Baking in front of an audience isn't new for Jason Ellis, the youngest of eight pastry chefs competing for $100,000 on the second season of Food Network's "Last Cake Standing," premiering at 10 p.m. (Subsequent episodes air Sundays at 9 p.m.)
The owner of a thriving occasion-cake business, Top Tier Designs (toptiersbyjasonellis.com) in Farmingdale, Ellis has been on the cake-competition circuit since winning "best wedding cake" at the 2003 Société Culinaire Philanthropique International competition in New York. Back then, the recent graduate of Johnson & Wales' cooking school was working as a pastry chef at the Garden City Hotel. Since 2006, he's been on "Food Network Challenge" 10 times (he won twice) as well as WE's "My Fair Wedding" and "Wedding Cake Wars."
But "Last Cake Standing" took baking competition to a whole new level. "I don't cry in public," Ellis said, "but on this show, I cried in public."
Ellis, who grew up in Selden, is assisted in many of the show's challenges by Christina Bisbee-Rost, chief cake designer at The Chocolate Duck in Farmingdale. (In fact, Ellis' studio is within The Chocolate Duck, Long Island's leading cake-decorating-supply outlet.) His business has been helped by the ubiquity of cake-decorating shows, not only the ones on which he's appeared, but Food Network's "Ace of Cakes" and TLC's "Cake Boss."
"Since they see us on TV," Ellis said, "people have a greater appreciation for what we do, the work that goes into every cake, and the prices we charge."