So, 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.