Making it to a Food Network antagonism appearance is a dream for abounding chefs, both able and amateur, and for Clemson University’s controlling pastry chef Cicely Austin, that dream came accurate this year aback she was alleged for Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship.”
Austin, 42, an Anderson citizen originally from Maryland, fabricated it to the third adventure of the antagonism show and was alone on Monday’s adventure afterward an alien-themed formed block that board declared as “moist and tasty,” but it fell abbreviate on active the affair and the presentation.
As controlling pastry chef, Austin oversees a aggregation of 10 pastry chefs at Clemson. Her team’s assignment is campus-wide and they make every broiled acceptable that doesn’t appear prepackaged from a abstracted vendor, as able-bodied as the ones for any clandestine catered accident and all the desserts for Clemson Memorial Stadium on d days.
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So abundant of her role now is about delegation, because how abundant ambrosia they’re amenable for, but Austin says she’s still hands-on and complex in baking for quality-control purposes and to accomplish abiding she keeps learning. She describes her job as one that requires her to footfall aback and attending at the big account afore immersing herself in it.
Austin is advancing for Christmas, breadth for about a month, her aggregation will be authoritative specialty accolade and applique houses. She said that’s her abundance zone, forth with archetypal argent desserts.
Austin didn’t alpha out her able activity to become a baker. She originally got her degree in civilian engineering and planned to be an architect afore 9/11 fabricated her apprehend how brittle activity was.
“I ample out that activity is short,” Austin said. “It was time to chase my dreams. I knew I consistently capital to cook. I grew up cooking, my parents were absolutely abundant cooks and my grandmothers [were].”
So, she enrolled in comestible academy at New York’s Comestible Institute of America.
Austin formed in assorted D.C. restaurants afore one of her chefs appropriate she apprentice how to do baking and pastry to be a added ample chef, to accept what she called, a “niche” qualification.
She went aback to the C.I.A. for addition amount and this time interned at the world-renowned New York restaurant Jean-Georges. She additionally was on the aggregation aback they were awarded two Michelin stars (for “excellent affable that is account a detour”). Having that akin of authority on her resume meant that every job she got afterwards earning her baking and pastry arts amount was as a pastry chef.
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Austin landed at a restaurant in D.C. beyond from the White House. But in 2013, afterwards above President Barack Obama’s additional inauguration, she said she started to bake out. Looking for a change of pace, she began analytic for jobs in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. The controlling pastry chef position at Clemson University popped up on her radar. Aback she asked how aing Clemson was to Charlotte, she was told it was a brace of hours.
“And again I got bottomward here, and I was like, ‘Wow, it’s absolutely different,’” Austin said. “But I absolved around, and it’s apparently the better kitchen I had anytime been in. There were a lot of absorbing things that they were talking about accomplishing and I had the befalling to alternation my agents from scratch.”
The “Halloween Baking Championship” wasn’t Austin’s aboriginal time aggressive as a chef. In fact, she was alleged the 2017 American Comestible Federation Southeast Region Pastry Chef of the Year.
Austin activated aboriginal to be a adversary on the Food Network Appearance “Chopped.”
“If you anytime watch ‘Chopped,’ they consistently attempt aback they get to the ambrosia round. The aboriginal two courses are great, and again they get to the ambrosia annular and it’s array of like, what is this? So, I said, I’ve got this [knowledge] abaft me, and I still baker — still apperceive how to a angle and some of that — so this should be a no-brainer.”
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The Food Network aggregation got in blow with Austin, and she said for about a year, they approved to acquisition the appropriate appearance for her and the appropriate timing. Some of the opportunities they appropriate would’ve meant abrogation to blur during football season, and that aloof wouldn’t accept worked. They acclimatized on “Halloween Baking Championship,” and the appearance was taped over a six-week aeon aftermost summer.
“Halloween Baking Championship,” is a melancholia antagonism appearance that affectedness arch up to Halloween, appearance eight top chefs creating Halloween-themed desserts during circuit of altered challenges and the addition of assorted surprise, binding ingredients. Each anniversary one is eliminated, and the aftermost chef continuing wins $25,000.
This was Austin’s first TV competition, and she said she could feel the aberration in how afflictive she was in advanced of the camera against how adequate some of her competitors who had done TV before. She said she was consistently afraid and hot, but still had a lot of fun and jokes with anybody complex and hopes that’s conveyed in the episodes we see on TV.
But she may never apperceive because she refuses to watch the episodes. She said aloof cerebration about the acquaintance makes her nervous, and she relies on bodies to acquaint her what’s accident in the episodes as they air.
If she had won, Austin planned to help her ancestor who’s on dialysis with his treatments and accelerate her parents on a cruise.
She’s not soured on antagonism or aggressive affable shows. She would still adulation to do an adventure of “Chopped” or one of the Christmas-themed specials.
“I like competition,” she said. “And alike if you don’t win or you appear up short, it’s still about what you acquired from the experience. They affectionate of capital to know, ‘What are you activity do if you win?’ And I’m aloof like, that’s not allotment of the big account for me. I absolutely aloof like to compete. I anticipate it helps me grow.”
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