Next Great Baker

You'll See More of Ryan!

02/13/2012

Ryan-cimorelli-250x200We talked to Ryan about his elimination and what his future plans are. See what he said -- below!

TLC: What was your reaction to the elimination?
Ryan: I feel that if I had a better baking team from Carlo’s that I would have done better.

TLC: Who would you say was your best NGB ally?
Ryan: Definitely Carmelo, we stay in touch weekly and see each other often.

TLC: What are your plans now?
Ryan: My bakery continues to grow so we are going to focus on that and keep making cake!

TLC: What were your impressions of Buddy?
Ryan: Buddy is the best guy ever…very motivational.

TLC: Would you have done anything differently during the elimination challenge?
Ryan: I don’t have any regrets.  I performed to my maximum abilities and I gave it my all.

TLC: Any last words for your fans?
Ryan: Keep following me because you will see more of me!

Nadine's Real Reward from NGB

02/06/2012

Nadine-reibeling-250x200Nadine explains why she won two huge prizes the night of the finale -- even though one wasn't the job at Carlo's!

TLC: What was your reaction to the elimination?
Nadine: Congrats, Marissa!

TLC: Who would you say was your best NGB ally?
Nadine: Fortunately, my ally was also my final competition, Marissa. It's fortunate because to be at the end with someone you consider a friend makes it that much more enjoyable. It's going to be fun to see her on Cake Boss!

TLC: What are your plans now?
Nadine: I'm planning to teach the younger fans how to get into cake decorating and run like the wind with it, possibly the recruits for Season 15! When I started at 13, it was regarded as a hobby when in my world, it was my career. It wasn't until I was a bit older I realized it really was a career AND you could go to University for it, too!
    Most of my skills were mastered by a lot of practice. I had been taught early on that it wasn't enough to know something, but you have to do it at your fastest and consistently. In professional kitchens, I would have challenges against myself. If I could scoop 500 cookies in 30 minutes, next time I'd shoot for 25 minutes, things like that.  The main goal is to teach that you can do anything you put your heart and time into. Aside from that, I make cakes and cake lollies with my company, Lolly Love… and I also make the dreams of clients come through in event planning for one of the most fabulous Kimpton hotels in New York City!

TLC: What were your impressions of Buddy?
Nadine: Buddy may not have come across that entirely darling when we were in the elimination room, but outside of that he is an incredible guy who tried to push us and inspire more of ourselves. The Valastro family allowed me into their lives and into the Carlo's Bakery kitchen week after week. For Buddy to give me that opportunity is a once in a lifetime experience.

TLC: Would you have done anything differently during the elimination challenge?
Nadine: Drank A LOT more coffee? I kid. I have re-designed that cake in my head several times. When you’re up for so many hours, not physically but mentally becoming exhausted, creativity doesn’t always work like flipping on a switch. You have to follow what you feel, and I felt this concept was going to be good at telling my dreams.   
    I am glad I got to represent what the competition meant to me and that was my constant reach for different goals. There will be plenty more clouds to be added to my "dreams" cake. Goals are always changing, and you sometimes have to change your path to get to them. That doesn't take away from the amazing journey along the way, regardless of the outcome.
    I gained two prizes that night. One, a lasting friendship, and the second was to have Buddy in front of me and my mom just over my shoulder. It was the culmination of what it was all about. Plus, I got to show some love for Minnesota!

TLC: Any last words for your fans?
Nadine: My fans. It's amazing to have so many people I've never met, connect in so many encouraging letters. The fact that they took one hour each week to watch me compete and to be in my corner even when things didn't come up roses is beyond appreciated. 
    It wasn't always an easy road, but I thank each of them for watching the show, it is far more than I ever could have imagined. This is an amazing industry to be part of, and I hope each of the fans takes away the tricks and the concepts but that they leave the drama back on the set of Next Great Baker - Season 2.  At the end of the day, to be able to do a job you love to do is a constant win.

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

01/31/2012

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. 

Xo,
Corina

It's Not Just About Cakes for Chad

01/24/2012

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!

Next

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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