The heat is on - Buddy "Cake Boss" Valastro has selected a brand-new "bakers dozen" of aspiring pastry chefs to mix it up in the third season of TLC's hit competition show NEXT GREAT BAKER. The 13 crafty cake artists are each after the sweet prize of $100,000, a feature in Redbook Magazine, and a chance to work side-by-side with Buddy and his team at Carlo's Bakery.
The 10-episode season kicks off with a special 90-minute premiere tonight, November 26 at 9pm ET/PT. The series' second season, which crowned Marissa Lopez as the winner, was watched by an average of 1.7M viewers.
This season, Buddy and his family welcome special guests to judges the challenges, including Mario Lopez & Courtney Mazza, Lou Ferrigno, Peter Billingsley (A Christmas Story), Holly Madison, and Joey Fatone, among others.
"Each season brings out stronger contestants and I think this is the best batch yet. The challenges are tougher, the judges more critical, and the reward as sweet as ever," said Buddy Valastro.
This season's contestants include:
Letty Alvarez - Miami, FL 41 years old; Owner/Operator of LA Sweets
James S. Brown - Lexington, KY (previously from Chicago, IL) 41 years old; Owner oF Brown's Bakery
Paul Christopher Conti - Long Beach Island, NJ (originally from Staten Island, NY) 30 years old; currently unemployed
Chad Durkin - Philadelphia, PA (previously from Hackensack, NJ and Toms River, NJ) 28 years old; Owner of CAD Culinary consulting and wedding cakes
Gretel-Ann Fischer - Colchester, VT 35 years old; Owner of Cupp's, a bakery/café in Winooski, Vermont
Peter Gray - East Longmeadow, MA 21 years old; Runs cake decorating business Pete's Sweets
Ashley Lauren Holt - Louisville, KY 24 years old; Pastry Chef at The Louisville Country Club, also runs cake business Sugar Monster Sweets
Jen Kwapinski - San Jose, CA (previously from Columbus, NE) 32 years old; Owner of Jen's Cakes
Chris Luna - Roseville, CA (originally from Pollock Pines, CA) *Chris was the America's Choice selection 29 years old; Currently a Sales Executive, and an amateur baker
Melissa Payne - Chesterfield, VA 33 years old; Owner of Couture Cake Creations, co-owner of Sweets Couture
Jess Reyling - Peoria, IL (originally from Chillicothe, IL) 30 years old; Stay at Home Mom
Emme Tyler - Los Angeles, CA 30 years old; Owner of Skinny Batches
William Garrett Wallace - Waverly,TN 36 years old; Cake artist at Fabulous Baker Boy
The series fan site can be found at http://tlc.com/nextgreatbaker.
NEXT GREAT BAKER is produced for TLC by High Noon Entertainment.