Marissa Recaps the Final Moments Before Her Big Win


Marissa-lopez-250x200What does it feel like to win the title of Next Great Baker? Marissa gives us the inside scoop!

TLC: What was your reaction to winning?
Marissa: I am ecstatic! You never think anything this big can happen to you! I was just a big ball of emotions! I wanted to cry, laugh, throw up! It still hasn't hit me.

TLC: Who would you say was your best NGB ally?
Marissa: Nadine without a doubt. I truly loved everyone on the show. OK, MOSTLY everyone, but Nadine became one of my good friends from day one! We still talk today!

TLC: What are your plans now?
Marissa: I thought I had everything all planned out the night that I won. I was going to run home, find a bakery, open it up and go from there. You realize there is so much more behind all of it that you need to come back down to reality. I realize that I have so much more to learn and figure out before I jump into that big step in life. Right now I am going to focus on learning as much as I possibly can from Buddy and his team, and I hope that it all works out with me working there. Then I will go from there. I will never change my plans, though. There will one day be a Delicious Treats in New Jersey.

TLC: What were your impressions of Buddy?
Marissa: At first I was scared to death of him. Here is the Cake Boss, getting ready to judge everything you do! But you come to realize that he is just this genuine person. Everything he says to us on and off camera comes from a better place. He wanted the best from us, and he pushed us with tough love. And I owe him a lot for teaching me the rights and wrong in cake decorating and baking.

TLC: Would you have done anything differently during the final challenge?
Marissa: The ONLY thing I would have changed in the final challenge was telling Frankie that we needed to push the cake back in the box truck. Ughh! Everything else, is what it is. I never want to go back and change anything. Everything happens for a reason!

TLC: Any last words for your fans?
Marissa: I want to just thank everyone who has supported me and everything I have done this season.  It's hard for people to understand where I come from with how I deal with stress and competition. But there are many who see that it's all out of determination and I just want to the best. I cannot thank you all enough for the wonderful comments and emails. It's just another step to me learning how to stop doubting myself with everything I do, and I thank you for being such a big part of a huge life change for me!

For even more from Marissa, check out this interview from That's So Jenn!

Baking Dreams Into Reality


03-next-great-baker-210So, it's finale time, and this is always a special spot for me in competition because as many of you know, I made it to the finale of Season 1. The adrenaline, gratitude and raw excitement are feelings that words cannot describe. The battle these contestants have endured over the past two months is grueling and emotionally and physically draining. Congratulations, Nadine, Ryan and Marissa for a great fight, some great cakes and, most importantly, congrats on the skills and life lessons that you will be walking away with. Now, on to the show!!!

The finale starts off with your average Baker’s Challenge. This week, each contestant is given 90 eggs.  Buddy asks them to crack as many as they can in one minute. Marissa wins this challenge with Nadine in a close second. Ryan is the loser in this challenge. Marissa will receive an advantage for winning.

As we move on to the second phase of the finale, Buddy tells the contestants that they are going to have to walk in his shoes and run Carlo’s Bakery for a day. This means bake a TON of desserts ranging from cookies and pies to cake and pastries. UGH, this sounds awfully familiar. The contestants are allowed to use some of the family and staff to assist them with this challenge. 

Now, to pay homage to Season 1, I need to stop for a minute…where's the custom cake? Do you mean all they have to focus on for 8 hours is baking? No custom cake? No specialty client? Isn't that what this is all about? Wow, this will flow a lot better than last season, I can tell already. As the winner, Marissa is allowed to pick her team first, Nadine next, and Ryan is given what is left. 

Marissa picks sister Lisa, Joey as her baker and Herman as her helper. Nadine picks Grace as her sister, Danny as her baker and Cousin Jay as her helper. Ryan is left with Maddalena, Cousin Anthony and Anthony Pizza. Ryan is nervous about his team, and quite frankly, so am I. Aside from Maddalena (whom I have a soft spot for), his team is filled with rookies while the girls both are outfitted with all-stars. 

With these teams, the contestants have to fill up the cases at the bakery and sell, sell, sell for one hour to demanding customers who are on line waiting for a piece of finale goodness. I am literally having flashbacks and want to vomit for each of them. Two hundred cookies, 20 pies, 20 cakes and 100 pastries with eight hours to make it all and one hour to sell it! Sounds like a tall order; however, without having to make a specialty cake, this should be a breeze for these bakers. 

Marissa out of the gate has her heart set on making more than what is asked of her. Good decision. I wish I had done the same last season, this will definitely help her. Nadine as always is focused, calm and cheerful. I never worry about Nadine. Ryan has me worried. Anthony seems to be struggling with Ryan’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Hmmm… I find it hard to believe that Cousin Anthony doesn’t know to cream the sugar with the butter on a cookie recipe, and if he doesn’t, then Buddy, you have serious problems. Not to mention, Anthony is being really difficult and kind of acting like a child. Someone needs to dump some flour on his head. 

The ovens are hot, these teams are ready, and the baking has begun. Buddy walks in with his sister Mary and the taste tests begin. Marissa’s up first and overall they are pleased with the taste of her desserts -- a few minor changes, but nothing damaging. Next up is Ryan, and here’s where the trouble is. Cousin Anthony throws his own leader under the bus, and it seems like HE wants to be the star of the show. Buddy and Mary are not impressed by the taste of Ryan’s desserts, and he’s aggravated by the lack of teamwork. Aside from a clearly awful biscotti, Nadine’s tasting goes well. As the baking portion of the challenge is over, it appears that the girls have a lot more product to put in the showcase than Ryan does. This can prove to be a detriment to Ryan on the selling floor.

There is a line down the street at Carlo’s Bakery, and these customers are hungry. They will be working with tickets instead of actual money, and each bakery product will be valued at a certain number of tickets. The contestant who sells the most tickets will win; the person who sells the least will be sent to the box truck. 

Grace is working her selling magic for team Nadine, and Marissa’s loud mouth is finally coming in handy for her on the selling floor. I think Ryan is being overpowered in this challenge. He runs out of product before the hour is up, and this is not a good sign for our boy from Rhode Island.

This part of the challenge has ended, and it’s time to tally the tickets. Now for those of you who did not watch last season, this was when I was sent home. Me, the loudmouth from Long Island who can sell ice to an Eskimo did not sell enough tickets, so you never know…let’s see how it turns out for these contestants. 

After the tickets were tallied, the winner, by a mere 39 tickets, is Nadine! Personally I am thrilled. I have watched Nadine evolve in this competition, and I am psyched for her. She will receive an advantage in the final challenge. Unfortunately for my boy Ryan, he did not sell enough tickets and was sent to the box truck. 

I’m going to be honest, I have been “team Ryan” for most of this season. I am not only sad to see him go home, I am sad to see him go the exact same way and at the exact same time that I did in my finale episode. I know I shouldn’t say this, but I’m going to because it’s my last blog for the season. I think when people watch this episode again, they will see that Cousin Anthony was hand-holding Ryan into that Box Truck…just sayin’.

Ryan, you had a great season! Congratulations on making it this far in the competition. It’s been inspiring especially because this is not what you do in your daily life. You showed passion, hard work and focus. I hope this experience brings you great success for you and your family.

Marissa and Nadine are left to fight the final fight. It’s 2:30 in the morning, and girls, I KNOW how tired you are!!! The final challenge is to make an amazing specialty cake representing what the American Dream means to them. 

Buddy brings in his dream team of decorators and sculptors to assist the ladies. As the winner of the previous challenge, Nadine gets first choice. Team Nadine is Mauro, Juan, Liz and Rachel. Team Marissa is Frankie, Ralph, Sunshine and Kerri. These girls have to tell a story in cake, make it personal, patriotic and 4 feet tall in 10 hours. 

The designs the teams come up with are very different. Nadine is deciding on a more whimsical theme with different platforms to represent different stages of her life and education. Marissa’s cake is more emotional and demonstrates her struggles and triumphs. 

The pressure is on, and these two are feeling it. No sleep, emotions flowing, I can only imagine how hard it is to stay focused. Fortunately, they are getting a lot of input from their teammates, who can do these cakes in their sleep. I am really worried about how Nadine’s cake is coming together. Although I am getting it conceptually, I am losing something in the execution. I am not seeing enough color and excitement. I hope she can pull it together. Marissa’s cake is looking stronger. The story she is trying to tell is obvious, and although she is playing it safe by doing a stacked traditional cake design, it may prove to be beneficial to her. 

Time's up, and it's off to final judging. Buddy has filled a theater with Cake Boss fans, the rest of the cast from this season and the finalists’ family and friends. This is quite the event. Buddy has his sister Mary alongside him to judge, as well as Randy Fenoli from Say Yes to the Dress

When the finalists are brought on stage, their cakes are presented. The contestants are asked to tell Buddy why they should be the Next Great Baker. Nadine is emotional and talks about leaving Minnesota and her family to follow her dream in cake to New York. Marissa equally as emotional and tells her story of her struggle in school and never feeling good enough until finally finding something she was good at in the culinary world.  

I can see how this could go in either favor of these ladies. If we examine Nadine as a competitor throughout this season, she was consistent, grounded, professional and creative, but her final cake lacked color and grand presence. Marissa had a rocky season, in my opinion.  Although she proved she can bake, she was argumentive, catty and lacked focus -- yet her final cake shows passion, tells an emotional story and is impressive.

So who takes it all?  Who is the Next Great Baker????

Marissa Lopez -- congratulations. There was no question that you didn’t have the desire or the passion to win this competition. I hope that the job at Carlo’s Bakery will teach you to be proud of what you can do. If you are confident, your clients will have confidence in you. One piece of advice, from one strong personality to another, believe in yourself and what you do. Worry less about those around you, what they do and what they think of you. Use your eyes and ears more than your mouth. You won the opportunity to learn from some of the best: Buddy, Mauro, Joey and the rest of the famiglia. Best wishes, see you in somewhere in the tri-state!

Nadine, Nadine, Nadine…congratulations on a successful season! The world has grand plans for you, I’m sure of it. You showed creativity and poise this season; I can take a few lessons from you on how to keep my cool, that’s for sure. I don’t see you working at Carlo’s, anyway. I see you opening a cute place that plays happy music and showcases yummy sweets and pretty cakes. Best of luck to you and your future.

A final message to Ryan, Nadine, and Marissa…win or lose -- you three made it to the finale of a show watched by millions around the world. You were 3 of 13 people chosen out of tens of thousands. Be proud of yourselves and what you’ve accomplished. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It only gets better from here, I promise you that. Heads high, be proud of what you’ve endured and produced. Be proud of what you’ve learned and how much you’ve grown as decorators and bakers. Best of luck to you all in wherever this crazy cake ride takes you. I’m local to basically all of you -- don’t ever hesitate to pop in! We can eat some cake and laugh about all the behind-the-scenes madness and fun from Carlo’s Bakery.

America, thanks for listening to my rants, opinions, commentary and babble! This was fun! Thank you TLC for giving me the opportunity to recap these episodes and relive the experience from the other side. 


It's Not Just About Cakes for Chad


Chad-fitzgerald-250x200He went home in the box truck Monday night, but Chad isn't bitter about his experience on Next Great Baker!

TLC: What was your reaction to the elimination?
Chad: Well, I'd lie if I said I was ready or happy, but I knew it was gonna happen. I was definitely upset. It's a game. Everyone goes home at one time except for one. I wanted to be that one, but with being letdown for going home comes a great amount of pride and strength. I wanted to win.

TLC: Who would you say was your best NGB ally?
Chad: Ally is a very important word. I would say Megan. I felt like and still feel like Marissa is my little sister. Well, if I had one, I would want her!

TLC: What are your plans now?
Chad: I resigned teaching high school, but in January I reapplied and was accepted back into the same class and school I left. SO HAPPY!! We have three shops (one in Dallas and two in Duncanville), and we just plan to grow and see what happens. The next two years will be very important to decide the direction we want to go.

TLC: What were your impressions of Buddy?
Chad: Buddy is a great guy. Definitely a perfectionist. He wants the best for us and continually challenged us. Buddy is a stand-up guy; I respect him because I believe that he had our best interests at heart 100 percent of the time.

TLC: Would you have done anything differently during the elimination challenge?
Chad: I think I did the best I could with the situation.

TLC: Any last words for your fans?
Chad: I want everyone to know how much I appreciate them...all of them. I hope that at time of adversity, everyone learns to stay true to yourself. I'm not a crybaby, but I am very emotional. I don't throw people under the bus; you saw small clips of conversations.
    I live my life very intense. I love to challenge myself and that's what makes us all better as individuals. Kind words go a long way. Smiles are so inviting. Helping others can help them win, but in the process, you win, too.
    Marissa told me one day, "Chad, you are the realest person I have ever met!" I think that is such a compliment. Be real. Be true and be yourself. This adventure is a complete blessing. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to participate in this experience. I can't begin to explain my feelings and the depth of my gratitude.
    It's not just about cakes. Life is sweet, too!

Turnpikes and Tiaras

Next-great-baker-209-3It's the Final Four Baby!! This week's baker's challenge is to make a modeling chocolate rose. Buddy claims it is the hardest baker's challenge yet -- you have got to be kidding me. Last week's challenge with the 50-pound bags of sugar was much harder than this…come ON! 

Anyway, moving on, the winner gets a Copy Confection edible printer! That’s, like, an $1800.00 value, for a modeling chocolate rose?! This late in the competition?! After watching Buddy demonstrate the rose technique, the contestants have 15 minutes to complete this challenge. Chad and Nadine are the bottom two, but Nadine's was the deemed the worst. Marissa and Ryan are Buddy's top two, and the overall winner is Ryan. In interview, Marissa admits she does not want to lose to Ryan, so her ego must be a little crushed.

In this week's elimination challenge, there are no teams. The contestants are making a cake for Alyssa Campanella, Miss USA (who was also Miss Teen NJ) to celebrate her and the things she loves. (See an exclusive video of Miss USA on the NGB set right here!)

After Buddy demonstrated how to interview a client, we learn Alyssa is a girly-girl who loves to cook and travel. Let’s see how they do.

Chad is going UP -- 6 tiers, pink, bling, feathers and ruffles. Ryan is planning more of a story board of Alyssa's life with fashion, food and luggage. He is also going extremely large scale; can he do this solo?  Nadine is keeping her focus on travel and Miss USA. I don't know Marissa's plan, and at this point, neither does she. My two cents on Marissa is that if she spent as much time focusing on her own talent as she does talking trash about the other contestants, she’d be way ahead of the game, but right now she is flustered. She needs to seek approval on her design, so asks Chad for his advice and finally she’s off and running. You have talent, Marissa, or you wouldn’t be there. Now, pull it together and FOCUS ON YOU, you're running out of time!!

Chad's cake is very pink and very pageant, and Buddy specifically said NOT to make a pageant cake!  Marissa and Ryan are on the same page with their design, so we'll see who can pull it off better. It seems like these two are always neck and neck with each other. 

Buddy enters the kitchen and stops the clock with a curveball. He tells the contestants that instead of having four hours left, he’s leaving them with TWO hours. He explains that sometimes this is how it goes in the cake biz: a client wants what they want, when they want it. There is so much more that needs to be done -- this is some twist, but hey, that's the way it goes when you're in the business of pleasing clients. The good news is, he brought in help!! Jasmine, Wes, Heather M and Melo are back to assist!! Nice to see you guys!!! Especially Jasmine; it's been too long Jazz!! America misses you! 

Melo gets paired up with Ryan, Jasmine with Marissa, Nadine with Heather, and Wes with Chad.  This is the time for the contestants to really LEAD their team. 

Chad's cake is looking more like my super-duper-sweet-16/I-won-the-lottery-so-drip-me-in-diamonds cake. Marissa's is coming together really well. She played up the New Jersey angle, which comes easy to her because she's a Jersey girl also. Nadine's cake is looking a little small compared to the others, and Ryan's cake so far is lacking detail. I think he went too ambitious and now is struggling to recover. 

So before we go into judging, I have to admit, compared to our pre-finale individual challenge in Season 1, these cakes are 1,000 times better!

Buddy's sister Grace accompanies Buddy and Alyssa at judging. They were impressed with Marissa's cake. They commended her for telling a story and loved the Jersey tier. Nadine's cake was received well, aside from the size; the judges liked the detail and the storytelling. The judges criticized Chad's cake.  Grace says she's seen it before, and it's a wedding cake or a sweet 16 cake. The overall consensus was that Chad missed the mark on this challenge. The judges thought Ryan’s cake lacked detail and seemed scattered. Buddy thought it was boring and lackluster and was disappointed with his vision. 

The top two cakes this week are Marissa and Nadine! To the finale you go, ladies!! Well done, congratulations.

We're down to Chad and Ryan and only one spot left for the finale; Buddy has a tough decision. Chad defends his technical work and his baking skills and feels that Ryan lacks in that department. Ryan points out that Chad's cake was not what the customer asked for and accused Chad of playing it safe. 

Ryan thinks his drive, determination, ability to keep learning and passion should take him to the finale.  Chad lists his strengths and skill set and adds, "I think my qualities are stronger than Ryan's." Who goes? The man who did what he wanted and didn’t listen to the theme or the client? Or the man who hit the theme but lacked execution and detail? 

Looks like the lesson learned here is to listen to the client. It's the box truck for Chad. You had a great ride, Chad. I never doubted your desire to be there or your passion for winning. This experience will bring great success to your business. Good luck to you; stay humble and kind. 

Ryan better step up his game because he's heading to the finale against the ladies, and I think these two are going to put up one heck of a fight!! Good luck Nadine, Marissa, and Ryan...

I have to say I am pleased with who is going to the finale. What do you all think? Is it who you were predicting? Is anyone disappointed? Want to place a wager on who takes it all?


About the Series

Join Buddy Valastro as he puts 13 talented pastry chefs through the ringer to earn the title of "Next Great Baker." Check back each week to get Corina's insider analysis and other hot news!










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