Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cake Boss: Next Great Baker: Zoo Cakes

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

The group has now made it halfway through the competition. Can you believe how fast this season is going? I also saw some rumors online that the competition to try and join the third season has started. When I have some firm information, I'll let you guys know. I have no idea how many of my Next Great Baker readers are budding bakers themselves, but I have to imagine that some of you enjoy baking, at least on an amateur level. Therefore, we've got a baking prize to give away in a couple of weeks! Stay tuned for more details as the season winds down, but I figured I'd give you something to look forward to!  

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker "Gators, Chimps and Bears... Oh My!" (S02E06): 
Baker's Challenge: They go to the oven room in the bakery. The ovens there hold 36 pans, and the challenge will be to unload the oven as quickly and accurately as possible. Anthony and Buddy demonstrate, and do it in 3:05. The cheesecakes in the waterbath are the trickiest part, which shows when the contestants start trying... in pairs that Buddy chooses. They need to unload all six racks without a pan falling into the oven, as Buddy will disqualify any pair that makes him stop the oven. The winners will choose the teams for the elimination challenge. Melo & Nadine are first. Melo has no background experience in big ovens, and they end up disqualified when a pan gets missed and would catch in the oven. Ryan & Heather G. are next. Ryan is worried about Heather's G's pregnancy messing things up, while her thought process is more geared toward the slow-and-steady approach. They're accurate, but not fast, finishing at 3:11. Megan & Heather M don't do so well, as Megan has some trouble getting one of the pans on a rack, then drops a cake, which disqualifies them. Heather is disappointed, of course. Marissa & Chad are last, and Chad had a strategy for timing the racks, which works for them. They win with a time of 2:36.

They are told to choose the teams that they don't want - Marissa chooses Chad's team and Chad chooses Marissa's team. [I don't know why Buddy would do this. It's not good form to let your least favorite people know you'd rather not work with them...] Marissa puts Heather G on Chad's team. Chad puts Heather M on Marissa's team. Marissa puts Megan on Chad's team. Chad puts Ryan on Marissa's team, as he feels Ryan is a complainer. Marissa puts Melo on Chad's team. That leaves Nadine on Marissa's team. After all that, Chad and Marissa have to switch teams, so they're leading teams of people they didn't want... and since none of this was secret, everyone is aware of how much others want to work with them. Chad, in particular, is worried about having Heather M and Ryan on his team.

Elimination Challenge: The Turtleback Zoo in West Orange, NJ, wants cakes. They bring in some live animals for inspiration, including a kestrel, a snake, a penguin, and an alligator. The cake needs to be 4+ feet tall, and have a life-size version of one of those animals on it. They have eight hours to make the cake AND get it down to the loading dock. Then they need to drive to the zoo, and, once there, get the cakes up a hill, a quarter of a mile, in fifteen minutes. [We do see some Carlo's employees helping at that stage, tho.]

Cake 1: They plan a tree with snakes and birds, a rocky area for penguins, and a swampy section for alligators. They want the life-size penguin, which Megan [38, a paramedic from Pittsburgh] wants to do. Heather G. [31, from Knoxville, bakes cakes from her home. Has a young daughter and is currently pregnant again.] is more comfortable with stacked cakes, so this is a bit much for her, though she sculpts a bird. Too bad that toucan's nose was too heavy and it eventually made the face fall off! When Buddy checks in one them part-way through the day, he says that their cake is just a long sheet cake with a four-foot tree, which ain't a good thing. Melo [42, retired cop, from Worcester, Mass.] starts on a giant chimp... it's ambitious, but Marissa [24, has a culinary school background, from Pompton Lakes, NJ.] lets him go for it. Heather G makes a lizard, but it doesn't seem to resemble any specific reptile in particular. Marissa and Megan continuously have negative things to say to one another.

Cake 2: Chad [from Dallas, 43, HS basketball coach who also works at a bakery and competes in drag queen pageants] plans for a tree and stuff, but Ryan [from RI, 30, former electrician] doesn't like the idea and suggests something else. The slow process isn't working for Ryan, so after checking to find out the size of the base, he gets to that and lets the others battle out the plan. They start with the idea to make a turtle, an alligator, a snake, and a bird. Nadine [27 from NYC] starts on the alligator and Heather M. [32, exotic dancer in Vegas] goes for a bird. They hit some problems with the landscape, and Ryan doesn't like that Chad doesn't have a solid vision, and he's not a strong leader. Part-way through the day, Buddy thinks that the tree isn't that good and that the cake needs to be bigger, so Chad wants to add a big boulder on which to have an alligator. But, Ryan points out that alligators can't climb boulders. [that IS a good point...] Ryan was building a barn of sorts, which Heather M. doesn't like, and after some cursing, her trashes the barn. With four hours left, Ryan is upset with the design, and Nadine tries to smooth things over by talking about the rest of the plan. Heather M starts on a big bear, which takes way too much time... and the snout ended up being too heavy and pulls off the face in the end.

Helping Buddy judge is his sister Madeline and Brint Spencer, a curator of the zoo. About the bear cake, they say that the alligator was the most detailed, and the turtle was great, too. Overall, Buddy liked their animals better, even though the bear wasn't impressive, even before it fell apart. Heather M. takes responsibility for the bear. About the chimp cake, they say that the coloring was great, the bottom was very clean, and the monkey's body was misshapen. The chimp cake (pictured above) wins.

Credit: TLC/Walling McGarity
The chat with the four bakers goes about how you'd imagine it might, when the "leader" had "chosen" teammates he wouldn't want to work with. Ryan says that Chad didn't have a sense of direction and wasn't much of a leader, and Chad calls Ryan the team's weak link becayse he "gave up." Chad contradicts this when he says that everyone contributed, though. Heather M. didn't think Chad was a solid leader. Buddy asks Nadine who to send home, and she says Heather, because of the bear. It really didn't matter too much what she said though, as she's soon named safe because of her work on the animals. Ryan is also safe, because of the structure. This leaves Heather and Chad. Heather says that Chad should go home because a better leader could have helped her succeed. Rather than say when Heather should go home, Chad talks about how people didn't think he'd go far as a kid, but his grandmother told him he was talented. [enough with the sob stories, folks!] He cries and Buddy tells him that he has emotion. Heather says that she has had a lot of trauma and just because she doesn't cry a lot doesn't mean she isn't passionate. [blah blah blah] Heather says that she has more to gain from the experience than Chad. [um, maybe it's just me, but I would take that as the fact that Chad would be better anyway, as he doesn't need it as much.] Buddy says that they're both great and passionate, but sends heather M packing. this makes Chad cry even more. Many people in the lounge area are surprised that Heather M is sent home. [really? they'd have rather sent home Chad?] She is happy that she got as far as she did, since, when she arrived, she didn't really feel ready for that level of competition. [and this just confirms that she needed to be sent home. she wasn't ready, and you need to have a high skill level in order to make it as Buddy's intern!]

Next week: more wedding cakes!
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