by Jazmine Otey
Taylor Pusha always knew she wanted to be a baker. At age four she would look up cooking tutorials, watch her family prepare meals and practice with her Easy-Bake Oven. It wasn’t long before Pusha turned her dream into a reality.
Now the 13-year-old has her own cake business, Taylor-Made Cakes & Creations and has even showcased her talent on the Food Network Channel. In 2019 she was on Season Seven of the Kids Baking Championship and was the fourth of 10 contestants. This year she was claimed winner for the Kids Baking Championship: “Season’s Sweetings.”
The Roanoke native was awarded $10,000 worth of kitchen appliances, baking supplies and more. “I was super happy when I won! I just wanted to give Duff and Valerie a huge hug,” she said, referring to the two celebrity show hosts, Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli.
The filming for “Season’s Sweetings” began in July and took place in Los Angeles. Before filming, Taylor had to go through a round of intensive interviews. The Pusha family was filled with excitement when Taylor received a callback informing her that she’d been one of five people selected for the show. But the family wasn’t allowed to tell anyone until the episode aired in November. When they announced it on Facebook there were over 100 shares, 200 likes and 80 comments.
“I love it just because I remember each step of the interview process and how we were excited just to get a callback. I’m so proud of her,” said Chloe, her older sister.
Taylor said traveling to Los Angeles with Chloe and her mother, Beth for filming was a memorable experience. But it was also stressful to travel during a pandemic. To ensure their safety, contestants and their family members were required to take a COVID-19 spit test prior to traveling. Once the contestants arrived they were then asked to quarantine for a week at the resort before filming began. They also had to be tested every three days and receive COVID-19 training during their stay.
Filming lasted for three consecutive days. On the first day, the contestants were brought to the set for introductory shots and interviews. Taylor was ecstatic to reunite with old friends, make new ones and see Goldman and Bertinelli again.
The contestants didn’t find out about their baking challenge until the second day. The five contestants were asked to prepare a gingerbread cake. Taylor made a chocolate coffee cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting. For her reindeer treats, she cut small pieces of chocolate coffee cake and topped it with cream cheese frosting, strawberry puree sauce and fresh berries. The third day was dedicated to getting final interviews and final shots.
“It’s crazy because everything takes so much longer than it shows on TV,” Chloe said. “The dialogue isn’t immediate. So the anticipation during the judging process was absolutely ridiculous.”
Taylor exuded a confident, self-assured attitude throughout the competition. “I’m gonna win this time,” she said with a soft smile in Bertinelli’s direction while they discussed Taylor’s first appearance on the baking show in 2019. But Taylor’s road to success didn’t come without a few bumps in it.
With just 30 minutes left, her cake began to crumble as she layered it. But instead of panicking, she pushed forward. She put the cake in the fridge and worked on the other food items while waiting for it to cool off. A piece of old advice her father gave her echoed throughout her head as she worked.
“I just remembered how he’d always tell me to never panic because when I panic that’s just wasting more time. He told me to focus on fixing the problem.”
Her tenacity eventually led to her victory. After waiting three hours to receive an answer from the judges, it was announced that Taylor won! The $10,000 worth of kitchen supplies included an ice cream maker, a stand mixer, a chiller and a lot more.
“It felt great, and it was what I’ve been dreaming for,” Taylor said. “Now I can build my business even more with my new supply. I can take more orders, get things done faster and make more elaborate cakes.”
To her family, her success didn’t come as a surprise. “We were super confident in her the whole time, especially since season seven and seeing how she held herself up,” Chloe said.
Taylor currently attends Northside Middle School. She can be found shuffling through her customized mini-kitchen in her parents’ basement and preparing cakes for her business. Taylor-Made Cakes and Creations recently relaunched a website with a new ordering system that enables buyers to select a cake of their choice from a menu. In the past, buyers could only order custom items. Taylor hopes to inspire others with her story. “The main advice I would give people is to not be scared to follow your dreams, just go for it!” she said.
The episode can be found on FoodNetwork.com and is also available on-demand for some cable and satellite providers.