by Amy K. Bredemeyer
Round Two of my picks! The first time, there were ten bakers left, and now there's only five, so it's getting trickier to separate who I'm rooting for from who I think may actually take the cake. Also, I'm not known to pick the true winners, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. I'm happy with all five of the bakers who made it this far, so that's going to make the remaining episodes much more interesting for me. I do like some of the competitors more than the others, and maybe my true favorite will become clear soon enough, but for now I think we're in for a treat with the intensity that will undoubtedly accompany the end of the season!
You can also weigh-in with your own comments below and/or take the poll to the right!
Ashley: Sometimes I wonder what goes through her mind when she comes up with her design ideas (like the monster on the sweet sixteen cake or the rats on the superhero cake). She has a TON of talent and whips up sculptures in no time, but I question her "natural, raw ability" when it comes to her short time in the field. Actually, as she has applied for this show all three seasons, part of me wonders if her whole drive to succeed in baking is based on getting on television. Her patience has been a concern, but not as much as her strange ideas. She has been doing great on the Baker's Challenges (except the cannolis), and I want to say that she has a good chance of getting past the next couple of rounds. I'm not backing her for the win, but I could see her competing for it.
Paul: The others tend to think he's rude, but I think he gets the job done. I don't know that he can take everyone remaining, but he's gonna come close. I'd like to see him be given leadership more, because he often talks about structure and design but they're never really his full responsibility. Also, his work shines but after he's been told how to fix it, like the tiramisu and the zebra stripes. Problematically, the cameras don't focus on him all that much when he's on a team, so you don't necessarily see all of the parts he did. There's a large part of me that doesn't want him to win, as he has had a couple of breaks here and there. But, he's a hard worker and I think he wants this pretty badly, so I'm not ruling him out.
Gretel-Ann: She's playing to win, I'll give her that. I didn't take issue with her trying to throw her team's cake, but I wasn't a fan of her just claiming she was MVB to win a prize. I think she's got talent but it doesn't always come through. I'm surprised that she considers piping her specialty, given a few of her early endeavors on the show. I know she won the piping Baker's Challenge, but I'm honestly not impressed with her piping. I don't know if she will rise to the challenge that some of the competitors are going to create, but she sure will try. I wonder if her struggles to work well with others will be her ultimate downfall? I don't think she deserves to win, but I kinda like watching her play.
Chad: I think that Chad has the most potential out of the remaining competitors. He has a wide range of skills (which doesn't always mean anything, remember Jasmine from Season 2?) and is good at trouble-shooting. However, he continues to have ideas that are bigger than either his ability or the time constraints, almost in the same way Peter did. His teammates sometimes find him to be annoying, but most of the time they praise him. He can make something out of nothing, but when something arises mid-cake (like the bride changing her mind), he sometimes stands there and waits for new directions. That said, he had no problem asking Paul to re-make the tiramisu replica, and he wasn't fully credited for doing so. Of course, Buddy also warned him about being in the bottom so often only for him to lose once more and get saved... Regardless of whether he wins, I think he's definitely fulfilled his goal of publicity!
Jen: First, I want to share that I was disappointed to find out that her bakery no longer does anything but special orders. A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting about a half-mile from her shoppe so I popped in afterward, planning to buy a half-dozen cupcakes or so. The employee who greeted me was surprised that I expected to be able to buy baked goods on-the-spot (many Yelp reviews suggested others have in the past), though she did explain that they used to have daily items but they just don't get enough foot traffic (it is off the main beat). So, though I had anticipated having extra knowledge to form my opinion of her at this point, I do not. She hasn't cried again, but I worry about her naivete as the competition continues. She's not one of the more vocal contestants, but she's seen as a major threat, so she better watch her back. I can't decide how hard I'm rooting for her, either... she competes fairly (a big plus in my book) and, though she had a few rough competitions in the beginning, she's been pretty steadily in the top recently.
Overall, Buddy's note that Jen, Chad, and Ashley were great competitors makes me wonder if that's the Top Three right there. The other bakers weighing in with their picks strongly favor Chad and Ashley, with Gretel-Ann and Jen behind them.