Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker: From Six to Four

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

When the episode began, I really wondered what Megan was thinking when she talked about the "true competitors" being left... I really didn't see her lasting. And, she didn't. Though I expected Melo to go first, then Megan, they ended up going at the same time, so I was fairly impressed at my prediction. It's going to come down to the wire with the remaining contestants, though I don't see Marissa making it to the finale. So why do you think Chad thinks that he and Marissa are frontrunners. [and why does he discount Nadine?] This episode was pretty boring when you look back at some of the others. Maybe it's because they've already had to make cakes that moved, so pyrotechnics weren't as big a deal? Or maybe it had to do with the fact that neither cake was very "birthday" so much as "themed" ?? I dunno, but I'm looking forward to seeing how this season finishes out over the next couple of weeks! Who are you rooting for? Should I put up an official poll?

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker "Headbanging Bakers" (S02E08):
Baker's Challenge: A triathlon to test multiple things! First, each person has to stock the pantry with nine fifty-pound bags of sugar. Then, take another fifty-pound bag, bring it into the baking room, and scale out 35 pounds of flour by hand. Last, frost a pan of cupcakes as fast as possible. The winner will get a set of KitchenAid baker tools. [I bet I would struggle hardcore with this one, but I would love the prize! Also, do you think that they waited for this one until Heather G was out to have this challenge? Because at 7 months pregnant, I don't really believe that she should be hauling 50-pound bags all over multiple times.] Megan thinks that Nadine will suffer since she's small and doesn't break nails. [I don't really know that we've seen Nadine as "girly" so-to-speak...] Melo and Ryan are first, and both guys are fairly slow. Melo's back hurts, and though Ryan doesn't give a specific reason for his sloth, everyone thinks he is being a baby about slowing down. At the second stage, Melo doesn't understand the scale so he struggles, allowing Ryan to surpass him and finish at 8:13. Next up is Chad and Megan. Chad tries to grab two at a time, so Megan does that, too, but both switch to only one bag at a time. [oh geez! 100 pounds of bag? I'm weak, guys. I don't think I could do that!] Chad moves on first but struggles hardcore with the scale. Megan has the scale down, but Chad still finishes first at 6:49, becoming the time to beat. Last is Nadine and Marissa, and Marissa impressively grabs two bags on her first go-round... when Nadine tries that, but she falls. [poor girl!] Marissa keeps going with two at a time, but makes herself sick doing so. Nadine just hefts one sack at a time, and she even starts to feel sick when she's dishing out the flour. They piping the cupcakes simultaneously, and Marissa finishes at 6:40, a second or so before Nadine. [hmmm. I gotta say... I think that Marissa was a bit sloppy in the end... I don't know that Buddy would have sold all of the cupcakes that she piped, so maybe she shouldn't have won?]

Elimination Challenge: The client is Mauro, who comes in with SisterLisa, both dressed as rockers. [I love it. really. awesome.] Mauro's birthday is the next day, and he's really into heavy metal, so they're designing cakes that are 3+ feet tall and include some pyrotechnics. [I really like both teams' designs!] They get 8 hours to spend on the cakes, six on the first day and two on the second. Buddy picks the teams - boys vs. girls. Chad is upset that Melo is good at nothing but sculpting. [well, Chad seems to suck at fondant, so he needs to be less dismissive.] Marissa and Ryan are happy they're not working together. [haha] Buddy is disappointed with the progress after the first day, and he decides that two people are going home. 

Girls: Nadine [27, NYC] comes up with the idea, but Megan [38, Pittsburgh, a paramedic] feels like she's being asked to be a carpentry wizard, which is apparent throughout the episode. Megan starts doing airbrushed flames, but they gets worse as time goes on and they end up having to airbrush that whole layer black and then add the flames separately, as cut-outs. But Megan's flames are too thick (she blames the sheeter, though Marissa [24, Pompton Lakes, NJ, culinary school background] has no problem using it) and the flames start flopping down (from being too heavy) after a few hours, so they have to pull ALL of them off, which makes the entire layer look rough. Megan keeps pointing out that the guitar is too heavy to stay on the base, regardless of the fixes that Nadine suggests. The weight of the guitar is just too much, and Marissa blames Megan and Megan blames Nadine. [I think it was probably partially both Megan & Nadine's faults, as they both had issues with design and execution in that way.] They plan for a few fireworks to go off, but Marissa is worried about the pyrotechnics working out. Their finished cake doesn't turn out near how they wanted, AND it falls apart during the trip from the bakery to Maruo's party so it's hazardous to even set-off the pyrotechnics, so we have no idea if they would have worked.

Boys: [this episode didn't have much focus on the boys and their cake, but I'm not sure why.] Melo [42, Worcester, MA, retired cop] sculpts a rocker, but since it wasn't secured properly, it falls to the floor. Melo decides to fix the sculpture, even though Buddy said that it fell on the floor and it needs to be trashed. [this was gross. why would you even consider putting it back on the cake?] Chad [43, Dallas, HS basketball coach, works at a bakery] steaming the cake causes some problems for the cleanliness of the cake. They finish their cake, but Buddy is still disappointed. We don't hear much from Ryan [30, RI, former electrician] during the process, or even afterward, for that matter.

The crowd looks pretty disappointed at both cakes. The guys' cake's pyrotechnics only work partly... the wind made the flames blow sideways. The girls' cake can't demonstrate its pyro, but at least their cake says "Happy Birthday, Mauro!" Chad mentions that he had to tell Melo not to use the sculpture that was on the floor. SisterLisa and Mauro, the other judges, liked the skulls on the boys' cake, but say that it was plain and not finished. Buddy says that it lacked detail and color coordination, though it did have a stage presence. [haha.] Marissa says that they struggled as a team. Nadine says that she stacked, made the drum, the flames, the guitar, and the hand. [I hadn't realizes how much work Nadine did!] Marissa sides with Nadine on the structure falling, and Megan admits her fault, but she reiterates that she did point out ahead of time that it was too heavy. [which, indeed, is true.] Mauro liked the girls' cake, but the fact that it couldn't travel was a problem. The cake could have had more dimension, but the silhouettes were cool. In the end, neither cake wins.

Marissa showed heart, will and leadership, so she is safe. Ryan showed talent and drive, saving him. Melo has been in the bottom multiple times, and when asked why he should stay, he says that his skills are behind, but he's honest and has a lot of potential. He's not ready to be The Next Great Baker today, so he gets sent home. [and I agree. The Next Great Baker shouldn't have skills that "are behind."] Chad claims that he has passion and fire, but Buddy points out that he doesn't speak up in the challenges. [truth.] This is his last chance, but he's safe. This leaves Megan and Nadine... the former says that she should stay over Nadine because she busts her butt and does whatever needs to be done, plus she wants this. Nadine says that she has the want, the will, the fire. She has talent and has shown leadership skills, but something is missing... Buddy lets her stay anyway. [good. If Nadine went home before Megan I'd have been REALLY upset!] In the box truck, Melo says that he beat enough people to make him happy, and Megan says that she's only a year into doing cakes anyway, so she's happy with her progress. [this is something that makes me really angry. I think that you need to be in "the business" for more than a year if you expect to be "The Next Great Baker." You need to have lots of experience in leadership, design, communication, and everything else necessary to excel in this field. And a year just ain't gonna cut it. What do you think?]

Next time
: the last challenge before the finale. Miss USA will be the client. And, it looks like they'll have a truncated amount of time to work, too. eek!
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