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The Trickiest Surprise Ingredients Featured on Cooks vs. Cons

The mandatory ingredients introduced to Cooks vs. Cons competitors — cereal, soda and many more — have been nothing short of game-changing.
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Surprise Ingredient: Breakfast Cereal

"Most cooks can make a good burger. But it takes a real pro to make a great burger with a surprise ingredient of breakfast cereal," host Geoffrey Zakarian told the contestants. According to judge Graham Elliot: "I think what the pro's going to do is use that cereal for texture, something to give it some crunch. If they put it in the actual patty, pate mix, I think that's a clear indication of amateur." For will-be con Jimmy, the cereal served as a coating for his onion rings — and he ended up winning the round.

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Surprise Ingredient: Tropical Fruits

Though competitors could cook anything they wanted in the second round, a mandate of tropical fruits made the situation more difficult. Eventual con Brielle opted for a combo of pork chops and pineapple salsa. She explained, "Pork and pineapple go very well together because the sweet and tart of the pineapple will bring out the flavor in the pork loin."

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Surprise Ingredient: Peppers

"I really want to transform the peppers into something that they're not, and I think a foam would make my dish stand out," explained con Nico, who indeed created a foam for his mac and cheese-topped crostini. Unfortunately, though, the judges weren't wowed by his offering, and he was the first to go home in his episode.

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Surprise Ingredient: Soda

Alex, who was later revealed to be a con, incorporated not one but two kinds of soda when prepping his steak tacos. "The sugar from the soda is going to balance nicely with the acidity from the sour oranges and key limes," Alex said of his plan for the marinade.

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