SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers from the Season 2 finale of Fox’s “Crime Scene Kitchen.”
While the final bake of Fox’s “Crime Scene Kitchen” Season 2 turned out to be a “Dark and Stormy” cake, inspired by the cocktail of the same name, it was a light and sunny treat for contestants Amber Croom and Yassmeen Haskins.
The classically trained baking duo beat out the other two teams competing for the Joel McHale-hosted mystery baking competition’s second-season trophy in Monday’s finale episode, titled “I Need a Drink.” And they did it without even making the exact right recipe, as they had first decided to make a “Dark and Stormy” cake, they pivoted to a piña colada-flavored version when they started to doubt their detective work.
“The hardest one was the finale cake bake because there was so many elements to it,” Haskins told Variety. “And we did spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the clues are. We knew kind of how it was decorated, but what is this flavoring? Because we couldn’t remember the drinks!”
Croom added: “You would have thought I had a drink trying to figure out the drinks.”
“Crime Scene Kitchen” judge and social-media-famous cake artist Yolanda Gampp hadn’t expected Croom and Haskins to be the winners towards the start of Season 2 — and neither did the friends and family she spoke to when the show was airing. No, at first, Gampp says she assumed self-taught bakers Steph Hsu and Sin Yi Cherry Lau, who had a crazy weeks-long safety-bake streak, would take home the $100,000 prize.
“Everyone thought Cherry and Steph were a sure win, because they’re such good detectives,” Gampp told Variety. “And as you know from Season 1, it’s not just about your ability to bake and present something wonderful. You have to decipher those clues. Because you can bake us a delicious dessert and if it’s completely off the mark, you’ll still be out. And in the end, that’s exactly what happened to Cherry and Steph.”
When judging the final bake, Gampp, Curtis Stone and McHale all had to make a tough call, because none of the three teams correctly deciphered the cake flavor. Ultimately, Gampp says the Baltimore-based classically trained bakers won due to their impeccable cake decorating skills.
“It is subjective, but in my opinion, when all the cakes were revealed, there’s absolutely did look the closest,” Gampp said. “And I really do think in a cake decorating challenge, it would be really hard to get it bang on, unless there were clues of perhaps photos revealing three different cakes — if you have to guess which one it is — it’d be really hard because cake decorating is an art form like any other and it’s open to interpretation. Once that comes into play, it’s almost impossible to get it bang on without more revealing clues. So the discussion was just around who came to closest and once they were revealed, they came the closest.”
Since no one got it exactly right in the final bake, the winners assumed a “Crime Scene Kitchen” sudden death round was in order and were floored when they were named the victors.
“Pure shock,” Croom said. “I was already anticipating a plot twist that we were going to have to do another challenge. I was completely ready. I was like, OK, wrap this up, we’re going to do another challenge, we’re still going to win, it doesn’t matter. But it was pure shot that there was not a follow-up challenge and then it said Amber and Yass on there. And I had to look and tell Amber, that’s our names, we won. She was like, shut up!”
Haskins says based on a “harsh critique” of their strawberry and cream cheese croissant muffins (a.k.a. cruffins), which were the first bake of the finale episode, she was confident a third would be needed to decide the winners between her and Croom and fellow finalists Laissa Forlini and Camille Marion (classically trained) and T Lawrence-Simon and Fadi Odeah (self taught).
“We haven’t seen the finale, but I do remember when they said that nobody got it right, I’m with her, like, oh, we finna have a sudden death,” Haskins added. “They’re finna have to create something to make us do this. And then when they had us come back, I just didn’t know because none of us had it right. So then it would kind of come down to what exactly? Especially because the first bake, when they said it was going to be between both of them, that we were going to be judged on both of them, we had the harshest critique on that bake. And so I felt like that was going to be to our detriment, so I was going in gloom and doom. She was on the other end of the spectrum. I messed up the cruffin!”
As for what they’re doing with the $100,00 prize money, Croom and Haskins — who currently own their own small businesses — are teaming up on a joint venture called Beye Beignets. “We’re going to do so many great things with it, not just with baking, but also to benefit our community. It’s so much more than beignets for us,” Haskins said.