Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Next Great Baker: Inside Scoop on Impressions

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

A new episode on New Year's Eve? Not the greatest idea ever. Years ago, I welcomed a new episode on Thanksgiving, but that's a holiday where the main event is over by 3pm or so. Christmas is similar. Easter, too. But New Year's Eve doesn't really start until dinner and goes straight up until you head to bed, so I find it problematic to have a series air a new episode during the party-hearty part of a a holiday.

Rant aside, this episode wasn't part of the canonical competition, so if you missed it, you didn't miss too much. Nobody was eliminated and there wasn't an actual competition. Instead, it was a "behind-the-scenes" look at what's happened so far, plus a little bit of predicting the strongest competitors. Also, the internet has some rumors flying that Garrett will not be allowed to continue competing and that Peter will be the next to go. The Garrett thing makes sense (I mean, what would you do with a contestant who missed an entire round of competition?), but I haven't really seen much on the show that causes me to think Peter will be packing his bags, so I think that's mainly speculation. Now, onward we march...
Cake Boss: Next Great Baker "New Year's Eve, Hoboken Style" (S03E05): When the contestants first arrived in Hoboken (all chosen for different skill sets, by the way), they took a tour of the kitchen at Carlo's. Many of the contestants are surprised with how big and how great the organization was. Then, it's on to the workshop where they learn some basics, because they filmed the first episode the very next day! [wow. I guess I figured there would be more than one day of "orientation."] Melissa talks about the pressure of working around others, and Ashley and Chad talk about how they began pushing one another after their first Baker's Challenge. [I know that bakers keep early hours but the 4:45am wake-up calls were a little intense!]

Then, we see some of the videos that hopefuls sent to Buddy, plus learn about what drove some of the contestants to apply. For instance, Gretel-Ann's business has been open for two years and she has nine employees and she needs more success. Chad applied for the publicity and the cash prize. Ashley has auditioned every time! [while these were interesting, I was shocked that Peter had never seen an episode before he was cast!] After Buddy watches all of the videos, 50 hopefuls come to audition in person, where they frost a cake, do buttercream roses and droplines, etc. [Chris having only learned to do roses the day before was a little shocking. Marco heckling him as he auditioned was funny. I wonder how many people voted for Chris from those thousand flyers he passed out?]

Some never-before-seen footage shows Ashley and Paul at-odds, everyone's struggles with the A Christmas Story cakes, and Jess talks about how difficult Gretel-Ann is to work with. [hmmmm.] Melissa mentions that Paul weasels his way through and rubs people the wrong way. Jen talks about how James eliminating himself likely saved her from going home, but we also see how she struggled in her audition because she wasn't using her own tools. [yeah, I can relate to that. I just recently baked cupcakes in a friend's kitchen and struggled, despite having my own piping bags and tips.] Letty and Pete think that Chad is the "teacher's pet," but he thinks that he's just showing respect by calling Buddy, "Chef." Paul and Gretel-Ann, however, think Ashley is more of the teacher's pet The consensus is that Peter is the "class clown," and Garrett is the most liked. [seeing the compilation of the pressures that might have led to his anxiety attack was kinda odd.] Most of the group feels that Garrett shouldn't be allowed to return, but Letty sticks up for illness.

Now, the most interesting part of the episode: what everyone is thinking about everyone else...
James was impressed with Peter's details.
Chris thinks Ashley is very talented.
Ashley thinks that Jen and Gretel-Ann are the piping queens.
Gretel-Ann considers Jen to be a threat because she can "decorate one hell of a cake."
Ashley thinks Chris is "all-around good" and his progression is most impressive to Buddy (who thinks Jen does the cleanest work out of everyone in decorating, but her baking skills aren't top-notch. That honor belongs to Chad, though Ashley is also great.)
Paul thinks he, Chad, and Ashley will be in the top three.
James says Chad, Ashley, Jen will make it to the end.
Peter says Jen, Chad, Paul, Chris are the best competitors.
Chad says Gretel-Ann and Ashley are his biggest threats.
Ashley thinks Chad is the biggest threat.
Paul is most worried about Chad, because he's more knowledgeable.
Melissa would bet on Ashley.
[Letty and Jen didn't weigh-in on who's in the top?]
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Also, we ran another round of our "Who's Going Home Next?" poll, with Letty again taking the lead. Peter, Ashley, Chris, and Garrett all received one vote each. We'll take the week off from predictions and put up a new poll after the next episode airs!
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