Lately I have enjoyed watching “cake shows”, on the Food Network Channel. My favorite is Ace of Cakes, which comes on every Thursday night and chronicles the day to day cake creations at Charm City Cakes in Baltimore. Duff Goldman is the owner and his staff are his friends. They are a bunch of laid back, somewhat eccentric, very creative people. It’s not only fun to watch them create the cakes, but to also watch their different personalities and how they interact with each other. You can learn more about them at their website www.charmcitycakes.com.
The newest show I have been watching is Last Cake Standing. This was a 4-week Food Network Challenge, where 6 chefs competed for $50,000 and the title of “Best Cake Artist in America”.
The first week they had to tell their life story in cake. My favorite chefs from the beginning were Bronwen Weber and Mary Maher. I’ve seen Bronwen in other challenges before and really like her work. This was the first time I was watching Mary, I paid close attention to her since she is from Chicago. The first week they both had exceptional designs. These cakes have to be 3 feet tall, and they have 8 hours to complete the whole cake. Then they have to move the cake to the judging table. I don’t know why I like to watch, it is quite nerve-racking just watching it. This first challenge they knew ahead of time what the challenge was, the twist was they didn’t have the usual time to set-up their kitchens. They were there for about 15 minutes, and then the 8 hour clock started. They usually get about an hour and a half to set-up their kitchens. This first challenge was won by Mary Maher. Mary and Bronwen both advanced to the next challenge. Each week one chef is eliminated.
The second weeks challenge was a wedding cake design. The twist…they had to find out what the bride and groom wanted for their cake while driving around with them in a limo. When the chefs got enough information, they had to get back to the studio and begin making the cake. All this was included in the 8 hours. Mary was the first back to begin her cake design. I think had she stayed she would of had a better design, it was a risk she took. Bronwen stayed a little longer and was one of the last ones back. As we watched we got a better feel for the couple and what they wanted. They really didn’t want a traditional wedding cake, and the bride really didn’t like flowers. The second week my two favorites Bronwen and Mary were not eliminated.
Third week’s challenge was a team effort, where they had to create Super Hero cakes. Bronwen and Mary were on opposite teams. Mary’s team won this challenge. Bronwen and her teammate then had to do a 30-minute bake-off to determine who would be eliminated. Bronwen moved to the final challenge.
The final challenge was between Mary Maher, Bronwen Weber and Courtney Clark. I have seen Courtney’s work before, and she is good, but she gets pretty emotional during these challenges. I can’t blame her, these are stressful competitions. She’s also known for her topsy-turvey cakes, so a lot of her designs are like that. Whereas Bronwen and Mary tend to make unique cakes with many different techniques.
This final challenge was a mystery client. They had to interview the client and find out what they liked and design a cake. The twist…6 mystery clients. The Dilley Sextuplets were turning 16, so they had to design a Sweet Sixteen Birthday cake. This time they had 24-hours to design, create, and deliver the cake to the birthday party. During the 24-hours they could work straight through, eat, or sleep.
In the end, I actually liked Courtney’s design and idea, and it was done very well. Bronwen had a really good idea, but was unable to execute it fully. I do love her personality and attitude and she’s extremely talented. Mary’s design was very clever. The sextuplets were getting their drivers licenses as well as turning 16, so the base of her cake was a car.
In the end the winner was Mary Maher of Cakegirls in Chicago. Her and her sister Brenda competed and they own the Cakegirls bakery. You can check out their many designs on their website at www.thecakegirls.com.
Also, for those of you in the Dallas area, check out Bronwen at Frosted Art Bakery, and see her many designs on her website at www.frostedart.com.
Keep in mind these are professional chefs as well as artists. So if the recession isn’t affecting you or you really love cake, their prices won’t shock you. As for me, I’ll keep rootin’ for them on the different Food Network Challenges they participate in!!