Ultimate Recipe Showdown Recap

Thanks to everyone who watched me on Ultimate Recipe Showdown yesterday! I didn’t bring home the big prize, but I truly enjoyed every second of the competition and want to send out a huge thank you to everyone at Food Network and High Noon Entertainment for such an incredible experience! My goal heading into the competition was simply to have my recipes turn out the way they did at home, and I’m very proud that I managed to accomplish that under such stressful conditions. I also want to send out a HUGE congrats to Andria! I’m really looking forward to trying her rock star winning recipe! Also, here are the links for my caramelized plantain cupcakes and peanut butter cookie dough brownies if you are interested in making them.

Overall, I thought the judges were very fair and thoughtful with their candid feedback, and I’ve been keeping their comments in mind since the show filmed while developing new recipes. I was really blown out of the water was when Chef Micheal Psilakis tasted my brownies said “I would not stop eating this until I was sick.” Talk about a surreal moment! Actually, the whole experience was pretty surreal and I tried to take as many pictures as possible throughout the process, so I could share a behind the scenes look of the competition with all of you. I hope you enjoy my little recap!

Two weeks after I found out I was selected to be on the show, while I was in the middle of adapting my recipes so they could be completed under the competition time constraints and furiously testing every brand of chocolate Whole Foods carried to see which would be best in my brownies, a crew consisting of a producer, cameraman, and audio engineer from High Noon Entertainment visited me in Boston to shoot some footage. The 30 seconds you saw of my lab and kitchen took all day to film! Not only did I get to rock my lab goggles (hahaha), I actually had a great time showing them around the lab and chatting about the filming process.

My first big challenge actually began about two weeks before I headed to NYC, and it involved the plantains…. The trick is that they have to have a black-brown peel to be sweet and soft enough for the recipe. Unripe or fermenting plantains = recipe fail, and since it’s difficult to predict when they will be just ripe enough, my strategy was to buy plantains every other day for the 2 weeks before the competition in hopes that 3 of the 30, yes 30, that I brought with me to NYC would be ripe enough. Here they are on my hotel desk in case you think I was joking about stuffing a carry-on bag full of my precious ripening plantains with me. The security guards must have thought I was crazy!

After safely depositing my plantains at the hotel, my next order of business was visiting the Food Network offices and studios at Chelsea Market! We met our competitors and went over the details of the show. Then I got to visit the test kitchens and make sure all my ingredients and supplies were in order. Just being in the Food Network kitchens made my heart flutter.

I attempted to calm my nerves and headed to bed early since our call time was an 8 am the next day. The cameras started filming as soon as we arrived. We put our stuff in the green room, which was filled with tasty snacks, and then put on our Food Network aprons with our names – yay! We actually got two and I smile each time I put one on to cook dinner every night.

Then we entered the studio – the same studio where Iron Chef America is filmed, and the studio slowly started filling up with the film crew. There were about 60 crew members, and when I saw all the people, reality set in about what was about to happen. I was surprised about how nervous I got, but I couldn’t help it because it was such a big production! Before I knew it, Guy Fieri was filming the intro of the show and we were off and baking!

I’m not going to give a recap of what happened when I was baking since you already saw that part, but I did want to share that my favorite part of the show was when I was waiting for the ganache on my brownies to set. I actually took some time to just look around and take everything in and reflect on what an incredible experience I was having.

When it was all over, I managed to find Guy. I was a bit star struck interacting with him the whole time since Apolinaras and I are huge Triple D fans, but he was exactly how he is on the show in real life – super nice and funny, and he really did his best to put everyone at ease. He also gave me a big hug when it was all over and told me I did a good job – awww.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and one I will never forget. I highly encourage anyone thinking about submitting a recipe for next season to do so. You are all so creative and I would love to see a fellow blogger on the show!

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84 Responses to Ultimate Recipe Showdown Recap

  1. Megan Esqueda says:

    I just got down watching you on URS! Great job. I thought the Peanut Butter cookie dough brownie was brilliant and should have won it. I’m excited that you talked about your blog on the show because now that I know about it, I can start trying your recipes. Hope you had fun on the show and feel compelled to enter more competitions.

  2. Monica H says:

    I watched it tonightin real time, because I couldn’t wait for the DVR to record it. And I made my husband watch it with me while we had dinner!

    I just think that’s so cool and in my book you’re a winner. Great job Kerstin!

  3. Lauralee says:

    Hi Kerstin, I watched the show tonight and thought you did wonderfully well, especially considering the conditions. But also neat is that you are a lovely and talented young woman who has made a nice life for herself. We need more girls just like you these days! Congratulations.

  4. Sophie says:

    Congratulations, Kersten!! Hoeray!!

    You did an outstanding job, I see! I will make your new & fun recipes!

    What a learning & fun experience for you,…you are truly a star!

  5. WOW oh WOW

    What a great experience… Thanks for the details, I did watch the show, and enjoyed every minute for you

  6. grace says:

    thanks for the behind-the-scenes tour, kerstin! i’m jealous of your experience but glad to hear that you made the most of it and gave some random security guards a good story to tell their families. and wow–you’re tall! :)

  7. Astra Libris says:

    Kerstin, you ROCK!! I’m soooo impressed, sooooo proud of you, and sooooo happy for you!! You were AWESOME on the show!! You are truly, truly, a star!! I vote for your own show on Food Network, now! :-)

  8. Karine says:

    Congrats again!

    You seemed to have an amazing experience! Lucky you :)

  9. Shannon says:

    CONGRATS!!!! you did such a great job, and now i’m a little star-struck myself ;) those brownies kinda stole my heart…

    ps- i had to laugh at the cake in lab, especially after sporting those lab goggles!

  10. Carmelo says:

    Watched the show last night, very cool experience. I’m going to try your recipes!

  11. yasmeen says:

    I totally adored your plantain cupcakes,now on my list of must try recipes.We watched you last night,you were pretty cool. :D

  12. Danielle says:

    Congrats! I watched you and I was so proud of you. You did terrific. It’s just so surreal to watch it when you sort of know the person (at least from blog land).

  13. Cara says:

    What an awesome experience! I may really have to think about trying out next time :)

  14. Mary Ann says:

    This was the first episode I have ever watched of Ultimate Recipe Showdown and it was so cool to see you on tv! You did great!
    I loved the comment about your brownies too- I thought that was a real compliment. Great job- you did awesome!

  15. kitchenbelle says:

    I watched and was cheering for you last night and you did a fantastic job! The cupcakes and brownies both looked SO delicious. I can’t imagine how exciting/nerve-wracking it must have been baking under those conditions! (I actually melted myself when Chef Psilakis made that comment about your brownies–that is something you will never forget!) Nice work!!!

  16. I just wanted to say congrats!!! I watched the show last night and was so excited to see that a blogger was representing :)

    I think your recipes look fantastic and can’t wait to try them!

  17. Geeti says:

    Congratulations Kerstin!

    It was so much fun to watch you cooking in that show. It’s a huge achievement. Thanks for sharing those yummy cup cakes and brownies with us. JUST DELICIOUS!! My colleagues are enjoying it and giving you compliments…and guess what…I am feeling proud ;P!

    Keep it up Darling :)!!

  18. Jessica says:

    “I would not stop eating this until I was sick”

    AYKM?!??!?! I probably would have passed out right there!

    It was so great to watch you on one of my favorite shows! And you looked great, congratulations!

  19. Meghan says:

    Kerstin, you did such an amazing job!!! I loved reading your recap and seeing the photos you took. I’m glad you took a moment during filming to try and take it all in – it’s such an honor to even be chosen for the show but to compete so fiercely like you did is truly inspiring!

  20. Megan says:

    Hi! My name is Megan and I am 14 years old. I was watching Ultimate Recipe Showdown yesterday and saw your segment where you mentioned your blog. I have read through several of your posts and I think it is really neat you where on Show Down. I love cooking and watched Next Food Network star with my parents when Guy won. How cool will it be to be meet him?


  21. Erin says:

    So incredibly cool! I hope I can catch the episode again on reruns. I’m going to go try to find it to record on the TiVo right now. You’re famous! What an amazing experience to have had.

  22. Will says:

    That was awesome! Congratulations again and thanks for serving on our cupcake panel!

  23. Bob says:

    I don’t have cable so I didn’t get to see it, but I’m glad you had a good time!

  24. Felicia says:

    Hi Kerstin, One of my co-workers is a good friend of yours. Today she brought in some of your Peanut Butter Brownies and I tried one. . .in a word all I can say is – HEAVENLY!!! They are sooo good. I am a very picker dessert eater which is generally why I never order dessert at restaurants because I am usually disappointed. However I am looking forward to trying some of your recipes on my own or letting my daughter try them – she loves to cook and bake. Congrats on the Food Network “gig”!! : )

  25. Melissa says:

    Congratulations!! You did a great job! Thanks for sharing your experience- it is nice to see the behind the scenes action!

  26. Paul Morgan says:

    What a fantastic experience! I am amazed at what creations you come up with and still find time to do everything else – big congrats!

  27. Nicole says:

    Awww Kerstin! You were great on the show. I got to watch it on my DVR late last night. I’m so proud of you :) You truly are amazing and I’m honored that I have gotten to know you through your blog, and in person. Congratulations on your shining moment and I know there will be many more to come! Can’t wait to try your recipes – they look and sound absolutely mouthwatering!

  28. Joanne says:

    I am so jealous Kerstin! This sounds like an amazing experience! You know what I have sitting in my apartment? Two plantains. And you know what I will be making as soon as they are brown enough :P

  29. Catherine says:

    Hi Kerstin! I saw you on URS last night, and I got really excited that a post doc has time enough to develop such good recipes and compete! I’m a post doc, too, I also love to cook when I get out of lab, and I know how little time that really gives you. I can’t wait to try your recipes!

  30. Nicole says:

    OMG!! The recipes you made last night looked OH so good!!! Congrats on being on the show!!!!!

  31. Lauren says:

    I just finished watched the DVRd episode of Ultimate Recipe Showdown – GREAT job!!! You came across as very calm, cool, and collected, and both the cupcakes and brownies looked delicious. I can’t wait to make the brownies… you just can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate :).

  32. L'Chicken says:

    You’re amazing. Congrats, it sounds like a fantastic experience! I just bought plantains– you inspired me.

  33. Kelly says:

    That sounds like such a cool and amazing experience! I really want to try those peanut butter cookie dough brownies- it sounds like everything I love in one dessert!

  34. Megan says:

    I stayed up past my bedtime just to watch! It must have been so much fun (though also nerve-wracking) to be on there. And I thought it was so cool that they came and filmed you in your work environment. I’m sure I would be just as prepared… love that you bought all those plaintains just to find the perfect ones. Great job! And thanks so much for sharing this recap. It’s awesome to hear your thoughts on the experience.

  35. Julie says:

    I just saw part of this the other night…I tuned in late :( I was so excited to see you on there. I agreed with Chef Michael about the brownies! I’m glad you had an awesome experience.

  36. Maria says:

    Congrats to you! What a fun experience! You did an awesome job!! Yahoo for YOU!

  37. Barbara says:

    Wow, that must have been fun. I love plantains, now I know another way of using them. Thanks

  38. What an incredible experience! And you did a fantastic job! Wonderful!

  39. Sues says:

    OMG I was soo nervous just watching you (and even reading this post!) so I can’t imagine how you were feeling!! You must be sooo proud of yourself :) You were awesome and the food looked delicious!!

  40. saw you on there and thought you did great!
    I was watching and all of the sudden, I was like, that girl looks familiar! I finally figured out when they showed that tiny bit about your blog!
    Congrats again and way to go!

  41. Erica says:

    oh my gosh! So freaking cool! Sounds like you did FABULOUS! And what an experience. Congrats girl!

  42. Kelly says:

    Kerstin – I am always so in awe of all you have accomplished with recipe contest, especially since you have so much else going on. Not that you want to give your secrets away, but sometime it might be fun to hear your approach to developing recipes for contests and how it might be different or the same than what you do in your normal cooking. Congrats hun! I’m just sad I’m no longer in Boston as I enjoyed meeting you and chatting about food and photography.

  43. Fred & Ruth Wolf says:

    Hi Kerstin, Wow, my oh my, did we ever enjoy the show..you were absolutely wonderful. Your performance was flawless, and you presented yourslf as a “pro”.Can only imagine how difficult it must have been under that kind of pressure. We tried phoning, but obviously have an old number. Hope to talk to you soon..

    our love, G and G

  44. Tamara says:

    That sounds like an amazing experience! Unfortunately I couldn’t watch because we don’t have the show in Canada (well we do, but we’re a season behind I think?).
    The peanut butter cookie dough brownies sound divine! I will definitely have to give those a try!

  45. Such an amazing job Kerstin! What a lifetime experience! Your food looks incredible =)

  46. Erica says:

    watching you on tv right now :)

  47. Cathy says:

    I’m watching your episode right now, how exciting! When I saw you come out, I said to myself, Hey! I “know” that girl!

  48. Reeni says:

    You were terrific on the show Kirsten! It was so cool watching you cook in person after reading your blog all these months. I especially loved your brownies! You did an excellent job!

  49. Kirsten, I am watching the Ultimate Recipe Showdown right now…you’re just making the frosting for the cupcakes. And I just had to stop by and say, “Hello!” What a great opportunity…I would LOVE to be part of that.

    You have a new follower here. :)
    Please, stop by sometime for a visit!

  50. Mama Bird says:

    I watched tonight and loved the show. I love plantains and as soon as I heard you say you had a food blog I HAd to find it!! I too have a food blog and aspire to someday be on URS! Good for you!!

  51. Telesa says:

    I enjoyed watching you on the show. I was especially intrigued about your brownie recipe so I jotted down your blog hoping you would share your recipe. Thanks so much! I look forward to trying them soon!

  52. marisa says:

    You had me at the plantain cupcakes… I just saw this episode of Ultimate Recipe Showdown and consequently discovered your blog. I absolutely love every one of your recipes; you incorporate so many of my favorite ingredients!! Keep up the excellent blogging :)

  53. Emily says:

    You are so awesome and amazing! You were great on the show.

  54. ghweiss says:

    Congrats, Kerstin! Now I have a new reason to be grumpy that they don’t have the Food Network in Sweden >:(

  55. That’s so great! Congratulations again! Wish you would have won the big prize, but it sounds like it was a great experience anyway.

  56. CaSaundra says:

    What an amazing experience! Just looking at the pictures was a rush–I can’t imagine what it would be like to really be on there. You go girl!

  57. Jen says:

    I’ve been avoiding your blog until I could watch the episode. You didn’t look nervous at all! Thanks for the recap. Sounds like a great experience!

  58. Heather says:

    I’m 8 months pregnant and watching really made me want those brownies so bad. Thanks for the recipe…they will be baked this weekend!

  59. Catherine says:

    I just finished watching your episode! I can’t wait to try your brownies! Thanks for providing the recipe!

  60. Stacy says:

    I am now a huge fan of your website after watching you on URS. I have my own food blog, but cannot find the time to keep it up. I look forward to seeing yours.

  61. Jim Grande (Shannons dad) says:

    You did a great job and didn’t seem nervous at all. While I thought the observations by the chefs were often inciteful, the one comment from the middle judge that he would have enjoyed the cupcakes more if you called them muffins! pulease!
    When they went through your background it was almost like watching Shannon cook! I’ll have to bug Shannon to bake your recipes from the show since they looked delicious…if I closed my eyes I could almost smell them!
    Great job and good luck with your future ultimate recipes!

  62. I’m from Sydney, Australia. So I don’t know about the show. But I am very happy for you and the behind-the-scenes tour was very interesting. You look so happy and excited. Good on ya!

  63. Amy says:

    My 10 year old daughter and I always watch URS together. We love baking and, before the show started, made a promise that we would make the winning recipe.

    As good as the Apple Crisp bread pudding looked, we fell in love with your brownie recipe at first sight. So.. we broke our promise and just finished making your recipe. It was fun. The only change we made was using milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate for the ganache (my daughter doesn’t like dark chocolate very much).

    They are delicious. Thanks for the recipe and I look forward to reading more on your blog.

  64. Carolyn Jung says:

    How awesome that you competed on the show! And you are a brave woman to be using plantains under those kind of time constraints. Whew! I’m a bundle of nerves just thinking about what you went through. ;)

  65. Melanie Zimmerman Farnon says:

    Wow! You never know who you’re going to see on TV! I was having a lazy Sunday watching the Food Network when I started shouting for my husband and saying, “I know her! The one with the plantain cupcakes! I used to swim with her in high school!” You look wonderful and happy. So glad to see that you’re doing well. The blog looks so yummy also. I’ll have to start trying some of your recipes. I’ll let you know how they turn out!

  66. Michelle says:

    While flipping through channels while I was on the treadmill and finally settling on the food network, suddenly, flashing on the screen was the familiar “cake, batter, and bowl” website. I jump off the treadmill, grab the phone, call my boyfriend, and as if my house was on fire, I tell him:
    “baby!!! baby baby baby! you know how I make you the dessert sushi we love?!!! the girl, the girl whose website I got the recipe from is actually on the food network right now competing! can you believe it?! this is so cool! I hope she wins!”

    Even though you didn’t win, your desserts are winners to my boyfriend and I. On our first anniversary, I made him dessert sushi as part of the spread I surprised him with. (a compromise since he loves sushi, but I don’t like seafood, and we BOTH love dessert!) It is a staple to our relationship, and the smell and taste of the chocolate dough and coconut and cream cheese and lime brings me back to such a fulfilling, loving place.

    Thank you for bringing your dessert into our life, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart. <3

  67. Melanie Joy says:

    Hi Kerstin – I just watched the show, and you did GREAT! I never would have guessed that you were nervous. You looked as cool as a cucumber. Your recipes looked delicious! I love anything to do with chocolate and peanut butter for sure :)

    I was very happy to see a woman Scientist on a Food Network Show. Young girls need more role models like you. And on a personal note – as a cancer Survivor, I’d like to thank you for your hard work on cancer research.

    Brightest blessings,

  68. Hey Kerstin! I was so happy to see you got the opportunity to be on Ultimate Recipe Showdown. I watch that show a lot and I’ve always wanted to be on it. I have the cakes episode set up to remind me when it’s on. Too bad you didn’t win, but I’m super excited to see what you made!

    PS: I’m glad you liked my blog. I hope you stop by again soon. :)

  69. Thanks SO much for all of your support everyone – I’m feeling the love :) It’s been so fun this week reading all your comments and responding to all your emails!

    Kelly – Well, I haven’t been to a ton of contests, so I’m not sure I’m qualified to give advice :) I don’t go about coming up with recipes for contests any differently than I do for the blog! But, I would say know about current food trends, think about texture/color and the ease of preparing the recipe, and come up with a mouth watering name.

    Amy – I hope to bake with my (future!) kids too :) I’m glad you enjoyed them!

    Melanie – So cool to hear from you! It’s funny because I’ve actually just gotten into swimming again. I hope you stay in touch :)

    Michelle – I’m so glad you guys like the dessert sushi, as you probably know, it’s one of my absolute favorites!

  70. Lyn says:

    As soon as URL was over my daughter was in the kitchen making your Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownies. We did have to rewind to get the amounts, but they turned out great. Thank you

  71. Hanaa says:

    Congratulations on making it as one of the finalists. The brownies looked super delicious. It was fun watching you and the other finalists on Food Network!!! :o)

  72. Mary says:

    I watched the show and thought you were terrific. I’m no stranger to cooking contests, so I know how hard it is to make it to the finals. You did a great job. I hope you are having a good day. Blessings…Mary.

  73. cheffresco says:

    We are super behind on commenting, so I’m just now seeing this. This is so awesome! Congratulations!!

  74. i just watched this tonite. you’re so cute! and i loved your recipes… i’m gonna try them 4 sure. take care.

  75. Meegan says:

    I just finished watching the show last night on my DVR – you did a great job! I loved the look of your brownies – is that recipe on your blog somewhere? They would be a huge hit in our house!

  76. Oh my goodness, look at what I have missed. I am so thrilled for you that you got to do this. I am just sorry I missed the episode!

  77. Kendra says:

    Hi Kerstin- Just wanted to tell you how fabulous your peanut butter cookie dough brownies are. I make a double batch of them for my coffee shop every week. People love them!

  78. molly says:

    hellloooooooo i watched u on umtimate recipe showdown u were awsome your reciopes looked soooo good :) your luckey to go on out of how many people :) im going to try and make your peanut butter cookie dough brownies and congratz :)

  79. Hi Kendra – That’s so cool, I’m glad they like them!!

  80. Caroline says:

    In just watched ultimate recipe showdown and i loved your brownies. My sister loves those kind of desserts so for her birthday I am going to make it for her. Although I haven’t made it yet but it looked delicious!!!

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