Alphabet Cinema: “C” is for “Cupcake Wars”

It’s what came up when I searched “C” on Netflix, I promise! Truly, I wasn’t going to pick it buuuttt, then I saw the title of Season 8, Episode 14 (original air date July 7, 2013; on Netflix, it’s S1E24). That’s right, Philip! It’s your waking nightmare, the Blue Man Group!!! Aren’t you just elated, brother? I’ll just imagine that you are, instead of slightly nauseated.

For those going “huh?” the Blue Man Group is one of the most popular and beloved performance groups on the Las Vegas Strip. Audiences across the world have ventured to take part in their interactive musical experience. They combine unique, sometimes bizarre instruments with lights and technology into wondrous beats and melodies that celebrate life.

It’s like Dr. Octopus from Spiderman, if he were a musician?

The caveat (for my brother) here is that they are blue. BLUEEEEEE. Covered in blue paint. They don’t speak. They barely blink. Their whole advertised image is that of aliens, discovering human invention and the joy of music. Now I can admit . . . sometimes they do freak me out. Mostly entertaining, yes, but if I had to bake with three blue guys flitting about my kitchen, staring at me, hmm.

Which brings me back to the show.

Like most Food Network (or any other network) TV series centered on cook competitions, Cupcake Wars (2009 – ongoing) issues a theme, a challenge, a time limit, and let the chefs have at it. However, in this contest, it’s all little, tasty morsels of cake and frosting.

Cupcake Wars features four bakers each episode, from four different bakeries. They and their assistant tackle three rounds of cupcake creation. Want to know their names this episode? I’m sure you don’t, but I’ll give them anyway.

First up was Julia San Bartolome from Sweet Arleen’s in California, a previous champion on the show. Shane Penoyer returned as head baker instead of assistant this time to represent Cupcake, a bakery in Minneapolis. Corey Fanfa also tried out leadership as a baker from Sift, a “dessert bar” in the San Francisco Bay Area. Finally, from Omaha came Marian Wilson who owned a place called Baked Nebraska.

Of course, there were also judges, in particular, bespectacled Florian Bellanger, cheery Candace Nelson, and the wild card. In this case, it was Phil Stanton, co-founder for the Blue Man Group. Considering the Blue Man Group theme, and the prize of featuring their cupcakes for a VIP party at the Monte Carlo, he did have the right to choose which baker’s work wins.

ROUND ONE: FIGHT!
Incorporate bleu cheese, blue corn chips, and blueberries into one cupcake. Ugh.

Immediately there was hustle and bustle. The four bakers all devised recipes on the fly, hoping the bleu cheese didn’t screw them over. Unfortunately for Penoyer, his didn’t work. All three judges commented on its bad taste. Sorry, dude. First to lose sucks.

I want to take this moment to mention that, like most cooking shows, Cupcake Wars also edits voiceovers and talking head cuts from the contestants as they cook/bake. (Otherwise, things might get a little boring, yea?) I always found these cuts intriguing for one reason: I like trying to figure out who lost by what they’re saying and how their faces move. ‘Cause they have to recount events in the present tense. Some hide their loss better than others. (It’s like I’m Sherlock or something.)

Anyway, ROUND TWO: FIGHT!
Make 3 different creative Blue Man Group cupcakes—all blue somehow.

This round was when the three Blue Men wandered in, sticking their noses into the proceedings like curious little mice.

I wanted to post a GIF of one Blue Man stuffing an entire cupcake in his mouth, but I couldn’t find one. 😦 So, just more faces. You can imagine it, ok?

They then went about their childish antics while host Justin Willman looked on and made bad puns. Eventually, despite two batter remakes, all bakers finished on time, however, it was Fanfa who got the shaft. Just too bland, the judges said.

Finally, only Julia and Marian remain for ROUND THREE: BAKE!
Bake about a thousand cupcakes and display them like you would at the VIP party.

Ah, poor bakers, but not really, ‘cause they get more assistants and a carpenter, too. So began a two-hour (I think?) baking and icing round. Both women drew out huge display designs for the build, then went about making their best creations from round two.

By the way, it was during this round that one Blue Man swiped a finger on another’s face, coming off with a dollop of blue paint/icing? Then he licked it.

(I’m sorry I didn’t believe you, Philip. I am sorry.)

In the end, both display stands were impressively huge, laden with yummy cupcakes for all to see. Marian’s sported UV light on black boards and angular PVC pipes. Julia’s boasted PVC pipes as well, but with curved ends and neon bright splotches of color that exuded “fun.” It was for that reason that Julia was ultimately the winner. Yay for her, I guess!

Cut to Monte Carlo and the cupcake-eating guests. (I think they do end up remaking all the cupcakes for the party, which begs the question, who eats all the cupcakes from the show???!!!) Aahhh, all is fun and merriment at the end of Cupcake Wars.

Pumpkin Pepitas Cupcakes
Click on this cupcake to see all the recipes from Sweet Arleen’s for this episode!

Meanwhile in one corner, the three Blue Men are spitting mouthfuls of food coloring onto a canvas for art pieces. Viva Las Vegas?

Rating: C Run-of-the-mill food competition show. Episodic instead of the long runs of Hell’s Kitchen, for instance, and overall lighter, because, you know, cupcakes. I really don’t think the word “war” applies, TBH.

ASV Villainy Rating: T – Too Good for Us Kill us with diabetes, maybe, but otherwise, just … no.

Next time on Alphabet Cinema: Don Jon (2013)

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