2.20.2018: It’s been nine years since I posted this “tell-all” and despite the incredibly long paragraphs and copious amounts of typos, it remains one of my post popular posts. A lot has changed since then – I shot a few more pilots and sizzle reels and decided I kind of hate TV. I went vegan, so no more mainstream baking shows for me. And, I gained a lot of confidence. There is no way I would allow anyone to make me feel as shitty as I felt when the producers of this show taped my clothes to my body so my tattoos wouldn’t show. But that was then, and this is now. Oh! And when I originally posted this there was no way to watch the episode without catching a re-run, but now you can get it on Amazon for $1.99. If you have more general questions about Cupcake Wars, check out my Friday Five on the topic.
I wasn’t going to pester you guys with any more Cupcake Wars posts – at least not until Food Network called me to say they loved the show and want to bring it back as Natalie Slater’s Cupcake Wars Starring Natalie Slater. But as I was live-Tweeting the show last night I realized you guys had a lot of questions about the show, so I thought I’d do one last CW post to address those questions. (I also read lots of crappy comments about the show, and I actually have some insight as to why it wasn’t 100% up to your standards.) I’ll organize the best I can. Unlike judging cupcake shows, organizing is not my specialty.
General info & background stuff
If you want to know how I ended up on the show, check out a previous post I did. There are a few videos from a few of the days I was in LA as well – you can click through to those from that other post. That post will also cover questions you might have about why I was dressed so funny and also, why I was so reserved when – as any of you know me in real life can attest to – I am generally pretty loose with the snarky remarks. We’ll get back to that later.
A lot of people asked about the host of the show and the other judges, so let’s cover that. The show was hosted by Justin Kredible. Justin’s been on a bunch of TV shows including Rachel Ray, but more importantly, he put my iPhone inside of a balloon right in front of me using magic. Yeah, because he’s a magician. Well, he’s “like a magician, only cooler.” He also did a card trick that totally freaked out the next person I want to talk about – Jane Lockhart.
Jane owns Sweet Lady Jane on Melrose Ave. I admit that I hadn’t heard of it until I landed in LA, but once I was there almost everyone I spoke to said “You have to get the triple berry cake at Sweet Lady Jane!” I looked it up, and apparently there are lines out the door every day for Jane’s fine desserts. She has the most gorgeous eyes I’ve ever seen, fabulous clothes, and she’s the best story teller I’ve ever listened to. She told me a story about a break in she experienced – in broad daylight – that gave me goose bumps.
On the other side of me at the judge’s table was Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes. As in, every-celebrity-you’ve-ever-read-about-and-then-pretended-you-didn’t-really-care-about’s favorite cupcakes Sprinkles Cupcakes. Justin said it in her intro – she put cupcakes on the map. I’m repeating myself, but she was so easy to talk to and fun that I forgot all about the zillions of cameras pointed at my face.
And then of course there were a slew of rotating judges… but no one asked me about them. So apparently there’s nothing more to say about that.
These are all the questions I can remember that more than one person asked me.
Why were you all covered up?
Despite seeing photos of me online, apparently in person my tattoos are a bit much for Food Network to handle. I don’t know why a male contestant on my episode was allowed to show his tattoos and I was not. I had a lot of people tell me they would have “stormed out.” OK, sure. I look forward to those people getting a chance to judge a Food Network show and then storming off the set. Should be pretty funny.
Who did you really think should win?
Remember that time I was a judge on a cupcake show? And remember at the end when I was one of the four people who chose the winner? Yeah. I thought Elfie should win, that’s why I picked her.
Did you really pick Elfie based on her display?
No. If you recall, Elfie also won the tasting round at the very beginning. In fact, after the show wrapped, Candace and Jane quizzed her about her cupcake recipe because it was amazing. He cupcakes tasted delicious and her display was a show-stopper. Does that mean Erica’s cakes and display weren’t also great? Of course not. But we had to pick a winner and Elfie edged it out with her combo of yumminess and glamour.
What up with white Carmen Miranda?
Good question. I asked that too, but it was cut. Apparently “Carmen” was a friend of Elfie’s and the only person who could…uh, stand in a table…last minute. Paula Garces actually offered to be Carmen next time. I would have loved to see that.
How could you send the pregnant girl home first?
Dude. That was so hard. First of all, I loved Monica’s idea. Everyone else went spicy sweet and she was like – eff it, I’m making a churro cupcake. The cake and the fried tortillas were perfect. The frosting, as Candace mentioned, was thick and too sweet. It happens to everyone – if you’re reading this, you’ve botched your frosting. It sucks that it happened to such a sweet girl during the competition. Was it the worst cupcake I ate during the contest? No way. This got cut too, but Dave’s first batch that we tasted was really over baked. I’m kind of a pig, so I just dove in, but it really bothered Candace. His cupcakes were gorgeous, but the tasting batch was pretty dry and compared to Elfie’s, it didn’t knock my socks off. If I was the only judge that might have been it for Dave – as nice as he was. But I was one of four, and majority ruled.
You should also know that we had like, three minutes to make decisions. The contestants were standing outside the test and producers were waving their arms at us and telling us to hurry. Still, when Monica was leaving and told me she reads my blog I pretty much wanted to punch myself in the face.
What else got cut?
Oh, lots of stuff. The scenes were the judges walked around ala Carrie Vincent and asked all kinds of questions. The part where Dave got flustered and dropped his poster board on the ground. The part where Elfie’s table broke with White Carmen Miranda still inside. The part where I asked why she was white. That’s how it goes!
Why was it so bright?
I don’t know. I write a baking blog. Go read a TV production blog.
Retorts to shitty comments I read
That show looked low budget.
Well, as pilots go, it really wasn’t. There were like, 50 crew people running around – all paid well I’m sure – we got paid, we got fed, some of us got flown in from Chicago and put up for a few nights on the UCLA campus. Yeah, it’s not Diners, Drive-ins and Dives or whatever – it’s a pilot. Pilots are cheaper than real shows. If it makes you feel better, Candace had like $40,000 worth of diamonds on. Does that makes you feel better? No, I didn’t think it would.
It sucks they picked Elfie even though Erica’s cupcakes tasted better.
Erica’s cupcakes tasted good. Her display wasn’t red carpet-worthy. Elfie’s cupcakes were dope and her display had everyone talking. I think what people are getting hung up on was Paula’s comment that she preferred Erica’s cupcakes. Again – that was one person’s thoughts among four who were making the decision. Personally, I would have liked to see Monica’s display because James (who you might recall as the giant “master carpenter”) said she was the only one who hadn’t planned on making a giant dress.
I fell asleep.
Yeah… the show needs some tweaking. If Food Network picks it up I think they can make it the next Cake Challenge, though. Cupcakes are small, there isn’t a lot you can do. But they could throw curve balls like requiring that all the cakes are vegan – or introducing mystery ingredients ala Iron Chef.
You don’t eat cupcakes with a fork.
You do when you’re on TV. Do I eat cupcakes with a fork at home? No! I’m not a crazy person! But we were tasting so many at a time, it was the only non-disgusting way to do it.
Other questions you asked
My grandpa wanted to know what we did with all those cupcakes. The ones that didn’t go to the Alma Awards were eaten by the cast and crew. Yeah, that’s right. We ate them. We’re on a show called Cupcake Wars! We obviously enjoy eating cupcakes!
Where did you get that dress?
I actually wore that dress on the plane and never intended to wear it on air. I bought a super cute dress to wear on air, but it showed about 2″ of wrist tattoos so it was banned. To answer the question, it’s a $14 dress from Marshall’s. It’s falling apart right now. Monica has offered to have it turned into a cute apron for me, but I kind of feel like it’s my unlucky lucky dress. I might wear it until it disintegrates.
Would you do it again?
You bet your sweet ass I would.
Even if you had to cover up all your tattoos again?
I just got a giant neck tattoo – so good luck with that!
How can I tell Food Network what I thought about the show?
Good question! You can email them here!
In the end, the best part of watching the show was reading all my friends’ comments via Twitter and Facebook through the whole thing. From the impatient “There seems to be a severe lack of Natalie” from the people who thought I was competing to “Yeah, there’s Natalie! And I can see her knuckle tattoos!” I really appreciated that you guys hyped the show, tuned in, Tweeted along, and continued to write sweet things after it was over. You guys are on my “do not stab” list for sure.
I know I left things out, so if you still have questions or comments just post them – I’ll answer everything I can!
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