Kevin VanDeraa returns to TV's 'Cupcake Wars' Sunday
It takes a certain kind of sadomasochism to return to Cupcake Wars not once but twice. But Kevin VanDeraa, previous Cupcake Wars champion and owner of Cupcake Bakery in Prospect Park, couldn't resist the invitation to return, this time to compete as one of 15 champions in a five-episode series. VanDeraa's episode airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on the Food Network.
Each week during the championship series, four previous Cupcake Wars winners fight their way through three elimination challenges to earn their place in the final episode, which will air on Sunday, June 10. On the line is a $50,000 cash prize, bragging rights, and the coveted title of Cupcake Champion.
While some contestants try to impress the judges with off-the-wall flavors and crazy garnishes, VanDeraa's strategy is a little different.
"I always stick with basic comfort food-type flavors," he says. "Everybody likes chocolate, everybody likes vanilla. It's been my experience that people really like flavors that they understand." He adds, "With all of my garnishes, I try to make them not only so they are edible but that you actually want to eat them. Garnishes should always complement the food or tell you what's inside it.
VanDeraa admits that his first appearance on a Bollywood-themed episode of Cupcake Wars was chaotic and stressful: "We joked that, you know, 'Oh bummer, we made it to the next round.'" But after he made it all the way to the last round, his competitive nature took over. VanDeraa came in second place, but when they asked him back to compete on April 15, he won the Yo Gabba-Gabba-themed episode for his skillful use of fresh strawberries.
Cupcake Bakery has been a fixture of the Prospect Park neighborhood in Minneapolis since 2004. The name was intended to evoke both a coffee shop and a bakery, but after VanDeraa opened up shop, as luck would have it, the national cupcake craze took off. While Cupcake is known for its traditional flavored cupcakes, it also has received praise for its soups and sandwiches.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Minneapolis & St. Paul dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.