East Pikeland >> A Chester County baker that specializes in wedding cakes is making her small screen debut as a contestant on a new Netflix baking competition show.
“Sugar Rush” is an eight episode program that began streaming on the network July 13.
Peri Anderson, owner of Brooklyn Girl Bakery, 2208 Kimberton Road in East Pikeland, teamed up with friend and former co-worker Jennifer Low, owner of The Frosted Fox Cake Shop in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, to compete on the program.
According to a spokeswoman for the network, “Sugar Rush” is a “fast-paced baking competition series that challenges brilliant bakers to create sweet treats that look beautiful and taste amazing — all against the clock.”
“I am excited and nervous. They did 6 to 8 hours of footage, and that gets boiled down to 45 minutes. I have no idea how it’s going to be portrayed.”
In a recent interview, Anderson would not talk about what happened during her episode or the results. She plans to host a viewing party with family and friends on Saturday. She also said she won’t watch any of the episodes until the group is all together.
“I want to be as surprised as everyone else. I want to go through all the emotions with them,” she added.
On “Sugar Rush,” four teams of two compete in each episode for a prize of $10,000. The competition is broken into three segments, according to Anderson: cupcakes, confections and cakes.
“What makes it different is that if you don’t use all the time allowed in the first two rounds — the extra time is applied to the third round,” she explained.
The competition is judged by two world class pastry chefs: Candace Nelson (co-founder and executive pastry chef behind Sprinkles cupcakes and Pizzana in Los Angeles) and Adriano Zumbo, with Hunter March hosting, according to the network.
Anderson said it has taken almost a year to get to this point, adding that she was initially contacted by the casting company for the show last summer.
Anderson said she is a one woman operation, so when she was told there would be teams of two, the first person she thought of as a teammate was Low.
“I contacted her and she said she had been contacted (by the show), too. We did a Skype interview together,” she said.
The pair had worked together for seven years at a bakery in Chestnut Hill before starting their own businesses. Anderson left to start Brooklyn Girl Bakery in 2012. The pair has remained friends.
Anderson said they made a good team for “Sugar Rush,” balancing each other.
“She (Low) went to culinary school — she had more formal training and more experience with other things. I have a cake background.” Anderson said. “I told her she was in charge the first two rounds and when we got to the third round I would take over.”
In the weeks leading up to the taping, the pair — busy with their businesses — was unable to get together to practice.
“We didn’t know what we were going to have to do; we knew the rounds but not much else,” Anderson said. “We figured whatever they gave us, we could take a recipe and modify it.”
Anderson and Low made the trip to California in October, spending three-days taping their episode — episode No. 3 in the first season.
Anderson said the teams had a chance to see the workspace ahead of time, but there was no opportunity to get the feel of the kitchen — the layout, the equipment.
The equipment was new to the competitors, which Anderson said was a challenge.
“You have to account for temperature and cooking time differences — even where to place an item in the oven to account for the differences,” she said. “I know how my oven works and how my mixers work. We had to wing it in a new kitchen.”
In addition to the timed segments, Anderson said the judges would ask the teams questions while they were working. What was also true to life, she said, is that they did not stop taping.
“Whatever happened, happened. If we needed a break — we could take one, but the clock would keep running. It was real time,” she said.
Anderson added that her relationship with her teammate helped.
“We fell into a rhythm — and the judges commented on it. She would start on something and I would pick up on it and move it forward. We were just so in synch with each other. After not working with each other for so long, we fell right back into it,” Anderson added.
Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., Anderson was working in market research in New York when she took a recreational class on cake decorating.
“I loved it,” she said, and began charting a new course.
After moving to the West Chester area with husband Brian, she got an internship at the bakery where she ultimately worked for seven years — moving up from intern to pastry chef.
She said she was drawn to the wedding cake segment and decided that’s where she would put her focus. Brooklyn Girl Bakery offers other kinds of cakes including tiered party cakes, sculpted cakes, cookies and cupcakes.
Brooklyn Girl Bakery doesn’t have a retail space — Anderson bakes her cakes in her fully licensed home kitchen. She does rent a small space for consultations, tastings and for pick-up of smaller cakes.
“I have grown every year. When I knew I wanted to go on my own I contacted venues in the area and got myself included in their packages,” she said.
Last year, Anderson made about 180 wedding cakes and between 20 and 40 specialty and birthday cakes — about 50 cakes more than the year before, she said. The only advertising she does is on The Knot and WeddingWire.com.
“The reviews are what get me more business,” she added. “A lot of my business is word of mouth.”
Asked if she was ready for a possible increase in business because of her appearance on “Sugar Rush,” Anderson said she doesn’t know what to expect.
“More business can’t hurt. I want the excuse to grow,” she added.
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