Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Food Network Challenge:Spongebob Cakes


When Food Network called me for this round of Challenges I told them I was most excited about Spongebob. Spongebob and Extreme Holiday Cakes were the two shows they offered.

I really wanted to make a cake of Mr. Krabs. I lobbied hard for this. I emailed the producers messages from Mr. Krabs begging them to "Let Lauren make a cake of me... ARGH!"

Then the call came. I got it!

Now I need an idea.

Krabs is an opportunist. He wouldn't celebrate anyone's birthday. He would find a way to make money from the birthday. So, I came up with a "Krabby Birthday Meal..only $9.95"

This idea had more to do with Mr. Krabs' personality and I thought the judge from Nickelodeon would appreciate it. Well, he didn't. In fact, he became aggitated by the McDonalds Happy Meal comparision and called Nickelodeon during the first hour of the competition to see if this was an issue. I think they would have asked me to take the Krabby Meal away if the Challenge producers hadn't have stepped in to save my concept. Drama!!
A requirement of all of our cakes was to include the character and their location in Bikini Bottom.

I represented the Krusty Krab restaurant in two ways. By making the green, wood-planked floor of the Krusty Krab as well as a table, this solved my issue of location. Also, each Krabby Meal box was a small replica of the Krusty Krab, inside and out. My husband's brilliant idea!

Another requirement we all had was to represent Spongebob in our cakes. Hmmmmm..... How to do that without making a full-scale Spongebob cake? The Krabby Birthday Meal action figure!! Easy!

Plankton is Mr. Krabs evil rival, and just as nasty as Krabs. So I made sure to pay tribute to him as well. In typical Plankon form, he is using a mechanical device to steel the Krabby patty.

Mr. Krabs' body was entirely sculpted out of cake....From the top of his open mouth to his bottom. I designed the structure and had my contractor weld the structure out of metal.

The eyes, claws, and legs were made from solid modeling chocolate.
Modeling chocolate is an incredible sugar medium that allows you to make super clean work very fast. Plankton, his mechanical arm, the table, floor and all the little elements were all made from modeling chocolate.

Kristen Davison's "Sandy Cheeks" cake.

This was Kristen's 6th Challenge, but it was her first as the lead of her team. She did a great job. She is known for her small-scale character work. She's fantastic!!! Kristen and her assistant, the grand Richard Ruskell, beat me at my first Challenge, Disney Classics Cakes.

It was great to see them again! She made the glass dome and helmut totally out of poured sugar! Amazing! And her character work was spot-on

The Great Bronwen Weber made the "Patrick Star" cake. I was horrified to go up against Bronwen. No one has done as many Challenges as her. She is well versed in this arena. Her ideas are great and she keeps calm and finishes her work. Not many cake artists are sculptors. She is a great sculptor!
She had to represent several acres of jelly fish fields. She did this in a great way. With the triangle composition she easily created depth. There was so much great detail in this cake. It was amazing to be competing in the same room with her.

Rick Reichart from Cake Lava in Hawaii came in as a close 2nd with his Spongebob cake. Rick is amazing and he has an incredible siginature style that he easily casts on every cake he makes. This cake was colorful and alive. It was so stylish and creative. I honestly thought he was going to win. In so many ways, he did! Great job, Rick!!!

Kerry's Comment and Salute....
At the end of the day at Face the Judges, Kerry stood up and saluted my work. She claims this cake was the best cake she has seen in Challenge.
For the record, I don't agree. But, it was the most moving statement I have ever heard from any cake authority and I was not expecting her to say anything close to this. It brought me to tears and I can only hope that my next Challenge cake will impress her all over again. The preasure is on!

My bakery girls....
Ashleigh Foster. My right hand man. At the time we shot this Challenge, Ashleigh had only worked for me for 2 months. After I hired her and saw her abilities, I asked her to come to Challenge with me. She did an amazing job! I was so proud.
Karie Snider (In the green hoodie). I love Karie. She was part of this Challenge team. The three of us worked constantly for 6 weeks straight tweeking and perfecting this cake. I work side by side with these two artists everyday. I love my cakey girls!!!!

The party.....
The day after we shot the episode the winning cake did actually go to a suprise birthday party for 7 year-old Demetrus.

So cute!!!! I love his mom, Mindy. She was our judge and so excited to see all the cakes and experience the procces of shooting the episode.
I wanted to please her just as much as Kerry and Keegan.

With an eaten head and half of a claw gone, Demetrus went straight to opening birthday gifts.
Happy Birthday, Demetrus!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Food Network Challenge: Newlywed Cakes

Newlywed Cakes…….?

The first thing I thought when Food Network asked me to do this Challenge was, “What is a newlywed cake?” I asked the producers to elaborate. They wouldn’t. In fact, they told me that Newlywed Cakes will be a challenge with a mystery client, a mystery assistant, and a twist in the judging.

No, no, no…. I’m not the right girl for this Challenge. I need time to plan and practice. I can’t jump into the bottomless pit of mystery. No. I will not do this challenge.

That was my stance until the producer of the show called me again the next week and talked me into it, telling me it will be a fun show with a lot of interaction. Ok. I’ll do it. So back to my question…What is a newlywed cake?

I thought about what it meant to be a newlywed. When I was a newlywed we had gifts and moving boxes, packing peanuts and wrapping paper…It was all over our new home. Pictures of our honeymoon, and after the long wait, our wedding portrait. This is a common story among many newlywed couples and I’m going to turn this into my blank canvas in order to tell a story of this mystery newlywed couple.

Many times in mystery challenges cake designers bring stacked tiers that look like wedding cakes. They fill up the sides of the tiers with items made to please the client. A lot of these cakes turn out great. But I love to sculpt. That’s what I do best and it’s what I bring to Challenge every time. If done well, a sculpted cake can score high points, too.

So, instead of planning on stacking round tiers and placing objects on them I came up with another plan. Essentially, my approach was very similar to what the other decorators where doing with their cakes…. Items of significance….anything on this cake that can personalize a newlywed couple. I just chose to present these items in a different way. I needed to stand out in order to win.

The morning of the Challenge was when all the missing parts came together. Each contestant got a newlywed couple. The theme was revealed… “Each cake should represent your couple’s new life together.” The husbands are our assistants and we were to design our cake together. The wives were banished from the studio all day. The cakes would be placed 4th through 1st. The 1st place cake must be identified by the wife as her cake in order to win.

The couple I got were Trey and Mandy. Trey was a great assistant. Funny and smart and very eager to win. I asked him what he thought a newlywed cake was. He was just as baffled as I was at the mention of this. I told him my idea and that I needed him to fill in all the blanks, choose the color palette (preferably his wife’s favorite colors), and make all the key design choices, including what items are in the boxes, on the scrapbook and how it’s all designed.

It was important to me that I keep the theme of this cake “newlywed.” Meaning that I wanted Trey and Mandy represented as a married couple. The theme was “their new life together” so Trey and I worked hard to make sure that all the items on the cake were post-wedding, not from when they met or anything before their wedding.

The big cardboard box tier at the bottom of the cake was to hold a large item that Trey and Mandy had bought or received for their new home. Trey chose their new dining room table.
The gift box was to hold anything that Trey thought Mandy would find significant. He bought her a diamond necklace after they got married, and he wanted me to incorporate her favorite flowers…calla lilies. Trey designed the box to match the kitchen bar in their home, which had a cool pressed letter design, and he wanted me to use the colors in their home…pink and teal. We created wrapping paper for the bottom box in the same colors to pull our palette together.

The scrapbook…. I wanted to use this for Trey and Mandy’s memories or wishes of the future. He chose their honeymoon on the beach in Mexico. Perfect!!!

The wedding portrait on top… Now, I had always intended on creating a wedding portrait of the mystery newlywed couple on my cake. I didn’t know that the cake would have to be identified by anyone until the morning of the Challenge. I had the portrait planned since I began to design this cake and the Food Network producers knew about this. Why they choose to edit this in the show as a “last minute” idea is beyond me. You can even see Trey using the stencil and pre-colored edible papers I brought to create the portrait.

No element on this cake was an after thought. It turned out that the portrait was a great idea because of the “identity” element in the end. Trey and Mandy are an inter-racial couple, but that really didn’t matter because each couple was really different from one another. One couple both had brown hair, one couple both had blonde hair, and one couple was a man with grey hair and a woman with brown hair. Each couple was very distinguishable from the next.

Trey and I had problems from the edible paper ripping, to the lid of the box sagging. But we finished on time and it was the first time in Challenge that I was able to finish a cake to completion. It felt great, and I felt lucky to have had Trey as an assistant.

I will never do another mystery challenge. Even though I won, I struggled with this one. There were too many variables, too many unknowns. I much prefer doing a character driven cake at Challenge like Mary Poppins or Elmo or Spongebob. Although the character challenges are technically more difficult and take longer to prepare for, I am able to create better work without the panic of the endless guessing games of mystery challenges.

Lauren Bozich's wonderful 2nd place cake. I loved this cake. Lauren is a friend of mine and a gifted artist. I knew she would be able to make a ton of different items for her cake and boy, did she. Every item on her cake is easily identifiable. She's a great artist and came close to beating me!!!


About Me

Lauren Kitchens, owner and executive chef of Fancy Cakes by Lauren, opened her bakery in 2000 and quickly became one of the premiere cake bakeries in the Dallas wedding and event industry. Lauren has her complete cake portfolio on-line at www.fancycakesbylauren.com