Tucson, AZ

Tucson Baker Competes on New Food Network Show!

Greyson F


The greater Tucson area continues to be well represented when it comes to food competitions on national television. However, instead of focusing on traditional chefs and restaurants, Food Network has turned its attention to the baking world. 

Tucson is already home to a James Beard-nominated bakery, but for this season of the Best Baker in America, a new name from Tucson has entered his hat into the ring: Aaron Manuyang. 

Aaron is the head and executive pastry chef at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. Before bringing his talents to Tucson (and to the visitors who stay in the resort), he attended The French Pastry School. Located in downtown Chicago, it is the only culinary school in the entire United States that is entirely dedicated to sweet treats and baked goods (baking and pastries might make up a portion of some other culinary schools throughout the United States, but only The French Pastry School focuses exclusively on it). 

The Food Network program is set to bring together from around the globe with the initial episode hitting your television screen on May 3. The competition will function much like other competitions on Food Network, where each individual will compete against the other contestants, with one “loser” kicked out and sent home at the conclusion of each episode. 

For bakers, this is an excellent opportunity to showcase their craft and gain more attention for themselves. While cooks and chefs generally grab the majority of the attention when it comes to food and food programming, it’s difficult for pastry chefs to stand out on their own. Plus, the majority of pastry chefs work inside other kitchens or in their own small bakeries. Aaron Manuyang is hoping this will help bring new light not only to his own craft but to the craft of all the other contestants. 

Carla Hall will host the Best Baker in America show, which airs at 6 PM local time on the third. As for the judges, you will see two somewhat familiar faces (at least, if you are someone that watches Food Network and other baking programs the channel puts on). there is Gesine Prado, who is an award-winning pastry chef, cook, and cookbook author (she also teaches baking). Jason Smith, the winner of Food Network Star and the Holiday Baking Championship will join her as the second judge. 

In addition to Aaron Manuyang, the other contestants include Casey Renee from Pittsburgh (pastry chef at Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh), Edet Okon from Houston, Texas (owner of Edet Okon), Eric Keppler from East Palo Alto, California (executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel - Silicon Valley), Jeffrey De Leon from Los Angeles, California (pastry chef consultant), Joshua Livsey from Boston, Massachusetts (executive pastry chef at Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge, MA), Julie Franceschini from West Palm Beach, Florida (executive pastry chef at Cafe Boulud West Palm Beach), Marian Mulero from Miami (pastry chef at Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove), Yolanda Diaz from Austin, Texas (executive pastry chef at Geraldine’s at Hotel Van Zandt), and Michael Russ II from Oakland, California (executive pastry chef at The Wolf restaurant in Oakland, California). 

All of the contestants will be competing to win not only the title of Best Baker in America but also a $25,000 cash prize. 

If you are a fan of the show and have enjoyed it in the past you will find the upcoming season will be very much similar to the past seasons. There will be similar challenges with some tweaks here and there. But if you’d like to cheer on fellow Tucson resident Aaron, make sure to tune in on May 3 at 6 PM. 

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