LONDONDERRY — A local baker had a chance to "Bake it Like Buddy," and was tossed into a television competition to show off her skills with cake.
Renee Connor of Londonderry, along with her Dracut, Massachusetts, cousin Brian Jacobs took part in the popular Discovery Family Channel program "Bake it Like Buddy," starring "Cake Boss" bakery expert Buddy Valastro and his family team of judges. Connor's episode airs Feb. 2 at 9 p.m.
Connor operates a private cake studio, Renee Connor Cake Design.
"Bake it Like Buddy" is a new 25-episode original series that pits family teams of bakers up against each other for top prizes and takes place at Valastro's family business, Carlo's Bakery, in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Contestants range from professionals to emerging chefs to passionate weekend bakers, and each week a new baking challenge is met by the competing teams.
For Connor, it was a fun way to show off her skills as a cake baker and artist.
The Connecticut native has lived in Londonderry for several years, raising a young son and honing her own talents and passion for baking.
She had a lot of inspiration to do what she does.
"My mother was always the cook and I became the baker of desserts," Connor said. "My grandmother taught me recipes, and I taught myself how to bake. There were a lot of influential women in my life."
Connor said she was very interested when many baking shows took to the television airwaves, like "Ace of Cakes" and "Cake Boss."
She became known for her intricate, colorful cakes, showing off her talents in art design and education and creating delicate sugar flowers to top the baked art work.
"It came naturally to me, I taught myself everything I did," she said, adding she started small and worked from home as much as possible as she was also a stay-at-home mother for her young son.
When Connor decided to start her own YouTube program on teaching cake baking and design, it became quite popular with viewers. That's when she received the email invitation to appear on "Bake it Like Buddy."
That led to her becoming a contestant on the program. She brought along Jacobs as the teams had to have family ties. It was also helpful that Jacobs had a background in culinary design.
"I knew he would be able to keep up with the pace," Connor said.
The show's premise includes a specific challenge for teams to tackle. Connor's challenge was a "Sports Cakes" theme so she and Jacobs worked on a cake that showed off a snowy ski scene suitable for a New England team.
With help from his own family and Carlo's Bakery staff, Valastro and two members of his team mentor and judge the teams' cakes on design, flavor, technique, and how well the theme was handled.
Teams only had four hours to design and bake their cakes for a chance to win $1,000, professional baking supplies and bragging rights.
Although Connor can't divulge how her competition ended until after the show officially airs, she said the experience was challenging, but fun.
"It was stressful, but I'm so glad I did it," she said. "It was once in a lifetime but probably the biggest challenge of my life."
Connor said she loves what she does and will continue to encourage people to bake and learn.
"I love to teach, it's my happy place," Connor said. "I'm encouraging people to try things."