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I am constantly asked by customers to lend tips and tricks on anything pastry related. I lend such advice, including the importance of selecting the finest and freshest ingredients available, and making sure you’re always using the right tool to execute the right technique.  Recently, I found myself in a complete role reversal!  I was asked by Food Network Challenge (picture above is of all the teams!) to compete in creating a 3-foot tall moving dinosaur cake. The process of making this is as daunting as it sounds.

I enlisted the help of my amazing cake decorator, Sunny Lee. Among the four teams competing, we were the only rookies. Knowing that our lack of experience could potentially hurt our chances of winning the $10,000 prize, we pounded our elbows to the baking table. When we had been selected to compete, my first call was to my mentor, and owner of the French Pastry School of Chicago (where I graduated in December ’03), Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer. He politely let me know, “if you do not win, you cannot come home.” My particular affinity for Chicago (where I have lived my entire life) motivated me to put in some extra hours, taking some brush-up classes from Chef Jacquy, and giving Sunny, aka Super Sunny, the green light to make sure she whipped me back into top notch pastry shape. A lot of what I currently do is business related (meeting with brides about wedding cakes, etc) so I was on a mission to prove that I “still had it in me!”

Besides the sheer raw talent of Super Sunny, our advantage was a tremendous amount of support and expert advice from family, friends and pastry industry experts. My mom suggested I call my cousin, Matt Flynn, who builds sets for a living. Matt ultimately created an impressive motor contraption that allowed the dinosaur’s head to move (and tail to wiggle). Chef Jacquy lent us several innovative pastry tools and taught us a few new techniques to have up our sleeves to impress the judges. After just a few weeks of training, we headed to Colorado to compete (with five gigantic suitcases of tools and ingredients in tote). Quite serendipitously, my best friend, Erin Slater, had just moved to Denver two months prior and opened up her kitchen to provide a space for us to prep our items for the Big Day and a laundry list of items to have waiting for us upon arrival (you know, all of the essentials like air-dust spray, a large fan, knives, scissors, etc). My Uncle Page was given the ultra important task of buying the actual board that we would build this monstrosity of a cake on. Although Uncle Page claimed that “all three of you could stand on this board and it wouldn’t budge,” but upon moving our 3’ tall cake to the judges’ table, the board did bend, breaking a chocolate palm tree leaf!

I can’t reveal too much more, but we are hosting a viewing party at Mastro’s Steakhouse this Sunday, August 21st (when the episode airs) at 6pm, in honor of our dear friend and Chef, Rafael Ornelas, and raising money for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation…come check us out and thank you to all of our loyal customers and fans for their incredible support!

For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit

Sarah Levy -Founder, Sarah’s Candies

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