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Houston cake artist battles to be named Food Network's Best Baker in America

Houston cake artist battles to be named Food Network's Best Baker

Edet Okon Food Network Best Baker in America
Edet Okon is competing to be named the Best Baker in America. Photo courtesy of Food Network

Most Americans can whip up a stir-fry or throw some broth and veggies in a pot and call it a soup, but baking is another story. To be a good baker, a person must have knowledge of culinary science, an assured palate, and a flair for art. It’s no wonder that baking competition shows continue to fascinate, popping up everywhere from Netflix to PBS.

Now, one of the most demanding TV battles is returning to the small screen. On May 13, Food Network will bring back its popular program Best Baker in America for a third season — and this time, Houston has a hometown contender to root for.

Freelance cake artist Edet Okon will be battling for the title as he sifts, tempers, and frosts his way to glory, according to a release. In each episode, he will have to endure two rounds: a skills challenge to measure proficiency in the technical basics and a master challenge that throws curveballs via specific — and often unexpected — ingredients.

"Proving to be the Best Baker in America takes a mixture of skill, imagination and determination," said Food Network president Courtney White in the release. "These tremendously talented bakers have their work cut out for them, as they are pushed outside their comfort zone to whip up beautiful and delicious baked goods to impress an all-star lineup of prestigious bakers for the $25,000 prize."

Judging by his handiwork on Instagram, Okon will be difficult to beat. The Houstonian comes with an impressive CV, including baking an inaugural cake for the president of Nigeria and winning a gold medal from the American Culinary Federation. Plus, his mini bio on the Food Network site says that bombes are his favorite dessert. Luckily for him, a flaming Bombe Alaska is among this season’s challenges.

Whether that will be enough to impress Food Network Star winner Jason Smith and The Kitchen host Marcela Valladolid, not to mention a roster of guest judges that include some of the baking world’s biggest names, remains to be seen. But he will face stiff competition from the other contestants, including another from the Lone Star State, executive pastry chef Yolanda Diaz of Geraldine’s in Austin.

At the Hotel Van Zandt’s flagship restaurant, Diaz has proven she has what it takes. Her desserts like Apple Business with cinnamon cumin mousse, apple chutney, apple butter, and cheddar sable (a type of shortbread cookie) prove she has a technical prowess and a talent for using unconventional ingredients in her sweets.

The season premieres at 8 pm on May 13 culminating in a red, white, and blue spectacular for the July 4 finale. Houstonians can follow both Okon and Diaz’s progress on Monday nights.