Comedian Nicole Byer and legendary pastry chef Jacques Torres spoke with Food & Wine about what to expect from their Netflix baking show.
Nicole Byer wouldn’t exactly call herself a home cook extraordinaire. She wouldn’t even call herself an amateur. Yet the United Citizens Brigade alum and star of the comedy series Loosely Exactly Nicole is one of the hosts of the upcoming Netflix series Nailed It!, on which contestants must bake the type of elaborate creations you see populating Pinterest boards—a cake in the shape of a unicorn, or cookies decorated like pirates. Most seem to end in Pinterest fails, judging from the trailer at least, and Byer isn’t shy about sharing the fact that her experience in the kitchen has been much the same.
“I don't really cook or bake, but when I do you better believe it’s from a box and/or it will be burnt, and I'm drinking wine as I fuck it up,” she tells Food & Wine. “ I reheat a lot of things and once I put one of those cardboard McDonalds containers into the toaster oven and it caught fire. And that was wild.”
So Byer might not be a whiz with a spatula, but she’s got a secret weapon: Jacques Torres. His dessert making skills are so well loved that he’s known as Mr. Chocolate. Not the worst person to have by your side if you’re judging a baking competition. Together, the pastry chef and comedian create what Torres calls “a balance”—on one side, his expertise and “seriousness”, and on the other, Byer’s humor to lighten the mood.
Torres calls his co-host “amazingly funny,” and said that she had him constantly cracking up on set. He finds that sometimes cooking competitions judged only by chefs can be “boring,” but the set up of Nailed It! hits the sweet spot between laughs and practical baking advise. And don’t think the show is all laughs. Torres promises plenty of tips you can use during your own baking adventures. In fact, Byer even learned a few things herself while filming—always crack your eggs in a separate bowl, for instance, and that it’s okay to “put a jam or something fruity between cake layers” instead of buttercream.
“During the show, we give really good advice to people. We tell people how they failed and tell them how to correct it,” Torres explains. “We have very knowledgeable guest chefs. The advice they give is real advice. I hope that people realize through the explanation and the mistakes what they should and should not do.”
Still, the comedy element is what makes Nailed It! really stand out. The style is similar to what you might see on The Great British Bake-Off, which is hosted by comedians working alongside the expert judges. Byer thinks that humor is a crucial ingredient in a baking show, especially one in which the challenges push the contestants to their limits.
“The contestants had to make some insane things so I think a little levity was good for the competition,” she says. “It adds zaniness and fun that I think kids cooking shows have and that adult ones are missing.”
Nailed It! premieres on March 9 on Netflix. Tune in then to find out just how long it took Byer to crack her co-host’s serious façade.