Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker: Congratulations, Marissa!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I'm actually not going to say much here, since I think that a) plenty happened and we should just get to it, and b) I did quite a bit of in-recap remarking anyway. Still, a couple of general notes. First, the "Pre-Show" was clearly shot after the finale... Wes is AT the finale presentation but is talked about having already passed away at the pre-show. So, everyone there already knew that Marissa was the winner. [which, by the way, I realize is a spoiler. That's part of the reason we didn't post late last night - people who wanted to be able to watch the finale for themselves should have twelve hours to do so, LoL.] I thought that this was odd, but I'm not going to put up a fight. Also, regarding the pre-show... sometimes, seeing people watch tapes of themselves is interesting. In this case, I was not thrilled with how this worked... the reactions of the competitors to their own experiences were great at times, but there was a whole lot of boring going on with their reactions otherwise. With the actual finale, I was torn over who I thought would win... I had a feeling that Ryan was going to lose early on, just because of his recipe problems. Listening to their ideas, I thought that Nadine had something really unique going... but her final product just ended up being so underwhelming, I was a bit sad for her. Anyway, let's dive in...

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker "Finale Pre-Show" (Special): Clinton Kelly is with Buddy, and all of this season's contestants are there to talk about the entire experience. Note, Wesley and Megan are absent - Wesley has already died and Megan appears via satellite for just a couple of minutes. We learn about everyone's first impressions about the others, specifically who they thought was the toughest competition - Jasmine, Chad, and Ryan top the list. [I favored Jasmine quite a bit in the beginning. I thought that she and Nadine were gonna go far.] We relive some of the Baking Challenges - like what desserts were really bad. Buddy says that his favorite was the one with the fifty-pound bags, since he loved watching the girls fight to the finish with the running with flour and sugar. Another stand-out moment in this section was Chad crying upon seeing some clips of himself, and he explains that he's really emotional in general. [really? did anyone not pick up on that by now? Also, I love that they talked about how Heather G. didn't know what a CD player looked like.] Marissa and Minerva get into an argument yet again, which was great. Then, Buddy and his wife both state that they believe Minerva "faked sick" that one time. Lisa also brings up the fact that Minerva left so disrespectfully. [thank you!!] Buddy reiterates that Wesley, Tony, and Jasmine all got ousted prematurely because of Minerva. Jasmine STILL believes that her cake was better than Wesley's. [I liked that she's still standing up for her cake, but it was funny nonetheless.] Tony is asked why he didn't fight back - and he says that he was at fault. He has, however, brought a life-size cake of Buddy to show that he can do life-size cakes. [that was cool.]

Things wind down a bit and we meet Heather G's baby, who is 29 days old already. They take a moment in memory of Wes, which brings tears to quite a few pairs of eyes. Trying to move onto a more positive note, Ryan says that the best, defining moment for him was even making it onto the show. Buddy then does some talking, mentioning how everyone in the room has talent, but what impressed him the most about the final three were Nadine's creativity, talent, and the ability to maintain her cool, Ryan's skills for only being in the business for two years, and how Marissa threw up and then came back to win triathlon. [interesting choices, Buddy. I think the comment about Ryan was a bit of a cop-out, though.]

We end with each of the already-eliminated contestants sharing their picks for who will win the finale - Heather M and Heather G pick Nadine. Chad, Melo, Sara, and Jasmine pick Marissa. Tony and Minerva pick Ryan. [what, they couldn't have had Megan write-in her choice or something?] 

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker "...And the Winner Is?" (S02E10): We hear from the final three contestants... Marissa thinks that Nadine is a contender and that Ryan is not. Ryan thinks that he's got it in the bag, and that he's better than Marissa. As per her usual, Nadine doesn't really talk about the others. [I didn't mind this for the longest time, but it has finally gotten to me and I'm sick of it.]

Baker's Challenge - Crack as many eggs as you can in one minute. There are 90 possible eggs. Marissa is ready. Ryan is nervous. Buddy demonstrates thirty eggs for the trio, so that they can see his methodology. Marissa is excited about the challenge, and Ryan is nervous. [I'm not sure why there are 90 possible eggs... what's the record for most eggs cracked in one minute??] Watching their techniques, Marissa is looking to have an early lead since Ryan and Nadine are both a little slow. Ryan realizes he isn't great at this, and ends up with only 26. Nadine tries two at a time, but when the clock is up, she only has 28. Marissa comes in first with a whopping 35! [Nadine wasn't a "close" second... that wording could have been different...]

Then, Buddy takes the group to the baking room, telling them that they're going to run the bakery for a day. [strikingly similar to what happened at the end of the first season, but less pastries and no theme cake.] Each contestant needs to make a variety of desserts to fill the showcases, then sell them. They get 8 hours to fill the cases with at least 400 cookies, 20 pies, 20 cakes, and 100 pastries. Cakes are sold for ten tickets, pies for five, pastries for three, and cookies for two. In one hour, the baker with the most tickets wins, and the baker with the least goes home.

Ryan is worried since his wife is the baker, he's the decorator. [and, that's a legitimate thing to worry about here!] Marissa picks her team first, since she won the Baker's Challenge. She chooses SisterLisa as her salesperson, Joey as her baker, and Hermon as her helper. She's nervous about working with them since they all have been working together for a while and have more experience than she does. [great that she's thinking about this.] Nadine picks Grace, Danny, and Cousin Jay. Ryan gets the leftovers: Madeline, Cousin Anthony, and Anthony the helper. [I'm not very familiar with either of these helpers... anyone recognize them?] Ryan is worried that Cousin Anthony doesn't have as much experience as the other bakers. [and, combined with Ryan's novice baking abilities, this could spell trouble...]

Nadine - She's planning to make coconut macaroons, chocolate-almond biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, lemon raspberry cake, chocolate mousse cake, pumpkin and turtle pies, and cream puffs. [why are cream puffs the go-to pastry for everyone? I mean, I get that they're pretty easy, but there are so many other pastries that are ten times as delicious!] Grace's inexperience baking is definitely a bit of an issue for the team, but they overall move along okay. [wow... measuring eggs in quarts?? geez.] When Buddy and Mary coem to do taste-tests, they say that the macaroons are good, the biscotti is too salty, the chocolate chip cookies are good, and the chocolate mousse was good. Later that morning, they run out of whipped cream shortly before time is up. As the selling winds down, they have a pan of cookies and cream puffs left. Nadine sells the most, earning 1,467 tickets. 

Marissa - She plans to make sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, "everything but the kitchen sink" cookies, red velvet cake, chocolate-peanut butter cake, flourless chocolate cake, pumpkin and pecan pies, coconut-blueberry tarts, and cream puffs. [there's a lot of chocolate options in there, but things like blueberry and pumpkin kinda help.] SisterLisa can bake, so that helps the team, but the cakes aren't rising correctly for some reason. The bigger problem? The cream puffs aren't puffing up, but that turns out to be because they weren't in a rack oven. Re-doing them solves the problem though. The Buddy-Mary taste-test reveals that the chocolate chip cookie is okay, the peanut butter icing is too peanut buttery, the red velvet isn't bad, and the flourless chocolate is good. Marissa ends up with the most at the end of the baking period.... this does make her have a lot left over after the selling period, though. She earns 1,428 tickets at the end, a difference of only 39 tickets from Nadine! [wow, that's pretty close.]

Ryan - He plans to make sugar cookies (in the shapes of footballs and balloons), chocolate chip cookies, cranberry biscotti, chocolate-peanut butter mint pie, chocolate mousse pie, vanilla cake, and chocolate cake. [we don't really hear mention of what his pastry is, and I didn't see anything in the showcase - anyone catch what it might have been?] Between Madeline not have a lot of baking experience and constant butting-of-heads with Anthony, Ryan is off to a slow start. On the first round of chocolate chip cookies, something goes wrong with when he added the sugar or something, so Ryan tells him to do it over again. Unfortunately, Anthony the Helper screws things up next, using Nadine's team's cookie dough instead! [that whole situation was a bit fishy... what was the dough doing on the wrong side of the room anyway?] Then, they have a problem with the buttercream recipe... the butter didn't cream or something, and Ryan tells Anthony that it must have been too cold. [I hate working with butter sometimes, I get impatient and microwave it, LoL.] Anthony claims that the recipe must have been wrong, and Ryan begins to think that he knows more than Anthony.
Credit: TLC/
Walling McGarity
They make up, luckily Anthony takes the first step.  The taste-test reveals that Ryan's chocolate chip cookies are so flat they're not worth eating or selling, the vanilla cake is gritty and sucks (which Ryan doesn't believe), and the biscotti is good. [well, baking really does seem to be Ryan's downfall...] When time runs out, he's worried that he has much less than either of the others, and ends up running out of things to sell with two minutes left in the competition. [well, that's a sure sign that you didn't bake enough!] He thinks this is a good sign, though, until he learns that he only earned 881 tickets, so he's sent home. His final words are that Buddy wouldn't want to work with the "true Marissa." [well that's a pretty interesting comment. She's had her rough moments, she's said some rude/mean things, but I don't think she'd be too bad to work with.]

Elimination Challenge: At 2:30 in the morning, Marissa is happy that Nadine is her final competitor, as she'd be happy if Nadine beat her. Buddy says that the challenge is to make a cake that brings out a personalized American Dream. The cake needs to be 4 feet tall, and they have ten hours to do it. They are able to pick their team from some of the Carlo's staff, and they alternate, starting with Nadine, since she earned more tickets. Nadine starts with Mauro, then Marissa picks Ralph. [solid starts!] Nadine picks Juan and Marissa picks Frankie. [I wonder if Nadine went with Juan purely to ensure that she'd get a sculptor and that Marissa wouldn't take two of them. Otherwise, what's the point in picking the remaining sculptor when you could have first crack at the girls?] Nadine picks Liz, Marissa picks Sunshine, Nadine picks Rachel, and Marissa gets Kerry. [I didn't really recognize Kerry. anyone else?] The judging ends up taking place in a large auditorium, where the girls' family and friends are gathered, plus the other contestants (including Wesley). The judges are Buddy, Mary, and Randy Renoli (a fashion director from Say Yes to the Dress).

Nadine - When she was a kid, she loved baking in a small town in Minnesota. She moved to NYC for the opportunity. So, she decides to do her cake as clouds to show her dreams, with Minnesota on the first cloud, then a globe and suitcase, culinary stuff, New York, and Carlo's Bakery at the top. The trouble is, the clouds are difficult to form, and neither Nadine nor Mauro like how they're going, but neither know how to fix it. Mauro comes up with an idea, but it's just buttercream on a board. Nadine is too tired to come up with much else... but then he suggests that they use the cereal treats as the clouds, which helps. [helps as in gives it form. There's still very little "substance" there. I don't think that her cake looks that great - there's good detail, but the cake itself isn't that spectacular.] Randy says that Nadine's cake has a clear story. [but he says the same thing about Marissa's...] Mary says that the tiers are nice, but overall it lacks color - Randy agrees. [I hadn't noticed, but now that I look at it, it makes sense.] They also say that the poles should be more finished somehow. [good point.] Buddy says that Nadine's vision was ambitious, and asks her to make one last plea as to why she should win - she says that she started baking when she was 13, it brings her happiness, and that she left her family to follow a dream. She begins crying when she talks about her mother's support. [her mom crying in the audience was a nice touch.]

Marissa - She's from Jersey, which will be the foundation for her cake. She wants to add school on there, since she almost didn't graduate HS, didn't get into any 4-year-schools, and had to find something she was good at. [what an interesting addition... maybe she should have mentioned this fact earlier in the season.] Her family is her rock, so that will also be on the cake. She's struggling because she's exhausted, so she tells the team to tell her the truth on her idea and whatnot. Sunshine makes the rock tier. [there's way more "rock" than I was expecting from her original description.] Frankie makes the base and the New Jersey. [I was a little sad that the state's outline became so covered up and difficult to see, unless you were standing above it I guess.] The statue of liberty, the boat, and the Marissa character are Ralph's responsibilities. Ralph also adds George Washington. [I really thought that there was going to be more discussion or critique about this one, but I guess it fit enough that nobody wanted to fight about it?] Marissa is worried that the rest of her team is working as hard as they need to, since they don't have as much on the line. [on one hand, that makes a lot of sense. With the previous episodes, everyone had something to lose. on the other hand, these folks are professionals, so it's not like they want to goof off...] She loves her cake in the end and has no regrets. She does have one issue come up though...when they load the cake into the truck, Frankie badly hurts his finger checking the refrigeration unit. They call an ambulance and we see the injured (though not severed) finger. Frankie is in wonderful spirits about the whole thing, miraculously. [though I'm surprised nothing is brought up later at the judging... not that I would know what I wanted to hear, LoL.] Mary says that Marissa's cake has a nice bottom, but there's too much rock. [agreed.] Randy says that the story is clear at first glance. Buddy adds that, overall, she did a good job. Marissa says that she should win because she knows she can do this, she wants it, and she's happy that she's good at something. She cries and drops to the floor when Buddy announces that she won. [yay. I would have been happy for either girl, but she really looked thrilled to win.]

And, yes, Buddy mentioned that a third season is likely, so head on over to tlc.com if you think you have what it takes!
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email This Pin This

No comments: