Review of Best Baker in America on the Food Network

The second season of Best Baker in America has arrived!  It seems that it resembles the successful PBS show, The Great British Baking Show hosted by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.  The Great British Baking Show is a personal favorite of mine, and I have binged most of the seasons already on Netflix.  Needless to say, I was excited about the Best Baker in America and wondered if Food Network could produce as successful a show as the PBS one. 

The Best Baker in America consists of seven episodes, with the final baker winning a grand prize of $25,000 and the title of Best Baker in America!  For this 2018 season, the nine bakers competing for the title of Best Baker in America are: 

Becca Craig (Philadelphia, Pa. – Executive Cake Chef); Kym DeLost (Chicago, Ill. – Pastry Chef)); Jeremy Fogg (New Orleans, La. – Pastry Chef); Frania Mendivil (Los Angeles, Ca. – Executive Pastry Chef); Leigh Omilinsky (Chicago, Ill. – Pastry Chef); Lasheeda Perry (Atlanta, Ga. – Executive Pastry Chef); Max Santiago (Miami, Fla. – Executive Pastry Chef); Jean-Francois Suteau (White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – Executive Pastry Chef); Adam Young (Mystic, Conn. – Bakery Owner and Head Pastry Chef). 

Scott Conant is the host, and the two main judges are Jason Smith and Marcela Valladolid. There are rotating guest judges as well in each episode.  

I have now seen the past two episodes this season and have been impressed by the baking chops of the contestants and the masterful desserts they create in every contest.  The desserts are truly beautiful, and watching the bakers mold flour and sugar into such works of art is truly inspiring!  Usually, I head into the kitchen after watching an episode and scour the pantry for ingredients to create mirror glazes and mousse cakes.  Unfortunately, I am always lacking an ingredient (or twelve) and aim to purchase the missing items on my next jaunt to the local Giant.  Of course, my grocery store list is always left at home, and my aspirations to be the next best baker in America falls to the wayside in light of kid duties, work, dog walking, etc. 

Despite the reality of no time to devote to baking masterpieces of home, I, at least, get to live vicariously through the one hour show every Monday night on the Food Network.  I enjoy getting to know each of the contestant’s personalities, rooting for the winner on each episode, and listening to the judges’ critiques on each of the desserts. 

I do wish that there was a bit more teaching involved when they focus on the individual bakers.  The camera man does show different techniques, but sometimes I feel like screaming at the TV, “Hey, slow down! I didn’t catch how he did that!”.  It would be great if I could actually learn how to use certain techniques at home without having access to professional goods such as liquid nitrogen and acetate.  

The other issue I have with the show is the baking expertise of Jason Smith.  Jason Smith was the winner of one of “The Next Food Network Star” series, and his personality is truly a delight. He is authentic, down home and witty.  However, is he really qualified to judge professional pastry chefs when he is a self taught cook?  I find that him and Scott Conant should trade places; I enjoy Scott in the series “Chopped” , and I feel that he has excellent cooking expertise and judgment skills. On the other hand, I find him to be rather ‘blah’ as a host.  Whereas, Jason would be hilarious as a host.  

Just some things to think about for next season!


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