An entry from my Marvel.com blog of many years ago, this one talking about my then-recent appearance on FOOD NETWORK CHALLENGE: LAST CAKE STANDING as a guest judge, a role I fulfilled on a few occasions..
Now that the episode of Food Network Challenge: Last Cake Standing aired last Sunday, I can finally share with you a few behind-the-scenes stories, as well as the couple photos I shot while on the set. As you’d expect, I’ve been receiving a number of questions and responses from people who caught all or part of the broadcast this past weekend, so hopefully this will serve as a sort of catch-all FAQ concerning my adventures in cake.
–I was invited to come out and be a judge after the production team, High Noon Entertainment, contacted Marvel looking for a guest judge. Joe Q was enmeshed in a bunch of other stuff at the time, so I was offered the assignment.
–I have no idea what they do with the cakes after the production wraps, but one thing that definitely doesn’t happen is that they get eaten. These cakes were for presentation only, and especially with all of the hardware baked into them for their “extreme elements”, they’re probably nothing you’d want to put in your mouth in the first place. In the two days I was on set, not once did I eat anything even resembling a tasty pastry.
–On the first day, my flight landed in Colorado at 1:30, and my instructions were to report to the studio at 3:30 for the Judge’s Meeting. Having no idea what this was, I found my hotel, dropped my bags, and then hustled over there still wearing the knock-around clothes I had traveled in, including my hat. As it turns out, and what everybody had neglected to mention to me, the Judge’s Meeting isn’t just prep work for the next day’s shoot—it’s filmed. And while none of that footage wound up being in the final cut of the episode, it did set the tone for the rest of the show. Specifically, somebody there thought my hat made me look more distinctive, more like whatever they imagined a comic book person should look like. So as a result I wound up wearing it all through the filming.
–While the contestants do only have a rigidly-enforced eight hours to create their cakes, most of the inserts of host Keegan weren’t filmed in real time, but at the approximate time, with a simulated clock behind him. This is to allow for multiple takes, to ensure that what’s needed to advance the plot of the show gets captured on film. It was interesting to see that part of the process.
–Filming began at a horrifying 6:30 in the morning, and ran solid through just after 8:00 in the evening. The time difference worked in my favor, though, as this was like 8:30 in the morning to me, a typical work day. But the competitors and crew filmed all four episodes of the show that air this month in the course of a little bit over the week, so when people look tired in this episode, it’s because they’d been baking and designing for the six or seven days previous to this already, and with hours just as grueling.
–There were some definite differing opinions when it came to judging the winner. It wasn’t a unanimous call by any means.
–As soon as the final cake-off began, I very suddenly became an “un-person” for the next hour, as the crew moved to get done the stuff that had to be done for that added challenge. It was a disorienting shift-of-focus after being at the center of things for the whole day previous.
–In real life, my head looks slightly less like an ill-proportioned pineapple.
So on the whole, it was an interesting experience, and I’d do it again.