Film & TV

Halloween Baking Championship Features Two South Florida Chefs

Halloween Baking Championship contestant Nicole Proske.
Halloween Baking Championship contestant Nicole Proske. Photo courtesy of Food Network
Nicole Proske remembers when the Food Network first got in touch.

"I saw the message on my Instagram account and thought it was a prank," she tells New Times. "I had thought about applying for one of their competitions a few times, but had always felt insecure about my talent."

Proske, who's 24 and works as a cake artist at the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, decided to follow up. From there, all it took was a cake demo and images of her baking skills for her to become the youngest of ten contestants in season seven of Food Network's Halloween Baking Championship.

"It was like a match made in Heaven. Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year and the theme was right up my alley," says Proske, who also runs an online cake business out of her home kitchen near Aventura.

Between conceptualization, baking, and decoration, Proske says it normally takes her from two hours to a few days to deliver a cake. On the show, she and other competitors have an hour to craft each creation from start to finish.

"I always said my prayers before going on set. I had never done a competition of any kind in this realm and it is nerve-wracking to come up with everything on the spot. If something doesn’t happen right or if you don't have a certain ingredient you have to be able to think on your feet."

Hosted by comedian John Hanson, the seventh go-round of Halloween Baking Championship was filmed in Tennessee and premiered on September 13 on Food Network and Discovery+. Over the course of seven weeks, the show follows bakers from across the nation as they're tasked with a series of challenges to create unique takes on spooky pastries, killer cakes, and other creepy treats inspired by 1980s classic slasher movies.

At the end of each episode, chef judges Stephanie Boswell, Carla Hall, and Zac Young decide which competitors to send home. The baking champion will be announced during the finale and take home a $25,000 prize.
click to enlarge Miami-based chef Paul Allicock puts together a tropical-flavored pie in the season's first episode. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FOOD NETWORK
Miami-based chef Paul Allicock puts together a tropical-flavored pie in the season's first episode.
Photo courtesy of Food Network
This season premiere, "Welcome to Camp Devil's Food Lake," featured Paul Allicock, a Miami-based chef with a résumé that includes Area 31, Lure Fish Bar, and Komodo.

"The network approached me through Instagram and my two sons convinced me to compete," the chef shares. "The contestants were cool, down-to-earth professionals, and it was great to hear Carla Hall say that the flavors in my mango and pineapple pie took her to the Caribbean."

Though eliminated from the competition, Allicock is busy working on building his Miami-based online food business, Atomic Biscuit. He and his partner Azucena Morales, also a pastry chef, came together to offer their own menu of gourmet biscuit sandwiches and pastries.

"We both wanted to dabble in something different and ours is not a typical virtual food business," explains Allicock. "We aimed at making it diverse. Our focus is on savory biscuit sandwiches, but we are also developing the pastry side, which we both enjoy. There's all this chemistry behind it — it's like making a potion."

Atomic Biscuits' buttermilk biscuit sandwiches are about four inches high and come in varieties that range from vegetarian to Philly cheesesteak. Also on the menu: piña colada, coffee, and s’mores scones, along with special-occasion cakes.

The duo caters to some South Florida restaurants and handles all home delivery, as well. A brick-and-mortar operation and/or food truck is in the works.

"We want to cater to all of South Florida," Allicock promises. "We're currently devising a plan."

Halloween Baking Championship. On Food Network and Discovery+.
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Juliana Accioly
Contact: Juliana Accioly