Grace Pak brings her cake artistry to Food Network’s Candy Land

Contestant Grace Pak, as seen on Candyland, Season 1. Photo courtesy Food Network
Contestant Grace Pak, as seen on Candyland, Season 1. Photo courtesy Food Network /

While Candy Land is a visual delight, Grace Pak is ready for a bigger cake conversation.

Grace Pak is part of the yellow team on Candy Land and has delighted Food Network fans with her impeccable edible art creations. Although Food Network fans are learning about her creativity in sugar and flour, her beautiful cakes are just part of the conversation.

As the innovator behind Duchess of Cameron, Pak has shown that a beautiful cake is more than just the dessert served at the end of an event. That visual showpiece can take your breath away, inspire a lasting food memory and inspire more creativity in any event.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Grace Pak about her Candy Land experience, her approach to edible art and how a home baker can become a little more confident in the kitchen.

Many chefs believe that food is the universal language. While savory chefs express themselves in bold flavor combinations, Pak starts a conversation with a visually stunning beautiful cake.

Pak said, “I view cake as a centerpiece of every event for it symbolizes celebration, sharing and generosity through visual and palatable means. Cakes are oftentimes represented as the highlight of a celebratory event, and it is meant to be shared and enjoyed with those around you. When cakes are designed beautifully, guests are able to share a multi-sensory experience full of meaning and value. Beautiful cakes also generate conversation, further epitomizing itself as a key component of an event, intimate or grand, bringing people together in a delightful manner.”

While her cakes make a lasting impression, that moment in time is almost like an art installation. One moment it stands in front of you and another moment is has been enjoyed by the group.

For Pak, she believes edible art can make that bite taste even sweeter, a statement that she stands behind 1000%. She said, “I am a full proponent of the concept of “Cake as Art” and of pushing the boundaries of what a cake could be. I am constantly experimenting with ways to introduce new ideas and concepts to cake design. Coming from a fine arts and neuroscience background, I love to explore multi-sensory experiences when it comes to enjoying cake. When a visual sense is partnered with the sense of scent and taste, our pleasures can be heightened to make the experience of seeing and tasting the cake even sweeter.”

Even though Pak has a very successful pastry business and career, Candy Land presented a new opportunity for her. She said, “When the conversation to be on “Candy Land” started, I was immediately drawn to the idea of collaborating with other extremely talented cake artists from different backgrounds, disciplines and experiences. Many cake artists work alone and it’s very rare for cake artists to join forces and create a cake together — especially a giant, 4-foot cake. This opportunity was just too good to pass up!”

For Pak, the timing was right too. She said, “this conversation also happened during the height of COVID-19, and as a cake artist, who’s always playing a role in joyous and memorable occasions, I wanted to extend that role and spread hope, positivity and inspiration to the world by producing exciting cakes that could take the viewers on an adventure during these unprecedented times.”

While Candy Land is a new adventure, the competition, itself, did influence the edible art on the show. Due to time constraints, the teams had to make compromises.

Pak said, “With so much time constraints on these Food Network cake competitions, we had to be very strategic when it came to design and execution. The types of cakes I create in real life are extremely detail-oriented and intricate and they take days to complete. When you only have 6 hours to complete a 4-foot cake, you have to prioritize which elements of the cake you want to highlight and forego. This could mean instead of creating 100 lollipops, cutting down the number in half, or instead of implementing 30 color variations, using only 5, or spending a single minute smoothing out fondant, when you should really be spending 10. It’s incredible how with so many compromises, we were still able to pull off really amazing cakes, albeit having some imperfections along the way.”

Although viewers at home would not see those imperfections, many people are in awe of the yellow team’s creations. From candy cane inspired clowns to whimsical transportation, these stunning pieces of edible art seamlessly fit into the Candy Land world.

Since many people have their favorite Candy Land area, Pak knew exactly which area would be her favorite place. For Pak, she said, “I would, hands down, live in Lollipop Woods! I love all the vibrant colors of Lollipop Woods and as a nature-lover, I feel right at home!”

While few home bakers are prepared to create these Candy Land extravagant pieces of edible art, there are many tips and tricks to be learned from the amazing bakers and sugar artists on the show. Although it seems like simple advice, Pak’s words need to be applied in the home kitchen.

Pak said, “Oftentimes, home bakers get discouraged when their baked item doesn’t turn out the way they expected even if they followed the recipe exactly, but remember, baking is a science and there are many variables that can affect the outcome.”

For her, it comes down to three simple, easy to follow, yet vital concepts. For any home baker, she recommends the following, “Three tips I can share with home bakers: always measure your ingredients with a scale — never go by “2 cups of flour”, but go by weight, like grams. If the recipe calls for cups, look online for ingredient conversions and convert them. Second, buy an oven thermometer! Many times when your oven tells you it’s at the right temperature, it isn’t. This usually just means you’re going to have to preheat longer. Lastly, experiment with different quality ingredients — not all butter is created equal!

Although I am not an expert baker, I completely agree with her butter statement. A great butter will always bring out better flavor in any baked good.

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If you want to see Grace Pak create enchanting edible art on Candy Land, be sure to watch new episodes on the Food Network on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. EST.

Additionally, Grace Pak is co-owner of Duchess of Cameron in New York City.

What has been your favorite Candy Land display this year? If you could step into this candy world, what land would tempt you to stay for a while?