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!
Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click and make a purchase, I will earn a commission.
So bummed that I don’t get to see it here. Lemme know the second it shows up on YouTube! xxx
I officially think YOU ROCK.
You rocked so much lol my husband and i were watching it last night and when they showed you in the introductions i was like LOOK LOOK I follow her on twitter LOL..
Haha… even with your lovely tattoos hidden under the burka, you don’t look very Mormonish 😉 Adorable yes, Mormon no.
I think that’s so silly of them (and beyond silly, insulting), practically everyone on every cooking show is covered in tattoos, and I’m pretty sure that having at least one inked sleeve is a requirement for getting on Top Chef. The irony of having a contestant that was heavily tattooed is also just… weird. I hope they have you back and allow you to let your freak flag fly!
well, i totally dug the outfit… and i am a mormon. so, there’s that… of course, i think long sleeves under that dress in LA is pretty silly… maybe in salt lake in december, but that’s a different story. i’m sorry they made you cover up like that, but you looked adorable anyway.
LOVED reading your re-cap of the show…you are sooo funny. i actually meet with the casting peeps and wasn’t selected b/c they “thought” I was too sweet (they kept trying to get me to say F*#K, but I wouldn’t do it. I have to prob saying the word, I just have to be properly provoked). Ironic that they wanted me to be more edgy and you to look more conservative. I f#$%ing love your blog.
I thought Cupcake Wars was fun! I am glad Elfie won. I hope they bring it back. Thanks for giving us a backstage look at how it went down.
I love you! 🙂
I thought it was great! Also, I am really jealous of that rockin’ green dress.
Awesome write up. I wasn’t trying to be shitty with the fork comment 🙂 Though I think it woulda made the show really interesting if there was a segment of you judges trying to eat the cupcakes and not get messy. Maybe an out takes special 🙂
Defintiely didn’t envy the choices you guys had to make. I really felt bad for Dave. Presenting is tough if it’s not your thang… clearly it’s not his thang!
I’d watch a show about cupcakes I think. They’re not my thing, so the curveballs would make it interesting.
You guys did great!
You rock! I saw you on the show and got interested enough to look up your blog. I hadn’t heard of you before but I was intrigued….I’m just a cupcake fan, but now I’m on to this whole tattoo censorship question. I really understood what you said previously about the tattoos being part of who you are and how rejecting it was being asked to cover them. I completely agree with you and I’m a non-tattooed middle-aged person!
But on a more practical note, what can we (the general TV watching public) do to let FN know how much we liked you and how much we’d like to see more of you (even if on another type of show??). Do we email them? Do you have some contact info? I think it would be good for FN to hear from us, in a constructive way. Don’t be shy about putting your name forward, cuz girls rule, especially tattooed ones!
Natalie it was awesome even if they did have you all covered up. I watched it with my mom! It was one of those “I know her, but not really” moments since I read your blog everyday. I hope they pick it up or something close to it. Thank you for sharing!
Love your blog!!!! F@#$%&*king awesome. I got a one of your hoodies for Christmas from my boyfriend. I’ve been practically living in it since. :o)
Can’t wait to see the re-run of Cupcake Wars.
Really wishing I got cable so I could watch the show. Dangit. You gotta let us know when it’s online!
Regarding the tattoos, I’d venture to say they covered you because of 2 reasons: 1. you’re a girl and 2. they wanted to ensure you commanded more so-called ‘respect’ as a judge/resonate with the widest audience possible, yada yada yada….which is fucked I know. But I’d bet it was a guideline set forth by some middle management MBA dolt without a clue about cupcake culture. So there, I’ve offended every dolt with an MBA in middle management.
I eat cupcakes with a fork while driving on the freeway. It’s the only way I won’t slam into wall. Go figure. Ditto on YouTube, let us know when it’s up.
Julia is kinda on the right track. They have to sell the show to middle America. If they love it, it gets on the air. PS, there aren’t many “middle management MBA’s” in the biz.
Congrats again Nat!
Thanks for all the sweet comments, everyone! You can tell Food Network what you thought about the show here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/contact-us/package/index.html
Very cool show. Congrats on the big break. To comment on what I didn’t like, per your request, I just thought the editing was choppy. Unsure if that was because of the pilot. Like, they tried to fit too much into an hour timeslot. But my complaints are much less than my compliments. Thought the show is off to a great start!
Enjoyed the show! Interesting to read all the behind-the-scenes stuff! Looks like “James the giant carpenter” must have been a football player or body builder back in the day! He also had tatoos, so it’s funny they had some issues with yours. I am so hungry for cupcakes now… these shows are dangerous, in tasty way!! 🙂
I’ve participated in a Food Network production and they do work on a tight schedule and keep things moving when they’re ready to film and other than that you kinda just sit there waiting to look spontaneous.
I think you looked composed and gave very thoughtful feedback. Happy New Year!
We have been watching Cupcake Wars and our questions are about the time they say you have to make and decorate a thousand cupcakes. Is it really all done in three hours?? And the construction of the display – is that really done in the three hours? How can the paint dry etc. in time? It just doesn’t seem possible to do all of that in the alloted time. Thanks for your answer!!!!!!
Hi, Rachel. The name of the shop is “Cupcakes Actually” and it’s ltoecad in the Fairfax Corner shopping center in Fairfax, Va.
Hi, What is the name of the brand of the muffin pans they use on Cupcake wars? I saw Cuisinart muffin pans on the food network site that look similar to the ones they use on the show but they are for mini cupcakes not regular sized ones. They were also another set there that looked similar but they only had 12 cups and not 24. Do you know which brand it is they use and where a person can purchase them from?
I have no idea, sorry. I was a judge on Cupcake Wars, I did not compete.
I would like to know why the woman or men are allowed to wear nail polish while doing a cake, nail polish comes off and could be in the cake??
I though that The Judges where not fair. They picked Don witch his was not the one who should of won. I was dissaponted they not picking the Woman she was more of a Cartoon then Don was. They are not good Judges as well.
We’re there hair nets