2018 Special Guests and Celebrity Chefs
New Celebrity Guests and Demonstrators Added Weekly
Duff Goldman, Celebrity Chef and TV Personality
Classically trained at Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California, Chef Duff Goldman worked under such notable chefs as Jessie Llapitan, now Executive Chef of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, and Chef Jason Rogers, of Olives in Aspen, and now at the Borgata of Atlantic City. Duff left Colorado to cook and bake bread for Todd English’s Olives back in Washington, D.C., and worked under Executive Chef Steve Mannino. His entrepreneurial spirit took him back to Baltimore in 2000, where he finally realized his dream and opened Charm City Cakes…
…in his apartment. He wasn’t there very long; as word-of-mouth, the media, and even the health department all began to take an interest, and he soon found himself in a real bakery of his very own. Increased coverage in the press, and a growing clients list helped propel Duff into an even bigger location: an old church he retrofitted into his current modern bakery, a converted church in the Remington area of his adopted hometown – and the Charm City Cakes as we know it was firmly established.
As word about his unusual and daring cakes got out, Duff hired staff with more artistic experience than the typical pastry chef, like painters, architects and sculptors. His out-of-the-ordinary team is known for producing highly creative cakes that range from Star Wars characters and vehicles, to a replica of the Stanley Cup, to a working life-size motorcycle, a Hogwarts Castle for Warner Bros. and their premiere of Harry Potter.
Following several appearances on its cake competition Challenge series, in 2006, Food Network tapped Chef Duff and his fellow cake baking artists at Charm City Cakes to star in Ace of Cakes. After six years and ten seasons, the show was broadcast in over 40 countries worldwide.
In addition to his work on Ace of Cakes, Duff has been featured in episodes of The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Iron Chef America, The Next Food Network Star, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Drives, Chefs vs. City, Cupcake Wars, Sugar High and Chopped. Duff continues to be a staple on the Food Network year-round starring on Duff Till Dawn and as a judge on Kids Baking Championship, Spring Baking Championship and Holiday Baking Championship. Today, Duff’s work has also been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America, Fox News, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Chef Duff has also made his first foray into the publishing world with the New York Times bestseller, Ace of Cakes: Inside the World of Charm City Cakes. He most recently released his second cookbook, Duff Bakes: Think and Bake Like a Pro at Home, October 2015.
In 2012, Cakemix opened its doors in Los Angeles. The one-stop cake decorating shop allows visitors to decorate their own cakes.
In addition to owning and operating Charm City Cakes and Charm City Cakes West, Duff is also a sculptor, artist, and musician. In 2011, Duff was nominated for two James Beard Foundation awards for both “Best TV Food Personality/Host” and “Best Television Program.”
Ron Ben-Israel Celebrity Chef TV Personality
As Chef-Owner of one of the country’s finest couture cake studios, Ron Ben-Israel started his confectionery adventures after a fifteen-year career as a professional modern dancer. Upon retiring from performing with companies spanning three continents, he utilized his art schooling and ballet training to master the discipline of pastry arts.
After apprenticeships and engagements in Toronto, Canada and Lyon, France he was led to New York City. In 1996, his cakes were discovered while on display in the windows of Mikimoto on Fifth Avenue.
In 1999, Ron established his flagship design studio and bakery in Manhattan’s fashionable SoHo neighborhood. His cakes have been featured in destinations throughout the continental U.S. and abroad and continue to be a staple in the luxury industry.
Dr Ken Jeong, comedian, actor and physician
Dr Ken Jeong definitely knows how to make an entrance. In a breakout role in The Hangover, Jeong memorably leaps from a car trunk stark naked, madly flailing a crowbar. After that part, Jeong burst onto the comedy scene on NBC’s Community and turns in several blockbuster movies. So it’s only fitting that the doctor-turned-actor makes his appearance in commercials for smartphone game Cookie Jam by barging Kool-Aid man-style through a wall into a hair salon clad in a cookie costume. He was even able to put his own spin on the role, after spitballing a few different antics for his character. The 30-second spot was good practice for Jeong’s current day-job, he says, where he is shooting his first sitcom in a starring role, ABC’s Dr. Ken, and he has found himself with more creative control than ever before.
Elise Strachan, Founder of MyCupcakeAddiction
Elise Strachan created the wildly successful My Cupcake Addiction brand as a way to bring her over the top ideas and accessible approach to all things sweet. With over 10 Million followers around the world, Elise aims to make life just a little bit sweeter through food, fun and fabulous at-home entertaining.
An Australian who divides her time between the Gold Coast and Los Angeles, Elise has an impressive background as a trained pastry chef. Her engaging character and ability to break down seemingly impossible creations into simple bite-size steps has her revolutionizing the way everyday people entertain.
This mother of two will show you everything from how to bake it, craft it and style it up to create the ultimate festive occasion, with time, kid-friendly & money saving tips along the way. Elise shares her most dazzling and delicious dessert recipes and ingenious entertaining tips in her new cookbook Sweet! Celebrations out this October. You too can throw the perfect party!
Creator, Host & NYT Bestselling Author of “Nerdy Nummies”
New York Times bestselling author and award-winning online personality Rosanna Pansino is the creator and host of the Internet’s most popular baking show, Nerdy Nummies. With more than 4.8 million subscribers, and over 1 billion total video views, Rosanna has quickly become one of the top three most watched female influencers on YouTube.
From Caped Crusader to Canine Crusader
Burt had all the makings of a true “Boy Wonder”. At the age of two, Burt was the youngest professional ice skater in the world and was featured in “Strange As It Seems,” a predecessor to the Guinness Book of Records. As a teenager, Burt was an all-around athlete, strong in martial arts, wrestling, track, tennis and golf, combined with a sharp intellect, playing “first board” in chess for Beverly Hills High School, achieving the top 3% in the U.S. in math and science tests at UCLA, and becoming the world’s fastest reader – Burt tested before the American Medical Society in Beverly Hills, California and was clocked at 30,000 words per minute with 90% comprehension (the average reader reads 240 words per minute with 40% comprehension). Burt was featured in an article entitled, “Will the Real Boy Wonder Please Stand Up” and subsequently appeared on the national television educational show “Read Right.”
With the help of his father, a prominent real estate broker in Beverly Hills, CA, Burt became one of the youngest real estate agents in California, and met producer, Saul David, who arranged for him to sign with a Hollywood agent. His first interview was set up at 20th Century Fox Studios, and a few weeks later, Burt was called back for a screen test with Adam West.
Little did aspiring actor, Burt Ward, know that learning martial arts in addition to his mental and athletic prowess would change his life forever. Holder of a brown belt in karate at the time, Burt showed off his athletic ability for the producers by demonstrating some falls and tumbles, and even broke a one-inch thick pine board with his hand. Later, Burt attained his black belt from his instructor, All Korean champion, Young Ik Suh. Burt was friends with Bruce Lee. A special piece of movie trivia is that Bruce Lee’s first filmed fight scene of his career was fighting Burt Ward. In October 2015, Burt was inducted into the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame.
Executive Producer William Dozier told Burt that he was chosen out of more than 1,100 other young actors trying out for the role of Robin because the producers believed that “If there really was a real ‘Robin The Boy Wonder,’ then Burt would be it,” so they requested him to “just be himself and be enthusiastic.” As a result, all of the mannerisms you see Robin doing like punching his fist into his palm, jumping over the door in and out of the Batmobile, and all the unique Robin traits of the character that were not scripted, were created by Burt himself as his contribution to the legendary role of the Robin character. When he first met Burt, Executive Producer, William Dozier, commented about Ward’s tall size in comparison to Adam West, and the new Boy Wonder prospect replied, “I promise you, sir, I won’t grow anymore.” Dozier laughed and told Burt that he would hold him to that.
It wasn’t until six weeks after the screen test that Burt learned that he had won the coveted role of Robin, the Boy Wonder in the new “Batman” TV series for ABC-TV. He was everything they wanted. All he had to do was just be himself.
Batman Was an Overnight Sensation!
Biff, Bam, Boom! The Ratings Soared!
Burt and Adam West made hundreds of personal appearances together and were featured in dozens of magazine articles, including the cover of Life magazine.
Years later, when accepting Harvard’s “Man of the Year” award, Burt brought one of his original Robin costumes, even then valued at six figures. Some students came up to him dressed as security guards and told him they would keep the costume safe. Then, in the middle of Burt’s speech, one student stood up and asked, “When is a costume not a costume? When it’s stolen.” The lights dimmed and the students grabbed the costume and made off. After snapping photos with one another in the cape, they later called Ward and gave the costume back. The ringleader of the gang? Harvard Lampoon editor, Conan O’Brien.
Burt Ward’s career in the years since Batman has been productive and rewarding. In 1985, DC Comics named Burt as one of the honorees in their 50th Anniversary publication “Fifty Who Made DC Great” for his work as Robin.
From “Caped Crusader” to “Canine Crusader”
In 1994, Burt and his wife, Tracy Posner Ward, philanthropist (and daughter of billionaire industrialist and philanthropist, Victor Posner), rescued a Great Dane in distress. From this experience, they learned about dozens of other Great Danes also needing homes. When they called weeks later to see what had happened to the others, they was horrified to hear that they had all been destroyed. Both Burt and Tracy have a huge love for animals. They made a decision, and created a rescue for Great Danes and other giant dog breeds.
Located 50 miles east of Los Angeles, Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions is a non-profit charity created by Burt and Tracy. Gentle Giants has rescued and adopted more than 15,500 giant breed and small breed dogs during their 23 years of operation. All of their dogs are socialized and behaviorally trained, and live communally together in their home. Gentle Giants is now the largest giant breed dog rescue in the world and rescues and finds homes for 45 different dog breeds, ranging from 2 lbs. to 300 lbs.
Traditionally, giant breed dogs usually have short lifespans, living 6-8 years or 7-9 years, depending upon the breed. Spending millions of dollars of their own money and more than a decade of rescuing and adopting, research and testing, and combining their special care and feeding program with their own all natural Gentle Giants dog food, Burt and Tracy have successfully doubled the average lifespan of their rescued giant breed dogs, and significantly lengthened the average lifespan of their rescued small and medium breed dogs as well, with dogs living as long as 27 active, healthy years.
Gentle Giants Products manufacturers all natural Gentle Giants dog food, both dry food and canned food, which is sold in more than 1,250 stores in California, and in 339 Walmart Supercenters in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Florida. Gentle Giants dog food is sold nationally through mail order on Chewy.com, Walmart.com, and Amazon.com. In California, Gentle Giants is sold in Walmart Supercenters, Stater Bros. Markets, Ralphs Grocery Stores, and Gelson’s Supermarkets.
Gentle Giants has a spectacular new line of wet (canned) dog food, with 90% Beef, 90% Chicken, 90% Salmon, and 90% Turkey & Liver. Each entrée has eight (8) fruits and vegetables, all certified Non GMO (do not contain genetically modified organisms) Gentle Giants Products also has a new line of super premium dog supplements and super premium dog treats.
The Caped Crusader has truly evolved into the Canine Crusader.
Subscribe to Weekly Updates
Want to meet your favorite food celebrities in 2017? Subscribe to weekly e-newsletter updates and stay in the loop. You’ll also receive a 10% off coupon!
Foodstirs and Foodstirs Co-Founder Sarah Michelle Gellar
Foodstirs’ mission is to offer delicious baking products made with the finest real ingredients, that provide a convenient and creative way to unplug, connect and create memorable experiences in the kitchen. Connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @foodstirs. Foodstirs loves to be inspired and can’t wait to meet you!
Sarah Michelle Gellar is an Emmy-winning actress, who is best known for her role as Buffy on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Gellar recently stepped into a new role, entrepreneur, launching Foodstirs along with her business partners, Galit Laibow and Gia Russo. Foodstirs is a culinary lifestyle brand that offers convenient, delicious and healthier ways to bring families together in the kitchen. Off-screen, Gellar lends her time and support to children’s charities and organizations, including No Kid Hungry, Baby Buggy, Make-a-Wish Foundation, and the nonprofit organization CARE. She’s also an advocate for breast cancer awareness and participated in Ford’s 2003 ‘Tied to the Cause’ campaign benefiting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. And, she’s involved with Habitat for Humanity and Planned Parenthood. Gellar resides in Los Angeles with her husband of 13 years, Freddie Prinze, Jr., and their children, Charlotte, 6, and Rocky, 3.
More Amazing Celebrity Guests
Greg Cope White
Writer, Host, Chef
A card-carrying member of the Writer’s Guild and SAG, Greg’s a produced television writer. He also steps in front of the camera and hosts. The Pink Marine is his first book. His writing credits include HBO’s Dream On, Norman Lear’s The Powers That Be and 704 Hauser, Fox’s Life With Louie, Sony’s animated series Jumanji, and Disney’s Social Studies. He currently has a sitcom in development with Norman Lear’s Act III. He writes television, film, and articles for publication. He’s a member of The Association of Food Journalists and James Beard (his major passions are food and storytelling). He appears on this season’s Unique Sweets on the Cooking Channel. He also shot a pilot for Food Network as host & cook for a food and travel adventure show and competed on Mark Burnett’s TV show On The Menu in 2014. He writes articles for The Huffington Post and Good Men Project , and most recently his memoir of his time in the Marine Corps–The Pink Marine (available everywhere books are sold 10/15). Veterans Writing Project and Military Experience and the Arts include chapters from his memoir in their print editions of collected short stories – he’s honored, and bought 5 copies for his mother. His memoir, The Pink Marine is also being developed for a TV series by Rachel Davidson and Pamela Oas Williams (The Butler, The Amazing Spider Man ….) . Greg will be doing a Pecan Pie demonstration at LA Cookie Con.
Cooking Channel Host
Say the word “chef” and traditionally, it conjures up images of a big white hat atop a restaurant chef. However, the recipe for this dynamic chef goes against all tradition. Chef Jamika is known for her bold flavors and sassy personality to say the least.
Beginning her professional career as a corporate marketing executive, Chef Jamika gave up her lucrative job to pursue her passion for food and cooking to enter the culinary industry. Her classical training included studying in European countries such as Venice, Italy and Vienna, Austria and graduation from the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institute of Atlanta. She also worked for the renowned Ritz Carlton Hotel.
Recognizing her yearning to be the boss, she paired her love for cooking and entertaining and in 2006, began her business – Life of the Party Personal Chef Services. Positioned as a “Chef to the Stars”, Chef Jamika became a highly sought after personal chef in Atlanta, Georgia, cooking for numerous celebrities and professional athletes. She expanded her business by becoming the chef for various corporate events hosted by Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Def Jam Recordings, Black Entertainment Television, the Atlanta Braves, and the Atlanta Hawks.
Jamika’s cooking style is described as playful and modern. Blending her Caribbean heritage with her Southern roots, she is most frequently called upon to prepare her inventive Southern Caribbean Fusion dishes. Chef Jamika describes her flavor profile as Southern Sweet meets Caribbean Heat!
She’s excited to be at the LA Cookie Con and Sweets Show 2016.
Satin Ice Artist of Excellence
Fernanda Abarca is a renowned cake artist and also an artist for Dreamworks Animation. Her work has been featured in films such as “Bee Movie,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Madagascar: Escape to Africa,” “Shrek the Halls,” “Megamind,” “Kung Fu Panda 2,” “How to Train your Dragon,” “The Croods,” “Turbo,” “Monkeys of Mumbai,” and “Trolls.” In January 2013, she started Fernanda Abarca Cakes – an online cake boutique specializing in bringing characters to life in sugar form for entertainment companies such as Disney & DreamWorks Animation. The company has grown to be one of Facebook’s favorite cake decorating pages, and the studio’s go-to for cakes/cupcakes.
She’s excited to build a cake live onstage at LA Cookie Con and Sweets Show 2016.
Masterchef Junior’s Youngest Competitor
Actor, Youtube personality and aspiring Chef
Troy just competed on NBCs Food Fighters this July with host Adam Richman. Troy also appeared on Season 1 of Masterchef Junior on Fox, making it to the semi-finals. He’s also cooked on such shows as Home and Family and Access Hollywood. Troy won a full scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America in NY, and has been fortunate to be mentored by some top chefs in Los Angeles. He’s done private cooking affairs and charity events. He started cooking at D’Amores restaurant in Camarillo where his mom is the manager. Troy has appeared in several commercial , music videos , movies and tv shows, landing the lead role in an episode of Nickelodeons deadtime stories (The Beast of Baskerville). He’s guest starred on Agents of Shield and has appeared on True Blood and Modern Family, most recently recurring on Nickelodeon’s “React to That”. Troy is also a YouTube personality. He is a regular on the very popular show “Kids React” and now “Teens React” and React Channel by The Fine Brothers. He is currently shooting a pilot where he is playing himself as a food critic.
Star of “Just Add Magic”
DreamWorksTVs’ Triple-Tiered Cake Design Challenge
Life as a DreamWorksTV star couldn’t be more sweet! Join YouTube personality Cassie Diamond, network cooking competition finalist Jimmy Warshawsky as well as MasterChef Junior’s Dara Yu as they demonstrate their distinctive decorating skills on a delectable three-tiered cake. Sugarcoat your day and cheer on these budding young chefs as they bake and decorate their way to the top.
Online Personality, Aspiring Chef
Cassie Diamond, a 17 year old YouTube star based in California, is known for her lifestyle channel Claycupcakes4. She creates DIY, cooking, and beauty videos for her 100,000+ subscribers on DreamWorksTV as well as her personal channel. Cassie was interested in cooking and baking from a young age and got her inspiration from her uncle who was a chef at the time, working for Wolf Gang Puck. She loved to watch The Food Network and create her own dishes and pastry creations, and her passion has led her to create cooking and baking videos and even enrolling in culinary school.
TV Host, Chef, Actor & Singer
Jimmy Warshawsky is a TV personality, Host, Chef, Actor and Singer. Beginning in 2016, he will join DreamWorksTV’s I ♥ DIY series, sharing fun and creative tips and tricks on making all types of delicious cuisine. Jimmy was a finalist on a top-rated network cooking competition show. He became a fan favorite with his charming, witty and charismatic personality, and impressed the judges by winning many challenges including the homemade pasta challenge, sushi and salmon en croute challenges as well as the crème brulee and lemon meringue pie challenges. He also currently rotates between anchoring the daily news, doing the entertainment reports and cooking segments at his high school in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2015 Jimmy was awarded certificates of recognition from both the State of California and the City of Santa Clarita for his hard work, dedication and passion for the culinary arts, as well as being an inspiration and a positive role model.
Chef, Instructor, Online Personality
At fourteen, Dara Yu, otherwise known as Dara The Bow Girl, made a splash into the culinary world by appearing on MasterChef Junior Season One in 2013. Wearing her trademark bow, she won the three layer cake challenge, the Beef Wellington Challenge and led her team to win the restaurant takeover challenge at Drago Centro. In the finale, Dara crafted a Tuna Poke and Seared Tuna appetizer, Shrimp and Scallop Won Tons in Thai Curry with Spot prawns for the main, and a Poached Pear in Ginger Miso Sauce with A Lemon Tuile as dessert. Since the show, Dara has staged (interned) at many high end restaurants in both Los Angeles and New York: The Parish, Tasting Kitchen, AOC, The Montage Laguna, Hakkasan, Dominique Ansel, Bouchon Bakery and has cooked with Giada de Laurentiis and John Besh. She caters special events and stays closely connected to the food world. She now has a web series where she interviews chefs and teaches cooking. She also created a cooking web series for DreamWorksTV where she demonstrates DIY recipes for kids as well as advanced dishes for adults. Dara has a new cooking show, “ In The Kitchen With Dara The Bow Girl” on the Verizon app “ go90.” She is also the new face of The Hershey Company Holiday Campaign 2015, where she has created unique recipes, and videos, and will be doing a media campaign for them. In addition, Dara teaches a cooking series for children at Williams-Sonoma Santa Monica and is a contributing food writer for BeautyCon.com
Rachel Fong, Star of YouTube Channel, Kawaii Sweet World
1.8 million is the amount of times people have watched YouTube baking sensation junior Rachel Fong make a chocolate bar cake. From filming in her bedroom to filming in her self-created baking studio, Rachel has come a long way in less than four years time.
Sugarcoder is one of YouTube’s top decorators, with over 19,000 subscribers and counting. Miki, the talent behind Sugarcoder, will be on hand to teach a hands-on class as well as present a demo on her famous character and donut macarons.
Sweet Art Factory Decorating Demonstration
Watch YouTube Star, Jill Christine, founder of Sweet Art Factory, do a decorating demo all with the emphasis on QUICK and SIMPLE. Click here for her YouTube Channel.
Masterchef Season 3
FYI’s “Make My Food Famous”
Restaurant Impossible, Next Food Network Star
Owner of The Trails Eatery in San Diego
Masterchef Season 5
Join Our E-mail List – Get a 10% Off Coupon
Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter and receive a 10% off coupon plus updates and news on LA Cookie Con and Sweets Show! No spam. Just dessert.