Food Network Challenge

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Food Network Challenge
Food Network Challenge logo.jpg
Presented byKeegan Gerhard (2005–10)
Claire Robinson (2010-11)
Ian Ziering (present)
StarringVarious contestants and
a rotating panel of judges which includes:
Kerry Vincent
Keegan Gerhard
Katherine Alford
Mark Bittman
Patrick Coston
Mark O'Connor
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes(list of episodes)
Running time60 minutes
Original networkFood Network
Original release
  • Specials: 2005 (2005)
  • Series: 2007 (2007)
2020 (2020)

Food Network Challenge is a competitive cooking television series that aired on the Food Network. In each episode, professional chefs vie in a timed competition in their professional specialty. The winner receives a cheque for $10,000 and a gold medal. The first run of the series started in 2005 as a number of specials, before becoming a regular series that launched in 2007 and ended in 2011.

On November 18, 2019, it was announced that the show would resume, with a premiere on December 23, 2019. Ian Ziering will be the new host.[1]


The competitions are judged by specialists in their culinary fields, dependent upon the particular 'challenge'. Contestants are given eight hours to complete a task and must adhere to the competition rules; for example, edible art cake competitions often require that a cake reaches a minimum height, exhibits a certain theme, and is able to be moved to a judging table without falling over. After eight hours, the host stops all activity by saying "Competitors, stop your work!".

Episodes are shot in front of a live audience, usually at tourist attractions such as the Mall of America or Disney World. Depending on the discipline and scope of the competition, the number of competitors can range from two to hundreds. Occasionally, regional competitions are held to determine who the competitors are to be each week. Some of the events are also held as world championships or as 'invitationals'.

The winner usually receives a check for $10,000 and a gold medal. In competitions featuring five or more competitors, silver and bronze medals are also sometimes awarded, though they have no cash prize.

In 2009, the show debuted its first elimination-style competition called Last Cake Standing.[2] In this format, six cake designers competed for a prize of $50,000.

In April 2010, original host Keegan Gerhard was promoted to judge alongside Kerry Vincent, and was replaced as host by Claire Robinson.[citation needed] The way in which the results were read also changed for most of, but not all of the shows; where previously only the winner was announced, the newer format's results began with announcing the third- and fourth-place finishers, who were then asked to leave the stage before the victor was revealed.


The competitions presented on the program covered a wide range of areas, from cake decorating to ice sculpting to teppanyaki to macaroni and cheese, with cakes being the most frequently-covered area.

Last Cake Standing[edit]

In April 2009, a special version of Challenge was launched called Last Cake Standing. This series began with six competitors, with an elimination at the end of each episode until only three competitors remained. The challenges in this series were often harder and longer and with more twists than those in the 'normal' series. The finale was the longest in challenge history, giving the last three remaining competitors — Courtney Clark, Mary Maher, and Bronwen Weber — 24 hours to design and create their cake for a set of sextuplets. Ultimately, Mary Maher was crowned champion, winning a $50,000 grand prize.

In April 2011, Food Network launched a second series of Last Cake Standing, in a separate 'spin-off' format with eight competitors and a $100,000 grand prize.[3]

Notable competitors[edit]

  • Courtney Clark — runner-up of Last Cake Standing 2009, winner of 2 other Challenge episodes[4]
  • Norman Davis[5]
  • Jason Ellis — of 10 episodes he has been on, Ellis has won twice.[6] He won the "Mystery Cake" challenge with a cake for Kerry Vincent's birthday.[citation needed]
  • Anna Ellison of Ace of Cakes[7]
  • Michelle and Valentin "Vinny" Garcia[8]
  • Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes[9]
  • Alex Guarnaschelli — frequent Chopped judge[10]
  • Lori Hutchinson of The Caketress[11]
  • Lauren Kitchens[12]
  • Mary Maher — winner of Last Cake Standing 2009[13]
  • Mike McCarey of Mike's Amazing Cakes[citation needed]
  • Marc Murphy[14] — frequent Chopped judge[15]
  • Ashlee Perkins of Minette Rushing Custom Cakes[16]
  • Colette Peters[17][18]
  • James Roselle — won his first four appearances on Challenge[19]
  • Richard Ruskell — has won six times on Challenge. He was also the winner of Last Cake Standing in 2011.[20]
  • Joshua John Russell — best friends with Jason Ellis since college.[21]
  • Orlando Serrano and Miguel Garcia — won 5 challenges including "Extreme Urban Legends" for which they created the world's first animatronic talking cake.[22]
  • Marina Sousa[23]
  • Rachael Teufel completed in three Challenges, Roller Derby Cakes 2010 (2nd place), Mardi Gras Cakes 2011 (2nd place), and took home the grand prize on Halloween Ghost Stories 2011
  • Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss — won the "Battle of the Brides" challenge in Season 7.[24]
  • Bronwen Weber — competed in 22 challenges. As of September 25, 2011, she has the most wins of any competitor in the show with a total of 8 wins.[25]
  • Cody Rhodes

Episode guide[edit]


  1. ^ "Elite Cake Artists and Pop Culture Collide in High-Stakes Competition Series "Food Network Challenge" Hosted by Ian Ziering". The Futon Critic. November 18, 2019.
  2. ^ "Food Network: Last Cake Standing Finalists". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Food Network: Last Cake Standing". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  4. ^ Chrysta Cherrie (2009-09-03). "Ann Arbor's Courtney Clark hopes to cook up a win on Monday episode of TLC's 'Ultimate Cake Off'". The Ann Arbor News. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Challenge: Cupcake". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  6. ^ Marcus, Erica (2011-04-01). "Cakes can yield Selden man big dough". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  7. ^ Sullivan, Mollee (2009-12-21). "Cake Charmer". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Extreme Cakes". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Duff Goldman". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  10. ^ "My HealthySELF: Food Network Chef Alex Guarnaschelli's 'Rule' for Snacking". 2012-05-04. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Meet Lori Hutchinson, Cake Decorating Instructor on Craftsy!". Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  12. ^ Chininis, Jennifer (2009-03-12). "Lauren Kitchens of Fancy Cakes By Lauren To Appear on Food Network March 15". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  13. ^ Shrum, Margi (2009-04-30). "Sauce: 'Last Cake Standing' is five feet tall". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  14. ^ "Challenge: Hot Chefs". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  15. ^ Calderone, Ana (2014-11-25). "#SexiestChef Marc Murphy Reveals the Keys to a Perfect Date Night". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  16. ^ Goldman, Emily (2010-01-19). "Local cake designer competes on Food Network Challenge". Savannah Morning News. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Challenge: Mystery Cake". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  18. ^ "Challenge: Incredible Edible Mansions". Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  19. ^ Lynch, Rene (2009-04-03). "Cake making turns to combat duty on 'Last Cake Standing'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  20. ^ "Chefs — Richard Ruskell, Montage Beverly Hills". Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Interview with Joshua John Russell Food Network Challenge Veteran and Last Cake Standing Competitor". 2011-06-23. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  22. ^ Middleton, Nicole Marshall (2012-09-26). "See world's first talking cake at Sugar Art Show during Tulsa State Fair". Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Marina Sousa". Capital Confectioners. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  24. ^ Smith, Dustin (2009-03-25). "TLC Takes the Cake With Buddy Valastro" (Press release). Discovery Press Web. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  25. ^ Nichols, Nancy (2011-09-26). "Bronwen Weber of Frosted Art Bakery Wins Food Network Challenge: Lion King Cakes". Retrieved 12 September 2015.

External links[edit]