(December 11, 2011) Alison Riede, owner of the Santa Barbara-based online cupcake company Sugar Cat Studio, was the winner of Sunday night’s episode (12.11.11) of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. Riede is the fourth baker from Santa Barbara to be on the show, but the first one to take home the top prize.
Now entering its fourth season, the show pits four bakers from across the country in a competition to create the tastiest and most attractive cupcakes based on a theme the show selects. This episode’s theme was the Hollywood Christmas Parade. Her competitors were from L.A., Las Vegas & Chicago.
Sunday night’s first challenge was to turn an outdated Christmas tradition into a contemporary cupcake. Riede did a play on a traditional cheese log, creating a sharp cheddar cupcake topped with a candied pecan crust and a honey blue cheese frosting that drew raves from judges Candace Nelson and Florian Bellanger.
In the presentation challenge, she created cupcakes based on three classic Christmas movies – a white chocolate coconut cream cupcake for “White Christmas,” a mulled wine cupcake based on Clarence the angel’s favorite drink in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and an Ovaltine chocolate chip cupcake inspired by the decoder ring scene in “A Christmas Story.”
Riede, her assistant Erica Lively and a team of bakers from the show then created 1,000 cupcakes and an elaborate stand on which to display them to seal the win. The victory earned her $10,000 and the opportunity to offer her cupcakes to celebrities at the Hollywood Christmas Parade on Nov. 27.
Riede has been developing Sugar Cat Studio (www.sugarcatstudio.com) for the past three years. The company offers custom catering for weddings and other special events on California’s Central Coast and has sold its custom-made cupcake wrappers worldwide. Recently it has branched out by offering cake pops and hosting wine-and-cupcake pairings.
Sugar Cat Studio’s cupcakes were featured in celebrity gift baskets at the 2010 Academy Awards. The company has donated its cupcakes to fundraisers for Santa Barbara’s Organic Soup Kitchen, the California Central Coast Alzheimer’s Association, the Family Care Network and the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.
Riede, 29, grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., and graduated from Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts. After working as a paper and fabric designer in Manhattan, she moved to California to get her master’s in education at UC Santa Barbara.
About the Show
It’s cupcake vs. cupcake in Food Network’s tastiest competition yet! Each week on Cupcake Wars, four of the country’s top cupcake bakers face off in three elimination challenges until only one decorator remains. The sweet prize: $10,000 and the opportunity to showcase their cupcakes at the winning gig. Whether a special Ace of Cakes anniversary celebration, a star-studded magazine party or an A-list celebrity golf tournament, these Cupcakes Wars really heat up. Candace Nelson (owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes) and Florian Bellanger (chef and co-owner of online macaroon company MadMac) serve as permanent judges with a third rotating judge each week, and Justin Willman hosts.