What The Cameras Don't Show You On Nailed It!

It's safe to say that Netflix totally flipped the oversaturated cooking competition TV show market on its head with the 2018 debut of "Nailed It!" The series, directly inspired by memes about baking fails, it has since become an Emmy-nominated phenomenon. The premise is simple — a group of amateur bakers attempt to make impossible cakes in an extremely limited amount of time. The winner gets a $10,000 prize, but the show is more about laughing at the hilarious failures of the contestants rather than watching bakers "nail" the challenges. 

"Nailed It!" is hosted by comedian Nicole Byer and French pastry expert Jacques Torres, exemplifying the show's blend of comedy and cooking know-how. "Nailed It!" and its subsequent spinoffs for holidays and international markets aren't popular because they follow the format of shows like "Cake Boss." Instead, they work because people like to laugh with the competitors who are just like us and remind us that perfection isn't everything. Refreshingly, the winner is often just the best of the worst. 

"Nailed It!" may be ultra-popular, but there are a few aspects of the show that the audience doesn't get to see. We rounded up a few things that "Nailed It!" doesn't show us, all to let you in on the secrets of Netflix's beloved wacky cooking show.

It takes hours to film one episode

"Nailed It!" definitely follows the formula for easy Netflix binge-watches, partially thanks to its easy to digest 30-minute episodes. It may seem like with all of the new seasons and iterations of the show that it would be easy for show runners to churn out new episodes for us all to plow through, but you'd be surprised. It turns out that filming is quite a process for everyone involved. Byer told Vulture that filming actually means cast and crew undertake a 12-hour process that includes time for hair, makeup, and wardrobe fitting. Actual filming takes about 10 hours. "And sometimes more," Torres chimed in. "One day, I remember they had us do 14 hours." 

All this means that Netflix has literally hundreds of hours of unseen "Nailed It!" footage that never made it off the cutting room floor. Even though the bakers are only given a few hours to present their creations for each challenge, it definitely adds up quickly. We can only imagine the delusional conversations going on between Byer, Torres, and the rest of the group while they're stuck in a studio for hours on end.

The show uses practice contestants to test challenges

The obstacles on "Nailed It!" range from predictable to outrageous. The contestants have recreated cake busts of former presidents, cookies of the judges faces, and cake pops of inanimate objects, to name just a few. Turns out it's also quite a process for the producers to determine which challenges will make it to the final episodes. Consider the quandaries they must face: each challenge can't be too easy, because the point of the show is for the guests to fail in an amusing way. If each task was absolutely impossible, however, the competitors might give up before even trying. 

The show's culinary producer Kim Seeley explained to Variety that it's a long process to figure out the right cakes and goodies to model for the show. That process also includes a few rounds of development and testing with folks who remain strictly behind the scenes. Seeley said the "Nailed It!" crew finds test contestants who are not filmed for the series to try out the challenges before they make it to the studio. "We set up everything just as if they were on the show, and then we tailor things like the time or the extra details," she explained. 

Getting cast on Nailed It used to be simple

Unlike many other popular cooking competitions, "Nailed It!" makes it relatively easy to get in on the fun. The participants aren't expected to be expert bakers, for one. In fact, Netflix is actually looking for the opposite. 

When the show first came out, in fact, it was almost too easy to get cast. All that it took was an email to "Nailed It!" casting agents with your name and a photo of your most ambitious baking creation to get your place in the running. That's exactly how Wisconsin school teacher Shelisa Schmidt got cast a few seasons back. She mentioned she was an art teacher who was also a horrible baker, and the show was interested (via WQOW). 

Nowadays, considering the show's widespread popularity, making it to set as a contestant is more involved. You can apply to be on "Nailed It!" online via an extensive survey filled with questions. Not only do casting agents want to know your personal information, but they also expect you to provide links to your social media profiles, references to people who can attest to your baking skills. (or lack thereof), photos of yourself and your baking creations, and a video of yourself baking something from start to finish (via Magical Elves). In retrospect, it's not that difficult to sit down and fill out the questionnaire, but it's definitely more work than it used to be in the early days of the series.

Some of Nicole Byer's jokes get cut

"Nailed It!" host Nicole Byer is an open book, and that's putting it lightly. It's what makes her such a memorable part of "Nailed It!" even though she has no baking or cooking skills whatsoever. Ultimately, she's the catalyst for the laughter that makes the show so unique. Her reactions to some of the cakes that she is forced to eat and judge tells the audience everything they need to know about whatever she's biting into, good or bad. However, since so much "Nailed It!" footage goes unseen, there are plenty of deleted scenes, some of which features super NSFW jokes from Byer. 

In an interview with Vulture, Byer wasn't shy about sharing the naughty jokes she makes while filming. The comedian explained that during 10 hours of filming, she can cut loose. As such, editors could essentially create three different versions of the show, with one decidedly blue version amongst them. "You could do wild, mild, or tame. I think they went in between tame and mild," Byer said. "There's a little innuendo in the show, but I don't think it's any more than, like, a Disney movie."

A secret chef makes the inspiration cakes

Jacques Torres is a world-renowned pastry chef, which means that he simply doesn't have the time to both host "Nailed It!" and create all of the sample cakes seen on the show. That's actually a job for Charity George, the secret chef employed by the Netflix show. George told Entertainment Weekly that she is seriously busy, often baking four items a day on the job, but she remains a professional. And she does get screen time, of a sort. "The hands you see making the things when Jacques explaining how to do it the right way ... that's me," she said.

George has been a professional baker for more than 30 years and has had a life-long affinity for baking. However, that doesn't mean that she fails to "nail it" from time to time herself. "I have failed plenty," she said. On one sweltering occasion, she recalled "We had the AC that didn't quite stay up to snuff and all of these massive chocolate things literally came apart." That's the fun of "Nailed It!" though. It really proves that everyone can fail, even the experts, and sometimes that imperfection is way more entertaining than a picture-perfect cake. 

The process for picking cake challenges is extensive

Chef Charity George may be in charge of actually making the showpiece cakes, but picking the inspiration for each one is quite a different yet still involved process for the "Nailed It!" crew. Culinary producer Kim Seeley told Variety that they consider current events, hot topics, and untouched subjects when trying to find inspiration for the desserts. The ideas are all put on the table. Then the team tries to decide which would be best when viewed through a comedic lens, which helps narrow it down. "From there, it's just honing the techniques and the things that will make people just giggle uncontrollably in the final product," she explained. 

"Nailed It!" creators also have to consider the different formats, such as the show's doubles competition, "Nailed It: Double Trouble." In that instance, show runners realized that two people can accomplish more than one. In response, they increased the difficulty of the challenge as well as the time allotted to the teams. "[It] was making sure that we had cakes that were almost twice as hard," Seeley said. 

Contestants have to keep track of cooking times themselves

Though the format may seem skewed at first, "Nailed It!" contestants aren't totally set up to fail. They are provided with ingredients, basic instructions, and, occasionally, an added helping hand to at least encourage them to deliver a finished product to the judges. Yet, the one basic tool that they do not receive is, surprisingly enough, a timer. Yes, the harsh truth is that they have to watch the countdown clock and do the math on the fly to make sure their cakes come out just right. 

Actor and comedian Paul Scheer spoke to CinemaBlend about his surprise over the lack of cooking timers when he competed on the show. "If I need to cook a cake for 25 minutes, I have to like mentally keep track of it," Scheer explained. He added that it was an unforeseen difficulty that threw him for a loop while filming. His biggest advice to future competitors is to be mindful of the clock, but take your time in the beginning to set yourself up for success. 

Wes and Nicole's relationship may surprise you

Real "Nailed It!" fans are well aware of the show's stage director and Nicole Byer's minion (and object of affection), Wes. Wes, whose full name is Weston Bahr, is an associate director for the show who is often seen joking with Torres or forgetting the winner's trophy during the show's highly-anticipated final moment. Thanks to Byer's nonstop on-camera teasing of her coworker, Bahr has become one of the stars of the show in his own right. 

Even though Byer might get a little flirty with Bahr, it's all harmless and based in friendship. If you're a fan hoping to see Bahr and Byer fall in love, then we have some bad news for you. Bahr is actually a happily married father, according to Good Housekeeping. Byer claims that the stage manager sort of loves the attention she gives him, but it's all in good fun and very definitely not romantic. Bahr is also busy behind the scenes elsewhere in Hollywood, with production credits on shows like "Top Chef" and "Supermarket Stakeout" (via IMDb). 

The production team went on strike

We all love "Nailed It!" for the hilarious hosts and unconventional competitors, but  truth is that the show would be nothing without the behind the scenes crew making it all happen. Yet some viewers may not be aware that production for Season 7 was shut down at the beginning of 2022, just four episodes into the filming schedule. The 50-person crew wanted a union contract from their production company, Magic Elves. However, the company would not come to the bargaining table and instead went for the nuclear option and simply shut down the show (via Giant Freakin Robot). 

The protest from the "Nailed It!" crew was in solidarity with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, an organization made up of more than 150,000 entertainment workers raising their voices to point out issues like lack of benefits and long work hours (via Entertainment Weekly). Ultimately, it's easy to get lost in the mindless entertainment of cooking shows. However, it's also important to remember that there are real people responsible for creating the shows we binge-watch on a regular basis, a fact made all the more apparent by the "Nailed It!" production woes.

An episode's cakes might face a surprising fate

It might seem like the cast and crew of "Nailed It!" get to chow down on endless cakes, cookies, and other pastries after those long days of filming. For those of us with a sweet tooth, it sounds like an ideal work environment, though maybe not ideal for one's waistline. However, the show's culinary producer Kim Seeley revealed to Variety that the cakes actually aren't a popular treat for those on set. First of all, after being moved around on set all day under hot lights, the cakes aren't exactly appetizing whem filming wraps. In fact, Seeleys says it's rare that they stay standing up and often fall apart completely at the end of the day. 

Additionally, we have to remember that "Nailed It!" bakers are far from experts in their craft. Remember when one contestant used salt instead of sugar in a recipe? "They are doing this as quickly as humanly possible, essentially, and they are people who are familiar with the kitchen but not the best," Seeley said. That's probably the nicest way to put it, but we are willing to bet that the example cakes are a more popular snack around the Netflix set.