Cult favorite Dancing with the Stars returned to TV last week and celebrated not only the start of its 24th season, but also reaching its 400th episode. The newest dozen of contestants ranges from professional athletes such as NFL running back Rashad Jennings and Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross to performers such as 5th Harmony’s Normani Kordei and the season’s oldest contestant Charo, to reality stars such as Real Housewives cast member Erika Jayne and four-time Bachelor contestant Nick Viall.
Yet I have to wonder at some of ABC’s casting choices: contestant Heather Morris is already a professional dancer (she’s danced back-up for Beyoncé!). While judge Julianne Hough justified Morris by explaining how different ballroom dance is from any other style, I still have to call foul here. Morris already possesses flexibility and basic technique, while other contestants such as former SNL member Chris Kattan may be learning something as fundamental as how to count music for the first time.
Despite Morris’ advantage, the clear forerunner of Week One emerged in the last dance of the night: reigning gold-medal Olympic gymnast Simone Biles paired with pro Sasha Farber. Though Biles also has a leg-up on the competition—she is the youngest at 19 years old, in tip-top Olympic shape, and wildly flexible—her fancy footwork in the quickstep was simply superb and surprisingly graceful from such a fierce athlete.
Fellow Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez’s victory last season may be an obvious foreshadowing of who will win the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy this time around.
Naturally, I celebrated the return of DWTS with a special treat. Behold: the Half-Baked “Brookie.”
This brownie-cookie hybrid is crispy on top, yet the chocolate cake inside is so rich and gooey it practically oozes onto your spoon. It comes served in a piping hot skillet and topped with a scoop of deliciously melty vanilla ice cream at The Parlor, a hipster pizzeria in Dobbs Ferry, New York.
Brownie + Cookie + Ice cream…clearly sometime it takes three to tango. I’d say this dessert deserves its own Mirror Ball Trophy!