via The News-Herald
A small Chardon bakery recently battled for a big win on Food Network’s popular “Cake Wars.”
Devin Bennett and Ellen Harvischak, owners of Sweet Grace Anna’s Fancy Cakes and Bakes, at 209 Center St., claimed victory in the show’s challenge of creating a themed cake based on Transformer toys. The show aired October 31st on Food Network.
Although the pastry shop has only been serving up sweets in Chardon for about a year, Bennett and Harvischak have layers of experience. They previously owned successful shops in the Youngstown area.
Bennett, a Kirtland native, said the couple had been working too many hours and “spinning too many plates” so a decision was made to cut the size of the cake enterprise. After spending some time in Florida they chose to move closer to family and put down roots in Geauga County.
They named the new business after their 10-year-old daughter, Grace Anna.
“The name reminds us of what’s important,” Bennett said. “She’s now the Wendy of cupcakes.”
Although the venture was scaled back in scope, a longstanding aspiration of competing with world-class bakers continued.
An employee’s friend who owns a video production business put together a package showcasing the couple’s talents which was submitted to Cake Wars. The hoped-for message of acceptance arrived in June and in August Bennett and Harvischak winged their way to Los Angeles to compete.
Facing formidable rivals, including a returning champion and a New York baker who whips up dazzling delectables for stars such as Jennifer Lopez, led to a major case of nerves for Harvischak.
“My blood pressure was abnormally high,” she said. “I almost walked out.”
Tension lessened a bit when they successfully pulled through the elimination round in which they were required to create a themed cake from scratch in 74 minutes. The finals delivered a challenge of presenting a cake featuring an epic battle of Transformers while incorporating a transformative element.
The dynamic duo was up to the task and their spectacular chocolate toffee confection shaped into a city under siege with Transformer Autobots and Decepticons dueling it out snagged top honors.
Bennett noted that a lenticular optical design which transformed images depending on the view and also crowned the cake may have been a deciding factor for judges.
“We were the only ones who did (the challenge) in a literal sense,” he said.