Mona Marwaha, a baker from Fremont, calls her experience on TV’s new competition “Candy Land” overwhelming — in a good way.
It began with a cold call from the Food Network asking her to consider being on the show, which premieres at 9 p.m. Nov. 15.
At first, she thought it was a scam. But when she understood that producers had seen photos of her intricate, colorful cakes and cake paintings on Instagram and Etsy – and knew she had participated in a prestigious cake competition called Incredible India with famed cake artist Tina Scott Parashar – she realized the phone call was on the level.
From there, the journey proved nothing but positive, and surprising.
Marwaha, who “paused” her Fremont business Bake Me Something to go to Los Angeles in the summer to shoot the series, said she and the other contestants initially weren’t aware that Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth (“Wicked’s” original Glinda) would be the host of “Candy Land,” which is based on the classic board game for little ones.
Nor did they know that favorite Food Network personalities Nacho Aguirre and Aarti Sequeira would be the judges. (A 30-minute special following the premiere features adorable HGTV “My Lottery Dream Home” star David Bromstad going behind-the-scenes on the set, showing how creators brought to life scenery from Candy Land, which has sold more than 50 million sets over the decades, according to a press release.)
In the first “Candy Land” episode, Marwaha, an expert cake painter, and her three mates on the pink team were tasked with creating magical confectionary creatures that inhabit Candy Land’s various villages.
“I was kind of scared, a little paranoid before the show. You never know how you’re going to get along with the other people,” says Marwaha, whose fears were never realized.
“I was super lucky to have such an amazing team. We had such a good understanding and rapport. We were like a family throughout the show,” she adds.
Mentioning that each of the five pre-selected teams (competing for $25,000) included a sugar artist, a cake artist, a chocolate artist and sculptor, Marwaha felt comfortable about her own strengths, and at the same time, was glad to have the chance to learn and expand her skill set.
“I was always painting, drawing, sketching, doing creative stuff,” says Marwaha, who got a degree in fashion design and worked in oil on canvas before she branched out into pastry painting about 10 years ago.
Even though she says “the cake medium is not so friendly when you’re doing painting,” Marwaha clearly has mastered the process. Not only does she offer tutorials, her work has appeared in trade and lifestyle magazines as well.
Unable to detail more specifics about the show – although the Food Network website has videos about a candy cane challenge and information about upcoming episodes dedicated to sports and modes of transportation – Marwaha shares that everything about “Candy Land,” including the kind judges, was sweet.
“I really loved the experience I had on the show,” she says, and she looks forward to the opportunity to compete again sometime, adding, “I wouldn’t mind going back in coming years.”
IF YOU WATCH
Where: Food Network
When: 9 p.m. Sundays, starting Nov. 15