From “Chopped” to “Cupcake Wars,” we’ve all watched our fair share of cooking competition shows. They’re relaxing, fun, easy to watch and by the time we finish one season we all believe we can be just as great as the professional cooks and bakers in featured in the show. I know that I like to think that, after spending most of middle school excessively watching the TLC’s hit series “Cake Boss,” I know quite a bit about baking (even if my best work has been successfully not burning a piece of bread in the Daniel and Grace Tully Dining Commons’ toaster oven).

That being said, what happens if one of us regular, non experienced cooks were put to the test? Would we be able to create masterpieces like the ones we see on TV? That’s what Netflix’s newest show is putting to the test.

Premiering on March 9, “Nailed It!” takes a new spin on the classic T.V. bake off. In this original Netflix show, people who don’t know much about baking test their abilities by trying to recreate complex cake creations – from intricate wedding cakes to massive shark cakes. These competitors take part in two challenges over the course of 35 minutes in an attempt to win $10,000. The show is hosted by Nicole Byer and famous chocolatier, Jacques Torres, who serves as the head judge. Each episode, after mutually agreeing on which one is the best – Byer, Torres and the guest judge of the episode agree on the best baked good. Guest judge appearances have included internationally celebrated cake designer, Sylvia Weinstock as well as famous food scientist and President of the Museum of Food and Drink, Dave Arnold.

The show begins with a brief introduction to each candidate, explaining their lack of knowledge in baking, before throwing them into the ring. In total, they must complete two challenges. In their first challenge, known as the ‘Baker’s Choice’ round, contestants must recreate one of three existing treats given to them by the judges. After a usually sad, but trying, attempt, the judges will check them out. The winner of that round, being the one who gets the closest to the actual look and taste, will win a special prize, usually a mixer, and get to wear a golden chef hat for the second round.

The second challenge is ‘Nail It or Fail It.’ In this round, competitors must recreate massive, elegant cakes for the final prize – the $10,000. During this high stake challenge, each contestant is given a ‘panic button’ which allows the judges to help them out. The loser from the first round also gets an extra button that enacts some sort of obstacle on their competition. Examples are the ‘nag button,’ where Nicole Byer goes over to the competitor and nags them for a certain amount of time and the ‘freeze time’ button which essentially stops the other contestants from doing anything while the one who pressed it gets the advantage. Ultimately, the winner of this round is whoever recreated the baked good the best – or, at least, whoever’s was the least cringeworthy.

“Nailed It!” is a must see. It’s laugh out loud funny. To begin, the competitors are a diverse group of quirky, everyday people. They range from single moms to awkward teachers and easygoing old men. It gets especially intense while watching certain contestants mess up terribly. At one point while watching with friends over break, I found myself yelling at the screen because a man built a cake without frosting buttercream in between each layer (My “Cake Boss” knowledge kicking in high gear). These contestants will definitely make you laugh and cringe in their own individual ways. Not only that, Nicole Dyer is an upbeat and hilarious host. The dynamic she shares with the other judges is good and comedic.

This new Netflix original is great way to unwind after a stressful day at school. It’ll have you wanting to bake and recreate the same baked goods you see on the show – wondering if you’ll be able to ‘Nail It’ as well.


About The Author

-- Emeritus Executive Editor -- English Creative Writing

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