A classic board game is coming to life in the form of a new larger-than-life baking competition, and two New York City-based confectioners are competing together.
Hosted by Kristen Chenoweth, “Candy Land” challenges five teams to go head-to-head to create confectionary showpieces based on the iconic board game. Each episode of the six-episode run features the teams bringing lands such as the Peppermint Forest and Gumdrop Mountains to life while putting their skills to the test.
The players utilize unique flavors and ingredients in their baking creations and incorporate sugar masterpieces into their final designs. Judges Nacho Aguirre and Aarti Sequeira will determine which teams move forward down the board game path based on technical execution, creativity and how well the candies are incorporated. The first team that makes it to King’s Kandy Castle wins $25,000.
The teams are organized by color: Red, Yellow, Orange, Pink and Blue. Two of the contestants on Team Yellow, Grace Pak and Jamila Phillip, own and operate their own confectionary businesses in New York City; Pak is the owner of the cake studio Duchess of Cameron in Chelsea and the founder of the New York Cake Design Lab, while Phillip, who is also a psychotherapist, owns online cake boutique, Jam’s Cakes, which specializes in making custom sculpted cakes and teaching cake decorating, cake business and baking classes.
“[Food Network] actually reached out to me through social media about the show,” said Phillip. “I was a little hesitant at first because it’s outside of my comfort zone, but I decided to go for it.”
“One of the recruiters contacted me. This was a while back, actually when COVID was starting, so I was hesitant in the beginning,” said Pak. “It ended up being a great opportunity for me because when COVID started, small businesses were put on hold. It was a great opportunity to try something new during this time.”
Pak comes from a fine arts background and did a lot in terms of designing the structure of the cakes on her team in “Candy Land,” while Phillip has more experience in sculpting cakes. However, they both acknowledge that it was a huge team effort to pull off these giant cakes.
“Working with a team was fun. Cake artists like ourselves work alone or have people for us, so we rarely get a chance to work with other cake artists,” said Pak. “It was so intense working under so much pressure and competing against cake artists from over the country, designing and executing on the spot.”
“It was really fun and something that I’m not used to,” said Phillip. “I loved working with other bakers, and working with Kristen was super fun.”
Phillip and Pak agree that the “Candy Land” set really makes you feel like you are competing on the actual board game.
“Everything is so colorful,” said Phillip. “It makes you want to taste everything.”
“It was the most magical place on Earth,” said Pak. “The set was spectacular. I wanted to live there because it was wonderfully designed.”
Both Pak and Phillip say that those who tune in to “Candy Land” can expect to see some huge baking creations that are truly unlike anything they’ve seen on other Food Network competition shows.
“The viewers can look forward to seeing a lot of conceptional work. We had to focus a lot on the concepts of the cakes and acted like we were citizens of Candy Land,” said Pak. “We approached it like, ‘We live here in Candy Land, how are we going to address this cake?’ This way the storylines for the cakes were great. The audience can really look forward to that.”
“You’re going to see things you never have seen before in edible art form,” said Phillip. “I look forward to watching it on television all over again.”
“Candy Land” premieres on Food Network at 9 p.m. ET on Nov. 15.