Everyone has their own system for detecting bull.
For some, it could be an inability of someone to look you in the eye. For others, it’s a stammer. For still others, body language tells the tale.
For Lorraine Pascale, host of “Bakers vs. Fakers,” now in its second season on Food Network and Cooking Channel, how a contestant goes about their work is the key to distinguishing the professional baker from the poser.
“It’s quite difficult with baking,” she explains, “because sometimes the end result comes out and maybe a baker just had a bad day. But I think for me, it’s the techniques that you see. I look at the techniques: how they move around the kitchen, how they’re selecting all the ingredients, how they fill a piping bag, how they use a piping bag. You know, if they’re sautéing some apples in a pan, how do they do it? I think you can tell a lot by the techniques people are using.”
In each episode of the hourlong series, four competitors do battle through two rounds of culinary challenges, where they must produce desserts that impress Pascale and a rotating panel of judges that include Sunny Anderson, Amanda Freitag, Alex Guarnaschelli, Daphne Oz, Damaris Phillips and Aarti Sequeira. After a final winner is determined, they are unmasked as the baker or the faker.
Often in competition, pressure can separate the wheat from the chaff but according to Pascale, even that is not a reliable indicator here.
“People who are fakers may have really high-powered jobs and be used to the pressure,” she says. “So you know, it could be a tell but sometimes it isn’t. Or you might have a mom who is not a baker, maybe she’s been cooking at home for years, for family baking at home, and she’s used to the pressures of having lots of kids and the phone ringing all the time, so she’s great under pressure. And sometimes you get a very good baker who’s not that good under the pressure, too. So it’s not as easy as we think.”
So in the end, says Pascale, “you go with your gut.”
What book are you currently reading?
“I am listening to an audiobook and it’s by Gary Vaynerchuk, ‘Crush It!’ ”
What did you have for dinner last night?
“For dinner last night, I had scallops, I had yellowfin tuna and I had a fennel and parmesan salad.”
What is your next project?
“My next project is ‘Holiday Baking Championship.’ ”
When was your last vacation, where and why?
“My last vacation was the Maldives and I took it in January 2016.”