Pastry artist and Shorewood Bakery owner Kimberly Hall has participated in the Food Network seven times. Now she gets a taste of what it’s like to be one of the judges.
Signature Sweets owner will be the judge this season of “Buddy vs. Duff”, a series of competitions between “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro and pastry chef and former “Ace of Cakes” star Duff Goldman.
During the show, the two bakers – Valastro from Hoboken, New Jersey and Duff from Los Angeles – work with their teams of pastry artists to compete against each other in a range of themed cake challenges.
A panel of 50 pastry artists from across the country are the judges, including Hall, who represents Wisconsin.
“I was so excited,” Hall said. “It’s like they want me to judge two of the best pastry artists in the world, so that really mattered to me. It makes me feel like my work is being recognized… I was blown away.”
For each episode, the judges were given the theme, the bakers told them the story of their creations, and they got to see the cakes being made. At the end, the judges voted.
“We’re both pastry artists and they are, so we know what to look for,” said Hall, who specializes in creating realistic cakes. “It’s like they’re in the hot seat for once against us.”
Valastro was one of the judges when Hall attended the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Cake Spectacular”.
“It was like the tables were turned this time around,” Hall said.
Hall not only participated in the voting process, but she also said that she was also one of the star judges who interacted with the bakers and provided her feedback to them.
“I was so so honored to be able to be chosen from among so many amazing pastry artists,” Hall said. “I am super humbled and grateful.”
Filming for the eight-episode season was done remotely, Hall said. He was sent a camera with instructions on how to set everything up.
“Everyone was in their own separate studios, but we could all see each other on our cameras,” she said. “It was super crazy and so much fun.”
While Goldman won the first season of the series, Valastro was the second season champion. The third season of “Buddy vs. Duff” premieres at 8:00 p.m. CT Sunday on Food Network (and can also air on Discovery +).
Hall makes a weekly giveaway for those who log into the program. Customers who stop by Signature Sweets, 3801 N. Oakland Ave., on Tuesdays throughout the season and can tell Hall the color of the shirt she wore in the most recent episode get a free cupcake. The bakery hours on Tuesday are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hall’s time on the Food Network
Hall made her Food Network debut in 2010. One of her colleagues at AT&T, where she was a technical specialist, entered her into the “Hometown Showdown” cake decorating competition in New York without telling her. She ended up winning.
Since then, Hall has participated twice in “Cupcake Wars”, “Sugar Dome”, “Macy’s Thanksgiving Cake Spectacular”, “Holiday Wars” and “Halloween Wars”. She also participated in “The Big Bake,” a Food Network Canada holiday baking contest series.
USA TODAY’s Erin Jensen contributed to this report.