By: Kristen Hegel
In November of 2010, Heather McDonnell opened Cupcrazed Cakery in Baxter and just a year later, she is set to appear on the Food Network’s hit television series Cupcake Wars. At the beginning of this year, McDonnell and her sister-in-law, Debbie McDonnell, flew out to Los Angeles to begin filming for the show. She’s had to keep news of her television appearance a secret since then.
Before she opened her cupcake shop, McDonnell sent in her first application to Cupcake Wars, but she wasn’t accepted. Three months into her new business, producers called asking her to submit another video application. Soon after resubmitting her application, she received a call saying McDonnell and her assistant would be flown out to Los Angeles to compete on the show. “I screamed in the office and then the girls started screaming in the kitchen because everyone knew it was good news,” McDonnell said.
The contestants compete through three rounds of challenges, and one team is eliminated after each round. The first round is usually the most outrageous, where competitors have to use unusual ingredients in their cupcakes. In the second round, bakers make three of their original cupcakes recipes. In the last round, the bakers have to make 1,000 cupcakes, along with a display, in two hours. The winner not only wins $10,000, but they have the opportunity to bake cupcakes for guest judge and country star Jeanette McCurdy’s record release event.
“I have a couple of solid recipes I can manipulate, and that’s what you have to do,” McDonnell stated about baking cupcakes for round one. “I thought ‘Pick the most difficult thing they have. I thought if I could make it work, I could definitely get to round one. It’s all about the challenge.” Before making the trip toLos Angeles, McDonnell spent time getting to know what cupcakes and flavors her customers preferred. She also prepared by working with Debbie to plan out a display that would fit 1,000 cupcakes, if they made it to the last round.
“If you don’t know how to bake, you will lose,” McDonnell said. “Nothing is pre-made,” McDonnell added. McDonnell can’t talk about the outcome of her experience on the show until it airs, “I can’t say anything, but they saved us for the season finale for a reason. People can watch us and see why. They saved the best for last,” McDonnell said.
The episode “Country Cupcakes,” a Southern-themed show, will air on September 11 at 8 p.m. on the Food Network. Make sure to tune in and watchFortMill’s very own baker compete for the $10,000 prize.