Chocolate makes everything better, which is why we’re whipping up our favourite chocolate recipes (and stocking up on cold glasses of milk!) in anticipation of Great Chocolate Showdown’s third season. When the ooey-gooey series returns, 10 new home bakers will go head-to-head in all the chocolate-based challenges you could ever dream up, as they temper, melt and swirl their way to a hopeful $50,000 grand prize.
So who are the competitors taking to the kitchen in hopes of impressing judges Anna Olson, Cynthia Stroud and Steve Hodge? Read on to learn more about them and get our hot takes on how we think they’ll do.
Amber Horn, Las Vegas
First impression: Bartending in Vegas means you’ve got to have an outgoing personality, right? In that vein, we can’t wait to see what Amber brings to Great Chocolate Showdown. We have a feeling it will be a lot of big energy and creative concoctions, maybe some with a little glitter and glam.
Our predictions: Amber’s worked in Vegas for more than 20 decades, and considering how much the city has changed, we have a feeling she’ll be able to roll with whatever twists the judges throw her way. She’s probably also used to long and late hours, which may give this competitor a leg up when it comes to some of the more gruelling challenges this season.
Bri Brown, Detroit
Occupation: Mortgage Company Team Lead
First impression: Bri may be into finances now, but she’s been baking from a young age—starting with an Easy-Bake oven. The competitor has also baked her way through Betty Crocker’s Ultimate Cookie Book, which is a total feat, and her father is a chef. That means she comes to this competition armed with advice and experience.
Our predictions: Well, if there’s a cookie challenge she’s clearly going to slay it, right? But even more than that we have a feeling this home baker will dig deep to her childhood roots in order to really bring it in the competition, sharing some delicious nostalgia with us all.
Occupation: Stay-at-Home Mom
First impression: Connie grew up around her parents’ successful Lebanese pita bread bakery, so she’s definitely got a taste for delicious Lebanese ingredients and spices. They have shaped her baking style for sure, but we feel like this competitor also wants to prove herself and carve out her own space in the big, bad world of baking.
Our predictions: Connie’s drive and passion will push her to create exciting and meaningful desserts. We also think she’ll give the judges some of the most unique and inspired plates this season, and she should not be underestimated.
Evan Morgan-Newpher, Tulsa
Occupation: Manager, Tulsa Zoo
First impression: This self-taught baker has a track record of following his dreams—when he was 20 he switched from an Accounting degree to Zoology so that he could fulfill a childhood wish and train elephants. In other words, when he sets his sights on something, there’s no stopping him.
Our predictions: Evan literally works in a zoo, so that means he’ll be able to handle the chaotic twists and turns of the Great Chocolate Showdown kitchen too, right? This competitor is clearly in it to win it, and we hope that he stays cool and collected when things get tough, while also remembering not to put too much pressure on himself.
Gavan Knox, Scarborough, Ont.
Occupation: Stay-at-Home Dad
First impression: We have a feeling Gavan has seen some things in his lifetime, having lived in Ireland, England and now Canada, where he resides with his husband and two children. The competitor is all about comforting flavours with elevated twists, and one of his main influences is the architecture he’s spent years studying and practising.
Our predictions: Gavan’s big personality will make him instantly watchable, and we can’t wait to see what kinds of inspired treats he’s going to whip up. We also hope he doesn’t overdo it with the black garlic, rose water and some of his other favourite unique flavours, because when it comes to baking, a little often goes a long way.
Related: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes for Every Skill Level
Ian Frias, Saskatoon
Occupation: Finance Manager at a Children’s Museum
First impression: Growing up, Ian had to rely on pre-packaged cookie dough to get his baking on, but now that he’s a little older he loves making everything from ice cream, to tarts, to fancy, cream-filled entremets.
Our predictions: Ian will draw on his Filipino roots when it comes to whipping up fun and unique treats, using unusual fruits and tea infusions to elevate the basics as he goes. We have a feeling he’ll take the judges’ feedback to heart and try to grow, all while appreciating every single minute he gets to be in that kitchen.
Lexi Christiansen, Vancouver
Occupation: Realtor and Model
First impression: This model and home baker understands that we eat with our eyes first, that’s partially how she’s cultivated a social media following with nearly 30,000 followers on TikTok. The Gen Z-er was originally nervous about posting those videos, but community engagement and encouragement have helped her grow more confident than ever.
Our predictions: Some of the other competitors might underestimate Lexi in this competition because she’s younger, but they definitely shouldn’t. We have a feeling Lexi will give us some of the prettiest plates of the season, and now here’s hoping the judges will be equally impressed with her flavours.
See More: Canadian TikTok Accounts You Need to Follow
Maile Crewdson, Maui
Occupation: Stay-at-Home Mom
First impression: This supermom has a passionate and positive attitude that she’ll undoubtedly bring with her into the kitchen. She’ll also draw on her Filipino and Hawaiian heritage to dole out some cool baking experiments, while her penchant for incorporating the beauty of nature onto her plates will lead to some pretty show-stopping results.
Our predictions: Everyone knows that moms are amazing multitaskers, so we have a feeling that Maile will be one of the cool and collected competitors when the going gets tough on this show. We can’t wait to see what she does in those tight timelines and whether she can pull off some of those lush sceneries considering how fast these bakes go.
Shyam Rethinavelu, San Francisco
Occupation: Fashion Stylist
First impression: Shyam is hard of hearing, but as a result he says he has a heightened sense of taste and sight, which is bound to come in handy in this competition. He plans on infusing his chocolatey creations with flavours like cinnamon, coriander and citrus, and in real life he’s all about busting out complex, harder-to-master dishes like sfogliatelle.
Our predictions: They say go big or go home, but Shyam will need to hone in on the basics and not overcommit himself to impress these tough judges. However, if he does pull off some amazing baking feat under the tight constraints, he’ll certainly be the one to beat.
See More: Steve Hodge’s Favourite Unconventional Chocolate Pairings
Vince Driver, Atlanta
Occupation: Event Coordinator, Artist, Host, Activist, Photographer, Social Media Manager
First impression: Vince seems to be a master of all trades, and baking is just one of his many talents. It all started with a cheesecake that was a huge hit at a friend’s party, and since then this multitasker has taught himself how to make all kinds of yummy treats.
Our predictions: At home, Vince is all about jamming out to music while he’s baking to help keep him on track, so no one should be surprised if he busts out a song in this competition. That trick may also keep him on task when it comes to the time-tight constraints, but to be honest we just can’t wait to see him whip up some kind of chocolate-infused cheesecake in a nod to his baking roots.
Watch the season premiere of Great Chocolate Showdown March 1 at 9 PM ET/PT and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV, Corus Entertainment’s premium multi-channel streaming service, which is now available to Rogers Ignite TV and Ignite SmartStream customers, in addition to Amazon Prime Video subscribers.