Food Rush Episodes

Contestants Get Ready for Holiday Cookie Challenge

Tags: Food Rush

Dana Prophet, Dustin Anderson and Shannon Ambrosio are competing in the Food Rush: Holiday Challenge. The three culinary school grads are set to bake the most creative and festive cookies to amaze celebrity judges Emily Luchetti and Johnny Iuzzini.

Chef Ryan Scott searched the country for three amazing home chefs who have great holiday recipes.

Dana Prophet of Philadelphia graduated from culinary school and works as a pastry chef. Baking is the 'center of her universe.' When she needs to think through a problem, she'll usually produce some sort of baked good.

Dustin Anderson of Camarillo, California, is a chef at a New Orleans style restaurant but his secret passion is baking. He dreams of opening a bakery one day.

"I am going to take all the challenges and just knock it out of the park and show them what I can do," said Dustin.

Shannon Ambrosio of Brooklyn, New York, graduated from culinary school. He owns and operates a BBQ food truck. On his website,, he stars in 'Chefs of Anarchy' episodes.

"I am a boxer. No one makes me nervous. The idea of intimidation is a natural act if you get what I mean," said Shannon.

The Food Rush: Holiday Challenge contestants had to make two different kinds of cookies during the competition -- one was their signature holiday cookies and the other was a mystery. The judges looked for originality, presentation and, of course, taste! In the end, only one contestant was crowned champion. The winner received a $1,000 gift card from Cost Plus World Market.

For the first challenge, Chef Ryan Scott asked the contestants to make a dozen of their signature cookies in just 90 minutes! The only requirement was that it needed to be holiday themed.

The contestants were told they could bring something from home to help them during the challenge.

"I brought an elixir. I figured it is a part of me and it may give the contestants good luck," said Shannon.

"I wear my good luck necklace all the time. This is something my mother gave me and it hasn't left my neck since," said Dustin.

"Since my mother can't be here with me I brought in her brooch," said Dana.

All three contestants have gone to culinary school so it should be a good competition.

Everything tastes better with bacon, right? Shannon put a spin on his chocolate chip cookies by adding bacon to the batter and laced them with the flavor of cayenne pepper. He served it with a malted milkshake.

"I have a food truck at home and the idea of how could I introduce pork or bacon into a cookie and make it taste good," said Shannon. "I fell in love with baking when I went to school. I don't necessary enjoy that whole whimsical side of baking. I'm not into the glitter and the fluffy icing and stuff -- that doesn't work for me. Flavor is what works for me," said Shannon.

Dana made gingerbread sandwich cookies but she was concerned that the sweet vanilla cream cheese filling may have come out too soft.

"My baking style is old school. I used to watch a lot of Julia Childs when I was a little girl. Fat, sugar, all the unhealthy stuff, put it together and bake something delicious. I put love into everything I bake and I think that will put me over the edge to win this competition," said Dana.

Dustin decided to mix the flavors of Thanksgiving and Christmas for his cookies. He made pumpkin gingerbread cookies and finished it off with a Mexican spiced hot chocolate.

"I got into baking when I was old enough to crawl up to the cookie dough that my mom left out on the counter. My favorite type of cookie is definitely snicker doodle. It isn't manly to say on TV but that was my mom's nickname for me growing up. I really want to entice the person that is eating the cookie. I want them to try 15 different flavors in one bite. I am super confident that I am going to win this competition," said Dustin.

The judges -- Emily Luchetti, a prize winning dessert cookbook author and chef, and Johnny Iuzzini, who was voted one of the top ten most influential pastry chefs in America -- were ready to try the first round of cookies. In the end, it was Shannon's bacon chocolate chip cookies that won the judges over.

"We thought you took a simple cookie and turned it into something much more interesting and unique. You used some really good ingredients," said Emily.

Next, Ryan presented the mystery challenge. He challenged them to take his mom's cookie recipe and add a one secret ingredient to it -- something that would give their cookies an edge.

Shannon picked pumpkin while Dustin went with Bourbon. Dana went with a spicier option -- crystallized ginger. But, there was a twist! Ryan asked Shannon to give Dustin the pumpkin and Dana gave her crystallized ginger to Shannon. Dustin was stuck with the booze. Now that everyone was out of their comfort zones, it was time for the bakers to get to work! They only had 60 minutes to make a baker's dozen.

"It is going to be tricky but I feel comfortable working with pumpkin," said Dana.

"This is honestly one of my least favorite ingredients to use so I don't know what I am going to do with it," said Dustin.

"Normally I cook with Bourbon in the kitchen but usually it is savory. This time it is sweet so this is a little change for me but I am up for any challenge," said Shannon.

After some intense moments in the kitchen, Dustin used his secret ingredient to make espresso, pistachio and candied ginger cookies and Shannon baked a batch of Bourbon, raisin and walnut cookies. Of all the secret ingredients, Dana got the most challenging ingredient -- pumpkin -- according to the judges. But she managed to make a delicious batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies -- which were baked to perfection.

Holiday Cookie Challenge

Other segments featured on this episode of Food Rush:

Gran Keer's Uber Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies
Gran Keers Uber Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies
These cookies are sure to please the entire family for the holidays.
See Recipe
Pumpkin Ginger Cookies
Pumpkin Ginger Cookies
Imagine a gingerbread cookie and pumpkin spiced latte all in one cookie!
See Recipe
Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Maple Ice Cream
Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Maple Ice Cream
Santa would love these with a big glass of cold milk!
See Recipe
Mom's Cookies
Moms Cookies
This is Mama Pat's basic cookie recipe. She adds chocolate chips.
See Recipe
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
These moist and delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are topped with a homemade caramel sauce.
See Recipe
Bourbon, Raisin and Walnut Cookies
Bourbon, Raisin and Walnut Cookies
The flavors of bourbon will have you reaching for another one of these delicious cookies.
See Recipe
Espresso, Pistachio and Candied Ginger Cookies
Espresso, Pistachio and Candied Ginger Cookies
In this cookie, the combination of espresso and candied ginger work very well together.
See Recipe
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