Kevin VanDeraa advances to finals of TV's 'Cupcakes Wars'


Kevin VanDeraa, owner of Minneapolis's Cupcake Bakery, has made confectionary history, advancing to the final round of Cupcake Wars' first ever Cupcake Champion series on the Food Network TV show, which airs June 10. If his team wins, he will bring home a sweet check for $50,000, which he hopes to invest in opening a second location in St. Paul.

We talked with VanDeraa about his first-round victory, and about a viewing party he's planned for the show's grand finale.

Cupcake Bakery's viewing party will be at the New Century Theater at Minneapolis's downtown City Center, beginning at 7 p.m. on June 10. Free tickets are available at Cupcake, along with all five cupcake flavors VanDeraa's team created for that episode.

On May 27, Food Network viewers watched VanDeraa's team beat out three other competitors in the initial qualifying round. Although it was expected to be a much tougher battle (considering every team was a past champion of the show), VanDeraa was beyond thrilled that the show's theme was Glee. He explains, "Both myself and my baking assistant Shane are huge fans of the show, so we were super excited. And we thought, 'We have to win this episode!'"

VanDeraa chose to stick with the same strategy that brought him past Cupcake Wars glory, with one small adjustment.

"I've always been like, 'You've got to get the batter in the oven," he says. "Nothing else matters, but get that batter made and get it in the oven because the baking time and the cooling time of the cake is the killer. The guest judge was the co-creator of Glee, so my strategy was, I told Shane, 'We have to use so many Glee references ... it has to be so insane that I want that guest judge to have to explain what it means.'"

For one round, VanDeraa ended up creating a peanut-butter-and-jelly-flavored anti-bullying cupcake with dodge balls stacked on top. "You'd have to kind of watch the show to see how dodge balls relate to bullying," VanDeraa says.

Later on, VanDeraa threw in a few extra sprinkles of Glee trivia, and guest judge Brad Falchuk apparently...uh...ate it up.

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