In case you need yet another baking show to add to your lineup, HBO Max now has Baketopia, a confectionary competition hosted by YouTuber Rosanna Pansino. Alongside her fellow judges, she’ll assesses bakers’ creations for trendiness, creativity, and — of course — taste. Each episode features a “first tier” mini challenge with a prize of $1,000 and the opportunity to wear “the gold rolling pin pin,” as well as a “top tier” main challenge with a grand prize of $10,000. So there’s a lot of sugar and cash on the line.
Unlike The Great British Bake Off and similar shows, Baketopia features three new bakers per episode. There are 12 episodes in Season 1, which means a total of 36 contestants compete within the season. “Some of the competitors were home bakers, some own their own bakeries, and some were really fancy pastry chefs,” Pansino said in a YouTube video.
You’ll have to watch the show all the way through to pick out your favorite baker, but there are already a few who standout on Instagram. Get to know them — as well as Pansino’s two “Cake Council” peers who help her choose the winners — below.
Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Sullivan is a four-time Food Network champion, and if you’re a fan of cake decorating shows (Outrageous Wedding Cakes, Ridiculous Cakes), you’ve probably seen him at work. He’s known for his super impressive 3-D cake artistry and realistic details, hence why he’ll be judging the Baketopia crew on their technical skill and execution.
Skehan is a friend of Pansino’s and an experienced chef who has authored nine cookbooks so far. He also hosts his own cooking shows, so his refined palette will come in handy when judging desserts for taste, texture, and bake.
Salinas, known as @cakeitwithjustin on Instagram, makes cakes that are a rainbow lover’s dream. His entire page is full of aesthetically pleasing pastels, and according to his website, he’s seen great success in launching cake decorating classes, which he calls Cake Nite with Justin. He also has a podcast called Frost This, and once partnered with World of Wonder for a web series called Gimme Some Shuga, in which he and Drag Race queen Shuga Cain recreated iconic Drag Race runway looks in cake form.
A Piece of Cake by Pivani
When Pavani started baking four years ago as a hobby, she never thought her skill would land her on TV. “With a day job in IT and busy life with kids, Baking is what kept me sane,” she wrote on Instagram. “It is literally a Stress Buster for me.” Now, she has an impressive portfolio of creations including a sushi cake, one that looks like a Louis Vuitton bag, and lots of adorable cake pops and macarons.
Gregory Matthew Rodriguez
Rodriguez runs the Instagram account @casadeorodulce, which translates to House of Gold Sweets. No big deal, but he’s also the lead pastry chef at a Ritz-Carlton hotel. Needless to say, his work is incredibly detailed and ornate. He’s definitely going to be a fierce competitor on Baketopia.
Vuong is an actual superhuman who, according to Instagram, is an emergency department nurse by day and self-taught baker and cake designer by night on top of being a dad. Scrolling through his work, you’d never know he has zero professional training.
Monroy takes the challenge of baking to a new level by making her confections completely sugar-free. Her bakery, Sugar Free Shack, caters to those with special dietary needs and offers a wide variety of keto-friendly options.
Nielsen is another trained pastry chef who’s sure to stiffen up the competition. Not everyone can say they’ve made a chocolate bonsai tree.
Other bakers to be featured on the show are Piper of Patty Cake Piper, Korey Wells of Whiskful Thinking Cakes, Andrew Calvillo of Calvillo Cakes, Jamie Mack of Spider Monkey Desserts, Lady C Cakes, Darlene Celestino of Lil Darz Sweetz, Dani Rossi of Dani Cakes, Cakes by Jason, and more. Is anyone else suddenly craving dessert?