People who really know Yolie Seal ’14, ’17 realize she can’t bake. But even her closest family and friends were unaware that Seal had decided to expose her non-baking skills to millions of television viewers as a contestant on the Netflix reality baking show “Nailed It!” The show challenges amateur bakers to make unusual creations.
Seal’s risk paid off; she won the grand prize of $10,000 during an episode that tasked her to make Neanderthal cupcakes and a T-Rex cake. Not bad for a woman whose cookies taste more like pancakes and who has made a mess “anytime I've ever tried to make a birthday cake for anyone."
But she’s a whiz at making chicken and dumplings and enchiladas.
"I can cook, but I can't bake," Seal said. “There is a completely different science to baking."
Seal, who appeared on the third season of “Nailed It!,” filmed her episode in June 2018. She became hooked on the show because of its host, comedienne Nicole Byer, who amusingly critiques contestants as they blunder through their baking.
"She is just hilarious,” said Seal, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Teaching English as a Second Language from UNC Charlotte. “She tells it like it is. She's not scared to be herself. She's very much a breath of fresh air for someone my age."
So, last spring, when Byer posted on Twitter seeking contestants for the show, Seal responded. She had to do a series of interviews with the casting crew and film some of her home baking adventures. She enlisted her dad—a master baker—to do the video.
"My roommates were, unfortunately, the ones that had to actually taste everything," said Seal, who added she was more nervous about meeting Byer than being on the show.
Seal got a really slow start with the Neanderthal cupcakes. With 21 minutes left, she still had not placed them inside the oven. And she had trouble determining how to beat the cupcake mix at medium speed.
“I don’t know what medium is,” Seal said during the show.
During the judging of the cupcakes in the first round, Byer noted that Seal’s Neanderthal doesn’t appear to have a body and that he looks jaundiced.
“Oh, he’s so yellow,” she said.
Seal’s mouth was agape at the beginning of the second round, when she saw an example of the T-rex cake that she would have to make. But she prevailed in the end. While Byer said Seal’s cake looked like a “strange fish from the bottom of the deep, deep ocean,” she beat out the other two contestants for the top prize.
The UNC Charlotte alumna could not reveal she was going to be on the show until the previews for the third season aired. She held a watch party when it did and since then has viewed her episode multiple times.
Seal said she enjoyed the experience and learning what goes into making a reality show. And she’s still trying to improve her baking.
Expected to give birth to a boy on July 13, Seal attempted to bake a gender-reveal cake for her friends. Her goal was to make the cake blue on the inside.
Let’s just say her friends knew she was having a boy before they cut into the cake. But she said she’s gotten good at making cheesecake. That counts as baking, right?
“It's not always the prettiest, but it tastes good, which is what's important," Seal said.
by: Jonelle Davis