Local bakery Libby Ryan entered Food Network’s Chopped Sweets contest last week.
Ryan, owner of Just Baked Cake Studio and Bakery, competed in an episode of Bejeweled and Bedazzled and won second place!
Chopped Sweets is presented by Scott Conant, a renowned American chef, restaurateur and presenter and a frequent judge on many Food Network competitions. In Chopped Sweets, Constant challenges four pastry chefs to create desserts from random ingredients – all within an extremely short time frame.
The chefs competed in three rounds, each time demonstrating different techniques: candied, boiled and glazed.
After each round of the contest, one pastry chef will be removed from the contest. The final chef will receive a $10,000 prize!
About three years ago, Ryan entered another Food Network wedding cake contest for Cat Cora and Nicole Ehrlich. Cora made history in 2005 by becoming the first female Iron Chef.
Although Ryan didn’t win the contest for Cora’s wedding cake, she was hired to prepare Cora’s rehearsal dinner.
The Food Network invited Ryan to participate in another Food Network show.
After several interviews in Zoom Magazine, Ryan was invited to star in an episode of Gems and Bedazzle Chopped Sweets, which was filmed in February 2020, just before California closed due to the pandemic. The judges for this episode were Natalie Sidesurf and Manit Chauhan.
It was a lot of fun, and it’s like what you see – it’s really only 30 minutes, you’re using other people’s material that you don’t know how to use. You try not to trip over hundreds of camera cables and people because they’re in every corner, Ryan said.
For the first round, Ryan used the necessary ingredients – honeydew melon, giant ring candies, silver leaf and mosaic jelly – to create a whipped creamy gelatin churros with pistachio!
The judges were excellent, but very strict,” Ryan said, but she came through the competition with high praise from the judges.
After the first round, presenter Conant asked Ryan why she wanted to become a pastry chef.
Ryan continued to tell his story.
For his son Ryan’s ninth birthday, he wanted a skateboard cake. Ryan explained that as a single mom who works in retail, she couldn’t afford a cake like that in a bakery. So Ryan baked his own cake, learned about it on YouTube.
Ryan then posted a picture of his son’s cake on Facebook, and before she knew it, Ryan had opened his own bakery, Just Baked Cake Studio and Bakery!
It gives me the creeps. It’s incredible, Conant said.
Ryan faced off against pastry chef Monica Glass in the final.
They were asked to create a dessert with ingredients such as sapphire tart, candied chain, edible flakes and mamei fruit. During this round, the cooks had to show off their icing skills.
Ryan created a half-naked sapphire cake by turning a sapphire cake into miniature cakes for the judges with Swiss and American mamey buttercream frosting.
Ryan came out on top, but unfortunately lost to pastry chef Monica Glass.
Unfortunately, Ryan didn’t win the match, but he’s proud of his progress.
I was very proud of myself when I sat with those three classically trained pastry chefs and I didn’t want to go home first, Ryan said.
Ryan had no idea that when he returned from filming in February, COVID-19 would radically change his life and business.
Like many small businesses, Just Baked Cake Studio and Bakery has been hit hard by wedding cancellations.
Ryan moved 126 weddings from 2020 to 2021. And now, in the last month alone, she has seen 27 weddings cancelled or postponed until 2022.
All of Ryan’s weddings from January to March have been cancelled. In fact, weddings that were scheduled for November have begun to change their plans.
Cutting them off this year really hurts, Ryan shared.
Like everyone else, Ryan had to make a tough decision and decided to close his Santa Margarita bakery for the first two weeks of closing.
Ryan and his team realized that lockdown and COWID were not going away anytime soon and got creative.
We had to change course. We started delivering, and since everyone had kids at home, we made cake and cookie sets to keep busy, and we were incredibly busy the whole time, and what we discovered was that everyone was still celebrating their birthdays. It doesn’t matter if it’s smaller, transient or different.
One. In August 2020, Ryan opened his second Just Baked store in Paso Market Walk on Spring Street.
With our opening to the market, it went very well. We were very well received in the community, but there were so many other restaurants that weren’t as busy as we thought they would be because no one wanted to come in to eat because they couldn’t eat inside. It really upset us, Ryan said.
Mr. Ryan also said that if covered seating is an option, it will be an attraction for everyone on Market Walk. But when food is forbidden inside, everyone suffers.
Because of the disruption and lack of foot traffic, Ryan decided to close the Santa Margarita store to retail. Ryan has two more part-time employees who prepare the cookie dough on site for baking in their Paso Robles.
To make up for the loss of income from the marriage, which accounts for a third of his business, Ryan and his team of 11 employees process as many custom orders as possible.
Ryan and his team of bakers worked hard, no matter how many times they had to rotate due to restrictions and changes.
For the second year in a row, Just Baked was named the best bakery and best cake in North County in SLO North County 2021’s best survey!
Against all odds, participating in the Food Network’s Chopped Sweets contest in 2020 was the highlight.
It was an extraordinary experience. I had so much fun and I would love to go back and do it all over again, Ryan said.
The only bakery in the region to offer KETO options. They also offer gluten-free and vegetarian options every day.
And every morning, starting at 8am, they serve breakfast in what Ryan calls their secret little club!
The bakery is constantly adding new flavors and treats, so be sure to follow them on @justbakedslo social media for updates!
Just Baked Cake Studio and Bakery is located at 1803 Spring Street New Market Paso, a few blocks from downtown.
Ryan’s episode of Bejeweled and Bedazzled can be seen on Discovery+. Don’t forget to stop by their Just Baked in Paso Robles bakery in the Paso Robles Mall to say hello!
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