Buddy vs Duff episode review: A Whale of an underwater scene

Team Buddy featuring Mauro Castano and Buddy Valastro, as seen on Buddy vs Duff, Season 2.
Team Buddy featuring Mauro Castano and Buddy Valastro, as seen on Buddy vs Duff, Season 2. /

In this Buddy vs Duff episode, the aquatic theme cakes head under the sea. Which aquatic theme cake was an underwater paradise?

Under the sea might be wetter but on Buddy vs Duff Season 2, bigger is definitely better. In this week’s epic Food Network cake battle, Buddy Valastro and Duff Goldman took on aquatic themed cakes. Yes, there was a whale of an underwater scene.

After Duff gained a half point lead in the Waitress the Musical episode, the two celebrated bakers head to the West Coast. Instead of movie stars and glamour, the first challenge went under the sea. If anyone thought that stepping into an aquarium would be relaxing, they haven’t watched a Food Network competition.

While the overall theme of this week’s Buddy vs Duff challenge was based on the Aquarium of the Pacific,  the required skill was tableau. Basically, Buddy and Duff had to create a little story in an image. It was a snapshot of an underwater paradise.

Even though these challenges are artistic, it is a cake challenge. Both teams are talented enough to make art out of anything. Still, they have to turn cake into art. There needs to be cake.

Buddy vs Duff
Team Duff featuring Duff Goldman and Geof Manthorne, Team Buddy featuring Ralph Attanasia and Buddy Valastro with Special Guest Isabella Gomez, as seen on Buddy vs Duff, Season 2. /

Before Duff finishes his cake, there is a lot of banter about his lack of cake. While there are cereal treats, modeling chocolate and gum paste, there is not a lot of cake. Then again, does anyone really eat the “cake” in this display?

It would be interesting to know what happens to any of the cake used. Those sheet cakes seen during the build do not seem like they are meant to be eaten.

Looking at both displays in this Buddy vs Duff episode, the teams were quite ambitious. From Buddy’s 2,500 pound whale scene to Duff’s 100s of little fish, it seems that bigger is better. While the size impresses, it would be nice to see a display that was a little less extreme. Sometimes bigger isn’t always better.

Then again, the reason why people watch this show is to see cake transformed into something unbelievable. If the cakes looked like something everyone can buy at Publix, then no one would want to watch this Food Network show.


Comparing the snapshots of an underwater paradise, the designs were quite different. Buddy’s display makes people react because of its impressive size. Duff’s display has people react because it is unusual. The two very different approaches to the underwater tableau seem to summarize the competition.

Since it is a team competition, it is interesting that Duff choose to have a non-cake artist on his team. His choice to include a special FX artist says something about his approach to this competition. For him, it is more than just a traditional cake display or a single element. Duff wants to push boundaries.

In Duff’s design, people can walk into the experience. It is almost as if the sugar and flour are coming to life. From the narwhal to the fish, it looks like a seascape.

While there is whimsy to this scene, a few additional details would have made it even better. Although the technical aspect was impressive, something on the ground would have pushed it over the top. Just like a cake needs to be on something, this display needed something on the floor.

Given the numerous moving parts, Duff could not finish assembling his display on time. Since his team took an additional 17 minutes to complete the installation, Duff was docked two points. Yes, that two points is a huge disadvantage (even though the competition is cumulative).

In Buddy’s display, the bright colors were whimsical. While the size drew people into the display, there was a sense of illusion. All the details made it seem even more impressive.

Overall, Buddy made smart use of his team. From sugar fish to the numerous pieces of coral, those details emphasized the scale. Similar to a real underwater scene, it is all those little details that make it beautiful.

Given Duff’s deduction, everyone could have guessed that Buddy was going to win this challenge. It is too hard to overcome a two point deduction.

At the end of this Buddy vs Duff episode, Buddy takes a big lead in the overall competition. The score is 135 to 130.5. Of course, everyone can expect that the competition will go back and forth till the final episode.

As the episode ends, Buddy states that he will continue the approach that has been working for him, go big. After creating a cake that was approximately 2,500 pounds, how much bigger can he really go? Is there a limit to how big that he can go?

In next week’s Buddy vs Duff episode, the teams create a mini golf scene. Will everyone be able to play through these cakes?

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What did you think of this week’s Buddy vs Duff episode? Which underwater scene did you find impressive?