Behind the scenes of Nailed It Holiday with Nicole Byer and the show's 'secret chef'
Tucked away in a nondescript studio in Burbank, Calif., in the heat of summer, production is underway on the third season of Nailed It and its festive counterpart Nailed It Holiday, the Netflix culinary competitions where the best of the worst walk away with $10,000. Hosts Nicole Byer and Jacques Torres, along with guest judge Fortune Feimster, have just inspected the first-round creations by four contestants and are announcing the winner. After a few stumbles — and ensuing laughs — with the teleprompter and transitioning to the next portion of the episode, Byer and Torres get the action back on track.
“I had looked Jacques up before meeting Jacques and then I was like, ‘Oh my f—ing God, they put me with a world-renowned, very well-respected French pastry chef,'” Byer tells EW between filming. But Torres says he respects Byer, a comedian, just as much for her talents: “I love to work with Nicole because we laugh all day. She makes jokes all day, and she’s so good at what she does.”
Chemistry is a big part of baking, and you might say the two have it. That is undoubtedly part of what made the show such a hit shortly after its debut in spring 2018. And it also helped that this show, in a culinary TV landscape ripe with competitions, was different — competitors aren’t pros in their field, and imperfections are what it’s all about. Home cooks rejoiced. Finally, something to relate to. After all, there are way more people who can’t recreate a fancy, four-tiered cake covered in fondant, with spun sugar decor and complicated flavor combinations, than those who can. And this was the show for them.
Just outside the studio housing the show’s colorful set, you’ll find what you might see in one of those buy-in-bulk stores; row after row of tall shelving lined with every utensil and kitchen appliance imaginable: stand mixers, spatulas, whisks, piping bags, and so much more. And then there are the edible items: sprinkles, food coloring, flour, sugar, fruit, fondant.
It’s a baker’s paradise. The perfect place for someone like Charity George. She’s the show’s “secret chef,” and while she might be the pro who’s creating all of the cakes that the competitors then have to replicate (“The hands you see when Jacque’s explaining how to do it the right way, that’s this right here, that’s me,” she explains to EW), even she can relate to what the amateur bakers are going through.
“Oh my gosh, I have failed plenty,” says Chef Charity, the exasperated expression on her face saying more than her words. “We had the [air conditioners] that didn’t quite stay up to snuff and all of these massive chocolate things literally came apart.”
“Accept that you’re not going to be perfect,” encourages Torres, “and accept that you’re certainly going to do better than our bakers.” Adds Byer, “You need to fail in order to learn how to succeed.”
To see the baker’s level of success, or lack thereof, check out season 3 of Nailed It, and the latest edition of Nailed It Holiday — both streaming now on Netflix. And watch the video above for more from Byer and Torres, and below to see more of Chef Charity and some of her holiday cake creations.