Giant, life-like replica cakes really "wow" people, and longtime Cake Boss audiences are well aware of that - MANY cakes Carlo's Bakery has filmed over the years have been replicas of animals, buildings, and even people. They're a lot of work, and I imagine those with less fondant experience really struggled in this round. I probably wouldn't have added the ants (and I'm surprised Buddy didn't comment on them), but they did bring a little something extra to the table. However, this is the exact reason why I'm surprised that Buddy declared the challenge a tie... I thought that the lack of proportion on the hot dog cake was a real detractor from the masterpiece! But, I'm not a famous, experienced baker, and maybe it came off more impressive in person than it did on the camera.
Blue: Al & Lia of St. Louise, MO, coworkers at a fondant-free cake shop, where he strictly decorates, and she decorates and bakes. [I like the job they do.]
Maroon: Kaiulani & Roxanne of Salt Lake City are niece & aunt perfectionists. Kai and her two kids are currently homeless. Other bakers are referring to them as the Kakedashians. [they're boring. I'm ready to send them home.]
Black: Manny & Al of Woolwich, NJ, have been working together four years. Al has a family bakery. [meh.]
Brown: Jose and Aimee of Chula Vista, CA are coworkers. [I'm over these guys.]
Tan: Don & Meredith, of Long Island, are coworkers, with him designing and her baking. She also was his kids' nanny. [maybe there's potential there.]
Purple: Bethany & Jennifer of Tomball, TX, who have known eachother for almost 20 years. [they're not interesting enough.]
Red: David & Elaine of Kissimmee, FL are husband and wife. She's full-time and would love a storefront. He's an amateur. [I refuse to get past the fact that he has no experience.]
Cake Boss: Next Great Baker "Buddy's Winter BBQ" (S04E04): Damian Mandola (co-founder of Carraba's) has a mini-challenge for the teams: try a spin on the Tuscan pound cake from the restaurant's summer grilling menu, and the winner will get their item on the menu! [I loved that Damian used the word "agreeance" instead of "agreement." I did that once in grad school and didn't live it down for quite a while!] Teams only have 15 minutes, can only use ingredients the restaurant already stocks, and the cake must be grilled.
Don & Meredith do a Summer Napoleon Pound Cake with pastry cream, grilled pineapple, browned coconut, and brown sugar.
Manny & Al do a Berry Pound Cake with Ricotta Whipped Cream, using reduced strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries with some balsamic.
Jose & Aimee go with a Grilled Pound Cake with strawberry bruschetta, but don't start looking for the balsamic in time. Despite the marscapone inside, it's little dry.
Bethany & Jennifer do a Peach Raspberry Rum Pound Cake. Even with grilled peaches, it's dry... plus the raspberry seeds are a turn-off. [yeah, I don't eat raspberry anything because the seeds bother me!]
Al & Lia have Pineapple Upside-Down Pound Cake with chopped pineapples, cherries, a caramelized glaze, and walnuts. [you had me until the walnuts!]
Kai & Rox have Tropical Summer Pound Cake, with rum-pineapple-honey reduction sauce, but they left the skin on the pineapple.
David & Elaine do River of Pineapple Pound Cake with pineapple, coconut, and strawberry. [and they almost didn't get the pineapple - they had to use what was left of Don & Meredith's!] They win, though!
The Cake Challenge has Buddy asking for a four-foot-across hamburger cake, and a six-foot-long hotdog cake. David & Elaine will get to choose which team they get to join after Buddy assigns the others. Teams get 7 hours to create, then they must deliver them to a Valastro family BBQ. About halfway through the challenge, David & Elaine are offered immunity to switch teams, but they can't qualify for MVP that way. They take the option anyway. [I probably would in their position, too.]
Don & Meredith, Al & Lia, Al & Manny, David & Elaine at the beginning. They get the hot dog and work hard on proportions and shape, and struggle to cover the hotdog with fondant. [That's a huge piece of fondant! hoe did they even roll it out long enough??] The relish in particular is very realistic, but the onions look really tiny in comparison.
Kai & Rox, Jose & Aimee, Bethany & Jennifer, David & Elaine at the end. They pick the hamburger and decide to do buttercream and airbrushing on the bun instead of fondant. Jose makes ants for BBQ decoration.
Buddy decides that the cakes tie, so nobody goes home. [dang.] He asks each person who should be MVP... Al & Lia suggest Don & Meredith, Al & Manny think the other Al, Don thinks Jose, Jose & Aimee pick Kai, Bethany & Jennifer go for Jose, Kai & Rox go Jose, and David & Elaine back Jose as well. Jose wins $5,000 from Carraba's and will get to eat there for free for a year.