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It’s all about the butter, babe

Local food blogger featured in Netflix’s Easy-Bake Battle: The Home Cooking Competition
Alex Bala appears in the Netflix show Easy-Bake Battle: The Home Cooking Competition.

One Longmont food blogger stepped up to the plate and put her skills to the test for a chance to win it big on Netflix’s latest competitive cooking show, Easy-Bake Battle: The Home Cooking Competition.

Netflix’s Easy-Bake Battle: The Home Cooking Competition premiered on Oct. 12 and Longmont food blogger Alex Bala – affectionately known as “The Butta Babe” among her thousands of social media followers – is featured in episode seven, Dinner, Dinner Chicken Winner!

“It was a life-changing experience for sure, and I am so happy that I took the chance on myself even though I’m a busy mom and I’m always focusing on the kids, I’m so happy that I took a chance on myself because I just love to share this ability with other people,” Bala said.

The Butta Babe was born in December 2020 as a way for Bala to share her home-cooked meals tailored for busy families like her own. As a mother of three with a full-time business as a personal trainer, a seasonal assistant to the University of Denver gymnastics team and a budding food blogger, Bala is no stranger to working creatively and efficiently in the kitchen, using her clever cooking hacks to produce delicious homemade meals for her family.

“I’m really into making things easy and quick, but they still look elegant, fun and fancy,” Bala said. “It doesn’t take a lot of ingredients to make things really tasty, but you can still make it look like you spent three hours on a dish.”

Bala found her love of cooking through her family and the recipes they’ve shared amongst themselves for generations. Her grandfather was a chef in the Navy and later opened a few barbecue pits in North Texas. Together, she and her family regularly host their own cooking competitions at home and they love to entertain, making the Easy Bake Battle a perfect fit for her competitive spirit and brand.

An ode to the retro Easy-Bake Oven, Easy-Bake Battle puts home cooks to the test, as they have to use their skills and creativity to overcome challenges in the kitchen to create delicious dishes in a short amount of time.

“They give you kind of like a mini boot camp before you show up and you just have to kind of prepare for what they’re going to put in front of you, but you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” Bala said. “The rules could change, something could change within the entire episode that you have to be ready to switch it up, so you have a bit of an idea, but you’re not entirely sure going into it like this is for sure what’s going to happen, these ingredients are going to be here for sure, so you might have to change up your whole game plan at the end of it.”

Filming took place in December of 2021 in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Netflix studios. In the two-round challenge, the competitors were tasked with creating a dinner for themselves with chicken, while simultaneously prepping a meal using repurposed chicken from the meal before to host a small party the following night.

“I was excited about chicken because I knew that I can make really good chicken, that’s like one of my solid staple dishes. I’ve known how to cut up a chicken since I was eight and I made chicken dishes all of the time, my family eats chicken probably three times a week, so I wasn’t nervous at all,” Bala said.

Bala started the competition on a confident note with her son’s favorite fried chicken and  an added twist of sweet potato pecan waffles – a feat she had never attempted before – paired with a bourbon maple syrup.

“I made [the waffles] on the fly, I had a different idea in mind, but I switched that up in the moment,” Bala said. 

Her bravery paid off, as she was escalated to the final round to pair off against Giselle Bonetti, trading out the shrimp for chicken in her husband’s favorite Cajun basil pesto pasta for her second dish. However, while her cooking was well regarded among the judges, Bonetti ultimately won the $25,000 prize.

“Even though I didn’t win, I feel like I won because I took a chance on myself, put my story out there of why I love cooking and how much it really brings joy to me and my family and I want to inspire others,” Bala said.

While she didn’t win, Bala keeps in touch with the friends she made there, including Bonetti, who used her winnings to help sponsor Bala in adopting a service dog for her son. 

“You meet life-long friends going through something that’s this intense and you just build this relationship very quickly with the other contestants,” Bala said, who frequently collaborates with the show’s fellow alumni on social media endeavors.

“My top goal is to build a career behind being on a show, showing that I can step up to the plate and present some good, delicious food,” Bala said.

Now, the wheels are turning for the home chef as she’s already planning multiple businesses built off of her new exposure. Bala will be offering cooking classes out of her home, freshly prepared family-sized meals for order and has a cookbook in the works.

Easy-Bake Battle is a Netflix Original and can be viewed on the streaming platform.