The Secret Ingredient

Alright, the last Valentine’s Day movie. What is next? Spring? A break? Or is the whole month of February Valentine’s themed? I’m fine with that.

Erin Cahill, Kelly, walks her little dog around the neighborhood. His name is George. Kelly agrees to make two dozen lemon bars for her neighbor. She just leaves her dog to roam around inside her house. She heads into the bakery. Everyone is at work. Really beautiful cakes and cookies and stuff. She does a quick taste test. She sets her purse down in the front of the store. How nice it must be to come into work well after all the employees are there. That is the main downside of owning a bakery-that you’d have to basically get there in the middle of the night to get stuff ready for the day. But not Kelly. She let’s her employees do that so she can take her dog for a leisurely walk before work. Inside, a customer can’t seem to make up her mind. Oh, no she goes back to her usual. Girl, I’d be struggling too. That bakery truly looks phenomenal. I’d be going there every day.

She asks if there are any messages, because apparently there are no cellphones and people still take messages. She reminds her employee that she is happy being single. Someone important named Dawn called too and needed a last minute order for Andrew’s homecoming…oh, her ex fiancé. She seems pretty chill about it.

She waves across the street to maybe…her parents? The diner across the street has America’s favorite cooking show on. Kelly brings over a bunch of cakes or baked items over in a little wagon. The lead shares that she orders pizza and organizes her closets on Valentine’s Day. Sounds fun! Her parents share that they are selling their restaurant to retire. And Kelly is too busy with her own business to take over her parents’ place. Then she shares that she heard Andrew is going to be in town. Apparently their plan was to run her parents’ diner. But Andrew must have blown that all up.

Kelly brings a fabulous cake over to Andrew’s welcome home party. His sister is SHOCKED that Kelly isn’t going to stay. I mean, duh? Oh, it’s a surprise welcome home party. On the drive to the house, Andrew suspects there is a surprise party in the works. Andrew gets a call from A VERY FRENCH PERSON named Francois. There is an emergency at the French restaurant where he works? He must be coming from Paris? Wow. Dawn, the sister, keeps stalling to keep Kelly there. These Hallmark people work harder than EVERYONE. And it works. Andrew walks right in the door as Kelly is trying to leave. They see each other. The room is silent.

Later, Andrew catches up with his mom and sister. He is obviously surprised to see Kelly there. She stays and serves the cake. Andrew is only in town for a few days. Quick stop over on the way to New York to help open a friend’s restaurant. Very busy, very important. Andrew says Kelly’s cake is a slam dunk, even though it is lavender flavored. Oh wait, no, it’s honey ALMOND. Actually, that is probably pretty good. Andrew’s mom volunteers him to drive Kelly home so she can stay. If I had been Kelly I would have rather died.

He is surprised by the house she lives in. Their initials are carved into the tree out front. And she must have done some renovations at this house. Guess what, WE NEVER HEAR MORE ABOUT THIS. We never learn the significance of this house to them. Just that tree. Andrew is the executive pastry chef somewhere…in Paris, obvi. He decides to walk her to her door. What a gentleman. She says George is probably waiting for dinner. She makes it seem like George is a man which is great. A VERY GOOD BOI runs right to the door and says hello. He hopes to run into her more while he’s in town. But she’s SUPER BUSY OKAY?

The next day, a camera crew just shows up into the bakery. Kelly has a panic attack. I’m panicked that they started filming without asking her permission! But Kelly got selected to be in some Valentine’s baking show. She can’t believe it. She’s so stoked. Someone nominated her. But they can’t tell her who nominated her. It’s very serious and secret. The show host needs a red velvet cupcake. She charges her $5.

The producer goes over everything with her. Ten days in New York. But what about the bakery?Figure it out, Kelly. A lot of money is on the line. So, the show a HUGE SECRET. She can’t tell anyone she’s going except one person. And none of the contestants know who each other is. So, okay. Andrew is definitely also a contestant, right? But she’s close with her parents. So, like, what is she supposed to tell her parents? She’s supposed to be like, okay well I’m going on a solo vacation for ten days but don’t worry about it, okay?

Later, Kelly brushes up on some old recipes. Kelly shares that she really wants to tell Andrew…to like, rub it in his face. Same, girl. Kelly does some practice baking that night after the bakery closes. Andrew shows up. He would love a tour. He said he couldn’t sleep. WHAT TIME IS IT? What now, this was a ribbon factory before a bakery? What in the world? A tiny little ribbon factory? I can’t. I don’t have time.

I’m disappointed. She was making cranberry orange muffins. She’s not going to win with that recipe. He offers to help and suggests a cinnamon glaze. That might work. Still not going to reach for that over something else. Andrew is wearing a great sweater. He shares that he felt horrible about how things ended. She’s like, well I’m over it. He’s like, okay, bye then!

The next day she starts to spin the web that gets her to sneak to New York. She tells her mom she’s going to Atlanta and her mom is like, oh I’ll come! And she’s so excited. And Kelly’s homegirl backs her up. She can’t come. Only room for one lady at that bakery retail conference. Her parents are way too concerned for a a woman in her… late thirties? To be traveling alone.

Wow, Kelly got to fly first class! And seems like she has a sort of like, assistant? She has a phenomenal hotel room. The producer says she can’t take any pictures of the view because of her NDA. But um, she could take pics? Just can’t share them until later. Geez Louise, lady.

Andrew strolls along NYC with a lady. She wants to eat but he doesn’t. He says he misses his hometown, the North Carolina one; not the Paris one. Ooooooooh.

The next morning, Kelly seemingly doesn’t set an alarm and wakes up to a phone call from the producer telling her she’ll be there in 30 minutes. THAT’S NOT ENOUGH TIME TO GET READY.

Regardless, she gets there in time. She gets a little red chef top with her name on it for the show and her own little studio kitchen. The producer explains the ground rules again. AH! They just like START! I’m so panicked for her. No practicing? No tips on how to be on TV?!! AHH. Andrew’s totally there, right?

Maneet, the show host, explains the rules. She has to make something for a 50th wedding anniversary. How about sugar free chocolate pudding? Or a plain banana? Instead she needs to make something with chili peppers and chocolate. No 70+ year old is eating chili peppers in dessert, lady!!!

Kelly seems to know immediately what to make. She makes one of those cute decorated cookie cakes in the shape of “50”. I LOVE IT. So great. It looks gorgeous. The producer comes down to get her when the time is up.

She and her producer walk around. And SHE SEES Andrew. Uh oh. So that other lady is also a producer I’m guessing. They walk over and say hi. She scrambles to come up with an excuse for being here. Brenda and Lori pretend not to know each other. Andrew suggests they all eat together. Kelly suggests a place and Lori is like, girl good luck. Andrew makes a call and they get right in. Andrew IS WEARING A TURTLENECK. I can’t focus on anything else. They’re talking about their childhood or whatever but all I can see is Andrew’s turtleneck.

From above the turtleneck he says he’d rather own a restaurant than be a pastry chef. Lori gets a ding and says she has to leave. And well, so does Brenda and Kelly.

Back at the contest, Kelly shares what she made. It sounds awesome. The judges share what they think. The first judge LOVES it. The second judge is that dopey guy from one of the Christmas movies. He loves it too. But the third judge says she wasn’t daring enough. But he still loved it.

On the way back to the hotel, Brenda asks about Andrew. Brenda thinks Andrew still has a thing for her. Kelly decides to call him in the car to say thank you again. And then, she asks to keep catching up if he’s not too busy. DAAAANG GIRL. Get it. They’re going to have dinner. And now we know what I knew already. HE IS ALSO ON THE SHOW. Well, duh.

Back on the show the next day, Kelly panics about getting eliminated. There is a plate on their tray saying whether or not they will move on to the next round. Kelly and Andrew both got tickets. Kelly and Andrew are shocked about who got eliminated. After the day, yhe producer is too wiped to hang with Kelly. But then, Kelly’s phone pings. Andrew wants to hang! Brenda doesn’t seem bothered that they are both contestants and might find out…

Later, Kelly checks in with her friend and employee. Kelly says she’s just looking for closure with Andrew. The friend shares that her mom told her they are close to closing on the restaurant. Francois, who is DEFINITELY FRENCH, OKAY? Is not pleased with Andrew being gone again. He wants to fire the assistant Andrew left in his place. He and Kelly meet in a park. He has an idea. Oh sad. He is taking her to a hot dog stand. Look, I’m in. But I’m still going to be hungry. They sit outside in the freezing cold and eat their hot dogs. Why do they actually film these in the winter but not the Christmas ones? She shares that her parents are selling the restaurant. He’s so bummed.

The next day, Kelly shares with Brenda that she was hoping for closure but that was not what she got last night. Brenda is just HUSTLING for these two. I want to see Kelly bake more stuff! So, this time they have to make something for a kid’s birthday party….using things kids would NEVER eat-rose petals and nuts. There is no birthday party in America using nuts. Maneet walks around and talks to the contestants. Kelly is smartly making cake pops. Andrew is making some kind of French version of the same thing… oh no, he’s making cream puffs. She made edible roses too. I’m confused. The third contestant made puppy cupcakes. That seems like the only kid appropriate dessert. One of the judges is like, oh Andrew the thing you made is not practical for a kid’s birthday party. Duh. Neither is Kelly’s! All the judges had something critical to say to everyone! Ah. I’m in suspense. It’s dome time.

Kelly gets to advance to the next round. And so does Andrew. But poor puppy dog cupcakes does not. Kelly can’t believe it. Later, Kelly and Andrew do an interview for the show. Kelly shares a story about her first Valentine’s Day. Andrew says there IS someone he would want to call if he won.

Later, Brenda and Kelly toast and decide to go get cheesecake. But then Brenda gets a call and has to do work. She tells Kelly to go by herself. Sad. Oh Lori and Brenda are SCHEMING. Why didn’t they call each other to hang out that night anyway? Kelly sits down and loses her mind about the world’s greatest cheesecake. Is this a real place in NYC? I didn’t know! And then, Andrew shows up. Koinky dink!

Kelly asks the owner about the cheesecake. They chat and he ends up saying that her bakery is his favorite place in the world. Kelly is way to eager with the taxi. Andrew asks if they can continue this later. Kelly is like, well no. You’re going to Paris and I’m going back to North Carolina! And he’s like, oh yeah. I forgot.

The next day, Brenda gives her a pep talk. Andrew tells his producer that this money could be a fresh start for him. Oh, so he’s going to win and buy Kelly’s parents’ diner.

Maneet shares they have a surprise. Her producer gets to help! Okay, now they have to make a tall proposal cake. She comes up with a pretty bland idea for a design. But she decides to make her classic cake. Andrew comes up with an idea too. I wonder if they decide to make the same cake. Maneet wanders around and is very unhelpful. The time is runnng out . Andrew’s cake LOOKS way prettier. Oh wait, no, I like Kelly’s. Andrew’s looks like a wedding cake.

The judges are sampling the cakes. And NOW THEY GET TO SEE WHO THEY ARE COMPETING AGAINST. They bring Kelly out first. Lori and Brenda giggle. They look at each other and smile and laugh. Maneet asks if they’re dying to know who nominated them. Maneet reads the nomination. They were nominated at the same time with the hopes that they get together. Oh, his sister. So what about those other two contestants. Were they just pawns? The judges say they are stumped because they made the exact same cake. The judges can’t tell the cake apart. Maneet gets to break the tie. Kelly seems confused by this.

Later, Kelly is mad. She says it’s HER recipe. Andrew is like, no we made that cake recipe TOGETHER. They kind of get in to it. He asked her to come, he left and her home is in Bailey’s Fork. Eh. They’re both wrong. But she should have gone to Paris.

Maneet brings them back and is ready to announce the winner. Kelly wins! Oh Andrew is a good sport but gets pushed out of the way by everything and just fades away. Her cake was prettier. Kelly goes back to her dressing room. Brenda says they have lots of press to do now. Oh, I love Kelly’s sweater too. Andrew is actually still in the building. He was hoping to catch Kelly. Now all of a sudden, Brenda is not working it for Kelly and Andrew? Oh maybe not. Kelly left her jacket and Andrew offers to bring it to her. They run into each other in the hotel lobby.

Kelly is off to the airport. She’s late. Andrew tells her to have a safe trip home and they have a weird hug. Then he tells her why he never comes home to visit. He says that he knew if he saw her, it would be too hard to leave again. AND IT WAS TOO HARD. He still has feelings for her. He misses Bailey’s Fork every day because she’s there. And that’s why he made that cake. It reminds him of home and her. He says he couldn’t leave without telling her how he feels. They never stopped loving each other. Oh he grabs her hands but he’s wearing leather gloves so she is horrified and runs away. She is like no we can’t be together. But it’s for different reasons than you wearing those weird driving gloves. She tearfully walks away.

Back in his hotel, Andrew talks to SUPER FRENCH Francois on the phone. He is exasperated. His ride is there but his suitcase is still wide open. Then he makes another phone call.

Back at the Cake Factory, that lady who always orders the same thing, decides to change it up. The lady shares that it’s her anniversary, so Kelly gives her the order for free. Her friend is like, let’s go watch your show. The whole town is assembled in Main Street Cafe to watch the finale. Kelly thanks Dawn for the nomination. Dawn congratulates Kelly’s parents on the sale of the restaurant. But this is news to Kelly. Then she gets a text from Andrew. It is very direct. She texts back, where are you? But why doesn’t she just call him? Anway, he’s outside her house by their tree. He tells her again that he has to talk to her. SHE’s MISSING THE FINALE WITH THE WHOLE TOWN.

They go inside and Andrew says he’s moving back. He’s very sure. Ugh They should go to Paris. She asks what he’s going to do for work. He’s like, you just won 100k and run a bakery. I don’t need to work, girl!! Just kidding, he’s buying her parents’ diner. And then they kiss. And then she remembers that the finale is on. Geez Louise. So they make it back just in time. Everyone cheers for Kelly. Andrew is humiliated all over again. Oh, one year later!

Kelly walks out of her shop and over to the diner. Both places are decorated for Valentine’s Day. Great blush coat. Andrew is handing her cupcakes and then hands her a ring box. RIGHT IN THE RESTAURANT. Right in front of everyone. Great ring. I don’t love that as a proposal though. Pretty rushed and anticlimactic. Oh well. That’s it! We DID IT.

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