Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Who's Who on Season Three of Cake Boss' The Next Great Baker

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

What, you thought we were going to do a political post today? Nah! While everyone else is out there talking about red and blue and donkeys and elephants, we're going to talk about CAKE!

As you might have seen on our Twitter or Facebook, the Cake Boss spin-off The Next Great Baker will be starting its third season on Monday, November 26th (with a special 90-minute opening episode!), which is less than three weeks away! We covered the first two seasons episode-by-episode and will be doing the same this time around as well, but before the show is underway, I wanted to give you a look at the contestants!

First, a reminder of what the show is about... thirteen pastry chefs are competing to win a coveted slot as Buddy Valastro's apprentice at Carlo's Bakery, a featured article in Redbook, and $100,000. Each episode tends to eliminate one contestant through individual baking challenges and group decorating challenges. Guests come in to give assignments and judge the cakes, and some of this season's celebrities will include Mario Lopez, Lou Ferrigno, and Joey Fatone.

Now, onward to our bakers! 

Letty Alvarez, from Miami, FL, is the 41-year-old owner/operator of LA Sweets, a family-run business. The bakery's menu includes everything from a vanilla cupcake with Oreo buttercream to a pumpkin cupcake with ginger snap buttercream. Follow her and take a look at this Minnie Mouse Birthday design: 

James S. Brown, from Chicago, is the 41-year-old owner of Brown's Bakery in Lexington, KY. The bakery offers gingerbread house classes for the holidays and the cupcakes are raved about on Facebook. Follow and check out this wedding cake and cupcake spread:

Paul Christopher Conti is 30 years old and lives in Long Beach Island, NJ, though he is originally from Staten Island, NY. TLC lists him as unemployed, but his Twitter suggests he is the GM for Celebrate at Snug Harbor. He also won Food Network's Cupcake Wars earlier this year as part of Casereccio Cakes, soon to be Cakeface Cakery. Follow and see one of his cupcakes below:

Chad Durkin, 28, is the owner of CAD Culinary Consulting and Wedding Cakes in Philadelphia, PA. He's previously lived in Hackensack, NJ and Toms River, NJ, and has been seen on Food Network Challenges "Sugar Impossible" (winner), "Flying Sugar Competitions" (winner), "Sugar Destinations" and "Old Wild West Chocolate." I don't believe he is on Twitter or has a website, but he has a business page on Facebook, you can follow @chefchad7, and check out this wedding cake: 

Gretel-Ann Fischer lives in Colchester, VT and owns Cupp's, a bakery/café in Winooski, VT. She's 35 years old and was previously the proprietor of Fischer's Fancies. The fillings at Cupp's include such exotic choices as vanilla cheesecake mousse and mixed berry cream cheese. Follow and check out this birthday cake:

Peter Gray is just 21 years old and runs the cake decorating business Pete's Sweets in East Longmeadow, MA. He's working on his degree in baking and pastry arts at the New England Culinary Institute. His flavors aren't extraordinary but his portfolio sure is! Follow and check out this wedding cake:

Ashley Lauren Holt, from Louisville, KY. This 24-year-old divides her time between being the Pastry Chef at The Louisville Country Club and running her cake business Sugar Monster Sweets. To the best of my research she is not on Twitter, though she has given her Instagram (@sugar_monsterr), and here's one of her delightful creations:

Jen Kwapinski, from Columbus, NE, is the owner of Jen's Cakes in San Jose, CA (in downtown Willow Glen for those who know the area). She's a 32-year-old graduate of the California Culinary Academy, and she started her business in 2004. While not recently active, you can follow her . Here's a look at one of her most recent wedding cakes:

Chris Luna is a 29-year-old sales executive in Roseville, CA. He's originally from Pollock Pines, CA and was voted in by TLC's open poll for contestants. He "is incredibly handy and loves to construct complicated cakes." I have not been able to find a website or a Twitter account for Chris Chris has shared his Twitter account to be @Lunzatic, so follow him there. Also, here's part of his audition video and a photo of the finished product:

Melissa Payne, owner of Couture Cake Creations and co-owner of Sweets Couture. She is a 33-year-old sugar artist from Chesterfield, VA. Follow her  and check out this detailed wedding cake from her online gallery:

Jess Reyling, a 30-year-old stay-at-home mom in Peoria, IL (originally from Chillicothe, IL). seems to have been freshly deleted all over the internet... Pinterest, Meetup, and Twitter accounts have all been recently removed, though her personal Facebook still exists. No relevant info readily available and I couldn't even find a piece of her work to showcase. Jess replied to this post below and shared that you can follow her @JessReylingNGB3, and here's her Tangled cake: 

Emme Tyler, a 30-year-old from Los Angeles, CA with a Creative Writing degree from Stanford. She's the owner of Skinny Batches (follow ), a bakery that specializes in low-calorie, small-portion desserts. Her products are mainly cookies and brownies, and she sells in LA-area stores like Vicente Foods, PC Greens, and Maddy's Market. I see no cake experience, and the closest to cupcakes are these Crumbies:

Garrett Wallace is 36 years old and lives in Waverly, TN. He's a cake artist at Fabulous Baker Boy. I can't find a non-Facebook page for the company, but his Tumblr showcases his fondant expertise. Follow at and admire the skill in cakes like this:

And there we have it, our baker's dozen of contestants for season three! I've been pretty impartial here, but I'm already taking notes on who I'll be rooting for... what about you, who stands out already?
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Memfis Mafia said...

My wife is crazy into cooking shows and she has dragged me along kicking and screaming. I am screaming a little less now but won't admit that I have come to like them.

Anyway, my favorites are the Angry Birds cake by Garret Wallace and the wedding cake by Jen Kwapinski. I am not a cake expert but those two catch my eye.

Unknown said...

Cool write up! Thanks!
This is Chris and my Twitter is @Lunzatic I have had it for a while but had not used it much. That will change. :)

Amy K. Bredemeyer said...

thanks for the update, Chris! It's now listed in the article so we hope you get some followers!

sugar_monsterr said...

Hey! Awesome write up :) this is ashley...follow me on instagram @sugar_monsterr. I post daily of whatever I'm creating. My website is sugarmonstersweets.com. have a good one!

Letty said...

Thanks for the awesome write up! Please make sure to friend us on our Facebook accounts to get the inside scoop on our participation on The Next Great baker when the show rolls out!

Facebook: Letty Alvarez
Facebook Page: LA Sweets
Website: lasweets.net

Jess Reyling said...

Hi there! Thank you for the wonderful article! So sorry about my lack of info! I’m real I swear! Lol My business website will be up and running soon! I’ll be sure to keep you updated! My Twitter is newly set-up and is @JessReylingNGB3. I’ve posted some cake pics there! Thanks so much!

Amy K. Bredemeyer said...

thanks for the additional info, ladies! I've added it to the post!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the right up...looking forward to some traffic, my twitter account is @chefchad7, il be updating often as we air!! thanks-Chad

Unknown said...

oh you can also view my profiles on wedding wire and the knot!!!

Jess Reyling said...

Thanks Amy! :)

Unknown said...

Hi Thanks for the write up, this is James Brown, yes I know go ahead and laugh it's ok. I'm terrible with using Twitter , but I do keep my business facebook and website active with daily posts. brownbakery.com and Browns Bakery Lexington on facebook

Emme said...

Thanks for the post... My cake website will be posted shortly... Those cakes pictured aren't even cakes... sad, I know.

Jen Kwapinski said...

Hey Amy,
This is a super fun blog. Thank you so much for including our show on it. We are all so excited for it and for any press we can get out of it. You have written and put together a really nice post! Thank you! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Paul covers his lack of skills baking and decorating cakes with his arrogant personality and lack of manners.

Min said...

Chad should've gone home with too short of cake last week, or leg lamp that crumped, or just because he is a tool. Not a person I would ever want to spend time working with. I would never hire him. Not fun to watch on tv either.