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The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gretel Ann Fischer: Definitely NOT "The Next Great Baker"

Meet the Tonya Harding of the Bakery

Buddy Valastro's “The Next Great Baker,” on TLC is a spinoff of his popular “Cake Boss” program airing on the same network. One of a blue million culinary competition shows now flooding the airwaves, “The Next Great Baker” offers competitors a shot at a big cash prize, a glitzy magazine spread, and a “coveted” spot working under the tutelage of the “Cake Boss” himself at his family bakery in Hoboken. As these shows go, it's not too bad. I like it. It certainly beats “Sweet Genius” over on the Food Network.

However, this season – the program's third – seems to have brought a little more drama into the ol' bakery. One contestant withdrew early on due to the discovery of a brain tumor after he had been cast. Another dropped out because of anxiety issues. And a third seems to have a serious moral flaw.

Gretel Ann Fischer is a baker from Winooski, Vermont. And she was up to her neck in drama from episode one, getting into a cat fight with another contestant almost from the get go. Cat fights are okay. They create ratings. Crying is good, too, and Gretel Ann cries at the drop of an apron. That's okay. Pathos sells almost as well as sex. What is not okay is the fact that she cheats.

Oh, Ms. Fischer denies that charge loudly and, no doubt, tearfully. In fact, she turns the waterworks on with great alacrity. Every time she found herself at the bottom of the pile, she began sobbing about her hard upbringing and the fact that she was always told she couldn't do something and this was her chance to prove herself and she needed this for her self esteem and for her family and for her bakery and for her employees, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Behind the crocodile tears, however, lurked a real crocodile.

See, Ms. Fischer seems to have difficulty discerning the difference between seeking a competitive edge and being outright dishonest. For instance, at a point where she was guaranteed immunity from elimination, she chose not to work harder to showcase her talent, but rather to be deliberately sloppy in an effort to undermine her entire team in the hopes that a teammate she considered a threat would thereby be sent packing. And she was unabashedly proud of this tactic. The ploy didn't work, by the way, but Ms. Fischer adopted a c'est la vie attitude about her failed machination and smilingly soldiered on to her next opportunity to trip up, undercut, or sabotage somebody. She openly referred to this reprehensible attitude as being “a competitor.” “I'm the only one here who seems to realize that this is a competition” was her mantra, and “I'm only doing what I have to do” her oft spoken caveat.

The most egregious example of this flour and egg streetfighter's compromised morality came at the show's finale. Having successfully cried and blubbered her way to a three-way showdown for the big prize, she exhibited her turpitude by hiding the cake pans another contestant needed. This, she declared with a Grinch-like smile, was not cheating; it was being “creative.” And that nauseating demeanor continued as she went behind the back of an unwitting rival and turned up the oven temperature from 350° to 400°, thus causing a great portion of the other person's product to burn and be rendered unusable in the final contest. This opprobrious action came under the heading of being a “competitor” and “doing what I had to do.” And to top off this stomach-turning display, the person against whom this sabotage was committed considered herself a “friend” who later stood holding hands with the unconscionable harridan and even voted in her favor at the contest's conclusion, an action I'm sure she regretted once the truth was aired.

Thank Karma and the blessed gods of television that this odious creature did not win. But she did create an enormous backlash of negativity for Buddy Valastro and the show's producers, ultimately prompting Valastro himself to issue a statement to the effect that he would have disqualified her on the spot had he been aware of her dishonesty at the time.

I was playing the game,” whined Ms. Fischer. Isn't that something akin to what Tonya Harding said about having her boyfriend whack Nancy Kerrigan in the knee? Listen carefully, Ms. Fischer; you cheated!

But don't take my word for it. Consult Facebook and Twitter and the rest of the social media where you will find hundreds of allusions to deceitfulness, lack of character, lack of integrity, unprofessionalism, underhandedness – and those are the nicer things being said. There are a few supporters here and there; people who insist she was portrayed in a “bad light” by the show's producers who apparently decided to cast her as the “villain” right from the beginning. Ms. Fischer herself has taken to flogging this line to anybody who will listen, with complaints about “unfair editing” and promises of forthcoming statements after her contractual “gag order” is lifted. Her husband enables her delusions by making statements like this to the local media: “I do think they took a lot of things out of context in order to help them further their ratings. She played the game as competitively as possible, but as honestly as possible.” Really, dude? And if your kid was running a race and a trailing runner stuck out a foot and tripped him at the finish line, would you consider that “competitive” and “honest?”

In a weird statement following her loss, Ms. Fischer spun her defeat into victory by saying that had she won the job with Buddy, she would not have been able to promote her own business or to promote the State of Vermont. “So to me it's a gift.” My mother was from Vermont and I don't think she'd have wanted this person representing her state.

It comes down to this; all claims of “bad light,” “unfair editing,” and producer agendas aside, Ms. Fischer was seen doing unethical things under the guise of being “competitive” and then shoving it right in America's face. Is she going to try to tell us that the producers told her to turn up that oven? Did they instruct her to hide equipment? Did they demand she smugly, smilingly sabotage her own team? I doubt it. The camera just discovered unsavory qualities that were already evident and highlighted them.

Many people in the online universe have vowed not to watch the show anymore because, even though she didn't win, Ms. Fischer's continued advancement through nefarious means set a bad example for kids. A little unsolicited casting advice, Mr. Valastro; most of us know enough dishonest, dysfunctional people in our own daily lives. We really don't need to see any more of them in our entertainment.

Good luck in the pursuit of your future career, Tonya.......I mean, Gretel Ann. I'm just glad I won't have to watch it on TV.

There's more to this story. See the update at http://ronjamesitaliankitchen.blogspot.com/2013/03/update-gretel-ann-fischer-calls-it-quits.html

8 comments:

  1. KUDOS! Well written, my friend! I feel the same way! There is enough lying and cheating in this world and it was sad to see that they were allowing all of it. Very sad that someone would have to do such vile things to try to win the coveted " Next Great Baker" title. What goes around comes around!

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  2. Agree that intentional sloppy work (checkered tablecloth) is sneaky, and not how I'd like competitors to behave. But regarding the oven - she told WCAX that she set to 400 for her eclairs, Jen used the oven after her and didn't bring the temp back down. What the show showed was Jen setting, GA setting, Jen's stuff burning. I think this gives credibility to the 'creative editing' argument.

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  3. I can't find where Buddy said that he would have disqualified gretel-ann on the spot if he knew she cheated. Any help?

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    1. http://stitchesndishes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/buddystatement.jpg

      From this article http://stitchesndishes.com/2013/02/culinary-101-or-sabotage-did-gretel-ann-fischer-cheat-her-way-to-the-top/

      You're welcome

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  4. Excellent writing!!!!! I currently live in Vermont, and it has been a horrible experience. I am leaving as soon as I can. You will pleased to know that the bitch closed the doors of her bakery for good yesterday.....with more blubbering than you can imagine. The people in Burlington are like that, generally. Vicious, manipulative, horrifying, amoral, dishonest whack jobs. IThey will do anything for money. ANYTHING. It's really sad that a whole group of people can be like that. But it's true. Truly vicious people here. Bye bye Vermont. And tonya Harding. You will not be missed

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    1. While I do not support the tactics or dishonesty portrayed by Gretel-Ann, I find your comment regarding Vermonters in general an equally narrow minded reflection of the character traits you claim to be offended by. So grab your boom and fly off before someone drops a house on you too

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  5. "Gretel Ann Fischer" as a person this person is a plastic and totally selfish person . I am glad she didn't win . she is one of those people that use people to get her way . the b got her reward.

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  6. I watched the next great baker on tlc and I just wanted to see her lose. She is a liar and dishonest.I am very happy ashley win.she is the next great baker.NOT GRETEL.

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