Long Island bakers — amateur and professional — are getting a lot of television love this week.
Mark your calendar or set your DVR for this Saturday at 9:30 p.m. to root for the home team: Patchogue baker Mandy Mele and her husband, Brian Daniels, a science teacher in the West Islip school district, will be competing on the Discovery Family’s new baking competition series, Bake it Like Buddy, featuring “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro. In the Sept. 22 episode, “Galaxy Cakes,” the pair go up against a couple from Maine to create an outer space-themed cake in just four hours.
Valastro, his sister Grace, and head sculptor Ralph Attanasia judge both creations and decide on the winners, who will receive $1,000 and an array of professional baking supplies, as well as bragging rights.
Mele, who ran her own baking business until several years ago, and will be debuting a cookie line around Thanksgiving, had long dreamed of participating in a televised baking competition. After submitting an application and a two-minute video, she and her husband went through several more rounds of interviews before getting an invitation to participate.
The competition was nerve-wracking but thrilling, she says. With just a couple of days of advance notice about the theme, “galaxy,” the couple had to submit a design.
Then, in just 14 hours in the Jersey City Cake Boss studio, they had to turn their idea into reality.
Mele is keeping the details of the cake as a surprise for family, friends and viewers. But she does say, “We went in with grandiose plans. It was a mega-challenge that we set for ourselves and we were very proud of our work.”
In addition to the thrill of the challenge, there was the thrill of meeting Buddy himself. “I’ve watched Buddy for so long. It was intimidating but fun to answer his questions about our project and to get pointers from him. I definitely grew from the experience.”
Mele and Daniels are taking some time to perfect their design in the lead-up to Friday. “I had never had to bake a cake under those circumstances. I’m actually making the cake again now, so it will be done in time for the show, to share with family and friends.”
If you are away from home or forget to record, episodes of Bake it Like Buddy stream live on Discovery Family Go and are also available on demand the next day.
Elsewhere on the TV dial, Brian Fishman of Plainview’s Sweet Karma Desserts is one of eight bakers competing in Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship. The new show premieres on Monday at 9 p.m. and goes for six weeks.
Fishman’s Sweet Karma is also one of four teams competing in Food Network’s upcoming special, Halloween Cake-Off, premiering Oct. 8. There’s a 50/50 chance that Long Island will bring home the gold because one of the other teams is headed by Hicksville-based cake artists Jean Schapowal (of Cakes with Character), assisted by Christina Bisbee of Farmingdale’s Chocolate Duck.