Pete Tidwell, owner of The Mighty Baker in Provo, and his assistant, Catrina Jones, won Food Network’s “Cake Wars” on Monday, August 1. Tidwell’s cake creation won first place in the “Halo” video-game inspired contest, earning him a trip to the Halo World Championships in Los Angeles and a $10,000 prize.
Tidwell graduated from BYU with a degree in advertising. His bakery creates custom cakes for weddings and other events, as well as gourmet desserts in their Provo storefront.
A Universe editor interviewed Tidwell about whether competing on the Food Network is really a piece of cake.
Q: How did you get on Cake Wars? Did you audition first, or did someone contact you from Food Network?
A: I applied through Food Network’s website. I submitted pictures of cakes I had done to show my work. Also part of the application process was to submit a 2-3 minute video of why I think I would be a good candidate for the show.
Q: What was the most stressful part of the competition?
A: The most stressful part was the time constraints for both rounds of the competition. It was also stressful to be judged by a master pastry chef like Ron Ben Israel. I have looked up to him for a while and to make a cake that he would not only judge, but taste was a bit daunting. I was so pleased that he loved both of my cake flavors.
Q: What was your favorite part of the competition?
A: Getting to meet some bakers from across the country and even a team from Canada. It was great to meet others in my same industry and rub shoulders with them.
Q: You mentioned in our last interview that you’ve always watched Food Network competition shows. How did you feel competing on the network that you were such a big fan of?
A: It was surreal! I had so much fun there on set. It was a dream come true.
Q: How did you prepare for the competition?
A: I watched a bunch of episodes of Food Network’s Cake Wars to see what other past teams had done well and not done well.
Q: What was your strategy going in to the competition? How did that change as the rounds progressed?
A: My assistant Catrina Jones and I had a strategy to do our best work and put the stress aside and ultimately have fun. I knew from the beginning that being on the show would help my business whether I won or not.
Q: Did you think you were going to win?
A: That was of course the hope! But going into the competition, we met the other bakers and especially after round 1 we knew that we were going to have step up our game going into round 2. The team from Canada especially had some impeccable sculpting and modeling skills — we knew it was going to be down to the wire and a close competition.
Q: What is your favorite cake flavor?
A: My favorite cake flavor is chocolate cake.
Q: Did you get to tell your family that you had won before the episode aired?
Q: What did you do at the World Halo Championships where your cake was featured?
A: We were able to watch the teams play in the final rounds at the championship. At the end of the competition we served our cake to the winning team and the runners up.
Q: What are you going to do with the prize money?
A: I split the money with my assistant Catrina Jones. With my portion I bought a new oven for my bakery so that I can increase production at my bakery.
Q: What has been the community response to your win?
A: It has been phenomenal, last week we experienced record sales. It has been so fun for myself and my employees to experience so much support for my bakery.
Q: How do you think this will affect your business?
A: I hope to see increased traffic over the coming weeks in our store. I also anticipate getting more custom cake and wedding cake orders.
Q: Will you continue to audition for Food Network competitions?
A: I would love to apply again soon, but not sure how soon that will be.