Food Network Challenge
|Food Network Challenge|
|Presented by||Claire Robinson (2010-present)
Keegan Gerhard (2005 – 2010)
|Starring||Various contestants and
a rotating panel of judges which includes:
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||n/a (list of episodes)|
|Running time||1 hour|
|Original channel||Food Network|
|Original release||as specials, 2005
as series, 2007 – November 27, 2011
Food Network Challenge was 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 check for $10,000 and a gold medal.
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. At the end of the eight hours, the host says the show's catchphrase: "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. 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. 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.
Last Cake Standing
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.
- Courtney Clark — runner-up of Last Cake Standing 2009, winner of 2 other Challenge episodes
- Norman Davis
- Jason Ellis — of 10 episodes he has been on, Ellis has won twice. He won the "Mystery Cake" challenge with a cake for Kerry Vincent's birthday.
- Anna Ellison of Ace of Cakes
- Michelle and Valentin "Vinny" Garcia
- Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes
- Alex Guarnaschelli — frequent Chopped judge
- Lori Hutchinson of The Caketress
- Lauren Kitchens
- Mary Maher — winner of Last Cake Standing 2009
- Mike McCarey of Mike's Amazing Cakes
- Marc Murphy — frequent Chopped judge
- Ashlee Perkins of Minette Rushing Custom Cakes
- Colette Peters
- James Roselle — won his first four appearances on Challenge
- Richard Ruskell — has won six times on Challenge. He was also the winner of Last Cake Standing in 2011.
- Joshua John Russell — best friends with Jason Ellis since college.
- Orlando Serrano and Miguel Garcia — won 5 challenges including "Extreme Urban Legends" for which they created the world's first animatronic talking cake.
- Marina Sousa
- Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss — won the "Battle of the Brides" challenge in Season 7.
- 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.
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