Baker Gretel-Ann Fischer who appeared on the TLC show "Next Great Baker" closed her financially troubled Vermont bakery on Saturday, citing the show's negative portrayal of her character as one reason.
"I can never repair what [TLC] did to my reputation." Fischer told the local television news station WCAX. "I lost contracts, a lot of business," said Fischer who opened Cupp's Cafe & Bakery with her husband in 2012 in Winooski, Vermont. Fischer did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment by the Huffington Post.
The trouble with TLC dates back to the finale of the show's third season, which showed Fischer sabotaging her competition by turning up the heat on her rivals' ovens by 50 degrees. In order to win, each contestant had to bake and sell 400 cookies, 100 pastries, 10 cakes and 10 pies under a tight deadline.
"I just knocked out a good percentage of her profits right there," said a smiling Fischer when a rival baker discovered the plot. "Apparently everyone else doesn't realize this is a competition."
After the episode aired in February, fans raged against her behavior on the show on Facebook, Twitter and the store's blog. "Wow. Hiding sheet pans and turning up the oven to try and sabotage the other 2 ladies? I bet she would have screamed foul had one of them did that to her. GretalAnn didn't call it 'cheating', but I sure wouldn't call it good sportsmanship," [sic] wrote one shocked Next Great Baker fan on Cupps' blog.
But Fischer did not appear regretful over her actions following the show's airing, and tweeted a photograph of herself that said, "It's not cheating...it's culinary 101."
Fischer said the negative attention led to a drop in orders and street traffic. She also cited rising competition from other restaurants, the sluggish economy and taxes as additional reasons she shut the doors on her small business.
Fischer said her business was already in trouble financially before she landed her spot on the show, according to a video interview on TLC's website. She told TLC that she hoped to win the $100,000 grand prize in order to keep her doors open. "This is it, this is all I have right now," said the baker. "This is my one last chance. I have nine employees."
At first the gamble seemed to pay off. When Fischer was first selected to be on the show, according to WCAX, the number of customers at her business jumped from 300 to 500 per day. But in the end, her competitive streak hurt the business more than it helped. According to WCAX, the baker will continue to work in food services but is not planning to open another bakery.