Food Network Challenge

We’ve gotten hooked on watching these competitions…eight hours to make a cake around a particular theme. I have a few questions of my oh-so-wise-Dopers:

It seems like the same pastry chefs compete over and over. Any particular reason it’s these chefs and not others?

Judging sometimes has nothing to do with the flavor of the cake. I have a problem with this, because cake is meant to be eaten. There are some competitions where they make a cake for a surprise guest, but recently, when they showed building a Disney/Pixar cake or a Simpsons cake, judging was on technical merit, degree of difficulty, and attention to theme. Is there an entire competition lifestyle built around cake/chocolate as art and not food?

$10,000 doesn’t seem like a lot, considering everything they have to go through, from design to delivery to the judging table. I suppose it’s more bragging rights? But how is it bragging rights when basically the same people compete against each other?

I’ll keep watching, if only for those gasp moments when the cake falls over when they deliver it to the table. I would just sit down and cry…eight hours of sweat and work down the tubes. (I also saw the episode where the chef fainted and had to be taken away in an ambulance, and one of the other teams finished early and went over to help her assistant so she could also get her team’s piece done on time. That made me feel all schmoopy inside. :D)

I’ve seen confectioners (sugar/candy experts) compete, and once even people who do huge fruit centerpieces. As for the recurring competitors, I imagine there are only a handful that have experience with marathon, time-restricted, theme-based cakemaking (or whatever), so you get a lot of the usual suspects over and over.

There are new competitors once in a while, and some of the regulars have always been also-rans but never have actually won.

I’m not a pastry chef, but showing off your work on national television seems like great advertising. Wedding cakes in particular have become more and more popular, elaborate and expensive. There is a lot of competition for brides who want a unique cake and are willing to shell out a lot of money for it.

Have you seen Ace of Cakes on the FN? The entire show revolves around how Duff and staff create these wacky and unusual cakes. There’s been a lot of speculation about how good these cakes actually taste, since the focus seems more on their engineering than on the actual flavor.

As for the FN Challenges, meh. I’m tired of their willingness to use any excuse for a challenge and tired of seeing the same people competing. Time to give it a rest.

I always wondered, what can you do with a giant sugar sculpture? Is it the sort of thing that would keep long if you were to put it on display? If not, do they just break it up into a million pieces and hand them out like Jolly Ranchers?

I have seen Ace of Cakes, and I’ve also seen Amazing Wedding Cakes on WE. One of the AWC chefs actually beat out a top contender in the Simpsons movie challenge.

I think I prefer the ones where there’s a surprise guest that they have to make a cake for (triplets celebrating their 18th birthday, Miley Cyrus’s birthday, etc.) There, the flavor of the cake is also a factor in the judging.

I like watching to see if any of the competitors will completely and utterly screw up…like the episode where they were making soccer-themed birthday cakes for the little boy, and one of the artists made a cake that was supposed to be shaped like the little boy as a goalie. She put the ‘head’ on the cake backwards, and the face drawn on the cake was not at all appropriate for children.

I’ve always thought the sugar sculptures would taste horrible due to all that food coloring.