Earning the Crime Scene Kitchen win was not as simple as it seemed for Natalie and Luis. While the pair of Las Vegas bakers seemed on track to do well in the FOX culinary competition, the reality is that each challenge required their baking expertise to be on point. Although there might have been a challenge or two that they would like to forget, the reality is that the Crime Scene Kitchen win was a sweet victory for the pair.
Recently, FoodSided spoke to the pair about their Crime Scene Kitchen win, how they put their pastry training to work and how their Crime Scene Kitchen showpiece wowed the judges. While the FOX baking competition focused on solving the sweet clues, a few elements helped Natalie and Luis rise to the top. Their classically trained pastry skills gave them an advantage from the start.
As Natalie shared during our conversation, she mentioned that she just could tell certain aspects by the visual clues. From knowing that it was pate a choux in a pipping bag to pastry cream in a bowl, their pastry knowledge was a huge advantage. She even admitted that she “could just look at something and tell what it was without even tasting it.” Given the time crunch and the need to follow the clues to the correct dessert, that knowledge put them a step ahead.
In many ways, that knowledge helped them not just solve the clues, but also execute the dessert. Given that the various challenges had limited time, the baking team could start on certain tasks while they finalized their plan. Natalie shared how “we could get a few things done while we figured out what we didn’t know. That was a huge advantage for us because we could multitask and save a lot of time.”
Still, not every challenge was perfection. Luis shared how he went astray with that babka. As trained pastry chefs, the clues made sense to him. But, Luis admitted, “the clues could lead people in every possible way.”
For him, based on the clues, he admitted that he never would have made a wreath. “It wasn’t a traditional dessert we learned in school and the flavors weren’t traditional for a wreath either.”
While babka might not have followed the right path, Natalie would like to forget the Christmas in July episode. She said that episode was not her favorite.
How did Natalie and Luis earn their Crime Scene Kitchen win?
For the finale, Natalie and Luis were ready for the opportunity, and in some cases, the two challenges were in their wheelhouse. With the dessert round, the napoleon was a technically difficult dessert. Although there was a slight flaw in their puff pastry, it earned them a place in the final showpiece round.
Luis shared “we went into the finale knowing that they had to have some technique heavy dessert.” He went onto say, “if you make puff pastry, the old-fashioned way, it takes a whole day or even like two days to like really have like a really perfect puff pastry.”
Given that the dessert round was only a couple of hours, Natalie and Luis had to take a few shortcuts. Still, they appreciated that they could get the task done. That “quick blitz” helped to get the dessert on the plate and earn them a spot where they could really shine.
When Yolanda Gampp revealed that the final Crime Scene Kitchen showpiece would allow the baking teams to interpret the flavors in any way that they wanted. Natalie admitted that she had to ask over and over if she had free reign. It was finally her moment to “let that flare out of the box” and put it to good use.
The pair decided that they wanted to make a big impression, similar what they did in the first episode. Natalie admitted that they knew it was a naked cake in the first episode, but they wanted to make a statement with the decoration and put everyone on notice.
It was clear that everyone was “going to see something completely different than probably what anybody else is going to make.” More importantly, Natalie said, she felt “like there’s like a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders knowing that we weren’t going to get docked points for doing what we do.”
And, their finale cake impressed with both flavor and décor. From the bananas foster filling in the chocolate cake layer to the slice of birthday cake topper, this cake stood out among the three finalists. Even more impressive was Natalie’s revelation that she had never made that the bananas foster component previously. It was clear that this baking team was going all out.
Natalie and Luis shared how they put together the concept for the cake. It was meant to be a party. From the top layer with its sprinkles and its surprise center to the middle palate cleanser to the indulgent bottom layer, it was an extravagant feast. Or, as Luis said, “it is a journey through cakes.”
While flavor is important, Natalie and Luis knew that they had to make a visually stunning cake. Since the birthday cake was for Yolanda, they really wanted to capture her personality. Natalie mentioned that the colors were set to represent Yolanda’s “fun and whimsical” elements as seen on her Instagram page. At the same time, the colors needed to pop.
Still, Natalie had one big goal with the cake, to catch your eye. She said, “we wanted it to be that showpiece where you walk into a birthday party and you’re like that’s a birthday cake.” From the movement to the cake topper, there was no mistaking that this showpiece was a wow moment.
With their Crime Scene Kitchen win, Natalie and Luis are looking ahead. While Natalie has her Las Vegas custom cake and pastry business, Cake Lyfe by Natalie, the pair are looking to open a bakery in the future. But, the two are being smart with the planning and decision making. Crafting that perfect menu is a wow moment that needs to impress when the doors first open. Based on their success in this show, they are on the road to success.
What was your favorite moment from Crime Scene Kitchen? Do you wish that you could have tasted Luis’ and Natalie’s finale cake?