The American Baking Competition cooks up a storm
Move over MasterChef, I think this is the best new cooking show to hit the airwaves.
Pies, cookies, cakes, bread, and über-skillful desserts like croissants, macarons and soufflés are all part of the delicacies the contestants have to make in their baking challenges.
As a home baker myself, I’m hooked on this show. And I almost missed it. After the first episode aired in late May, my sister Carol called. “Did you see the new baking show? It’s so good, you should be on it!” she said.
I hadn’t even heard of it.
Then I remembered getting an e-mail about a casting call for this show last year. I decided not to audition.
Unlike most reality shows, the drama on The American Baking Competition, is confined to the cooking, where it should be. I really like that!
I also like Jeff Foxworthy, the show’s host. He’s funny but humble. He doesn’t pretend to to be a cooking expert. But he does like to eat.
The judges are another issue. I’ll get to them in a bit.
The format of the show is a tall order for the contestants. Each week they face three challenges:
Signature Bake — Using their own recipe for a dish they make for family and friends.
Technical Bake — All use the same ingredients with a recipe provided by the judges. The recipe has all the ingredients but is missing some instructions, challenging the knowledge and skill of the bakers.
Show-Stopper Bake — A bake designed to impress the judges.
The show started off with 10 contestants. At the end of each week, one contestant is named “Star Baker” while another is sent home. The winner will receive a cash prize of $250,000 plus a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster.
Ouch! Why did I ignore that casting email?
The competitors are interesting. You’ve got Francine, a homemaker from South Carolina, who whips up creations like Peanut Butter Bacon Pie and “Slap Yo Mama” Chocolate Fudge Cookies.
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s Darlene, a project manager from Georgia, who turns out sophisticated recipes like Twist and Turn Pesto Wheel Bread, and Black Sesame Macarons.
And then there’s the contestant who amazingly staves off elimination week after week even though his baking is often disastrous. Brian, a marketing executive from Illinois. has presented the judges with a number of sorry dishes such as an overbaked jalapeno and chorizo custard, and a pitiful fallen chocolate soufflé. The soufflé was so bad it took last place in the technical bake even though another contestant had underbaked hers and completely forgotten to add sugar.
My one criticism of the show is with the judges, Marcela Valladolid and Paul Hollywood. I just don’t like them. Marcela is a celebrity chef, author, and host of the Food Network Show Mexican Made Easy. Paul Hollywood is an English Baker and celebrity chef. He is a judge on the British show The Great British Bakeoff, the model for American Baking Competition.
They have no chemistry and exude a certain condescending smugness towards the contestants.
A few weeks ago, reports surfaced the two are now a “couple,” and that Hollywood has split with his wife of 14 years to be with Valladolid.
Guess there was chemistry between the two, but it was all backstage.
The judges’ canoodling aside, I can’t wait to see who prevails as the ultimate winner of the show.
If this show comes back next year, I won’t miss the audition.