by Alice Levitt
Last night, 120 people gathered at Bluebird Barbecue in Burlington to pay homage to one woman.
Just a few months ago, Gretel-Ann Fischer was considering closing her Winooski bakery, Cupp's. Now, thanks to a spot on TLC's "Next Great Baker," business is booming. Last night, the show revealed that the Vermont baker came in second in the competition.
This morning, I checked in with Fischer. It wasn't easy for her to take the time. She said that a line of people was waiting for the bakery to open at 6:30 this morning, and autograph-seekers and fans are still pouring in.
The crazy day started just two hours after Fischer finally fell asleep. "I was so amped up," she said.
Though Fischer didn't win, in a tearful speech to guests she said that she would be OK either way. That's right, she didn't know the outcome. The TLC crew filmed both her and competitor Ashley Holt winning, but the women didn't know which version would run until the rest of us did.
Ultimately, Fischer said she's pleased with the outcome.
"I don't mind. I'm in a better position," she said. "If I had won, Buddy [Valastro, "Cake Boss" and "Next Great Baker" host] owns me for that year... Now I have free rein to promote my own business."
Fischer believes that the fact that she has her own store and Holt does not may have played into Valastro's ultimate decision.
And things are great in Cupp's land. Fischer has had more cake orders in a single month than ever before, which is especially notable in normally quiet January and February. The extra business will soon necessitate new hires.
Fischer will also need help in the bakery because some of her time is now being spent on two cookbooks, appearances on other national TV shows, and a series of guest videos for a popular website.
"In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined this," said the baker.
We leave you with something else Fischer said she never could have imagined: the supportive chants of her Vermont friends, family and bakery regulars after she learned she did not win the competition.