The Unexpected Reason The CSK Champions Loved The Final Challenge - Exclusive

"Crime Scene Kitchen" is one of few baking competitions that consistently tests bakers' technical skills and critical thinking. In each challenge, not only did dessert details have to be just right, but bakers had to correctly interpret the clues from the show's kitchen crime scene. Those rigid rules and interpretations are what made the competition so difficult for its champions, according to Natalie Collins-Fish and Luis Flores, who sat down for an exclusive interview with Mashed.

That's why when everything changed in the final challenge, the winning team lit up with excitement. "The finale for me was definitely the showpiece, going to the finale was for sure my bread and butter," Collins-Fish said. "Because it was the one that we didn't have to hold back, literally didn't have a super strict guideline of a specific dessert to make," Flores explained. "We can finally do what we do and not try to match what's underneath the box, which was a struggle for me," Collins-Fish added. That freedom to make their own showpiece without many restrictions is ultimately what made it the team's favorite challenge.

Learning and finding a way to stay within the show's strict dessert interpretations was one of the hardest parts of the competition for Collins-Fish and Flores. "I had a big struggle because I wanted to do what I wanted to do and not what I was supposed to do. [Luis] always had to keep me in check a lot. Like, 'No, that is not going to be on the dessert. They're not going to make five flowers out of chocolate and spray them with gold. They're just not going to do it,'" Collins-Fish said.

They could finally make the challenge their own

Those struggles started very early on in "Crime Scene Kitchen" too. "We had to learn. We definitely took a hard lesson in the first episode when we knew that it was a naked carrot cake. I was like, 'That's not a showpiece. That can't be that.' So we didn't make a carrot cake," Collins-Fish explained. "We probably would have won that round if we would have just stuck to it but I was like, 'No, showpiece. Let's go big or go home, right?' So I made real vegetables in a basket instead," she explained.

Understanding how to use their incredible dessert skills while working within the show's confines was a vital turn for the team. "That was definitely a stepping stone for us, where we had to learn where we could put our flare onto it and where we had to actually hold back and figure out like, 'Okay, this is still a game. Nobody is going to be able to duplicate what my crazy brain is going to think up. So it will never be under that box. If we go that route, we're never going to win,'" Collins-Fish said. "So we definitely had to play the mind game for sure, the whole season," she added. It's no wonder they loved the final challenge — where they created a birthday cake for judge Yolanda Gampp — since they could finally let their creative minds go all out.

To follow along with Natalie Collins-Fish and Luis Flores' next baking adventures, check out Cake Lyfe with Nattie J.