• Published 14th Nov 2016
  • 2,799 Views, 360 Comments

Canterlot Cooking Calamity! - MythrilMoth



CHS holds a fundraiser bake sale and cooking contest.

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Cooking Drama! (Part Four)

Once the Pizza Shack people had shown up with a pallet of pizzas and set up the buffet, the crowds in the bleachers had begun migrating back and forth between their seats and the buffet tables, loading up paper plates and grabbing drinks from coolers supplied by the restaurant. All in all, the constant flow of traffic to and from the buffet gave the impression of a column of human ants marching back and forth.

"You know, it's funny?" Velvet commented idly as she put a slice of pizza on her paper plate. "Us here, eating this pizza, knowing it doesn't hold a candle to what you girls are about to do later..."

"Hey, you think slingin' this many pies in one day is easy, lady?" the Pizza Shack employee behind the buffet table said somewhat crossly.

"Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't..." Velvet had the grace to look embarrassed. "It's just..." She looked around, then leaned close and said quietly, "My daughter and her friends are making a deep dish pizza in the final round. You know, Chicagoat-style."

The pizza jockey blinked. "Oh wow," he said. "Y'know, I've always told the higher-ups we should add that to the menu, but corporate won't hear of it." He shook his head. "Haven't had good Chicagoat deep dish since I was twelve."

"Really? It's not that hard to make at home," Shining Armor said as he loaded up his plate. "Heck, I could probably do it."

The pizza jockey shot him a look. "Yeah, 'cuz what I wanna do when I get home after a long day workin' at a pizza place is make a pizza."

"I...see your point," Shining Armor said awkwardly. "I'm just...gonna go over there now."

"Aww, cheer up, Mr. Pizza Man!" Pinkie said as she pulled a sugar shaker out of her hair and sprinkled it liberally on a slice of cheese pizza. "Sure, to you it may be a soul-crushing, thankless job, but just remember that every pizza you sling makes somebody else's sucky day a little less sucky!"

"Uhh...thanks," the pizza jockey said. He blinked. "Is that...is that sugar?"

"Yepper-depper!" Pinkie took a big bite of her sugar-encrusted pizza and stuffed the sugar shaker back into her hair. "Mmmmm!"

Velvet, Shining Armor, and Night Light all stared at her. Applejack rolled her eyes. "Don't pay her no attention, y'all. Y'git use to it after a while." She looked around the gym. "So whut d' y'all reckon that Negra guy's gonna make next?"

"Bet it'll be something Mexican," Scootaloo said.

Sweetie Belle giggled. "And it'll have blue corn in it."

"I think that'll be the major advantage the girls have," Night Light said. "From what you all told me during the semifinals, that guy's a bit overspecialized. The girls' menu has been all over the place."

Velvet winced. "I'd prefer to call it 'highly varied'," she said.

"Yeah? Well Ah call it them girls is gonna hafta make th' vittles at our next slumber party," Applejack said with a grin.

Twilight, Sunset, and Rarity looked at each other with mild alarm. "We'll...think about it," Sunset said with a nervous laugh.

* * * * *

While the spectators were enjoying the pizza buffet, workers had consolidated the cook stations from the semifinals into two large kitchen stages, one decorated with a banner depicting Sunset, Rarity, and Twilight with arms around each other and smiling happily, the other depicting Negra Arroyo with a fierce, determined scowl on his face.

At two o'clock, an airhorn cut through the general party atmosphere in the gym. "Everyone, may I have your attention please," Principal Celestia called from the judges' table. "At this time, I would appreciate if all spectators clear the gym floor. Finalists, begin preparing your stations. If you need any ingredients or supplies, you may arrange for a quick delivery if you have not already done so. The final round of cooking will begin in thirty minutes." She smiled. "Be sure to take any pizza you may still want with you to the bleachers, folks. I'm sure it'll help the nice folks from Pizza Shack with the cleanup."

As the gym floor emptied, Sunset, Twilight, and Rarity disposed of their paper plates and washed their hands in their modular sink.

"Alright," Sunset said, wiping her hands. "I think we should make the dough first and let it start rising since it's gotta sit for a little while."

"Agreed," Rarity said. "We should also inventory our ingredients now to be certain we didn't miss anything or—" She coughed delicately. "Won't have another debacle such as earlier."

Twilight adjusted her glasses. "By the way," she said, "I've been thinking, and I brought along a little something extra to run by you girls."

Sunset blinked. "Something extra?"

Twilight motioned for her friends to move in closer, then whispered, "I stopped by the store on the way here this morning and picked up a box of lasagna pasta. I was thinking last night, and I think a layer of lasagna in the middle of the toppings would really set it off."

Rarity and Sunset blinked. "Lasagna in the middle of a pizza?" Rarity asked. "That's...an interesting idea. I'm not terribly sure about it."

"If it were a normal pizza, I'd agree," Twilight said, "but this thing runs pretty deep. It just seems like, well..." She frowned. "You know that one place that has the double-decker burger with the third bun in the middle? That's kinda what I was thinking. Just some pasta to make a 'middle' to the whole thing."

Sunset pursed her lips. "Well, it couldn't hurt," she said with a shrug. "I mean, it goes with all the ingredients since a lot of this stuff goes in lasagna anyway, so...yeah, sure! Let's try it."

"I'm too curious to say no," Rarity admitted. She smiled. "Let's do it!"

Across the gym, Negra Arroyo was tending a Hibachi which had arrived shortly after the semifinals and from which sweet-smelling mesquite smoke drifted into the air. He occasionally pulled his phone out, seemingly nervous about something.

Fifteen minutes before the final round was scheduled to start, the gym doors burst open, and Sugar Sprinkles ambled in, pushing a large wooden crate on a hand truck. "Yo, got a delivery here for a Negra Arroyo?"

"Right he—" Negra Arroyo paused, blinking. "What. Is that."

"Your order from Wild & Feisty Fish Mart, dude," Sugar Sprinkles said. With a grin, she gave a crowbar a hefty test swing, then pried one side of the crate open.

Crabs spilled out all over the gym floor.

Red crabs. Blue crabs. Fiddler crabs. Horseshoe crabs. One giant coconut crab. All in all, dozens of crabs erupted from the crate, spreading across the gym floor.

They were alive. And they were not happy.

Reactions from the bleachers were a mix of laughter, shrieks, confused murmurs, and outright panic. Over at the judges' table, the four judges stared bemusedly at the teeming mass of crusty crustaceans.

Negra Arroyo was apopleptic. He stormed over to Sugar Sprinkles, angrily snatching her clipboard away from her. "I ordered. Two crabs," he seethed. "Two. Blue crabs. Just two. Not...not THIS!"

"Really?" Sugar Sprinkles asked, scratching her head and taking back her clipboard. "Nope, says right here, one Mega Crusty Crate, delivery to Canterlot High gym, care of Negra Arroyo!"

"Son of a..." Negra Arroyo glared at Sugar Sprinkles, waving his hands wildly at the expanding mess of loose live crabs. "I needed TWO. CRABS. JUST. TWO. What the hell am I supposed to do with...with THIS?!"

Sugar Sprinkles shrugged. "Dunno dude," she said. "I just take the stuff where they say take it. Peace out!" And with that, she left.

"GET BACK HERE! DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS! YOU STUPID—" Negra Arroyo trailed off as a red crab began climbing his leg. "Fuck."

Sunset, Rarity, and Twilight blinked and glanced at each other. "Oh dear," Rarity said.

"Now that is an epic fail," Sunset said in an impressed tone. Frowning, she added, "Why am I getting the eeriest sense of deja vu here?"

"I dunno, but we're gonna have to do something about all these crabs," Twilight said with a frown. "We can't just...!"

At the judges' table, Celestia tapped her microphone. "Mr. Arroyo, would you mind explaining?"

Negra stared at her. "Explain?" he shouted incredulously. "Explain?! That doped-up delivery ditz screwed up my order and let loose a ridiculously huge crate of crabs instead of the two crabs I actually ordered and paid for!"

"Ugh, shipping disasters," Ms. Harshwhinny said bitterly. "I could tell such tales..."

"Okay, but...this is a problem," Cadance said. "This needs to be cleaned up before we can even think about starting."

"OBVIOUSLY!" Negra ranted, kicking two red crabs across the floor. "You don't expect me to deal with this myself, do you?"

"Hmm...good point," Celestia said. "Folks? We need volunteers to round up crabs."

Immediately, Flash Sentry, Lyra Heartstrings, Sweetie Drops, Ditzy Doo, Shining Armor, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie bolted out of the stands. Rainbow Dash also left the judges' table, heading for the nearest pile of crabs. "We're gonna need boxes, buckets, canvas ball bags, anything we can use to round up this mess!" Rainbow yelled. "Guys, you know where the equipment room is!"

The large coconut crab, meanwhile, had migrated across the gym to the girls' prep station, and was presently menacing Rarity, who had climbed up onto one of the modular counters. "Gaaaaaah..."

"That...is one big crab," Twilight said, eyes wide.

"Go AWAY, you creepy crustacean!" Rarity yelled. She picked up a rolling pin and started hitting the crab with it. The crab waved its claws angrily.

"I gotcha!" Rainbow Dash yelled as she dashed in, jumping into the air and delivering a spinning kick to the crab that sent it flying. It landed upside down; its legs and claws waved angrily in the air.

Rarity heaved a sigh of relief as she climbed down from the counter. "Thank you, Rainbow Dash," she said.

"No problem," Rainbow said confidently. "Just uhh...don't tell Fluttershy about this, okay? She doesn't need to know like...ever."

Over at Negra Arroyo's station, Ditzy walked up to him, a blue crab hanging from a red, swollen finger on each hand. "I found your two blue crabs," she said. "Umm...a little help here?"

* * * * *

Once the crabs had been contained and order restored in the gym, Celestia blew her air horn once again for attention. "Alright, now...now that we've got that all sorted out," she said into her microphone, "if everybody will return to the bleachers, I believe we'll get the final round underway. Ladies, gentleman, you may begin cooking...now."

Negra Arroyo wasted no time in throwing his two contained crabs into separate iron pots and filling them up from large glass bottles. The girls, meanwhile, set to work cutting, measuring, and mixing.

"It all comes down to this," Rainbow Dash said excitedly into her microphone. "Who's gonna walk away a winner? Will it be Negra Arroyo and his Mexican dishes? Will it be the girls and all the awesome stuff they've made?"

"Whoever wins this round, every competitor is a winner for putting themselves out there and trying their best," Cadance said. "And I hope all of you watching this competition have been inspired to try a few new things in your own kitchens at home."

"And now, Octavia, if you would please?" Celestia said.

"Right, Principal Celestia," Octavia Melody said, standing up and taking up her microphone. "As before, I'll be checking in with our contestants, asking questions and reporting on what they're up to." She approached the girls, who were hard at work preparing their ingredients. A wet towel covered a large lump of dough; Sunset was busy seasoning a skillet of meat and tomato sauce, while Twilight was carefully cutting sheets of lasagna into strips with an Xacto knife. Rarity, meanwhile, was laying out slices of cheese on a sheet of wax paper. "And the girls are delivering on their promise to cook something Bitalian, it seems," Octavia said. She frowned at their preparations. "Though I'm not quite certain what it is they're doing. There appears to be dough rising, and Sunset is clearly making some sort of meat sauce in a skillet, but what is Twilight doing? That's lasagna, but it isn't boiling yet and she's cutting..."

"For what we're doing, some of it needs to be in strips," Twilight said. "Since I had the right kind of knife, I thought I'd go ahead and cut it before boiling it. It'll make things easier down the road."

"Err...alright," Octavia said. "So what precisely are you girls making?"

"Chicagoat-style deep dish pizza," Sunset said. "With a couple of tweaks."

"Yes, we'll be adding quite a few fun ingredients," Rarity put in as she began slicing portobello mushrooms.

"Like lasagna?" Octavia asked.

"For the layering," Twilight explained.

"Alright, and what are you working on, Sunset?" Octavia asked.

"Tomato sauce with Bitalian sausage and garlic," Sunset said.

"Well, it certainly sounds like this will be a treat for the judges!"

Over at the judges' table, Rainbow Dash was practically drooling. "Aww yeah," she said.

Cadance giggled. "I have to agree. This is going to be fun!"

"I believe this is going to be one final round we'll remember for a long time," Celestia said.

"And now let's check in with Negra Arroyo," Octavia said. "Earlier, we saw him drop two live crabs into two separate pots. So, are you preparing steamed crab?"

"Nope, just using the steaming to kill them and make them tender," Negra Arroyo said. "Once they're ready I'm going to grill the legs. I have other plans for the rest of the meat."

"Does it have anything to do with that mixture you're working on there?" Octavia asked, nodding to a bowl in which Negra Arroyo was chopping and mixing various ingredients including onions and jalapenos. A large container of corn meal sat to one side of the bowl.

"That's right."

Octavia leaned over the pot in which Negra Arroyo was steaming one of his crabs, gently lifting the lid a bit. "So you're—" Suddenly, she began gagging; she dropped the lid and backed away, waving a hand in front of her face. "Holy SHIT, what is that?!" she shrieked.

Negra Arroyo shot her an amused smirk, then leaned slightly into her personal space to speak into her microphone. "Whiskey," he said. "I distill it myself from blue corn. I call it Blue Lightning."

The judges glanced at one another. Rainbow Dash covered her microphone. "Is that even legal?" she asked.

Cadance frowned. "I'm not sure," she said.

Ms. Harshwhinny's lips thinned. "Well," she said, "home brewing and distillery is common among hobbyists and enthusiasts. My brother brews his own lager in his garage. Gives it to friends as gifts." She frowned. "I'm not at all certain about the legality of distilling hard whiskey. I know people do it. I don't know what the..." She coughed. "Criminality of it is."

"But...he's underage!" Rainbow protested.

Ms. Harshwhinny shrugged, then turned her microphone on. "Excuse me, Mr. Arroyo," she said. "A clarification. This, err...Blue Lighting. Do you distill it for sale, personal consumption, or...?"

"Only for cooking," Negra Arroyo replied. "I don't keep more than two liters of the stuff on hand at any given time."

The judges looked at one another again. Celestia shrugged. "Not really our problem," she said. Into her microphone, she said, "You do realize what a risk you're taking operating a still when you're not even old enough to drink, right?"

"I know the laws," Negra Arroyo replied. "I'm very careful to stay within the letter of the law." With that, he went back to his cooking.

"Y-yes, well," Octavia said, swaying slightly. "I believe I'm going to sit down for a minute and...I feel a bit dizzy suddenly..." She staggered; Rainbow Dash shot out of her chair, rushed over, and helped Octavia back to her seat near the table.

Cadance gave her a half-amused, half-worried look, coupled with a mild frown in Negra Arroyo's direction. "It would seem the fumes from Mr. Arroyo's Blue Lightning are no laughing matter," she commented.

Rainbow Dash sat down, turning off her microphone. "Dude, is that even gonna be safe to eat?" she asked. "I mean, he fuckin' drowned those crabs in that stuff!"

"Language, Rainbow Dash," Celestia said firmly. Then, with a shake of her head, she added, "It won't be any worse than the coq au vin...at least, I hope."

"I'm certain the amount of alcohol the crab meat retains won't be...terribly toxic," Ms. Harshwhinny said doubtfully. Even as she said so, Negra Arroyo removed the now very red, very dead crabs from the pot and began chopping them up.

None of them missed the fact that he'd donned a filter mask.

Rarity stared at him, her jaw dropping. "He isn't serious," she breathed.

"Holy crap, he boiled crabs in whiskey?!" Twilight cried.

"Hopefully it was mixed with water," Sunset said, shaking her head. "Come on, heads in the game, girls."

* * * * *

The cooking wore on. Octavia, recovered from her close encounter with blue corn whiskey fumes, was back on the floor.

"Rarity is now simmering mushrooms, bell peppers, and black olives in red wine," Octavia reported. "Sunset has rolled the dough out into a crust and is brushing it with a butter and herb mixture. And now she's carefully pressing the dough into the baking dish."

Once the dough was in place, Sunset nodded to the other girls. Rarity transferred her vegetables into the tomato sauce and sausage mixture Sunset had prepared and stirred it. Working swiftly, the girls spread a layer of sauce on the crust, then added a layer of each type of cheese, then another layer of sauce, and another layer of cheese. After the third iteration, they spread the whole lasagna at the midpoint, covering the filling layers entirely, then repeated the layering of fillings. Once they reached the top, they sprinkled parmesan cheese on the top layer of sauce, then laid strips of lasagna in a lattice across the surface of the pie. Lastly, Sunset sprayed the top with an olive oil cooking spray before carefully placing it in the oven. She stepped back and sighed. "And now we wait," she said as Twilight set the timer. She glanced over at Negra Arroyo's station. "So what's crab boy up to?"

Octavia cautiously approached Negra Arroyo's station, leaning carefully away from anything that was smoking or fuming. "Well, you seem to be well on your way toward...something," she said. "Would you mind telling us exactly what you're working on?"

"Certainly," Negra Arroyo said as he mashed up cornbread with a fork and mixed other ingredients into it. "I'm making cornbread stuffing for stuffed crab claws. I'm going to bake the crab claws in the oven while I'm grilling the crab legs."

"I see," Octavia said. "And what do you have over here?"

"Crab salad," Negra Arroyo said. "Southwestern style. Has a kick to it."

"I see," Octavia said. "So, everything you've made during the entire contest has been Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. Do you foresee that hurting your chances at all? After all, failure to diversify already damaged two earlier competitors."

Negra Arroyo snorted. "I'm diversifying enough," he said. "I've presented a diverse range of dishes in my preferred genre of cooking. Trixie overused steak and potatoes, and Flash and his friends didn't do anything but barbecue. What I'm doing here is art, and it's an art I excel at."

"Well then," Octavia said. "Good luck to you."

* * * * *

As six o'clock arrived, the girls took their pizza out of the oven and set it on a rack to cool, even as Negra Arroyo removed his serving bowl of crab salad from his ice chest and dressed it while he took the crab claws out of the oven and the crab legs off the grill.

Celestia's air horn sounded once again. "Contestants, your time is up," she said. "And now, if you please, bring your final dishes to the table for plating and judgment. Negra Arroyo, we will sample your dishes first, followed by the girls."

The girls looked at one another and swallowed nervously, then carefully transferred the pizza to their serving cart. Negra Arroyo hummed quietly to himself as he calmly loaded his dishes onto his cart and strolled toward the judges' table at a leisurely pace.

"Ladies," Negra Arroyo said as he began plating his final entry. "For this round, I've prepared grilled crab legs, crab claws stuffed with my own jalapeño cornbread stuffing, and Southwestern crab salad with jalapeños, black beans, and blue corn. The crabs were prepared in a bath of my own homemade blue corn whiskey to give the meat a smoky flavor. The legs and claws have been brushed with lemon herb butter."

The judges looked at the arrangement on their plates. Each plate had two crab legs, a stuffed crab claw, and a spoonful of crab salad on it, served with a fresh parsley garnish and a wedge of lemon.

"I do love a good crab salad," Cadance said as she picked up her fork.

"I've never had crab, I don't think," Rainbow said. She watched the other judges, then picked up one of the crab legs and bit into it. "Huh. Not ba..." Her eyes bugged out. "Whoa. That's got some kick."

"It certainly does," Celestia said. "Not that that's a bad thing, mind." She sampled the crab salad next. "Oh, this is excellent."

"The stuffed crab claws are certainly impressive," Ms. Harshwhinny said. "Perhaps a bit heavy on the jalapeño..." She frowned. "I think perhaps the jalapeño and the smokiness of the whiskey bath don't necessarily go well together."

"It's kind of a mouth fire, yeah," Rainbow said. She sampled the crab salad. "Ugh, it's cold!"

"It's supposed to be cold," Negra Arroyo said testily.

"Oh." Rainbow took another bite, then shook her head. "Yeah, not my thing."

"It's good," Cadance said. "But it's a little hard to taste the crab in here for all the other stuff. I mean, I think you could've left out the jalapeños in the salad."

Once the judges finished, they took notes on their tablets. "Thank you, Mr. Arroyo," Celestia said. "We'll announce the scores after we've judged your opponents' dish."

Negra Arroyo bowed and withdrew. The girls stepped forward, wheeling a serving cart with a steaming hot deep dish pizza.

"Oh yeah, now this is what I've been waitin' for," Rainbow said eagerly.

"Judges," Sunset Shimmer said as Rarity cut and plated the pizza, "for our final entry, we've got Chicagoat-style deep dish pizza. The filling layers consist of ground Bitalian sausage, tomato sauce made from fresh tomato puree, chopped garlic, herbs, portobello mushrooms, black olives, and green bell peppers simmered in red wine, provolone and mozzerella cheeses, and lasagna pasta. The pie has been topped with a lattice of lasagna strips, sprinkled with parmesan cheese, and finished with an olive oil infusion."

"Right off the bat I applaud your use of lasagna to enhance the presentation," Ms. Harshwhinny said as she inspected the pizza. "The one failing of deep dish pizza is that no matter how delicious it may be, it's traditionally not a very visually impressive dish. This, however, has a certain flair to it that's quite appealing."

"Makes it look like a big ol' Bitalian pie," Rainbow said. "Pizza and pie are two of my favorite things, so that's a double win."

Cadance giggled. "Pizza is pie, Rainbow Dash," she said. "And this is certainly a beautiful deep dish pizza. It's almost a shame I'm going to have to devour it."

"Devour?" Celestia echoed with a raised eyebrow and a quirk of the lip as she cut into the pizza with a fork.

Cadance blushed, but said nothing as she cut off a bite.

"This...is awesome," Rainbow Dash said. "It'd be more awesome if you'd tossed some pepperoni in there, but it's still pretty awesome." She chewed thoughtfully. "Kinda more like lasagna than pizza, though."

"Mmm, yes," Ms. Harshwhinny said. "It's unquestionably a deep dish pizza, and your preparation and choice of ingredients is flawless, but in a way I do feel like I'm eating lasagna with a crust."

"Not that that's a bad thing," Cadance said. "Actually, in a way that's a pretty clever way to think of this."

"You girls certainly picked the best balance of ingredients," Celestia said. "Some people are tempted to add too many things to a pizza like this. You stuck with a recipe that's perfectly balanced. Perhaps an extra meat ingredient would have improved it slightly, but there's more than enough meat, sauce, cheese, and vegetables in here. An extra cheese or an extra vegetable would've upset the harmony."

"The crust is especially good," Ms. Harshwhinny said. "You girls allowed it to rise for exactly the right amount of time. The herb mixture you coated the dough with brings out the flavor."

Once they'd finished, the judges sat back, wiped their mouths, and made notes on their tablet. The three girls stepped back, standing beside Negra Arroyo.

"Alright, everyone!" Celestia said loudly and clearly. "The scores for this final round of the Canterlot High Cooking Competition will now be announced. First, we will present the scores for Ms. Sparkle, Ms. Shimmer, and Ms. Rarity."

FINAL ROUND - CONTESTANT(S): SUNSET SHIMMER, TWILIGHT SPARKLE, AND RARITY

PREPARATION: 9.75/10
Judge 1 (Principal Celestia): 10
Judge 2 (Ms. Harshwhinny): 9
Judge 3 (Dean Cadance): 10
Judge 4 (Rainbow Dash): 10
PRESENTATION: 9.75/10
Judge 1 (Principal Celestia): 10
Judge 2 (Ms. Harshwhinny): 9
Judge 3 (Dean Cadance): 10
Judge 4 (Rainbow Dash): 10
CREATIVITY: 10/10
Judge 1 (Principal Celestia): 10
Judge 2 (Ms. Harshwhinny): 10
Judge 3 (Dean Cadance): 10
Judge 4 (Rainbow Dash): 10
TASTE: 10/10
Judge 1 (Principal Celestia): 10
Judge 2 (Ms. Harshwhinny): 10
Judge 3 (Dean Cadance): 10
Judge 4 (Rainbow Dash): 10

Wild applause met the girls' scores. They smiled, clutching each others' hands tightly as they waited nervously. Beside them, Negra Arroyo's eyes tightened, his hands tense at his sides.

"And now, we present Mr. Arroyo's scores."

FINAL ROUND - CONTESTANT(S): NEGRA ARROYO

PREPARATION: 8.25/10
Judge 1 (Principal Celestia): 8
Judge 2 (Ms. Harshwhinny): 8
Judge 3 (Dean Cadance): 9
Judge 4 (Rainbow Dash): 8
PRESENTATION: 9.75/10
Judge 1 (Principal Celestia): 10
Judge 2 (Ms. Harshwhinny): 10
Judge 3 (Dean Cadance): 10
Judge 4 (Rainbow Dash): 9
CREATIVITY: 9.5/10
Judge 1 (Principal Celestia): 10
Judge 2 (Ms. Harshwhinny): 9
Judge 3 (Dean Cadance): 10
Judge 4 (Rainbow Dash): 9
TASTE: 8.75/10
Judge 1 (Principal Celestia): 9
Judge 2 (Ms. Harshwhinny): 8
Judge 3 (Dean Cadance): 10
Judge 4 (Rainbow Dash): 8

Negra Arroyo scowled fiercely. Sunset, Twilight, and Rarity gasped, looked at each other, then shrieked in delight, clutching each other and jumping up and down as the bleachers exploded with applause.

Celestia smiled. "And the winners of the first ever Canterlot High Cooking Competition are: Twilight Sparkle, Sunset Shimmer, and Rarity!"

Pinkie Pie, Applejack, the Crusaders, and Twilight's parents swarmed down from the bleachers and rushed up to the girls to congratulate them.

"Congratulations to all our winners, runners-up, and all competitors!" Cadance said. "If all competitors would assemble on the gym floor, we'll be awarding the prizes in just a few minutes."

Once the judges switched off their microphones, Rainbow Dash got up and joined in the celebration with her friends. Negra Arroyo glared at her, then stalked up to the table. "What kind of insult is this?" he demanded. "You had her on the judging panel when you knew she's a personal friend of those girls! That isn't fair! She's biased!"

Celestia favored him with an even look. "For your information, we had a long talk with Rainbow Dash during the break between rounds," she said. "She promised she could be absolutely fair in her judging, and offered to drop out and let Octavia take her place if we didn't trust her."

"But—!"

"Mr. Arroyo," Ms. Harshwhinny said sternly, "you scored very well. You simply didn't win. Your final round entry—"

"Lost to a fucking PIZZA!" Negra Arroyo ranted. He'd now drawn the attention of the celebrating group, some of whom were frowning and even glaring at him. "Do you have any idea how hard I've worked for this? How much preparation, sweat, and blood goes into making and growing everything I use? I—"

"That is enough," Celestia said harshly. "You are an excellent cook, Mr. Arroyo. Nobody is denying that. Your dedication to your art is commendable. But you took a gamble in the final round that simply didn't pay off. You lost. They won. The results are fair and unbiased. Please, don't taint their victory or your second place finish by being a sore loser."

Negra Arroyo looked as though he had more to say, but after a moment of glaring at the judges with his mouth open, he clicked it shut and stepped back. "You're right," he said. "My apologies." He turned to their girls and their friends and supporters. "Congratulations," he said. "You earned your victory. You girls are good cooks."

"Thank you," Rarity said primly. "And if one day you ever open your own restaurant, I'm certain we'll all be paying you a visit. Won't we, girls?"

"Of course," Twilight said somewhat uncertainly, a nervous smile on her face.

Sunset offered a more confident smile and held a hand out to Negra Arroyo. "Friends?"

Negra Arroyo eyed the offered hand, then held himself stiffly. "I should clean up," he said, retreating to his kitchen station.

Sunset let her hand drop. "Yeesh," she said.

Rarity tutted. "I suppose not everyone is willing to accept friendship when it's offered," she said with a sigh.

"Nevermind him," Velvet said with a smile. "Congratulations, girls. You were magnificent!"

"I'm proud of you, sis," Shining Armor said. "You girls are amazing too." He clapped his hands together. "So, uhh...any chance we can get a taste of that pizza?"

Everybody laughed.

Author's Note:

I would rather we not have a huge debate about the legality of distilling spirits in the comments section, please. I am well aware that U.S. federal law does in fact prohibit it. But as I am constantly forced to remind MANY readers and writers: the Equestria Girls universe IS NOT EARTH, and therefore any discussion and debate about applicable federal and state laws is BEYOND pointless.

People have been asking me about the nachos from the previous chapter, if there's a recipe and if I have a link to it. There's no recipe as such--the flour tortilla nachos are something I came up with myself. Everything you need to know in order to make them is listed right there in the story. If you can make taco meat and know how to fry anything at all, you're set--it's just common sense cooking. That said, there are dozens of recipes for homemade flour tortilla chips on the Internet if you need one. :twilightsmile:

Well, all that's left is the epilogue...

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