Chris Santos, Jeff Mauro, Jet Tila, Ted Allen, and their moms faced off against each other in the season 34 première “Thanks, Mom!”

“Thanks, Mom!” is one of those episodes everyone loves to remember.

Like episodes in the previous 33 seasons, this is one where the teams competing hope to benefit specific charities.

Team Santos played for RSRT (Rett Syndrome Research Trust). As Chef Chris rightfully pointed out during this episode, he had played for the charity in to previous competitions. Launched in 2008, RSRT was developed with singleness of purpose: the development of treatments and cures for Rett Syndrome and related MECP2 disorders.

Rett syndrome, not to be confused with Tourette syndrome, is a rare genetic postnatal neurological disorder of the grey matter of the brain. While the condition was initially thought to affect females only, there have been rare instances where the condition has been found in male patients.

Team Mauro played for the Hephzibah Children’s Association. Established in 1897, the Hephzibah Children’s Association has been “helping children thrive and families flourish” for 120 years.

Of the organization, Executive Director Mary Anne Brown is noted to have said, “Our work at Hephzibah is about transforming lives. We bring to Hephzibah, on a daily basis, a deep passion for creating an environment where children can grow into beautiful, strong, caring members of society.”

Team Allen played for the Spina Bifida Association. Spina bifida is a birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. The literal meaning of Spina bifida is “split spine.”

Spina Bifida happens when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column does not close all of the way. Every day, about 8 babies born in the United States have Spina Bifida or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine.

Team Tila played for K9s for Warriors. As shown on the charity’s website, “K9s For Warriors is the nation’s leading provider of service dogs for American veterans struggling with PTSD, and maintain the highest standards in service dog training.”

Team Allen’s Appetizer

Unfortunately for Team Mauro, Chef Jeff and his mom, Pam, did not progress to the second round. Both Team Allen and Team Mauro made sliders for the appetizer round but what clinched it was the duck skin fries which gave Chef Ted and his mom, Donna, the edge.

Funnily, since Chef Ted was competing in the episode with his mom, the judging chefs almost forgot one of them had to fill in for Ted.

Even though each team did an amazing job, only two teams could progress to the final round. Team Allen did not progress to the dessert round.

With Team Santos and Team Tila through to the dessert round, anything could have happened and did.

The dessert Chef Chris and his mom Mary Lou made, the Crazy Eights, would have been amazing if it had worked. The quantity of each ingredient that went into the dish was eight.

With only minutes to go, Team Santos had an issue with the dessert which was planned. Team Santos presented to the judges a chocolate cake trifle with a strawberry rhubarb sauce.

The dessert Chef Jet and his mom Mary made was a shortcake with walnut brittle and rhubarb & strawberry sauce.

The desserts were excellent. It was difficult for the judges to select a winner.

Both teams did amazingly well but there could only be one winner. In the end, Team Santos was victorious.

If you were wondering what the judging chefs came up with during “Chopped: After Hours” when they tackled the appetizer basket, here it is:

 

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Shain E. Thomas, recently graduated with an M.Sc. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of North Texas, is currently working on an M.Sc. in Library Science. Shain, the senior editor of "Harsh Light," is also the U.S. Correspondent for "The Welshman" and a regular contributor to the "North Texas Daily."