Stephanie Brown on “Cake Wars”//Photo courtesy of Food Network.
The latest season of Food Network’s popular competition show “Cake Wars” kicked off this week, with a Main Line native vying for the title. Stephanie Brown, the baker and manager of Wayne’s The Ultimate Bake Shoppe took her skills to the small screen to compete for the coveted title.
A Temple University graduate, Brown has been honing her baking skills for over 14 years, and managing The Ultimate Bake Shoppe for the past 8 years. “I’m 24, so when people ask to talk to the manager, or talk to the owner or baker, they don’t think it’s going to be me,” Brown says.
“Cake Wars” is a dual-round competition hosted by Jonathon Bennet in which four expert bakers compete for $10,000 and the chance to see their creation at the center of a major event—in this case, at the kick off to Disney Infinity’s Star Wars video game. Brown came across an online casting call in early October and decided to apply for the show. A few weeks later she was invited to compete in California.
Competitors work in pairs and Brown chose her mother, Christine Brown, a well-known artist and florist, as her assistant. “She did an amazing job considering she’s never worked with fondant before,” Brown says. “She stepped up to the plate, that’s for sure.”
They both went in unsure of what to expect. Details of the competition, including the theme, aren’t revealed until the last minute. This particular episode’s theme was the iconic franchise, “Star Wars,” to match the game launch, and could’ve proved disastrous had Brown chosen a different partner. “I knew nothing about ‘Star Wars’,” Brown admits, crediting her mom with their thematic success. “She was like a “Star Wars” guru, which was good because otherwise we would have been in trouble.”
Competitors had 75 minutes for the first round to concoct a miniature cake using two secret ingredients. The second round lasted four hours, demanding a cake that showcased an intergalactic battle.
“It was a very stressful, but surreal opportunity,” Brown recalls. “You have to think quick on your feet. Once that clock starts, it doesn’t stop.”
During the second half of the competition, Brown’s team constructed a four-foot, intergalactic masterpiece, featuring Yoda, Darth Vadar, Luke Skywalker and other characters engaged in a vibrant battle scene. It would prove to be her final battle, at least on the show.
Despite her second round loss, judges loved the taste of her cake. John Vinocchi, guest judge and Vice President of Development for Disney Infinity told Brown, “The flavor is fit for a Sith Lord.”
Brown has been amazed by the response since the episode aired earlier this week, noting a rise in visitors to The Ultimate Bake Shoppe. “It might open some doors and that’s what I’m hoping. I want to grow our business, grow my cake decorating and all of that, so it’s beneficial. Just to say that I was on Food Network is awesome,” says Brown.
“At my age people think that you should be at a desk job, or it’s not a real job,” Brown says. “I’m always reading and studying and looking things up and experimenting. At 24, you shouldn’t know it all. I’m at the stage where I keep learning.” She can certainly add this experience to the books.
389 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne. (610) 687-5620. www.theultimatebakeshoppe.com.