Monday, November 8, 2010

Food Network Challenge "Giant Wedding Cakes"

Our 7 foot 3 inch cake for the mystery couple Katie and Matt

Did you see Food Network Challenge Giant Wedding Cakes? It was a doozy! If you missed it, fear not, it will re-run, and you should definitely make sure you catch it. Don't worry, I won't give away the ending here.

So, the first thing you need to understand about Challenge is that it's all in the editing. They've got over 60 hours of tape to work with after all, and they only need 40-ish minutes for TV. The second thing to know is that it's a LONG day for all of us, cast and crew, judges, etc. We start at 5 or 6 am after VERY little sleep (I average 2.75 hours of fitful sleep before competition day) and it's go, go, go for 12 to 15 hours. Yes, I know, Challenge is only 8 hours. But in the finished product you don't see the set ups, the second and third takes on intros, the "hero shots", the false starts, the green room, makeup, etc. Trust me, it's hella long. The third thing to know is that everyone on Challenge has a role to play. Example: Kerry is the "mean" judge. That's her role, it's NOT who she is. Trust me on this. The fourth, and most important thing to know is that Challenge IS A TV SHOW. Let me repeat this. CHALLENGE IS A TV SHOW. It's not reality, it's reality TV, there IS a difference.

So, now that all that is out of the way, let me tell you how much I love Challenge. No, love is really not a strong enough word. I mean, people love chocolate and their dogs and even a favorite pair of shoes. Love is not nearly strong enough to describe how I feel about Challenge. Hmmm... well, truth be told, it's my drug. Seriously. I can't. get. enough. It's the most stressful, exciting, exhilarating, exhausting experience you can imagine. It's tense, nerve-wracking, and vomit-inducing. It's an adrenaline rush. It's non-stop madness. It's heaven. I adore it. I think about it day and night. I would make it my full-time, everyday-of-the-year job if I could. I know this makes me a little "sick", but hey, if there's a cure, I definitely do NOT want it!

"Giant Wedding Cakes" was my second Challenge, taped back in May. I filmed my first Challenge, "Paranormal Cakes" in January of this year. Two weeks ago I competed in my third Challenge, and next week I will do my fourth. That's right, it's my drug, and I need it frequently, 4 times a year at minimum. Unfortunately, Challenge goes on hiatus from May through September, so as you might expect, the summer is hell for me.

The "Love" carving on one of our tree trunks

And now, some frequently asked questions, answered:
Q: What do they do with all the cakes?
A: After the beauty shots and close ups, they throw them out. It's a TV studio after all, not a licensed commercial kitchen. Trust me, you wouldn't want to eat these cakes.
Q: Do you tape in New York or Los Angeles?
A: Neither. The production company for Challenge, High Noon Entertainment, is based in Denver and that's where Challenge is filmed.
Q: Is Keegan a big teddy bear and Kerry a meanie face?
A: Not exactly, and no. While Keegan is a very kind and approachable person, and yes, a bit of a teddy bear, he is also an accomplished pastry chef and has a critical eye and palette. He's a tough judge, but his role on the show is somewhat "softer" than Kerry's. Kerry has decades of experience in cake and sugar art and has forgotten more about such art in the last 5 minutes than I will ever know in my lifetime. She knows her stuff and she tells it like it is. She is not, however, mean. Or cruel, or unfair. Her Challenge role is much more one-dimensional than her true personality. Remember, it's reality TV, NOT reality. Both Keegan and Kerry are much more than what you see on TV.
Q: Do they provide your tools and materials?
A: No, we bring everything with us except the kitchen itself, the kitchenaide mixer, and the fondant sheeter.
Q: Is there still a live audience?
A: No. The new set does not have room for a live audience. But if you're really, really nice, or give me a lot of money, or are a member of my immediate family, you just might be invited to be in my VIP section next tiem.
Q: Why do you always make such big cakes?
A: Why not? Seriously, I think Challenge is always about going big or going home. I never play it safe cuz that's not fun nor does it make for good TV. I'm an over-achiever and a glutton for punishment. I also believe that the height requirement should be met with cake and not rice cereal treats, styrofoam, wires, blah, blah, blah... it's a cake competition after all.
Q: Is Claire really that skinny or do they use smoke and mirrors?
A: Yes, she really is that tiny. I know. But don't hate her for it, she's really nice too!
Q: When you go to Challenge do you get to meet Bobby, Giada, Ina, and Paula?
A: I wish. Especially Giada and Ina, J'adore!!
Q: Did you really want to "whack" Bronwen at Giant Wedding Cakes?
A: Haha! Of course not. I wanted to win. But that whole story line made it a much more interesting show, right? It's TV, remember?
Q: Did Gio really build a 6 foot cake without a center support?
A: Yes, he did. But he will never, ever, do it again.
Q: Did Donna run into some trouble?
A: Hell yes she did. Her airbrush malfunctioned and that was a very big problem because she intended to airbrush her WHOLE cake! Also, and you didn't see this on the show, her assistant Marina (the gorgeous blonde) cut her hand VERY badly and had to leave the set for quite a long time. They do NOT stop the clock when someone gets hurt. This upset their entire time-line and definitely caused Donna major stress. Don't worry, I'm betting she'll be back to kick some major cake booty and when she does I hope I'm nowhere to be found, cuz she's got mad skillz!
Q: Do you always cry on Challenge?
A: So far, yes. What can I say? I'm emotional.

The waterfall representing where the couple was engaged,
and an apple tree representing their wedding venue.

Me and my staff in downtown Denver outside the amazing REI store.
Denver is SO cool
, I want to live there when I grow up!

Does this one really need a caption?
Ok, it's me and Kerry after Giant Wedding Cakes Challenge

That's it for now. Gotta go and plan my time-line for next week's Challenge. Wish I could tell you the theme but that's classified info. Suffice it to say that I will, once again, make a VERY BIG CAKE! Hah!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Black and Ivory Wedding Cake with Bows and Brooches at Buttons Restaurant

Oh how I love this cake! I know you're tired of hearing that every cake is my favorite, but seriously, I can't help myself. I get kinda attached.
Latoya and Lee were so wonderful to work with. Latoya knew exactly the style she wanted to convey and she trusted us to "do our thing", LOVE THAT!

We used a pale ivory base fondant which is really nice and warm with the black in contrast. Sometimes pure white can be a bit jarring with black and this tone was just beautiful.

I hand cut the "brooches" and dusted them with silver disco dust which catches the light so nicely and gives a more subtle bling than inedible rhinestones.

Buttons Restaurant provided the perfect "cool and stylish" backdrop for the reception.

All the fabulous photos are courtesy of Candi Coffman Photography.

Elegant 7 Tiered Ivory, Pink and Gold Wedding Cake

This cake was a true labor of love. Seven tiers of varying heights with lots of design details: quilting and pearls, damask stencils, piping, tufting, painting. We delivered this towering confection to The City Club in downtown Fort Worth. It looked stunning in the room with it's mirrored walls and harlequin window treatments. Tami Winn Events and LeFleur Couture outdid themselves with the room decor and the fresh flowers on the cake.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

3 Dimensional Sculpted White Tail Deer Groom's Cake

One of my all-time faves! I had such a blast creating this sculpted cake. This white tail deer was a first for me and I loved every minute working on him. I sculpted his antlers from white chocolate and his entire body is edible- fondant over buttercream, and yes, Red Velvet Cake! We delivered this groom's cake to the fabulous Ashton Depot in downtown Fort Worth. As you can see, I gave the big boy a goodbye "air kiss" before leaving him in his final resting place! Love!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Third Food Network Challenge

So thrilled to compete in my third Food Network Challenge last week. Details are top secret until the air date, but I will say that this one was particularly fun and crazy. My second Challenge "Giant Wedding Cakes", filmed back in May, airs November 7 at 8pm EST. Watch me and my girls go up against the amazing Bronwen Weber, and newbies Giovanni Morina and Donna Ford for the $10,000 prize! And PS: I'm going back for my 4th Challenge in just 3 weeks! Holy cow, wish me luck and let's hope I've recovered from the last one!!

Topsy Turvy Alice in Wonderland Cake

Oh how I love me a topsy turvy cake! This one was such fun. The colors are bright and cheerful without being garish, the whimsical designs and wonkyness make you smile in spite of yourself! Love it!!

Cupcake Demo for Good Morning Texas (and Aaron Sanchez too!)

I've been a very bad blogger! It's been 3 months since my last posting in July about my Food Network Challenge "Paranormal Cakes" premiere and we've been busy with lots of fabulous cakes, 2 more Challenges and loads of events and appearances. My second Challenge, "GIANT WEDDING CAKES" which was filmed back in May will air on November 7th at 8pm EST. This is a real doozy so make sure you tune in. Our cakes had to be a minimum of 6 feet tall! I can't reveal any juicy details until after the show airs but for now, here are some pics from my GOOD MORNING TEXAS appearance this morning in Dallas.

It was super cool to meet Food Network celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez who was also a guest on GMT this morning.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Food Network Challenge "Paranormal Cakes"

Me and my husband in my Challenge kitchen after a VERY long and exciting day

Ok, so my first Food Network Challenge is FINALLY airing tonight and I'm extremely excited, but a little nervous too. I mean, I know what happens obviously, the show was taped 6 months ago! But, what I don't know is how they will edit dozens of hours of tape into a one hour show. The post production team can pretty much make the show into anything they want. After all, they manage to make Kerry Vincent look pretty darn tough, right? The truth is, she IS tough, but she's also incredibly kind, generous and supportive of the competitors. They just don't show that side of her very often. It will be interesting to see what kind of Challenge story they choose to tell this time. Like everyone else, I will wait and see. Come on 7:00, I'm dying to see it!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Elegant Ivory Hexagonal Wedding Cake with Edible Sugar Brooch

We have been so fortunate this Summer, we've done one fabulous cake after another for wonderful clients. Last night we had the great pleasure of creating the Bride's cake, Groom's sweets, and party favors for Courtney Crummel and Gif Summers, now officially Mr and Mrs Summers! I first met with Courtney and her mother several months ago and it was clear to me that she wanted something really special for her wedding. She wanted her cake to be unique but not necessarily "trendy". We combined an elegant tone on tone ivory and champagne palette with hexagonal tiers in varying heights and an edible sugar brooch to achieve just the right mix of tradition, sophistication, and "of the moment" flair.

The edible brooch was definitely a show-stopper!

The royal icing stenciling with over-piping and sugar pearls was elegant and timeless

The groom was decidedly "not a cake man" and wanted to have cupcakes and mini pies and tartlets instead of the traditional groom's cake. I like a man who knows what he wants! His goodies included Chocolate Obsession and Caramel Cream Cupcakes, Lemon Meringue Tartlets and Mini Apple Pies with Crumb Topping and Caramel Drizzle. I heard today that the impatient guests wiped out the sweets before the bride and groom were even announced!!

For the 300 guest favors we created 4 varieties of Chocolate Dipped Pretzels and placed them in cellophane bags tied off with champagne ribbon.

I often get "attached" to the cakes I create for my clients but this one was particularly hard to let go of. My girls had to practically pry it out of my hands!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010


A couple of months ago we had the honor of creating a cake for David Tutera and his WeTV show MY FAIR WEDDING. The episode aired tonight so we can finally post some pics of the cake and the venue.

David's client this time around was quite the diva and wanted a fashion-focused over-the-top cake. The design included edible sugar beads, hot pink sugar "sequins", pearlized "dupioni silk" fondant, tufting and draping, and real crystal rhinestones. We used a combination of sugar flowers and fresh flowers on the cake.

David and his crew were so wonderful. I'm a big fan of David's and I was pleased to learn that he is every bit as calm, cool and kind off camera as he is when the cameras are rolling. The producer allowed us to stick around for the room reveal, watching from the balcony of the theater. What a THRILL!

Elegant White and Black Wedding Cake and Horse-Themed Groom's Cake

Oh how I love this cake!!
Every wedding cake we do is important, and every couple is special. But every so often we work with a couple that is truly sublime. Sheri and Jeffrey are one of those couples. Their wedding was exquisite in every way, their love story truly memorable, and to top it all off Jeffrey suffered a heart attack the week of his wedding and still managed to make it to the altar to marry the woman of his dreams. Now THAT is special!
This cake was a true labor of love for me. I knew it had to be elegant, stylish and memorable, just like Sheri and Jeffrey. This one will go done as an all-time fave.

Not to be outdone by his extraordinary bride, Jeffrey asked for a horse-themed groom's cake. One of my cake artists, Jessica, really nailed this one. Good job Jess!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rough Buttercream Wedding Cake

More and more brides are asking for a "rough" buttercream finish on their cakes. This particular cake was unique because the bride wanted to combine this trendy rough look with traditional piped scrolls. The result is at once traditional and modern, and definitely makes a statement.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Orange Peonies Wedding Cake

LOVE the simple style of this wedding cake. The bright orange Peonies just scream SPRING!

Pug Dog Wedding Cake

We did this super fun wedding cake for a couple who adores their 3 Pug Dogs. The cake was ordered as a surprise by a friend who wanted to feature their dogs along with their love of a casual lifestyle centered around their backyard and swimming pool. We hand-modeled the dogs out of white and dark chocolate and placed them on a whimsical and vibrant 3 tier cake. FUN!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Painted" Pucci-Inspired Anniversary Cake

20 years is a milestone in any relationship and worthy of a festive celebration! We did this Pucci-inspired cake for Charles and Alex's anniversary party at the Ashton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth. The pattern was first incised into the fondant then hand-painted with edible lusters. Royal icing piping, a perky bow topper, and ribbon-style roses complete the design.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

3-D Klutzy Skier Cake

LOVE doing cakes for these clients! This is the 5th we've done in the past year for these guys and I just love their sense of humor! Apparently the birthday boy isn't the most proficient skier, at least not yet. Gotta love a guy who can laugh at himself!
Inside is our very popular Chocolate Obsession Cake- classic chocolate cake filled with dark chocolate ganache- YUM!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

3-D Speed Racer Mach 6 Car Cake

LOVE this cake! What a thrill to make this 3-D Speed Racer cake for my dear friend's son. He is the ultimate Speed Racer fan!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

3-D Stradivari Violin Cake

What a thrill to make a 3-dimensional cake based on the 300 year old Stradivari violin played by the Fort Worth Symphony concert director Michael Shih. Shih recently played the 1710 violin for the Upper School students and board members of Fort Worth Country Day School in honor of the violin's 300th birthday. I was absolutely beside myself when FWCD teacher Christine Derber retained me to create an edible version for guests to enjoy at the reception. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity! 

Friday, February 26, 2010

3-D Bulldog Cake

LOVE this sculpted cake I did recently for a client who loves his bulldog named "Boss Hogg".

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Food Network Challenge

So, by now most of you know that I competed in my first Food Network Challenge last month. It was such an amazing experience, I can't wait for it to air so I can finally talk about all the details! I do not have an air date yet but I promise to post it here as soon as it's available. I'd like to give a big shout out to everyone at High Noon Productions (they make Challenge for Food Network). They were all so wonderful to work with and made it so easy for this first timer to enjoy the process. Thank you! Special thanks to Meagan, Kate, Tony, Bruner, Kathleen, Chaz, Sean, Kim, and of course, Art Edwards.