Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Next Great Baker: Passion Trumps Skill?

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Those sculpted-people cakes are always weird, I think. Even when Buddy made one of Lisa like a year and a half ago. So it doesn't surprise me that these baking competitors aren't that great at it. I thought that the teamwork could have been better all around, both in the Baker's Challenge and in the Elimination Challenge. It also kinda stumped me how weak some of the competitors are at making roses... that was in the fourth class I took. Granted, it was the hardest thing we did that day, but I managed out a few good ones before the hour was over, and it was my first time! Anyway...

I still don't like Minerva, now more than ever. Heather M. redeemed herself a little in my eyes. I was a bit thrown off by how well Nadine did this week, since I don't like her as a person, but as a baker, she certainly has some merit. Carmelo and Jasmine both faded a little bit for me this episode, but I still like them both. Megan definitely got added to my "blech" list for her behavior toward Tony in the Elimination Challenge. otherwise, no real movement by anyone else as far as my early favorites.

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker "Life-Sized Cakes: (S02E02): Not too much happened in the Baker's Challenge, so this week I'm going to give some descriptions of both challenges, then talk about how the individual competitors did, then move on to the judging and whatnot. I'll also include a little about who's-who.

Baker's Challenge: This week, the competitors will be broken into teams, and they'll do a relay to ice a layer cake, pipe some borders, make a buttercream flower, and write "Next Great Baker" on top. Buddy demonstrates and is finished in 5 minutes, 11 seconds. Buddy calls names and each person comes up and grab a piping bag - the color of the icing inside determines your team. They are allowed to talk about who should do which part. [I really think that the teams should have done better overall... it seems like they didn't admit their strengths and weaknesses to one another when figuring out who should do what.] Tony isn't comfortable with the challenge, as he doesn't like working with buttercream... still, he pipes. Heather G. and Megan both struggle with making and moving a rose. Chad made a great rose, but his team had to re-do pipe swags, which is why they lost. Minerva was worried because she isn't good at piping... yet she ends up piping the borders for her team. Nadine pipes like a pro!

Elimination Challenge: This week, they will be broken up into teams to make life-size, sculpted cakes. Tony & Carmelo are excited about it. Each team gets a Nikon Coolpix camera to take as many reference photos as they want, and the winning team will win cameras for each team member. The models for the cakes are Grace, Mary, and Madeline, and Buddy assigns each of the teams to a sister. They get 10 minute to learn about and photograph the models, then ten hours to make the cakes. Because the Megan/Ryan/Nadine team wins the Baker's Challenge (at 15:20), they are team leaders for the life-size cakes.

Grace Cake: They take a lot of photographs and measurements for the cake.  Megan [38 from Pittsburgh. was a paramedic but wants to start a new chapter] is the leader. They start making the body with cereal treats, but that isn't working. Tony [23 from Fort Worth. a nervous guy] pulls the legs apart and starts over with cake. However, that irritates Minerva [43 from Miami. considers herself a show-off], who is really worried about incorporating the shoes into the structure. [really? you couldn't just add on some feet and decorate later??] This ends up causing them to pull everything from the knees down. Another Minerva problem? She takes off her own pants to have a template to work on Grace's pants. Meanwhile, Megan's lack of background in modeling chocolate causes her to quickly lose patience in making the head... the coloring begins to take on a live of its own. She tries to tone down the face, but soon freaks out and yells at Tony. Tony feels like he's done 80% of the work, while someone like Minerva spent 2-3 hours just on the jeans. [Grace's head and body SO don't match up!] Heather G. [31 from Knoxville. Has a young daughter and bakes cakes from her home] was the fourth member of the team, and there's not much to say about her performance or attitude.

Madeline Cake: Madeline requests that her cake doesn't make her look fat. Nadine [27 from NYC.] is the leader, who has to keep order on her team. Melo [42 from Worcester, Mass. Retired cop who became an artist and then a baker] sculpts the face, then Nadine airburshes... but she goes overboard and it looks a bit orange. So, Chad [43 from Dallas. coaches HS basketball & works at a bakery. Also has done competitive drag queen pageants] volunteers to fix it up, since he knows makeup. Except, Melo doesn't like Chad's take on the eyebrows and ends up hating everything, so he re-starts the face. [re-starts?? I almost didn't believe it!]  Wesley [28-year-old army soldier from Fayetteville, NC.] hardly even gets seen in this challenge.

Mary Cake: Mary wants to be a little smaller and perkier in the cake. Ryan [30 from Rhode Island. Was an electrician until he helped his wife out in a bakery one day and loved it] is the leader, and is very receptive to other ideas. For instance, when cereal treats are sliding off the structure, he listens to Heather M. [32 from Vegas. she's an exotic dancer who wants to find a new career before her five-year-old gets embarrassed by what her mother does] and her suggestion to scuff up the pipe to give it traction. Jasmine [20 from Los Angeles.] feels like she's the artsy one on her team, but is nervous because she has never carved a face before. [I dunno, I feel like Marissa could be artsy.] She isn't in love with the face she's doing. They have bigger problems, however, when the hair starts falling off the head. [the bigger problem, though, is that the face is hideous!] Marissa [24 from Pompton Lakes, NJ. went to culinary school and describes herself as someone with a temper] gets minor air time for the elimination challenge.
After time is up, Buddy comes in to tell the teams that they'll have to put the cakes on box trucks to be delivered. [they should have assumed they'd have to do this after last week, LoL.] Half of Madeline's body falls apart in the truck, but the others arrive safely. Not only were the sisters there to judge, but so were their husbands. [just a quick shot of Mary's Joe, though.] Grace's breasts look pretty low. The sisters don't like Madeline's face, which the team thought was a strength of the cake. Buddy has Danny steam-roll the cakes because they were so bad. [hahaha!] In the judging room, Mary said that she was hoping for perkier, not floatation devices! She also says that the hair color was way off and that her face looked like a fish. Ryan is told he has the best structure and was a good leader. That cake was the best of the worst, so everyone on that team is safe. The Madeline cake is said to have some nice details, but the broken torso was horrible. Melo blames Chad for the messed up face, but they're soon released. The Grace Cake team loses the challenge... despite the fact that the Madeline cake fell apart. [that's saying something!] Megan blames Tony for the structure, and Tony says that Megan was a bad leader for not taking his suggestions seriously. Heather G. speaks here, mentioning that she doesn't want to work under Megan again. Minerva goes the other way, blaming Tony.  Heather G. is sent to the lounge, since Buddy thinks she was least responsible for the failure. [and I gotta agree... not much attention was paid to Heather G. during the process.] Buddy tells Megan that she's safe, because she was the one he could most see himself working with. [interesting reasoning...] Buddy tells Tony that this wasn't his day, but he tells Minerva that perhaps her skill level is lacking. [wow, that's a blow!]
Credit: TLC/Walling McGarity
He tells Minerva to go to the box truck since she doesn't have enough experience, but she objects. She claims that the cake failing wasn't her fault, and that she has more passion. Well, Tony doesn't fight, and Buddy likes someone with a fighting drive, so he's sent home instead. In the truck, Tony says he's upset because he feels like his chance was stolen from him. [well, it was. Neither of them have really stood out as a great competitor, but Tony has shown a higher skill level, and in my book that's important. I mean, if someone called me out at the end like Minerva did to Tony, I think I might have been too shocked to put together a coherent argument on the spot! Oh well... doesn't matter too much, I was pretty nonchalant about Tony!]
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