Byline: Courtney Little
WORCESTER - Alina Eisenhauer always loved two things: baking and being on TV. So when she found a way to combine them, it turned out to be the perfect recipe.
Eisenhauer, the owner of Sweet, a cupcake shop and cocktail bar on Shrewsbury Street, has been on three Food Network shows since 2009: "Chopped," "Cupcake Wars" and "Sweet Genuis." She also was featured last month on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New York City" when she made a cake for housewife Aviva Drescher.
On the cooking competition shows, she was eliminated from "Chopped" and "Cupcake Wars," but won "Sweet Genuis."
"My son likes to joke and say that I'm the original sweet genius, because I was on the premiere episode of the first season," says Eisenhauer, 41.
She learned, though, that it is not all about who wins and who loses.
"After `Cupcake Wars,' our business doubled overnight, literally, and has not stopped since," she reflects. "We got a good bump after `Sweet Genius,' too, but I think after `Cupcake Wars' we almost got a bigger bump because it was in its second season and it had a larger audience already. It sounds funny to say this, but I think business-wise, sometimes it's better not to win, because people like to root for the person who they think got ripped off."
Although not everyone walked away with as much air time as Eisenhauer, the Worcester area has had its share of casting calls and reality contestants, with local people featured on popular shows such as "Survivor," "Say Yes to the Dress," "America's Next Top Model," "Renovation Realities," "MasterChef," "House Hunters," "America's Toughest Jobs," "Don't Tell the Bride," "Step It Up & Dance," "Nashville Star," "Design Squad" and "American Idol."
And the future may hold more stardom. In June, interviews for "The Bachelor" were held at the Bernie & Phyl's store in Westboro.
The show will begin taping in September, however the names of contestants will not be released until December, when ABC starts promoting the season debut.
Many Worcester contestants were eliminated early from their shows, but not baking underdog and fan favorite Carmelo Oquendo, who made it to the eighth episode of season two of "Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker."
Oquendo, 43, a former Worcester police officer, had just started his baking career early last summer when he was asked by TLC to become a contestant on the show. He accepted the offer and went on the show last August. He was a novice compared to his opponents...