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Tension, high drama as Port Coquitlam cake artist competes for massive prize on Food Network show

Emotional experience for Port Coquitlam woman who achieves her dream of being on "The Big Bake" for Christmas-themed special airing Monday, Nov. 1

A Port Coquitlam woman who is a whiz with the spatula and whipping up butter cream icing and fondant is the lead baker on a cake–baking team competing for $10,000 on a Food Network show.

On Monday (Nov. 1) at 5 p.m., The Big Bake will be aired featuring Cassie Curtis and her teammates, Dalana Fleming and Emily Skazlic, competing against three other groups for the top prize.

Curtis is a self-taught baker who told the Tri-City News that getting a chance to show off her skills on a Food Network show was a “dream come true,” and something she has aspired to since first working in a Port Coquitlam bakery at the tender age of 11.

She’s now a renowned cake artist whose custom creations won second place at both the Make a Wish Cake Competition and the B.C. Wedding Awards (the latter when she was just 14). 

Curtis said there was a lot of high drama, tension and some sweating in the kitchen when she and the team members had to design and bake a five-foot high Christmas-themed cake in under five hours.

It also either had to spin, light up or make noise.

Typically, it takes Curtis three days to make an averaged-sized, three-tiered wedding cake, so the competition criteria was a stunning and heart-stopping challenge.

None of the contestants knew what was expected of them until they were on set, except that the cake had to be big and Christmas-themed.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Curtis, describing how team members had to scramble to meet the deadlines in front of television cameras, with judges popping in to ask how they were doing.

“You have be charming on TV while you have to make this massive cake. You’re under pressure. It was crazy; it was a blur.”

The host of The Big Bake is Brad Smith, a former CFL player, restaurant owner and bachelor on The Bachelor Canada, and the judges are Eddie Jackson, former NFL player and celebrity chef, Ron Ben-Israel, couture cake baker and former professional dancer, and Harry Eastwood, award-winning cookbook author and former Cooking Channel host.

Adding to the drama was the fact that the show was being filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Curtis and her team had to don masks and gloves; they were kept in a bubble for three days while the show was being filmed in Toronto.

The Terry Fox Secondary grad hopes viewers in her hometown of Port Coquitlam will tune in on Monday to see what happened.

“It’s like my childhood dream being one of these TV shows. It’s very emotional.”

Her mom, Karen Curtis, who teaches cooking to kids, wrote the Market Fresh column for the Tri-City News, ran the Port Coquitlam Farmers Market and started her own business KICS Lemonade, said she is very proud of her daughter for participating in the competitive show.

Because the show still has to be aired, Curtis won't say what happened, but she does describe the televised competition as an experience of a lifetime.

And whether she wins or loses, Curtis will continue to operate Cassandra Cake Co. out of her Port Coquitlam home.

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