Local team on TLC’s Next Great Baker
— A team of two professional bakers from Florissant is among 10 duos competing for championship prizes on the fourth season of the reality series, Next Great Baker, which premieres at 8 p.m. Central time on Tuesday, June 24th on TLC (The Learning Channel) cable network.
Al Watson, manager and cake decorator at Wedding Wonderland Cakeshop at 449 Dunn Road in Florissant, and Lia Weber, wedding cake decorator at Wedding Wonderland in Florissant and a pastry chef at Hendel’s Market Café, located at 599 Rue St. Denis in Old Town Florissant, comprise the only team competing from the Midwest. Next Great Baker is hosted by Buddy Valastro, star of TLC’s Cake Boss reality series.
Joining Valastro for this season’s 10 episodes are famed chocolatier Jacques Torres and Magnolia Bakery’s chief baking officer, Bobbie Lloyd. The 10 teams will compete for a chance to work with Valastro at the new Carlo’s Bakery at The Venetian casino in Las Vegas as well as the grand prize of $100,000.
Each episode features a ‘cake challenge’ and an ‘elimination challenge’ for the lowest-ranked teams from each challenge. Focus will be not only on cakes but also an array of other desserts to ensure that each baker masters flavor and creativity.
The competition was taped earlier this year, but contestants are sworn to secrecy so as not to reveal any results before episodes have aired on TLC. Viewers are invited to gather at Hendel’s or Yacovelli’s Restaurant at 407 Dunn Road in Florissant on Tuesdays to watch all 10 episodes.
Watson, 31, has been a cake decorator at Wedding Wonderland for six years and has worked in the cake decorating business for 15 years. A ‘bakery trained’ decorator and cake artist, he lives with his wife and daughter in Florissant.
Weber, 24, is a graduate of Trinity Catholic High School and Fontbonne University as well as the Baking and Pastry Program at the St. Louis Community College at Forest Park Culinary School. She also has studied at the Culinary Institute of Florence, Italy. A member of the advisory board of the North County Tech Culinary Program, she is proprietor of Made. by Lia.
“We are delighted that the City of Florissant is represented by these two gifted young bakers on the TLC TV series, Next Great Baker,” said Mayor Thomas P. Schneider of Florissant. “We wish Al and Lia the best of luck demonstrating their creative flair with wedding cakes and other desserts for a national viewing audience.”
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