Is it Cake Too? (2023)
Besides documentaries, steamy dramas, and adult animation, in our humble opinion, another thing that Netflix has perfected is Reality TV shows about food. After their enthralling surprise hit Drink Masters: Shakeup the Competition (2022), they return with season too (two) of the hit cooking show, Is it Cake Too? (2023) What’s the premise? Well, a diverse group of bakers ranging from aspiring to pros take to the kitchen to bake up a storm. As the show’s title implies, what they are baking is cake, but that’s the simplest part of the scenario. You see, in each episode bakers square off against each other to create delicious and deceptive masterpieces that look like inanimate objects from the everyday to the decadent. How they decide what their cakes will represent is as engaging as their processes of conceptualization and the complex techniques that they employ.
When the host, the funny and quirky Mikey Day of SNL fame, asks the “cake wall” to spin, the chosen bakers inspect a selection of objects amongst which one cake is hidden. The one who finds the cake the fastest gets first pick of the objects to bake in the ensuing round, each of which has a theme. The winner of each round wins $5,000 with a chance for more money in a round called “cake or cash” when they alone must distinguish between a container full of cash (think cooler, safe, backpack) and a look-alike cake.
The cakes are judged by a selection of celebrity judges, mainly comedians and actors from other Netflix shows or Mikey Day’s cast mates from SNL. Their task? After they try to discover which one of the baker’s objects is a cake, if they have failed to distinguish the edible masterpiece from its look-alike objects, they must determine the winner of the round by taste and up-close observation. Each group of three judges has mere seconds to “lock in” their answer on their keypad. When their answer is shared, host Day with sparkly-eyed glee, generally pulls out a knife (but sometimes another object like a sledgehammer) to slice into or break open the potential cakes. As a viewer, it is truly bizarre how satisfying it is to see him discover the layers of cake hidden inside a “toilet,” “hairbrush,” or a “plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes”.
The themes this season have been interesting and bizarre, ranging from things one finds at the gym, in the bathroom (yep, weird), and 1990s standouts like VCRs and Walkmans. Only in the finale were the three finalists allowed to create the cake of their dreams (or actually, one that reflected what they would do with the $75,000.00 prize money).
The competitors typically had eight hours to bake and while that may seem like a long time, the complexity of their undertakings warrants the length. You see, to make a cake that mimics an object is not just about its shape, but about capturing its minute details like its texture, the shine of its materials, and the wear and discolouration of its everyday use.
The show is superb at revealing the competitors’ skills as bakers and as artists! The cakes for the most part feature a combination of cake, ganache, buttercream, and modelling chocolate and the bakers paint, sprinkle, mould, and yes, print their edible art into deceptively delicious confections. Highlights from this season include a crustacean, a Himalayan salt lamp, a soccer cleat, and a canteen. When the last three bakers are left standing, they pull out all the stops creating a record player (that actually spins), a tool bag (complete with tools), and a replica of the Mona Lisa! Who wins the $75,000.00? Tune in and find out.