be safely secured for the rest of this round.  You don't even need to bring your knives.  We have everything you need on that high chair.  We've got a burner up there, some mixing bowls, some utensils, and a cutting board.  We even have a bag on the side with other cooking implements if you need anything else.  But you can't get out of this high chair for the remainder of this round if you end up with this sabotage.  We'll start the bidding at $500."

Melissa puts in a $500 bid.  The other chefs put in bids, but when Justin bids on the high chair for $3000, the other chefs back off. 

"Three thousand dollars.  Going once, going twice, sold to Justin for $3000.  Bring it on up here."

Justin gives Alton $3000.  Alton gives him the bib.  Justin walks in front of first Melissa and then Alex with the bib, dangling the bib in front of them.  He hands the bib to Jeff. 

Jeff groans.  "I guess I gotta crawl up in that thing soon."

"Gentlemen," Alton says, "I need some help with Jeff's station."

A couple of Cutthroat Kitchen assistants move Jeff's prep station.  Another couple of assistants wheels and locks the green high chair into place. Jeff looks up, his face frozen in shock.

"Chefs," Alton says, looking at his watch, "you have 30 minutes to make me the perfect latkes.  On your mark, get set…go."

The chefs run behind their work stations to get started on their latkes.  Jeff climbs up his high chair to get to his station. 

Alton walks to Jeff's station and looks up at Jeff.  "I know the last time you were here you said you weren't making a sandwich.  I have to ask you again: are you going to make a sandwich at any point in this competition?" 

"I don't think I'm going to be making a sandwich today."

"You know, we have all sorts of bread in our pantry…"

"I know."

"Don't spill anything up there. You don't have a bib to keep yourself clean."

"I outgrew bibs a long time ago, Alton."

Alton frowns into a camera. 

Melissa boils the pierogies until they're pliable enough for her to take the filling out of them.  She mixes the filling in the pierogies with egg, white onion, and grated Granny Smith apple to create a potato croquette of sorts.  She's serving her croquette with applesauce made from Fuji apples.

Alex grabs a colander from the back of the kitchen and puts the hash browns in it.  She rinses the ice off the hash browns before grabbing a piece of cheesecloth.  Using a metal bowl, she catches the excess water she's squeezing out of the potato.  The dried hash rounds are placed in another metal bowl. 

Alex puts a pan on and heats on the stove.  She adds olive oil and then spinach to the pan.  Once the spinach is wilted, she adds the spinach to the hash browns and egg.  When her latkes are done frying, she makes a spiced yogurt sauce with coriander and lime.

Justin puts yellow summer squash with his instant potatoes and egg into his latkes.  He squeezes the squash to make sure the squash is as dry as he can get them.  His latkes are pounded as flat as they can be pounded so they can fry well.  They'll be served with an orange cranberry sauce.

Because of his inability to do anything else to his latkes, Jeff sticks to plain latkes with a sour cream sauce.

"Chefs, listen up." Alton has a Red Delicious apple in his hand.  "Win this auction and you can make one of your competitors hold this apple in their dominant hand for the rest of the challenge."  He laughs.  "Who'll give me $500 for this apple?"

Justin is the only contestant to bid $500 on the apple. 

"Oh, really?  No one else is going to bid?"  Alton looks exasperated.  "Going once, going twice, sold to Justin for $500.  I'll come up there and take my money.  Who do you want to gift this sabotage to?"

"Melissa."

Alton goes to Melissa's station.  "Left hand or right hand?"

"Right hand."

"Give it here."

Alton puts the apple in Melissa's hand. 

"You hang on to that.  You know what happens if you drop that, right?"

"Yes."

"I'm telling you anyway.  You drop it and it costs $500 out of your till."  Alton laughs and heads over to Justin's prep table to collect $500 from him.

Melissa's able to keep the apple in her hand while finishing up her croquette.  She's lucky her applesauce is already done and is cooling on her station.  Flipping the croquettes with a spatula in her left hand is awkward, but she manages to fry them without oil splattering all over the oven and on her.  She has to take the pan to her station when the croquettes are done frying.  Even while plating the croquettes and applesauce, Melissa keeps the apple in her hand.   

Alton swings by Melissa's table.  "Is everything in apple pie order?"

"Yes, Alton, I'm going to finish this dish with this apple in my hand so I can prove a point to Justin."

"I thought you were going to say you're going to throw the apple at me," Justin says.

"I'm too nice to throw an apple at you," Melissa says.

"Well, I'm too evil to tell you that you're wrong.  You can't have everything in apple pie order because we're not making apple pie.  We're making latkes."  Alton laughs and leaves Melissa's station.

All of them finish and plate before Alton calls time and asks them to back away from the prep tables.  The Cutthroat Kitchen assistants collect Melissa's apple and swap out the high chair and Jeff's station.

Simon Majumdar walks down the Cutthroat Kitchen stairs and stands beside Alton.

"Chefs, I don't think I need to introduce this man to you.  But I'm going to do it anyway.  This is Simon Majumadar.  You know Simon—food critic, scholar.  Simon, today's first course: latkes."

Simon's eyes widen.  "Latkes?  I love a good latke."   

"Simon's been locked away in a soundproof area.  He doesn't know what you went through to make these latkes.  Guess what?  He doesn't care about what you went through.  He's judging your dishes on three things.  Would you like to remind our contestants what you are looking for, sir?"

"Does it look good, does it taste good, and does it remind me of a latke."

Alton counts the three things behind Simon's back as Simon mentions those things.

"Let's do this," Alton says.

Alton and Simon walk to Jeff's prep table.

"This is Jeff.   Jeff, what do you have prepared for us today?"

"I went the classic route with my latkes.  I shredded some potatoes, added some shallots and fried them up together.  And I made for you a sour cream sauce on the side there."

"This latke is perfectly fried," Simon says as he eats the latke.  "It's not too greasy and the potatoes are crisp.  I do wish you added something else to your sour cream sauce.  It's seasoned well, but all I taste is sour cream."

Jeff nods.  "Okay."

Alton and Simon move on to Justin.  "Justin, what have you made for us?"

"I have for you mashed potato and grated zucchini latkes with a cranberry and orange sauce.  Enjoy."

Simon bites into the mashed potato and zucchini latkes. He raises his eyebrows.  "These are mashed potatoes?"

Justin nods.  "Yeah."

"This is surprisingly crispy for mashed potatoes.  You browned these latkes well.  Your sauce is good, but I do wish your latkes looked more like latkes.  They look like half-latkes to me."

"Okay."

Alton and Simon move on to Alex's station.

"These are spinach hash brown latkes with a lime and coriander yogurt sauce."

"Yogurt sauce's not a sauce I would associate with latkes," Simon says as he eats the spinach hash brown latkes.  "I would not serve them with latkes.  That said, your yogurt sauce is spot on.  Did you wilt the spinach?"

"I did."

"Your latkes are crispy. You didn't burn the hash rounds. Well done."

"Thank you."

"And what do you have for Simon, Melissa?" Alton asks as Simon and he move to her station.

"I made a crispy latke croquette with onion and Granny Smith apples with a sweet Fuji applesauce."

Simon bites into the latke.  "The only thing that works for me is the applesauce.  By itself, it's great.  The croquette, on the other hand, has a very strange taste, very strange texture, and it's way too soft for me.  Sorry." 

Alton recoils in horror as Simon speaks.  He mimes a gasp, covering his mouth and shaking his hands in the air.

Melissa smiles.  It's an uncertain smile.

Simon and Alton move back to near the auction table. 

"All right, Simon, one of these latkes is not quite like the others."

"I got one traditionally prepared latke with applesauce.  The other latkes were more experimental.  Some of those experiments worked better than others.  I'm going to have to eliminate…Melissa.  The flavors were off and the latke was too mushy.  I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry, Melissa," Alton says, "but I'm going to need this cash back in my case."

Melissa gives Alton back her money.  Simon and Alton shake and shakes Melissa's hand. 

"Thank you for returning," Alton says.

"It's been a pleasure," Melissa says before heading down the dim hallway of Cutthroat Kitchen.

 

End of Round 1:

MELISSA returns $25,000.

Chapter Text

ALEX has $25,000.

JUSTIN has $21,500.

JEFF has $20,100.

 

"Congratulations on making it to the second round, chefs.  Now, I'm giving you 30 minutes to make your best holiday dinner.  Kosher, vegan, loaded with meat—I don't care.  Just make me a holiday dinner."  Alton walks to the pantry and adjusts his watch.  "On your mark, get set, go."

Alton opens the door to the pantry.  Just like in the first round, the contestants gather their ingredients and Alton's unable to lock someone in the pantry after 60 seconds.

Alton makes his way to the dumbwaiter.  "Let's see what we have for auction this time."  He knocks on the floor of the dumbwaiter.  A plastic red ball, held in place by a Plexiglas tower, appears.

"It's a red ball.  Now I know you might be thinking, 'Alton, am I going to have to do all my cooking as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?'  The answer is no.  That would be way too easy.  And this ball doesn't have a hole for your nose in it.  Bring it in, boys."

Two Cutthroat Kitchen assistants bring in a ball pit, made mobile by pivoting wheels.  The ball pit is a solid wooden box.  The corners and edges of the box are painted yellow.  One side of the box has the letters CTK stacked on top of each other on the far left of the box.  The words "ball pit" are in cartoonish red, blue, and yellow letters beside the CTK; the words are separated by a small blue and yellow lightning bolt.  And, of course, there are plastic balls of various colors inside the ball pit itself, along with two metal bowls and a green and a white cutting board.

"I ordered this ball pit for my daughter when she was a toddler for Christmas.  Now that she's way too old for it, I'm giving this back to you all.  Win this challenge, and you can force one of your opponents to do all their prep work in this ball pit.  You can get up and cook, but everything you do away from a heat source has to be done in this ball pit.  We'll start the bidding at $500."

Alex starts the bidding out at $500.  All three drive up the price of the ball pit to $8000.  Alex wins the ball pit; she gives Alton his money and gives the ball pit to Jeff.

Jeff's aghast.  "Again?  I don't know what I did to you."  He shrugs and frowns.

Alex shakes her head.  "It's how the game is played.  Don’t take it personally."

"Jeff, the only way to get away from these sabotages is to bid more.  And you should've bid more.  Okay, let's see what else we have for auction."

A utility knife comes up from the dumbwaiter.

Alton laughs.  "Remember this little device?  Of course you do.  It's a utility knife.  It's one of the first things I auctioned off on this show.  Of course it had to make a comeback in this regifting special.  Win this item, and you can force one of your competitors to do all their cooking with this utility knife.  They have to use it as, well, a knife, and this is also their only hand tool.  Who'll give me $500?

Justin starts the bidding off at $1000, but when Alex and Jeff drive the price of the knife to $5000, he backs off the bidding.  Jeff wins the utility knife for $7200.

"Seventy-two thousand dollars?  This went for $9000 in our premiere episode.  I'm disappointed.  Anyway, Jeff, please bring me my money."

Jeff pays Alton. 

"Who are you going to give this utility knife to?" Alton asks.

Jeff gives the utility knife to Justin.  "Only because you're cocky."

Justin points at himself.  "Me?  Cocky?"

"Fair enough.  Thirty minutes.  A holiday dinner."  Alton looks at his watch.  "Your time starts now."

Justin's planning a cod fritter with a pomegranate and apple salsa—a daunting task with a utility knife.  He starts a pot of water over a stove.  The cod is packaged in a Styrofoam tray, covered in plastic.  Justin uses one of the smaller knives to cut open the cod.  After the cod package is open, he throws the cod in the water when the water's boiling.

While the cod's boiling, Justin sets up a batter mix of flour, salt, pepper, baking soda, and fresh mint and oregano.  With the biggest knife on the utility knife, Justin cuts the calyx and stamens from the top and part of the bottom of the pomegranate.  Using the opening he made in the top, he scores the pomegranate, following the grooves in the opening.  It takes a while because of how small the biggest knife on the utility knife is.  He puts the pomegranate seeds in a bowl and sets them aside.  After cleaning the utility knife, he struggles to cut the apple in half. 

Alton goes to Justin.  "I'm assuming you don't cook with a utility knife regularly."

"I don't know anyone that does."

Alton shrugs.  "I figured you had some experience."

Justin laughs.

"All right, keep hacking away at that apple."   Alton leaves Justin's station.

When the apple is cut in half, Justin uses a smaller knife to get the apple seeds, stem and bottom out before cutting the apple into big cubes.  The apple browns a bit because of Justin's struggle to cut the apple into cubes.  The cubes are placed in a mixture of lemon juice and water. 

Jeff's making a shrimp fra diavolo.  This would be easy…if he was making it on his prep table, not in a ball pit.  As Jeff is sitting down in the ball pit, balls fly out the pit.  Jeff opens up his shrimp package and puts in a bowl.  From there, he peels and deveins the shrimp, putting the waste in another bowl.  He's balancing the cutting board in the ball pit well.

Alton walks to the ball pit.  He squats at Jeff's level.   He looks at Jeff.  "You don't get an extra hour in the ball pit.  You'd better hurry up."

Jeff gets to stand when his ingredients are prepared for his sauce.  He cooks linguine and then the shrimp fra diavolo sauce on the stove.

Alex lays out a baking sheet at her station while holding a pan.  She puts the pan on the stove and heats it, along with olive oil.  Alex seasons her pork tenderloin before taking it in the pan to sear it off.  When the pork's seared, she places it in the oven. 

After 10 minutes, Justin takes the cod off the stove.  The cod is pulled out of the water with the utility knife's corkscrew and placed on a sheet tray.  Justin breads the cod and then fries it in a hot skillet with oil. 

It's also after 10 minutes when Alton auctions off the next item.  He has a pair of red cotton oven mitts in his hands.  "Chefs, win this item and you can force one of your opponents to finish their dish while wearing these oven mitts.  Who'll give me $500?" 

Alex misses when the bidding starts for the mitts.  Meanwhile, Jeff doesn't want to bid on the mitts at all.  He shakes his head after Justin bids the $500 for the mitts.

"Well, that was even more disappointing than the utility knife auction."  Alton takes the money from Justin's till.  Justin points at Alex.  Alton walks to Alex's station while Alex is still on the stove, perfecting her cranberry sauce.  "Ma'am, I'll need you to stop what you're doing and put these on."

Alex freezes, then blinks.  She puts on the mitts.  From there, she goes back to her pan to prepare her plum sauce.  Since she has nothing open for the sauce, opening the containers she needs to make the sauce becomes a comic task.  She had to use the mitt's thumbs to peel the paper off her butter.  Unscrewing the Chianti takes a bit because of the inability to hold the bottle and master the wine key with them on.  At least the cranberries and rosemary she needs to complete the sauce aren't sealed. 

Alton announces the last five minutes of the challenge.  Alex's oven mitts come in handy when she needs to take the tenderloin out of the oven.  Cutting the tenderloin, however, is more of a problem, because she's forced to slice the tenderloin wearing oven mitts and holding a meat fork and her chef's knife.  She gets it done.  She puts the slices of tenderloin on a serving plate and tops them with the plum sauce.     

Justin takes the fritters out of their pain with the nail file on the utility knife.  After flipping the cod over to not show the stab marks on the serving plate, he puts the pomegranate and apple salsa in the middle of the fritter.

Jeff's shrimp fra diavolo sauce and linguine is cooked at this point.  He plates in the ball pit before the assistants return his prep station to him.

Alton calls time.  But this time, instead of Simon coming down the stairs, it's Jet Tila.  He's wearing a green and red Christmas elf hat.

"Chefs, I forgot to tell you.  We're not having the same judge in all three rounds.  We're having three different judges."  Alton blows a raspberry.  "Not to put any pressure on you.  But come on, you know them already.  This is Jet Tila.  Nice hat, Jet."

"I heard you were dressing up for the occasion, so I decided to follow suit."

"Jet's an executive chef and a restaurateur.  Hey, Jet, how do you feel about holiday dinners?"

"I love preparing for holiday meals.  It's the highlight of the holidays for me."

"Well, we'll see if you like these meals.  Follow me," Alton says.

Alton and Jet stop at Jeff's station first.

"Jet, this is Jeff," Alton says.  "Jeff, what have you made for Jet in this round?"

"Italians are big on fish for the holidays, and my family's no different."  Jeff points at his dish.  "My family and I like to celebrate the Feast of the Seven Dishes.  I made for you shrimp fra diavolo, which is something we have around that time.  I didn't reinvent the wheel with this one.  I made a shrimp and tomato sauce, hit it with a bit of white wine, and served it with linguine."

"I like your sauce," Jet says to Jeff.  "The shrimp is done; it's not overcooked, and they're cleaned well.  I don't taste any grit on the shrimp.  The sauce is spicy, but it's not overwhelmingly hot."

Alton nods, impressed by what Jeff's done in the ball pit.

"My only issue is the linguine.  It's not al dente.  It's a little bit too hard.  Thank you, Jeff."

"Thank you, Jeff." Alton points at Justin's station.  "Let's move over to Justin."

Jeff pouts while Alton and Jet are leaving his station.  He's upset about the linguine.

"Justin, what do you have for Jet?"

"I made you a play on something that's served in Puerto Rico during the holidays.  It's a bacalaíto, a cod fritter. And I have a pomegranate and apple salsa that goes with it."

Jet looks at one of the pieces of apple with his fork.  "Some of these pieces of apple in your salsa are brown.  Do you see that?"

Justin nods.

"And I think that your salsa's a bit too big for this fritter."  Jet cuts into the fritter, making sure to put pieces of the salsa on his bite.  "I can barely fit the pomegranate seeds and the apple on the fritter."  Jet eats the fritter.  "Your salsa's good.  I wish I could say the same about your cod.  It's overcooked.  It feels a bit rubbery when I bite into it."

While Justin continues to nod, Alton cringes.  "Thank you, Justin.  Let's move over to Alex.  Alex, tell us about your holiday dish."

"I made for you pork tenderloin served with a cranberry Chianti sauce.  It's my take on pork served over the holidays."

Jet nods as he eats the pork.  "This is a simple dish.  It's well executed.  The pork isn't dried out.  The cranberry Chianti sauce isn't too sweet or too dry; the cranberries and the Chianti balance each other out.  I'm tasting rosemary in the sauce.  You didn't let the rosemary overpower the sauce and make it taste woody.  I just wish there was more to this than the pork and sauce."

Alex nods.  She frowns a bit.

"Thank you, Alex," Alton says as Jet and he return to the auction table.  "Jet, I have three chefs.   But I can only take two to the last round.  Who gets cut?"

"I've said this before, but it's always hard to judge your peers.  Judging by what you all put on a plate, I'm going to have to eliminate…Justin.  I'm sorry, Chef.  The cod was rubbery and the salsa was way too chunky."

"You know what that means, Justin.  I'm going to need my money back, sir."

"Sorry, Dad," Justin says as he gives the money back to Alton.

Alton points at Justin as he walks down the dim hallway out of the kitchen.  "Justin can call me Dad.  He's the only one who can call me that, okay?"  He points at Alex and Jeff.  "You two don't get to call me that."

 

End of Round 2:

JUSTIN returns $21,000.

Chapter Text

ALEX has $17,000.

JEFF has $12,900.

 

"Alex, Jeff, congratulations on making it to this, the final round here in Cutthroat Kitchen.  As you both may be aware, we do things differently in the last round.  You still get 60 seconds to shop for everything you need from the pantry.  After that, we're skipping the auction period; you'll start on the cooking.  While you're cooking, I'll be auctioning off a couple more sabotages.  Now, I'm giving you 30 minutes to make your best…spice cookies."  Alton walks to the pantry doors.  He looks at his watch.  "Your 60 seconds starts now."

Alton opens up the pantry and allows Alex and Jeff to get what they need for spice cookies.  They come out before 60 seconds is up.  Alton looks at his watch after he closes up the pantry.  "Your 30 minutes starts now."

Alex's making a dough that's similar to gingerbread dough—lebkuchen, a German spice cookie.  She grinds almonds in a spice grinder before adding the almonds to a flour, cinnamon and baking soda mixture. 

Jeff's creaming butter, granulated white sugar, eggs, and the insides of a vanilla bean in a mixer for a chocolate "meatball" cookies batter.

Then Alton brings out a toy mixer.  "Chefs, you know my daughter's outgrown a lot of her toys.  And we could stand to save a little bit of energy.  Win this auction, and you can make your opponent use this toy stand mixer.  Remember: who wins this has to treat this mixer with respect.  This mixer means a lot to me.  Who'll start the bidding at $500?" 

"Forty-five," Alex says as she's heating honey and butter over a stove.

"Forty-five?  Jeff, are you going to give me $4600?"

Jeff shakes his head.

"Sold to Alex for $4500."  Alton puts the toy mixer on Jeff's table.  "You have a minute to take whatever you can out of that mixer and put it in this one."  Alton taps the toy mixer. 

Jeff takes whatever he can out of the mixer and puts it in a glass bowl.  He's lucky that his butter is creamed, but he still needs to add his dry ingredients to his batter.   A Cutthroat Kitchen assistant unplugs and takes his mixer away.

Jeff adds his flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices to another glass bowl.  Using a spatula, he puts some of the creamed butter and some of the dry mixture into the toy mixer.  The toy mixer mixes, but it doesn't do so very well; the whisk inside of it is a solid piece of plastic, not a series of wires bound together.  Jeff has to hold the bowl in one hand and crank the hand mixer until the creamed butter and the flour mixture are combined. 

"I see that Jeff was using the creaming method to make his meatball cookies," Alton says into a camera. "The problem with the toy mixer is that it has one solid plastic part in the middle.  It doesn't incorporate air as well as a standard mixer. If he doesn't whisk the batter enough, the batter and the cookies could be too lumpy. If I were making his cookies, I'd try to find some way to incorporate more air into that mixer."

After a few minutes, Alton rolls out his last sabotage.

"Chefs, I've got one more present for you.  This used to be one of my daughter's toys that she outgrew, but now it's my favorite sabotage of all time.  You should both know what this is—it's the Kiddy Kitchen of Doom.  Win this auction and you can force one of your competitors to cook everything in this kitchen for the remainder of this challenge.  Let me remind you that the bidding starts at $500."

The Kiddy Kitchen is, as its name implies, a small, yet functional, kitchen for children.  Along with things needed to prep food with, such as a knife and a cutting board, there's a working toaster oven and burner attached to the kitchen.

Alex starts the bidding at $1000. Alex and Jeff increase the bidding until Jeff ends up bidding $6000 for the kitchen.

"Going once, going twice…sold to Jeff for $6000.  Let me take that money off your hands, sir."

As Alton takes $6000 out of Jeff's till, Cutthroat Kitchen assistants take Alex's table.  She grabs what she needs to make lebkuchen as the same assistants wheel the Kiddy Kitchen to where her table was.

Alex pours the butter mixture into her dry ingredients and starts mixing.  Putting the lebkuchen on a baking sheet isn't hard.  It's heating the lebkuchen in the Kiddy Kitchen's toaster oven that's a problem.  Alex turns the toaster oven up to 350° Fahrenheit and puts the lebkuchen in the toaster oven. 

The icing for the lebkuchen is parts sugar, water, and egg whites.  The burner on the Kiddy Kitchen works, but it's not as hot as the flames on the kitchen's regular ovens.  In addition to the flameless burner, the frosting has to be made in the Kiddy Kitchen's pans.  This means Alex can't put as much liquid product as she needs in the pan or her lebkuchen would go frostless at the end of the challenge.  It takes a white for the lebkuchen frosting to heat up and meld, but she's able to make the frosting. 

Alex takes out her cookies from the toaster oven.  They look as if they're done, so she lets them cool a bit before dipping them in the frosting.  After the cookies cool and are dipped in the frosting, Alex adds orange zest to the frosting before it sets.

Jeff rolls out his meatball cookies once everything's as mixed as he can get it.  He puts the cookies in the oven and works on a white chocolate glaze as they bake and cool.  After Jeff glazes his cookies, he puts dark chocolate shavings on top of the glaze.

Both chefs plate their cookies as Alton counts down the time.  The Cutthroat Kitchen assistants take the toy stand mixer and the Kiddy Kitchen away from the kitchen.

"Oh, look," Alton says as Antonia Lofaso walks down the Cutthroat Kitchen stairs.  "We've already seen Simon and Jet.  I think it's high time Antonia came through the kitchen.  Hello, Antonia."

Antonia walks to Alton.  Alton shakes her hand.   "Hi."

"You may know Antonia from her restaurants in LA or you may know her from her cookbooks."  Alton turns to Antonia.  "We are having spiced cookies for dessert.  How do you feel about spiced cookies, Antonia?"

"Alton, I was in when you said 'dessert.'"

"You know what?  I forgot to get milk with these cookies.  But I'm sure it'll be okay for right now.  Chefs, please bring up your cookies."

Alex and Jeff bring their cookies up to the auction table.  They step back when the plates are on the table.

"Who do you want to start with, Antonia?"

"I'll start with Alex's dish."

"Alex, please explain your dish."

"I made lebkuchen, which is a type of German spice cookie.  I topped my cookies with an egg white frosting and orange zest."

Antonia bites into Alex's lebkuchen.  "These cookies are baked well," she says after swallowing her bite.  "They're soft, but they're not chewy.  I can taste the spices you put into the cookie.  I just wished that, instead of putting orange zest directly onto the frosting, you added it into the frosting to make it stand out more.  I know you don't usually add orange juice into lebkuchen, but that's just a suggestion."

Alex nods.  "Thank you."

"Jeff, tell Antonia about your take on spice cookies."

"I made you an Italian spice cookie.  We call it a-meat-a-ball…"

Antonia chuckles.  Alton gives a disapproving look at Jeff.

"We call it a meatball cookie.  Chocolate cookie, glazed with white chocolate and topped with dark chocolate shavings."

Antonia tries the meatball cookie.  "They taste a little bit coarse to me, like the batter wasn't mixed well.  And I like chocolate.  This cookie is sweet, too sweet to me.  If it had less sugar in it I know I'd like it." 

Jeff cringes and frowns. 

"Antonia, now it's time for you to decide which one of these chefs wins and which one takes the walk of shame down Santa Claus Lane."  Alton points down the hallway, wagging his finger.  "That's thataway."

"In all honesty, I did like both dishes, but there was one dish that was a bit better than the other one.  So the winner is…Alex.  I'm sorry, Jeff, but if your cookies were a little less sweet and better mixed, I would've been all over them." 

Alton opens up his briefcase.  "That means Jeff, I'm going to need the rest of that money back in my case. 

Jeff returns the money and shakes Alton's and Antonia's hands before leaving the kitchen.  "It was a pleasure to be here," he says to the both of them. 

 

End of Round 3:

JEFF returns $6,900.

 

Alton walks to Alex.  "Alex, if my math serves me right, that means you get to walk out of here with $12,500."  Alton shakes Alex's hand and hands her the $12,500.  She hugs Antonia.  "Pretty impressive winnings there.  Don't spend it all in one place.  Oh, and happy holidays from Evilicious Santa Alton."

Alex hugs Alton.

"Wait a minute, are you hugging me?"

"Yes, I am," Alex says.

"We don't do hugging on Cutthroat Kitchen."

"I just hugged Antonia."

"Correction: I don't do hugs on Cutthroat Kitchen.  Let me go."

"We're friends, Alton!"

"We're not friends right now.  Let me go."

Alex doesn't let go until the director says "cut."