Category Archives: Shows

The season 3 competitors on the set of Great Chocolate Showdown

Meet This Year’s Great Chocolate Showdown Contestants (Plus Some Season 3 Predictions!)

Chocolate makes everything better, which is why we’re whipping up our favourite chocolate recipes (and stocking up on cold glasses of milk!) in anticipation of Great Chocolate Showdown’s third season. When the ooey-gooey series returns, 10 new home bakers will go head-to-head in all the chocolate-based challenges you could ever dream up, as they temper, melt and swirl their way to a hopeful $50,000 grand prize.

So who are the competitors taking to the kitchen in hopes of impressing judges Anna Olson, Cynthia Stroud and Steve Hodge? Read on to learn more about them and get our hot takes on how we think they’ll do.

Amber Horn, Las Vegas
Occupation: Bartender

Great Chocolate Showdown competitors

First impression: Bartending in Vegas means you’ve got to have an outgoing personality, right? In that vein we can’t wait to see what Amber brings to Great Chocolate Showdown. We have a feeling it will be a lot of big energy and creative concoctions, maybe some with a little glitter and glam.

Our predictions: Amber’s worked in Vegas for more than 20 decades, and considering how much the city has changed, we have a feeling she’ll be able to roll with whatever twists the judges throw her way. She’s probably also used to long and late hours, which may give this competitor a leg up when it comes to some of the more gruelling challenges this season.

Bri Brown, Detroit
Occupation: Mortgage Company Team Lead

Great Chocolate Showdown competitors

First impression: Bri may be into finances now, but she’s been baking from a young age—starting with an Easy-Bake oven. The competitor has also baked her way through Betty Crocker’s Ultimate Cookie Book, which is a total feat, and her father is a chef. That means she comes to this competition armed with advice and experience.

Our predictions: Well, if there’s a cookie challenge she’s clearly going to slay it, right? But even more than that we have a feeling this home baker will dig deep to her childhood roots in order to really bring it in the competition, sharing some delicious nostalgia with us all.

Connie Kazan
Stay-at-Home Mom

Great Chocolate Showdown competitors

First impression: Connie grew up around her parents’ successful Lebanese pita bread bakery, so she’s definitely got a taste for delicious Lebanese ingredients and spices. They have shaped her baking style for sure, but we feel like this competitor also wants to prove herself and carve out her own space in the big, bad world of baking.

Our predictions: Connie’s drive and passion will push her to create exciting and meaningful desserts. We also think she’ll give the judges some of the most unique and inspired plates this season, and she should not be underestimated.

Evan Morgan-Newpher, Tulsa
Manager, Tulsa Zoo

Great Chocolate Showdown competitors

First impression: This self-taught baker has a track record of following his dreams—when he was 20 he switched from an Accounting degree to Zoology so that he could fulfill a childhood wish and train elephants. In other words, when he sets his sights on something, there’s no stopping him.

Our predictions: Evan literally works in a zoo, so that means he’ll be able to handle the chaotic twists and turns of the Great Chocolate Showdown kitchen too, right? This competitor is clearly in it to win it, and we hope that he stays cool and collected when things get tough, while also remembering not to put too much pressure on himself.

Gavan Knox, Scarborough, Ont.
Stay-at-Home Dad

Great Chocolate Showdown competitors

First impression: We have a feeling Gavan has seen some things in his lifetime, having lived in Ireland, England and now Canada, where he resides with his husband and two children. The competitor is all about comforting flavours with elevated twists, and one of his main influences is the architecture he’s spent years studying and practising.

Our predictions: Gavan’s big personality will make him instantly watchable, and we can’t wait to see what kinds of inspired treats he’s going to whip up. We also hope he doesn’t overdo it with the black garlic, rose water and some of his other favourite unique flavours, because when it comes to baking, a little often goes a long way.

Related: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes for Every Skill Level

Ian Frias, Saskatoon
Finance Manager at a Children’s Museum

Great Chocolate Showdown competitors

First impression: Growing up, Ian had to rely on pre-packaged cookie dough to get his baking on, but now that he’s a little older he loves making everything from ice cream, to tarts, to fancy, cream-filled entremets.

Our predictions: Ian will draw on his Filipino roots when it comes to whipping up fun and unique treats, using unusual fruits and tea infusions to elevate the basics as he goes. We have a feeling he’ll take the judges’ feedback to heart and try to grow, all while appreciating every single minute he gets to be in that kitchen.

Lexi Christiansen, Vancouver
Realtor and Model

Great Chocolate Showdown competitors

First impression: This model and home baker understands that we eat with our eyes first, that’s partially how she’s cultivated a social media following with nearly 30,000 followers on TikTok. The Gen Z-er was originally nervous about posting those videos, but community engagement and encouragement have helped her grow more confident than ever.

Our predictions: Some of the other competitors might underestimate Lexi in this competition because she’s younger, but they definitely shouldn’t. We have a feeling Lexi will give us some of the prettiest plates of the season, and now here’s hoping the judges will be equally impressed with her flavours.

See More: Canadian TikTok Accounts You Need to Follow

Maile Crewdson, Maui
Stay-at-Home Mom

Great Chocolate Showdown competitors

First impression: This supermom has a passionate and positive attitude that she’ll undoubtedly bring with her into the kitchen. She’ll also draw on her Filipino and Hawaiian heritage to dole out some cool baking experiments, while her penchant for incorporating the beauty of nature onto her plates will lead to some pretty show-stopping results.

Our predictions: Everyone knows that moms are amazing multitaskers, so we have a feeling that Maile will be one of the cool and collected competitors when the going gets tough on this show. We can’t wait to see what she does in those tight timelines, and whether she can pull off some of those lush sceneries considering how fast these bakes go.

Shyam Rethinavelu, San Francisco
Fashion Stylist

Great Chocolate Showdown competitors

First impression: Shyam is hard of hearing, but as a result he says he has a heightened sense of taste and sight, which is bound to come in handy in this competition. He plans on infusing his chocolatey creations with flavours like cinnamon, coriander and citrus, and in real life he’s all about busting out complex, harder-to-master dishes like sfogliatelle.

Our predictions: They say go big or go home, but Shyam will need to hone in on the basics and not overcommit himself to impress these tough judges. However, if he does pull off some amazing baking feat under the tight constraints, he’ll certainly be the one to beat.

See More: Steve Hodge’s Favourite Unconventional Chocolate Pairings

Vince Driver, Atlanta
Event Coordinator, Artist, Host, Activist, Photographer, Social Media Manager

Great Chocolate Showdown competitors

First impression: Vince seems to be a master of all trades, and baking is just one of his many talents. It all started with a cheesecake that was a huge hit at a friend’s party, and since then this multitasker has taught himself how to make all kinds of yummy treats.

Our predictions: At home, Vince is all about jamming out to music while he’s baking to help keep him on track, so no one should be surprised if he busts out a song in this competition. That trick may also keep him on task when it comes to the time-tight constraints, but to be honest we just can’t wait to see him whip up some kind of chocolate-infused cheesecake in a nod to his baking roots.

Watch the season premiere of Great Chocolate ShowdownMarch 1 at 9 PM ET/PT and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Garlic on a table with Wall of Chefs cast members photoshopped on it

From Peeling Garlic to Fixing a Soup-Fail, These Are the Best Foods Hacks from Wall of Chefs

If you’ve ever struggled to open a stubborn jar lid, you know clever hacks are a must in any kitchen. When it comes to food hacks, the following genius ideas for saving time and adjusting flavours in the kitchen will come in handy – especially since they’re expert-approved from the chefs behind Wall of Chefs.

Roger Mooking and Hugh Acheson looking away, Photoshopped a photo of garlic

Related: Meet the Cast: Wall of Chefs Season 2

Acidic Soup Hack

Ever taste your tomato soup and it’s a bit too tangy? Chef Roger Mooking has a great recommendation – just add some diced carrots to sweeten it all up.

Related: Anna Olson’s Quick Guide for Ingredient Substitutions

Easy Peel and Store Ginger

If you’ve ever struggled with trying to peel a fresh piece of ginger, you need to watch this hack. In the meantime, put away your knife and reach for a spoon.

Salty Soup Hack

Too much seasoning in your soup or stew? Just drop a diced up potato in there and taste magic happen, says Roger Mooking. (What Roger says, we do!)



Related: Meet the Home Cooks: Wall of Chefs Season 2

Easy Peeled Garlic Hack

Peeling garlic with this hack will take this task from a chore and turn it into a good time! Thanks, Hugh.

Related: Watch More Wall of Chefs Clips 

Wall of Chefs Season 2 airs Mondays at 10 ET/PT beginning January 3. Stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Anna Olson, Cynthia Stroud and Steve Hodge smiling at the camera.

Great Chocolate Showdown: Meet the Judges



Great Chocolate Showdown is an ooey-gooey, decadent chocolate dessert competition series where 10 home bakers go head-to-head in the indulgent world of chocolate, vying for the grand prize in a range of creative and exciting chocolate-based challenges. In order to survive the competition from week-to-week and avoid elimination, the chocoholic dessert-makers must dazzle our panel of world-renowned chocolatiers and food expert judges with their delicious, inventive creations. In the end, three bakers take on the biggest chocolate challenge of their lives, but only one is crowned ‘Great Chocolate Showdown Champion’ and wins the $50,000 grand prize.

Watch Great Chocolate Showdown and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.


Close-up of a a plate of beef bourguignon

Watch The Kitchen’s Jeff Mauro Make the Most Tender Short Rib Bourguignon

This classic French beef stew is braised in red wine and beef stock, typically flavored with carrots, onions, garlic and a bouquet garni. Jeff Mauro’s chef’s kiss? A splash of cognac. 


Short Rib Bourguignon Over Creamy Polenta

Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hour, 15 minutes
Servings: 4-5 


Short Rib Bourguignon:
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 oz slab bacon, rind removed, cut into lardons
4 lbs bone-in English cut beef short ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 2-inch chunks
8 shallots, peeled and halved, leaving root end intact
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
3 cups dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
¼  cup cognac
Bouquet garni (10 parsley stems, 6 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, tied together with kitchen twine)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb white button mushrooms, quartered
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Creamy Polenta:
4 cups milk, plus more as needed
1 cup cornmeal
½  teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter 


1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.

2. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the lardons and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and the fat has rendered, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Reserve the rendered fat in the Dutch oven.

3. Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In the same Dutch oven, working in batches, brown the short ribs in the remaining bacon fat over high heat, then remove to a plate and set aside. Remove all but 1 Tbsp of fat from the Dutch oven.

4. To the Dutch oven with the reserved fat, add the carrots and shallots. Cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until slightly darker, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Remove about half of the carrots and shallots, and reserve.

5. To the Dutch oven, add the wine, beef broth, cognac, short ribs and bouquet garni. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook until the beef is very tender, 2 to 3 hours.

6. Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat, melt 3 Tbsp of the butter. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

7. Bring the Dutch oven from the oven to the stovetop. Remove the bouquet garni, carrots and shallots and discard. Bring the liquid to a simmer.

8. Using a fork, in a small bowl, cream together the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and flour, using your fingers if necessary to mix well. Stir the mixture into the stew. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

9. Serve the ribs over creamy polenta along with the mushrooms and reserved carrots and shallots. Ladle some of the sauce over the top before serving.

Creamy Polenta:

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the milk, then add the cornmeal gradually, whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

2. Turn the heat to low, and cook, stirring often, until the polenta is very thick, but is still creamy, 30 to 35 minutes. If the polenta becomes too thick, whisk in additional milk or water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until it is the desired consistency (it should be about the consistency of porridge).

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter using a wooden spoon. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

Tune into The Kitchen to see new episodes. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

I Tried Ina Garten’s (The Barefoot Contessa’s) Engagement Chicken

If you can’t seem to scroll through social media without seeing proposal pictures and engagement announcements, you’re not alone.

For couples who are talking about marriage, there’s a pretty good chance your significant other might pop the question someone soon. According to Wedding Wire, forty percent of marriage proposals happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. 

And if you’d like to speed up the proposal process, the might be a recipe that can help you.  The secret weapon?  Ina Garten’s Engagement Roast Chicken.

A whole roasted chicken on a vintage plate

Why is it Called Engagement Roast Chicken?

Legend has it that in the 1980s, a fashion editor at a magazine shared Ina Garten’s lemon and garlic roast chicken recipe with her assistant. The assistant made the dish for her boyfriend, and he proposed a few weeks later. The newly engaged assistant shared it with three more of her colleagues, who also got proposed not long after making the roast chicken dish.

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Chicken Recipes

A close up of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry holding hands in their engagement photo

Meghan Markle and Engagement Roast Chicken

The myth of this chicken recipe made headlines again in 2018 when it became the centre of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s engagement story. Prince Harry told the BBC how the proposal happened during “just a standard typical night for us.”  According to Markle, the two were roasting chicken when he got down on one knee and popped the question. 

Related: I Tried Meghan Markle’s “Filthy, Sexy” Zucchini Pasta Sauce — Here’s How It Stacked Up

And since the Duke and Duchess are known to raise their own chickens (who could ever forget the shot of their chicken coop named  “Archie’s Chik Inn” during Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey?) we think it’s a sentimental part of the story for the couple, as well.

Emily Blunt and husband John Krasinski

Meghan and Harry aren’t the only A-listers to find their happily ever after making the famous engagement roast chicken. As reported by CNN, Emily Blunt also spoke up about Ina Garten’s iconic roast chicken in a 2021 in an iHeartMedia podcast interview, saying that it’s the recipe that helped her win John Krasinski’s heart. “Oh my God, it’s divine,” said Blunt. “It’s really sticky and yummy.”

The ingredients to make engagement roast chicken

My Tips for Making Ina Garten’s Famous Engagement Roast Chicken

1) Add Lots of Herbs
I recommend adding thyme and rosemary to the dish, which will add extra flavour to the recipe. 

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Party Dinner Recipes to Impress Guests

2) Use a Meat Thermometer
Yes, I’ve been living without a meat thermometer for this long! Purchasing a digital meat thermometer gave me the confidence that the chicken was cooked perfectly.

3) Chicken Broth is Just Fine
I know homemade chicken stock tastes much better, but premade chicken broth worked well for me. Sorry, Ina!

A closeup of the engagement roast chicken sauce

4) The Sauce is the Best Part
The wine, garlic, butter, and natural juice of the chicken makes for a mouthwatering sauce that is by far the highlight of the dish.

5) Make This Recipe For Your Third Date
Cooking roast chicken for a third date is a great way to impress any potential partner. I find that seeing how a person acts in the kitchen is actually a great insight into how they are as a partner, and what they bring  (or don’t bring) for a side dish or a dessert tells a lot about an individual’s personality. The best part of all? You don’t need to watch the chicken so closely, giving you some extra quality time together.

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Sunday Night Suppers

I Made The Barefoot Contessa’s Engagement Chicken

As someone with both a crush on Prince Harry and John Krasinski, I couldn’t help but wonder: Could Ina Garten’s engagement chicken recipe work for me, too?

Believe it or not, I was able to make the famous engagement chicken without messing it up. And I have to admit, I was really proud of myself (and no tears!).

While the chance of me getting engaged anytime soon is as likely as becoming a NASA astronaut, roasting a whole chicken is actually a lot of fun. The aromatics of the garlic, onions, and extra sprigs of rosemary makes your home smell like a dream. 

Unless you really don’t know your oven settings, I don’t see how this is a meal you can mess up, even if you’re really nervous. I also love how the recipe is easy to memorize, and the ingredients are all staples you likely already have in your kitchen.

Whether you’re looking for a love like Ina and Jeffery, who have been married for fifty-two years, or you just want to impress your date who may look a Prince Harry in your eyes, engagement chicken is must-try dish for every beginner chef and hostess.

Watch the video

For more inspiring recipes, watch Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Images Courtesy of Getty Images and Angela Serednicki. 

Close-up of Arty Holiday Bread , as seen on The Pioneer Woman, Season 26.

Colourful and Fragrant, The Pioneer Woman’s Arty Holiday Bread is What the Holidays are All About

This store-bought frozen bread dough makes the perfect base for this arty bread that plays on a version of a focaccia. Topped with veggies and a generous shaving of Parmesan cheese, it’s not only pretty but makes prepping for the holidays that much easier! 

Close-up of Arty Holiday Bread , as seen on The Pioneer Woman, Season 26.

Arty Holiday Bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes  (includes rising time)
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6-8

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. frozen white bread dough, thawed
½ cup red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup olives, pitted
2 Tbsp fresh sage leaves
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
2 tsp flaky sea salt
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan 


1. Oil a quarter sheet pan with 1 Tbsp of the oil and stretch out the bread dough to the edges. Allow the dough to rest and rise for 15 minutes.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Best Holiday Recipes

2. Preheat the oven to 450 F.

3. Brush the surface of the bread with another Tbsp of the olive oil. Decorate the bread with the tomatoes, olives, sage and rosemary, pressing them into the bread. Brush on the remaining olive oil; this will make it shiny and stop the vegetables burning. Sprinkle on the salt and Parmesan.

4. Bake until it is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Easiest Holiday Appetizers

Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond.

Watch  The Pioneer Woman and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

The winner of this year's Holiday Baking Championship

This Year’s Holiday Baking Championship Winner May Be The Most Inspiring Yet

When Adam Monette stepped into the Holiday Baking Championship kitchen, his love of the holidays was pretty obvious. This is, after all, the guy whose father keeps his Christmas tree up year-round. But Adam wasn’t just passionate, he was also able to execute week after week.

From somehow whipping up an impressive Ambrosia salad (and does anyone actually like Ambrosia salad?) to impressing the judges out of the gate with his pumpkin-butter filled donuts, it seemed like this competition was Adam’s to lose.

Thankfully, the St. Albans, Vermont native kept it together and pulled off the big W on Monday night’s supersized finale to take his place among the Holiday Baking Championship winners. Oh, and did we mention he also gets a cool $25,000 for beating out 11 other contestants over these past eight weeks?

In honour of Adam’s sweet, sweet victory, we wanted to dig in and take a look back at his inspiring journey.

He comes from humble roots


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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

Growing up, making time to sit down together and breaking bread was important to Adam’s family. They specifically loved cooking and eating dishes inspired by French-Canadian cuisine (like Tourtiere), and they learned how to make meals stretch so that everyone could enjoy. “There were always lots of mouths to feed,” he previously told the Saint Albans Messenger. “The food was humble, but always very, very good.”

He did this competition for his wife and daughters


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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

Adam frequently talked about his wife and kids on the show, and explained how he was really doing this for them (he actually hates seeing himself on camera!). So we thought it was beyond sweet that he not only baked his final cake in his daughters’ honour (they love peanut butter and chocolate), but he also added their names to the final “present-cake” décor.

He stayed calm and cool under pressure

Everyone knows this is a show that loves to throw extra challenges at the contestants, yet Adam never really seemed to stumble… much. If he was stressing you couldn’t ever really tell, except for maybe that brief moment in the finale where he took a giant gulp of sparkling wine before accepting the dessert charcuterie challenge. Staying calm, cool and collected tends to get you far in life, and it’s a trait that we definitely appreciate when it comes to being a chef in a hot kitchen.

He just really enjoyed the experience


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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, Adam’s love for baking definitely shone through, to the point where we can’t help but be pumped for the guy. “If you love to bake, it’s a dream come true,” Monette previously told the Messenger about how cool doing the show was. “You’ve got an unlimited pantry, so as long as you keep it under the guidelines, you can make whatever you want, and that’s so fun.”

But he also showed us exactly how to get his aggression out


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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

Look, sometimes things get stressful, and you need to find an outlet. But with tight timelines, the cameras watching and a big job at hand, it’s not like the contestants can just go pound it out at the gym or take a relaxing walk. So Adam took his stress out in more creative ways, like enthusiastically stabbing a fork into shortbread to create air holes, or beating certain batters by hand. Cathartic, right?

Of course his top-notch stirring skills definitely helped


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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

We’d be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate Adam’s multitasking skills. There are only about a billion components that go into making most of these desserts, and the fact that he was always able to stay on top of everything is downright impressive. From double-fisting those wooden spoons and churning out multiple stovetop sauces at once, to baking and butter-creaming at the same time, Adam’s process is very much streamlined.

He kept his eye on the prize


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A post shared by Adam Monette (@chefamonet)

Was Adam’s game perfect? Of course not. He too had some stumbles along the way, but he didn’t let that deter him. In each episode he came up with a game plan, executed that plan to the best of his ability, and pivoted when necessary. Like in the finale, when he ran out of butter cream? Rather than stressing, he knew the only thing to do was to make more, even if it put him behind. Or when host Jesse Palmer told the contestants they had to incorporate lights into their cakes? No big deal. What “present-cake” is complete without a light show anyway?

Offscreen, he works with kids

Adam Monette and Jesse Palmer

We love that by the end of the series, Adam was throwing the dad jokes right back at Jesse. Well as it turns out, Adam has had a bit of experience perfecting his own version of that craft as a culinary instructor at the Northwest Career & Technical Center in Vermont. There, young students get a taste of culinary training under Adam’s watchful eye, learning everything from knife skills to how to manage a restaurant. No wonder Adam is so good at multitasking!

Adam knows this show inspires others who speak through food


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Adam might not have applied to be on the show himself (he was nominated by a former student), but he acknowledges that it’s a really special thing to do. “It’s one of those shows that touches a lot of families, and I think that’s what’s really cool and special,” he explained to the Messenger. “It’s very communal. Everybody gets together and they watch it, they share something and you know, it’s a real positive experience.”

You can’t help but be pumped for this guy’s win

No matter which contestant you were initially rooting for, it’s hard not to be happy for Adam after seeing how focused and passionate he was throughout this entire experience. Not only is it inspiring, but it just makes us happy.

“Oh my god, I can’t believe it. I’ve never won anything in my life,” Adam said after learning he is the next Holiday Baking Championship winner. “I can’t wait to tell my wife and my daughters, I know they’re going to be proud of me and that means everything. This is going to be the best Christmas they’ve ever had.”

Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Holiday decor in Team Buddy's bakery, as seen on Buddy vs Duff Holiday, Season 4.

The Winner of Buddy vs. Duff Holiday is… Plus the 5 Best Moments!

The friendly rivalry between these west and east coast bakers takes on a new sweetness in this season of Buddy vs. Duff Holiday: both Buddy Valastro (Carlo’s Bakery) and Duff Goldman (Charm City Cakes) are playing for a  $25,000 donation to their favourite charity (Buddy chooses Toys for Tots and Duff picks Off Their Plate).

Host Buddy Valastro checks in with Team Duff before working on their "Nutcracker"-themed cake, as seen on Buddy vs Duff Holiday, Season 4.

Judges Elizabeth Faulkner and Gesine Prado are in New York, and pastry chef Stephanie Boswell and chocolatier Valerie Gordon are in Los Angeles to help judge the festive creations. Although Duff’s team ends up winning 145 to 139, Buddy still gets $10,000 to donate to his charity, in the full spirit of the holidays.

Both teams pull out all the stops in this four-episode battle, trying new chemistry experiments with isomalt and poured epoxy resin, crafting goofy and realistic animals and generally having a lot of fun along the way. In the true spirit of the holidays, let’s take a look at the five best moments that embodied festive-fun (tinged with a little bit of stress).

Host Duff Goldman shaves cake for table top, as seen on Buddy vs Duff, Season 4.

Double Take

Skating into the finale, Duff’s team leads by only one point, so the stakes are high. When Buddy proposes a winter wonderland theme, both teams immediately think of an Arctic scene with penguins and polar bears, meaning that they are both making essentially the same cake a fact that they discover mid-way through the 20-hour bake. “We’ve already started, and it’s too late to change our design, so we’ve got to go with it,” says  Buddy ruefully.  Happily, the cakes couldn’t look more different: Duff’s team plays to their strengths in sculpting with hyper-realistic looking animals and birds, while Buddy takes a more whimsical and cartoonish approach to their critters. “I don’t want to give the feeling like he’s going to start chowing down on penguins,” says Buddy’s cake artist Anna Puchalski when creating her goofy looking polar bear. “It’s the holidays, it’s not winter wonder murder.”

Moving Parts

Already hard at work making Charm City Cake’s massive five-foot polar bear, cake artists Sonny Robinson and Natalie Sideserf are challenged even further when Duff decides that the 64 square foot cake base needs more animals. The team ends up adding three seals and another bear (the more the merrier, after all).

The Carlo’s Bakery team gets ambitious with a moving bear coming out of the water with a fish in its mouth: a piece of machinery head sculptor Ralph Attanasia  has great fun testing. “It’s definitely scientific and not because it’s fun,” he jokes, as he hops onto the platform and poses in his best bear imitation. “I’ve got a fishy in my mouth!” he roars.

Related: Cake Boss Buddy Valastro is Bringing a Bakery to Toronto

Chemistry Experiments

A big part of Team Duff’s cake is the water element. Deciding that the massive cake base is too large to use isomalt, lead cake decorator Geof Manthorne plays mad scientist with poured epoxy resin. The first attempt causes a chemical reaction with the silver dust and turns into a foam monstrosity spewing a toxic cloud that requires everyone including the film crew, to evacuate the premises. Geof’s further adventures in resin actually melt the foam board, requiring the base to be constructed again. Eventually, Duff suggests that they paint the board blue and tint 20 gallons of corn syrup a similar hue before carefully pouring it on the day of construction, which results in a spectacular effect.


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A post shared by Duff Goldman (@duffgoldman)

Team Buddy runs into similar challenges using isomalt for the first time on such a massive scale. Buddy, along with pastry chef Chad Durkin, and pastry chef and cake artist Mauro Castano, spend a gruelling day cooking and applying 300 pounds of isomalt to the cake base (a dangerous task, as the sugar reaches 300°F and literally melts the spatula Chad is using to stir it). As more isomalt gets applied in layers, the heavier it gets and starts falling off and shattering as it cools. Eventually, through patience and a lot of repair, the base is lit from behind with flickering lights, evoking the shimmer of the northern lights.


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Hidden Talents

Both teams get to bust out some secret moves this season. There’s the startling reveal that Ralph was in a production of the Nutcracker when he was 16, playing the rat king. Geof, when presented with his secret Santa present of pre-lit spheres, gives a quick demonstration of his juggling prowess.  Duff also gets to play with chainsaws, showing off his ice sculpting skills he honed at the Vail Cascade Hotel. “I used to carve ice in a previous life I haven’t done this since 1999, so we’ll see,” he says.

The Gifts That Keep Giving

Although the bake days are challenging and work-filled, both teams also take a little bit of a break to share in some holiday spirit. Natalie’s secret Santa present is a full “grandpa ensemble,” complete with cane, fake eyebrows and pipe, playing on her nickname and reputation as a cranky octogenarian.

The teams also send presents across the country to cheer each other up: Duff sends a basket of crab cakes, chowder and dips that Buddy pronounces “off the charts,” while Buddy sends a care package of his wife’s Eggplant Parmesan and a bunch of pastries and cake.

Related: The Evolution of Buddy Valastro: From Cake Boss to Buddy vs. Duff

“The pastries were gone in about 15 minutes, then we heated the eggplant parmesan, which was gone in about 12 minutes. And then everybody wanted to nap, because were all full of cheese,” laughs Duff. “Well played, Buddy. Well played.”

For more fun moments, watch Buddy vs. Duff Holiday. Stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Host Buddy Valastro works on his team's "Winter Wonderland"-themed cake, as seen on Buddy vs Duff Holiday, Season 4.

Cake Boss Buddy Valastro is Bringing a Bakery to Toronto (Plus, He Shares His Fave Moments From Buddy vs. Duff Holiday)

“I’ve been literally working 18-hour days for the last month, says Buddy Valastro, AKA the Cake Boss, from the hit baking competition show Buddy vs. Duff.   “I’ve been actually sleeping in my office.” 

On the morning we caught up with Buddy, he is sitting in that office at his famed bakery in New Jersey – it’s his second interview and it’s only 9:30 AM.  The feeling with Buddy is immediately comfortable; he is friendly,  funny and down-to-earth, pulling you into the conversation as if you’ve known him personally for years.  On the show, the vibe he gives off is the same – but adds an element of toughness and perfectionism some would call having grit. Oh, did we mention that he is not shy about telling it like it is?

Host Buddy Valastro and his team, Ralph Attanasia, Mauro Castano, Anna Puchalski, Frankie Amato and Becky Blaso, as seen on Buddy vs Duff Holiday, Season 4.

Related: Watch the Holiday Season Trailer

What’s New This Season?

On this season of Buddy vs. Duff Holiday, Team Buddy and Team Duff (led by Duff Goldman) have to create seasonal-themed cakes inspired by things such as a winter wonderland, Santa’s workshop, The Nutcracker, and the Christmas cartoon classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas

While in the past seasons the cakes have been equally as impressive, the holidays add something magical to each episode, and for brief moments during the judging, you might forget that you’re looking at edible cakes. The designs are truly breathtaking!

“When you do this show, you get immersed into it and let me tell you, it’s like a month where you can think of nothing else but this,” says Buddy. “You know, I’m constantly pushing myself to come up with the most creative, insane cakes.”

And while there are lots of impressive elements to the cakes such as motorized parts and painting details, making sure that the cakes are edible is an important part of the cake-making and design process, reiterates Buddy.

“I can tell you that when I make a cake, I try to put as much cake in it as possible. There’s always going to be some structure. There’s always going to be some other side where you might have some Styrofoam. Any cake that we did on Buddy vs. Duff is at a minimum 300 pounds to 2000  pounds of cake, depending on how big it can be. For me, I want the viewer at home to always say, ‘When Buddy makes his cakes, it’s all cake,’ and  not just covered in Styrofoam or whatever.”

Related: Throwback to the First Season of Buddy vs. Duff

His Friendship With Duff

Host Duff Goldman shaves cake for table top, as seen on Buddy vs Duff, Season 4.

It might be hard to believe, but Buddy and Duff didn’t know each other until the first season of the show when they met on set. And like any relationship, it took time to build the friendship on and off the show over the past three years. Despite how TV may make it appear on the show at times, Buddy says the two have a great friendship.

I think we both have an appreciation and respect for cake decorating and we have our respect and appreciation for ourselves, each other and our teammates. I’m sure he wants to win at the end of the day. I’m sure I want to win at the end of the day, but it’s not in a bad way.”

Working With Family 



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In this latest season, there is also a family connection – Buddy’s daughter, Sofia joins his team as a decorator. Working with his children is something Buddy says he enjoys and he hopes they follow in his footsteps if it they enjoy doing it.

“Right now, three out of my four children are in the back working and they’ve been working all the time,” says Buddy. “My son, Buddy, after he’s done with school, he drives to work and he stays because, you know, the way I act influences the people around me.

As for expanding the family business north of the border to Canada, Buddy says his new bakery is under construction in Toronto (details soon to come on Food Network Canada) and he hopes it to be open before Christmas.

Watch and stream Buddy vs. Duff Holiday and all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription. 

Chefs looking at the camera on the set of Wall of Chefs

Wall of Chefs Season 2: Meet the Cast

The culinary giants on the Wall offer colour commentary and expertise throughout the three rounds of cooking while tasting, judging, and eliminating one home cook after each round. Who are they? Get to know the chefs taking part in Season 2.


Wall of Chefs returns January 3 at 10 PM ET/PT. Stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Enter for a Chance to Win a Medium Rare Prize Pack




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  1. CONTEST PERIOD. The Contest begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (“ET”) on December 6, 2021 and ends at 12:00 p.m. ET on December 9, 2021 (the “Contest Period“) after which time the Contest will be closed and no further entries shall be accepted.




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Ina Garten’s Succulent Engagement Roast Chicken is the Perfect Way to Finish a Long Week

Ina knows the ins and outs of entertaining so it’s no wonder even when it comes to a simple roast chicken recipe – it’s something special. How so, you say? This recipe is said to have inspired countless celebrity, royal and other marriage proposals. 

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Dinner Recipes to Impress Guests

Whole roast chicken in a pan with lemons around it

Engagement Roast Chicken

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Yield: 3 servings


4 to 5 lbs roasting chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons
1 whole head garlic, cut in ½  crosswise
Good olive oil
2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Chicken Recipes


1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

2. Remove and discard the chicken giblets. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Cut the lemons in quarters, place 2 quarters in the chicken along with the garlic and reserve the rest of the lemons. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the chicken in a small (11 by 14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too large, the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt, and ½ tsp of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken in the pan.

Related: I Tried Ina Garten’s (The Barefoot Contessa’s) Engagement Chicken

3. Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan.

4. Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect under the chicken. Carve the chicken onto a platter and serve with the lemons, onions, and warm sauce.

For more inspiring recipes, watch Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Images courtesy of Getty Images. 

Cookies on a sheet coming out of the oven

Flour 101: Your Guide to Mastering Holiday Baking

Although most home bakers are working on a smaller scale than the sky-high creations seen on The Big Bake, there’s still a lot of pressure around the holidays, especially when it comes to baking family favourites and traditional holiday treats. Set yourself up for baking success by choosing the right type of flour for a number of applications, from homemade cookies to gingerbread houses. This expert advice will cover some helpful tricks and recipes to help take the stress out of holiday baking.

Raw cookie dough heart cutouts on a board

The Basics

In general, paying attention to the protein level in flour and applying it accordingly will give you the best results, as the higher the protein content, the more structure the final product will have. Hard winter wheat and hard spring wheat flour are primarily used for yeast leavened products like breads, pizzas and tortillas. You may see this flour called all-purpose, bread, pizza or no-time dough. Soft wheat flour is primarily used for sweet baked goods like cakes, cookies, muffins, cake donuts and biscuits and is often called pastry flour, cake flour or high-ratio cake flour.

See more:  Anna Olson’s Vanilla Bean Spritz Shortbread Cookies

Assorted cookies on a plate


A large batch of cookies is the perfect plan-ahead project to have stashed away for unexpected company, gifts, office cookie exchanges, or just enjoying in front of the fire (don’t forget to save some for Santa!). Typically for cookies where a tender touch is required, softer varieties such as a cake or pastry flour are used to give a lighter, melt-in-your-mouth tender texture that still has enough structure to hold a filling like jam or icing. For sturdier cookies, like gingerbread cookies, a lower protein hard wheat flour, like  all-purpose flour can be helpful.

Tip: Most cookies will freeze well, making them a true timesaver for the busy holidays. Make large batches early and freeze them in airtight containers to ice or decorate later. You can also prepare the cookie dough ahead of time and freeze, to quickly bake fresh, as needed.

Related: Blood Orange Marmalade Linzer Tart

Chocolate Yule Log Cake


Both all-purpose flour and cake flour play a part in cake baking. To get Bundt cakes (such as this decadent sticky toffee pudding version) to stand tall and withstand a filling of vibrant berries, all-purpose flour helps add heft. A bûche de noël (yule log), on the other hand, requires that the cake be soft enough to roll around a creamy filling without cracking, which is where cake flour shines. When baking gluten-free cakes, there are many options in terms of gluten-free flour, including naturally gluten-free ancient-grains such as amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff.

Tip: Be sure to cool cakes completely before adding frosting to avoid runny icing and peeling tops. Chill cakes and ensure frosting is firm before wrapping and freezing to avoid ruining decorations.

Related: Anna Olson Reveals Her Can’t-Live-Without Baking Gadgets

Close-up of bread pudding

Holiday Pudding

Depending on which side of the pond you hail from, pudding can mean either a post-meal sweet, a cake-like sponge or a custardy creation. Steamed British-style puddings — made famous through Christmas carols — use trusty all-purpose flour and a bain-marie (water bath) to keep them moist throughout baking. Often referred to as “instant-blending” flour, granular flour can be used to thicken custards and other pudding-style confections, without creating lumps or the need for a roux.

Tip: Puddings are perfect to make ahead for the holidays.

Bread being pulled apart


The smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air makes any home feel cozy for the holidays. Bread flour packs a powerhouse of protein and plenty of stretchy gluten, making sure your loaf has a firm interior and crispy brown crust. Ciabatta bread takes advantage of this stickiness to produce an artisan bread with a chewy texture. Whole wheat, whole grain, rye and barley flours can also be used in bread baking, producing a loaf with a deep flavour and dense crumb.

For sweet breads, such as the perennial holiday favourite panettone, a lighter texture is preferred. All-purpose flour can be used to help the dough create the distinctive and desired dome-shaped structure.

Tip: Bake your festive creations ahead of time (be sure that you have a lot of room in the freezer) and defrost the bread in a low temperature oven for an easy savoury or sweet fruit-studded snack.

Beauty shot of an apple pie


Perfect pie crust is an obsession for many bakers and with good reason — it is often viewed as both a science and an art. Although one of the many debates tends to be about whether to use lard, butter or shortening for the crust, the type of flour can also make a difference. Some recipes, such as a sugar pie, call for unbleached flour, according to the taste preferences of the baker. Pastry flour, which is often confused with cake flour, differs due to its slightly higher protein content. The added protein in this flour lends a bit more support for baked goods that need to have some structure while keeping the flaky texture, making it perfect for filled pies such as a mincemeat pie.

Tip: Prepare pie dough ahead of time and freeze in pre-portioned containers ready to thaw and roll out. The filling can also be prepared ahead of time to use later, or, depending on the pie, the crust can be blind baked, filled and frozen.

Safe food handling of flour

For safe food handling of flour, please make sure to follow these safety tips.

  • Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
  • Bake products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.  

Looking for more holiday baking ideas? Check out some of the The Big Bake videos online or watch The Big Bake and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Woman decorating gingerbread house.

Our Editors Share Their Favourite Family Food-Related Holiday Traditions

It’s almost time to start decking the halls, and our team of editors are already counting down the days until the upcoming holiday season. As some of our families continue to grow (a few team members are expecting little ones in 2022), we’ve been talking more about our families, family meals and traditions that surround them.

We’re also taking inspiration from the fan-favourite show, Top Chef Family Style, and knowing  that some of the best memories happen around a good meal (even if there is a little competition to liven things up!), we rounded up some of our favourite food-related holiday traditions we look forward to each year.

See More: This Baked Brie With Nuts and Dried Fruit is the Perfect Holiday Appetizer (or Easy Dinner Idea!)

Homemade noodles with beef and tofu

A Festive Birthday Bash

My birthday happens to be on Christmas, so every year for my birthday/Christmas lunch, my grandma makes a massive dish of yi mein “long life” birthday noodles.

The extra-long noodles symbolize the long life of the birthday being celebrated—it’s a classic Chinese tradition and one of my absolute favourite meals. My grandma serves her noodles with thinly sliced braised beef, marinated soya eggs and tender, crunchy Napa cabbage.

It’s a nice way to break up all of the other heavy holiday dishes, and it’s a sweet tradition that makes my Christmas birthday feel even more special.

— Lara, editor, Food Network Canada 

Related: The Best Leftover Turkey Recipe You’ll Ever Need (We Promise!)

A Amaretto Apple Cake on a white cake platter

My Family’s Amaretto Apple Cake

Marrying into an Italian family is not only filled with loads of vibrant conversations punctuated by hand gesturing (no, I am not being stereotypical, it’s a way of life!) at the dinner table, but also incredibly festive eats even if it’s only a casual dinner. Now, when it comes to actual celebrations, minimalism is tossed out the door alongside self-control. Everyone, get ready to eat a lot and wear stretchy pants.

In that spirit, one of my favourite family traditions during the holidays is my mother-in-law’s Torta Antica di Mele e Amaretti AKA Amaretto Apple Cake. Instead of more dense desserts like a rich cake or even tiramisu (which we wouldn’t complain about having at every meal but, well, you know) she makes this coffee cake-consistency apple tart that is light, airy and not too sweet. It’s the perfect way to cap off a huge holiday meal and pairs really nice with an espresso.

Victoria, digital producer, Food Network Canada 

Related: Holiday Brunch With Potato Latke Eggs Benedict Is Our New Favourite Meal

Prime rib roast on a festive plate with decorations Getty Images

Cozy Family Time

My Chinese-Canadian family isn’t the most traditional and we have never subscribed to a religion – but we love celebrating commercial Christmas!

Having relied on pop culture to understand festive traditions, we’ve created a format of fun we enjoy every December that includes delicious eats (often in the form of prime rib with all the sides including Chinese sticky rice), small gift exchanges, oddly competitive games and re-watching our fav rom coms.  We have our first baby in a longtime so suspect traditions will be updated and magic will return as we deck those halls for our new tiny human.

— Chloe, digital strategist 

Read More:  10 Next-Level Recipes To Make Inspired By Top Chef Family Style

A woman with black hair decorating a gingerbread houseGetty Images

Gingerbread House Contest

My family is competitive, to say the least, so a few years ago we came up with a gingerbread house decorating contest for the annual Christmas gathering. We split into teams and get gingerbread house kits to have the same treats to work with. It’s meant to be a fair game, but gummies have mysteriously gone missing from other decorating stations. It’s a fun time, all of the cousins scrambling to stick on the last few jube jubes. We tally up everyone’s votes at the end to determine the winning team and the prize is even more candy (and bragging rights).

Nataly, editor, HGTV Canada 

See More: Anna Olson’s Triple Gingerbread Bundt Cake Will Give You All The Feels

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An Italian Seafood Feast

For many Italian families, Christmas Eve is the big night for celebration. Growing up, and even now, it’s my favourite meal of the year and it often involves salty, fishy pasta packed with sardines (or anchovies) — and that’s just the appetizer! Afterward, my aunt puts out two large platters of shellfish (think: shrimp, crab legs, lobster tails, mussels and clams) and we all dig in with napkins tucked into the tops of our sweaters. To help us digest afterward, we indulge in a light salad with an olive oil dressing and snack on a bowl of clementines and other assorted fruit.

Laura, editor, Slice  

Related: The Definitive Guide to Alternative Pastas

Cookies and cream ice cream in a bowl with sugar conesGetty Images

Indulging in Ice Cream

My family’s holidays are super casual, but we have a small tradition that I have always loved. Since we were kids, my mom let my sister and I each choose our very own pint of “fancy ice cream” (read: Häagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s) for our special New Year’s Eve dessert. Growing up, selecting a flavour was a serious decision, even though I always picked chocolate chip cookie dough. We would indulge in our pint of fancy ice cream in between holiday movies and rounds of Scrabble, and it truly felt like the biggest luxury.

Angela, assistant editor, Food Network Canada and HGTV Canada 

Tune into Top Chef Family Style to see new episodes. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Beauty shot of a bundt cake on a decorated table

Which Baked Good Matches Your Personality? Take Our Quiz

The holidays are fast approaching and you know what that means: now’s the time to start planning all of the flaky, buttery, downright delightful sweets and treats you want to make. If you really want to impress friends and family this year with your basket of baked goods, the first step is to select the right ingredients. And yes, that means sourcing the best butter for baking.

Bakers like you, and contestants on The Big Bake know that no matter what kind of treat you want to make, Gay Lea butter has you covered. The Bakers Gold line includes everything from Unsalted European Style, which is made with 84% milk fat to deliver flakier and tastier pie crusts, to the Grass Fed butter line, which is churned with milk from grass-fed cows.

Still looking for a little inspiration? Take our quiz to find out which baked good matches your personality, and get baking today!



Watch The Big Bake and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Photos courtesy of Pexel.

Contestants running on the set of Halloween Baking Championship

Halloween Baking Championship Season 7: The Winner is…

It’s been a terrifying trek through this season of Halloween Baking Championship, and host John Henson greets the remaining four denizens of Camp Devil’s Food Lake while malevolently toasting marshmallows  a tip off to the contestants that this episode’s thriller challenge is a S’mores based test. The bottom two  confections will land their creators in a sudden death challenge, and the loser sent off into the night to meet their gruesome ends at the hands of the mysterious camp killer. Here is our recap of the ghoulish season finale and the reveal of who wins this season of Halloween Baking Championship.

Judges Stephanie Boswell, Zac Young and Carla Hall and Judge John Henson, on the set of Halloween Baking Championship.

Fear Itself: The Thriller Challenge

Based on the questionnaire the contestants previously filled out, John has selected their most feared ingredients. A runner up from Halloween Baking Championship from Season 6 and a surprise entry into the competition in episode 2, Renee Loranger knows what her ingredient is before she even opens the box. “It’s sauerkraut,” she bemoans. “C’mon, I can smell it”. Each camper faces their nemesis; for Megan Baker, black garlic adds a wrinkle, while Adina Schaefer is faced with her hated rosemary. Guillermo Salinas, interestingly, has a composed dish rather than ingredient: a weird and wobbly gelatin dessert. 

Renee wisely chooses to focus on the coconut-like texture of the sauerkraut, rinsing it well and adding it to a raspberry brownie with marshmallow, salted caramel and graham cracker crumble. It turns out to be a wise decision, as judge Zac Young loves the chew of the sauerkraut, but Carla Hall would prefer it chopped finer.

Guillermo Salinas on Halloween Baking Championship

As an artist and a pastry chef, Guillermo Salinas is one to watch in this competition. On his Instagram, Guillermo says his goal in life is to make delicious things, but making creative edibles is his true passion. That definitely shines through in some of the plates we’ve seen from him, from gorgeous pastries and elegant cakes, to chocolate creations and airy croissants.

Faced with a cup of jelly, Guillermo makes the fearless decision to dice it and add it to a covered bowl infused with hickory wood smoke for a hot chocolate panna cotta with smoked gelatin, graham cracker and marshmallow. Unlike the other bakers, he opts for store-bought marshmallows, which costs him points with judge Stephanie Boswell, who calls him out for hermetically sealing his dessert with an impenetrable crust. Zac also points out that he could have transformed the ingredient better, by boiling and reducing it.

Contestant Megan Baker, as seen on Halloween Baking Championship, Season 7.

Megan Baker isn’t just ready to whip up those horror movie-inspired treats she’s ready to take them to the next level. As a cake artist, Megan is used to working with everything from buttercream to fondant, telling a story with each delicious offering.

Megan makes the brave but ultimately foolish decision to try for a macaron in a limited time, which does not allow for an overnight set to get the signature chewiness. Her black garlic jam macaron with salted chocolate and toasted marshmallow ends up being overbaked, and Stephanie compares its texture to an amaretti, although she praises the fermentation and acidic quality.

Contestant Adina Schaefer, as seen on Halloween Baking Championship, Season 7.

As a small business owner, Adina Schaefer is used to working under pressure which will definitely give her an advantage in this competition. The cake artist runs her own shop, Sweets By Adina Marie, in California. There, she whips up custom desserts and cakes made from scratch that feature high-quality ingredients. Now, we can’t wait to see how those skills translate on the series.

Despite Adina’s profound dislike of rosemary (“it reminds me of being trapped inside a really cheap, bad Christmas candle,” she says), and burning her caramel twice during her bake, her honey rye graham cracker, toasted marshmallow, rosemary brittle and chocolate crémeux wins her the advantage for the next challenge. “I feel like we’re going to eat anger and disdain,” says Carla, taken aback by Adina’s vehemence.

Death by Pumpkins

The sudden death challenge tasks Guillermo and Megan with recreating John’s worst fear in a fresh, modern and unexpected way. A display of ugly and unsettling rotting pumpkins serves as inspiration for the two contestants, both of whom take on classic handheld desserts. Despite the judges pointing out the bitterness of Guillermo’s burnt pumpkin seed crumble, they find favour with the creativeness of the piped pumpkin-shaped cream puff with cream cheese filling, plated on a garbage can lid. Megan’s chocolate pumpkin whoopee pie with pumpkin cream cheese and candied pecan, although praised for its ethereal mousse consistency from Zac, ultimately sends her packing due to its lack of the grossness the challenge demanded.

And Then There Were Three

The remaining bakers are faced with a fiendish task for the final challenge: a towering tribute to the anonymous camp killer that has been lurking in the background for the season. The tiered or carved cake must contain a topper shaped like a brain, with a gooey filling. The five hour challenge has all the bakers scrambling to make the amount of cake necessary for 24 inches (for reference, says Guillermo, that is the height of his son. “That’s a toddler-sized cake,” he says wearily.) This challenge means that in addition to making three to four batches of cake, running between their stations, the oven and the cooling racks, the bakers have to contend with structural considerations such as the weight of the topper and the need for dowels to steady the cake layers.

As her advantage for winning the thriller challenge, Adina gets to choose between mousse, curd or gelatin as the filling for her cake’s brain decoration. She picks curd, but ultimately regrets the decision, opting to use a lighter filling for her cake topper just in case. Her devil’s food cake with malt whipped cream ganache, cherry curd, cherry jam, pecan streusel and cinnamon buttercream is inspired by John, whom she secretly suspects is the serial killer villain of the show (she adds grey tufts into the frosting to pay tribute to his hair). The piece de la resistance of her ghoulish creation, apart from disturbingly realistic stitched together human skin made out of fondant, is her decision to use agar agar and put jam in front of the brain’s lobe, so that it will weep blood when it sits (a fact that both impresses and horrifies Zac at the judging table). The softness of the curd she uses to fill the cake, however, interferes with the structural integrity and leads Carla to point out that the cake is leaning to the side.

Guillermo decides to revisit his successes of the season, making a multilayer cake decorated with a mummy, zombie, pumpkin and clown all facing off into different directions so that at least one is always staring at the viewer. His orange sponge cake with chocolate ganache, cranberry mousse and amaretto buttercream, complete with crushable white chocolate molding for the brain and cranberry and raspberry interior, incorporates fresh fruit and candied nuts in what Stephanie calls “a cacophony of flavours”.

And The Winner Is…

Although Renee has experience with the final challenge, she feels as nervous as the other competitors. Unlike Adina and Guillermo, Renee uses round cake pans rather than baking sheets to make three tiers and a smaller tier in case her cake is too short. From the start, she’s behind in her bake, rushing to get the cakes in the oven and cooled successfully. When she goes to unfold them, however, they stick to the pan and need to be scraped out (thank goodness for frosting!). Her devil’s food cake with hazelnut buttercream, hazelnut feuilletine crunch and sour cherry crunch falls afoul of other problems, too; her sour cherry jam is initially too sweet and the cake topper white chocolate shell cracks, leading her to quickly make a rather flat-looking molded substitution (“it’s not the biggest brain, but it’s a brain,” she sighs). 

Renee Loranger making a cake on Season 7 of Halloween Baking Championship

Renee wowed the judges with her design of the screaming victim on the middle layer of her cake, and the design mastery at work. “It reads like a graphic novel,” says Stephanie, admiring her adherence to the story through fondant and chocolate, as well as shiny sour cherry blood oozing from gashes carved into the cake. Ultimately, Renee takes home the $25,000 prize and a handmade wooden medal from John, proving that her return to the championship was a killer decision.

Watch Halloween Baking Championship and stream your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Close-up image of braised beef and red chilies on a plate

The Pioneer Woman’s Braised Beef and Red Chilies is the Comfort Dish You Need Right Now

Using four different types of red chilies, this braised beef with red chilies recipe is perfect on top of tacos, for a make-ahead meal or to be paired with your favourite carb for a more filling dish – any day of the week.

Related: Weeknight Dinners That Taste Even Better as Leftovers

Close-up of braised beef stew on top of a taco with cilantro

Braised Beef and Red Chilies

Prep time: 55 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours and 55 minutes 
Yield: 6 to 8 


8 to 10 dried New Mexico chilies
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
One 4 to 5-pound chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 large onion, sliced
2 cups beef stock
2 Tbsp sugar
2 bay leaves
Warm tortillas, shaved cabbage, sour cream, lime wedges and fresh cilantro, for serving 

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Tex-Mex Recipes Will Satisfy Your Cheesy, Meaty Cravings


1. Add the chilies and garlic to a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and steep for 20 to 30 minutes. Pour off half the cooking liquid. Using an immersion blender, puree the peppers, garlic and remaining liquid until smooth. (Alternatively, you can use a regular blender. Be careful when blending hot or warm ingredients.)

2. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

3. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chuck roast with the salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin. When the oil is hot, add the meat to the Dutch oven and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes, then remove to a plate.

4. Add the tomato paste and onion to the pot and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the stock, sugar, bay leaves and pepper puree to the pot and stir to combine. Return the beef to the pot and cover. Roast until the meat is fall-apart tender, 2 ½ to 3 hours.

5. Remove the bay leaves. Shred the meat in the pot and serve on warm tortillas with shaved cabbage, sour cream, lime and cilantro.

Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond.

Watch  The Pioneer Woman and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Multi-coloured cake on a cake round with a piece missing from it displayed from the side.

Ron Ben-Israel and Harry Eastwood’s Top Cake Trends for 2021

There’s a famous saying that goes, “a party without cake is just a meeting” – and we couldn’t agree more! After all, it’s no coincidence almost every big event includes cake. From birthdays to weddings, baby showers to graduations, cakes symbolize celebration.

“Special occasion cakes have always reflected the changing times just like fashion!” celebrity chef, leading cake designer and The Big Bake judge, Ron Ben-Israel says. Before your next big bash, catch up on the latest cake trends taking over bakeries around all over the world.

Related: How to Make a Dreamy Mirror Glaze Cake

Lemon cupcake on a white cake stand with lemon wedges around it as a decoration

Petite Designer Cakes 

Over the past year, pandemic health regulations have required events to become more intimate, limiting guest lists to strict guidelines. And as parties and weddings have become smaller, so have the cakes,  says Ron. 

“This season, we’re concentrating on cakes that are more like jewel-like confections,” he says. Since grand cakes typically aren’t needed anymore, cakes with enticing colours and textures compensate for the diminished size. “These aren’t cupcakes; these are full-blown, intricate cakes that are made in a tiny size.” 

Close-up of rainbow coloured cake with a slice missing from it looking into the cake.

Rainbow Cakes

Once again, celebrations are starting to feel like the rainbow after the storm and this is literally translating to cake trends. Rainbows are going to continue to be huge, imparting bright and colourful messages of hope inside and outside of cakes,”  Ron says. 

Read More: Make Your Own Candy-Filled Piñata Cake

French croquembouche tower glazed and stacked like a Christmas tree

French Croquembouche Tower Cakes 

Do you want to add a show stopping focal point to your dessert table? Look no further than the French croquembouche tower cake. “Choux is back!” Harry Eastwood says. Choux pastries AKA pâte à choux or pastry cream puffs are a unique way to present single-serving desserts that look almost too pretty to eat. And did we mention just how delicious these cakes are?

Chocolate cake decorated with fresh flowers and pomegranate.

Fresh Flower Cakes 

Fresh flowers have become a popular way to elevate and add a pop of colour to any cake. “I’ve always been a big fan of using natural flowers to decorate celebration cakes,” Harry says. “Fresh flowers are low maintenance and will immediately turn your cake into a glamorous thing of beauty.”  

Before you pick flowers from your garden, be sure to only use flowers that are edible (such as roses, calendula, borage, lavender, fennel, violas, nasturtiums, pansies, cornflowers and dahlias), as well as herbs you already use in cooking. 

Related: Metis Herbalist Shares 20 Edible Plants and Weeds Found in Canada 

Brush Stroke Cakes

Single layer cakes don’t need to be boring – add a hint of drama to any sized cake with the brush stroke technique. Brush stroke cakes are decorated with feather-like, multi-coloured brushed chocolate, Ron says. “It creates a really dramatic and graphic effect.”

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.

Watch The Big Bake: Halloween on Mondays at 8 PM ET to see new episodes. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Slice of tsunami cake being taken out with a knife in the cake

Carla Hall’s Bloody Good Tsunami Cake is a Must-Make Halloween Dessert

Halloween Baking Championship judge Carla Hall knows a thing or two about scary cakes. And her pull-me-up cake recipe, AKA a cake that uses a see-through plastic sheet that you pull up to reveal an explosion of liquid icing or melting chocolate oozing down the cake, looks as scary as it sounds. Did we mention it was even more delicious? Carla recommends putting a plastic toy hatchet, meat cleaver or a dagger into the top of a cake of your choice (her recipe for a delicious red velvet cake is below), but she says buying a store-bought cake is OK too.

Tsunami Cake being cut into

Related: 16 Scary-Good Halloween Cakes and Cupcakes

Carla Hall’s Bloody Good Tsunami Cake

Prep Time: 1 hours
Cook Time: 2 hours (includes cooling and chilling)
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 8-10 


Roasted Beet Purée:
2 large beets
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp olive oil

Red Velvet Cake:
2½  cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the cake pans
1½  cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
¾ cup buttermilk
½  cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 lb (454 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups white chocolate chips, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Bloody Good Tsunami Topping:
1½  cups milk
1⅓ cups heavy cream
¼ cup cornstarch
Pinch kosher salt
1¾ cups sweetened condensed milk
Red food coloring, as needed
Red sprinkles, for topping
Red sparkling sugar, for topping 

Related: 15 Creepy (and Cute) Halloween Party Food Ideas

Slice of Tsunami Cake on a plate with finger prints on it


Special equipment: two 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans; an 8-inch (20 cm) cake round; a rotating cake stand; a plastic toy hatchet, meat cleaver or dagger; a large sheet of clear acetate, at least 2 inches wider and 5 inches taller than the assembled cake.

1. For the roasted beet purée: Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

 2. Place the beets in a piece of foil and season with the salt. Top with the olive oil and a splash of water, close up the foil and roast until a knife or skewer comes out with ease when inserted into the beets, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool just enough to handle.

3. Peel the beets, transfer to a blender with any remaining juices and purée, adding up to ¼ cup water if needed to get it to puree.

4. For the red velvet cake: Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF. Butter and flour two 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans.

5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix on low for 30 seconds with the paddle attachment.

6. In a separate bowl, whisk to combine ½  cup of the roasted beet purée, the buttermilk, oil, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and eggs. In 2 parts, pour into the mixer. Mix on medium speed until combined. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

7. Bake on the center rack until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

8. For the cream cheese frosting: Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add the chocolate and vanilla extract, then continue to mix until incorporated. Next, slowly add the powdered sugar, beating until the frosting is light and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag or Zip Top bag and snip off the end.

9. Pipe a tablespoon of frosting onto a rotating cake stand and place an 8-inch cake round on top, pressing gently to adhere. Place the first cake on the cake round and trim the dome to make flat if needed. Cut the cake in half horizontally to make 2 layers. Frost the top of the first layer, then place the second half on top and frost. Repeat with the remaining cake, cutting in half and stacking between layers of frosting. There should be 4 layers. Finally, frost the sides, finishing with the top.

10. For the bloody good tsunami topping: Whisk the milk, heavy cream, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan until smooth. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture just begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the condensed milk and red food coloring (as many drops to get the color you prefer). Place a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming, then allow to cool completely before using.

11. To assemble the bloody good tsunami cake: cut a sheet of clear acetate that can wrap completely around the base of the cake, adding an extra 2 inches so that it can be secured with tape on the side and also making sure that the acetate is taller than the top of the cake by at least 5 inches. Wrap the acetate around the cake and tape it to form a long tube  – it should not be so tight as to squeeze against the outer layer of the cake, but still have no gaps at the top of the cake so that the topping will not seep over the edges. Gently spoon the bloody good tsunami topping over the top of the cake, then spoon an even layer of red sprinkles and sparkling sugar, about ¼ inch thick, over the topping. Plunge a plastic toy hatchet, meat cleaver or dagger into the center of the top of the cake – it should be very decorative and realistic looking for the best effect!

12. To reveal the tsunami, grasp the top of the acetate and gently pull up to loosen from the base of the cake, then continue pulling up over the top of the cake in one single motion to allow the topping to cascade over the side of the cake.

Related: Apple Poke Cake

Watch the Video:

Watch Halloween Baking Championship and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Recipe courtesy of Carla Hall.

Headshot of Ree Drummond over a close-up of her broccoli rice casserole dish

The Pioneer Woman’s Broccoli Rice Casserole is a Comforting Twist on a Classic Side

There are a few things we all crave when we’re sitting down for that iconic Thanksgiving meal: fall flavours, harvest-inspired platters and plenty of soul-warming, comforting options. With that said — as much as we can’t get enough of seasonal classics like stuffing and cranberry sauce — there’s also plenty of room at the table for new spins on savoury side dishes. Enter the queen of home-cooking comfort food, The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, and her latest perfect-for-Thanksgiving casserole recipe. 

Close-up of Best Broccoli Rice Casserole

Made from a delectable mix of long-grain rice, broccoli and a plethora of cheeses, this easy-to-prepare casserole is creamy and oh-so comforting — making it a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving (and everyday, really) dinner table.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Must-Try Casserole Recipes

Best Broccoli Rice Casserole

Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 10 to 12


4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) salted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, grated
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 cups whole milk
4-oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp paprika
8-oz processed cheese, cubed
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar
8 cups small broccoli florets
6-oz diced pimentos, drained
2 1/2 cups cooked long-grain rice

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Ultimate Comfort Food Recipes


 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

 2. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle over the flour, dry mustard and cayenne and stir to mix it in well. Continue to cook for 1 minute.

 3. Next, add the milk, stirring constantly; cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and Parmesan, stirring until totally combined. Stir in the pepper, salt and paprika. Add the processed cheese, stirring until completely melted. Next, add 1 1/2 cups of the Cheddar and stir until melted. Then, fold in the broccoli and pimentos.

 4. In a large baking dish, create a base with half of the rice. Top with half of the broccoli cheese sauce. Repeat with the remaining rice, then the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the rest of the Cheddar evenly over the top of the casserole. Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Looking for more of The Pioneer Woman’s easy comfort-food meals to warm your dinner table? Try one of these recipes from Ree Drummond this week!

Watch The Pioneer Woman and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

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