Photo Courtesy Denise Passarelli
Denise Passarelli, owner of Denise Makes Cakes, will be on Cake Wars March 28.
BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
“I was with my mom when I received a call coming-in from Los Angeles, California,” said Denise Passarelli, owner of Queens’ own Denise Makes Cakes, online bakery. “I knew this was it. They were calling to tell me if I made it on the show.”
Passarelli, too nervous to pick-up, let the call go to voicemail.
“Just like I knew, it was the Cake Wars producer saying, ‘we have something to tell you and we don’t want to tell you through email. Call us back.’”
She did what they said and gave them a call back.
“You’re in,” they said.
After the first season of Cake Wars aired summer of 2015, Passarelli became an instant fan and knew she wanted to eventually apply for the show.
While watching the season one finale, she followed the Food Network on social media and noticed they had put up a post stating that they were looking for contestants for Cake Wars.
Cake Wars is a popular televised cake competition that airs on the Food Network Channel. During this competition four expert bakers face off to see whose cake creation will be the star of a major event, earning the $10,000 prize.
“The process was easy,” said Passarelli.
Producers wanted a quick blurb of the contestant, a photo of the contestant, along with sample pictures of the baker’s cakes.
“I didn’t have to speak to anyone in person, everything was digital,” she said. “A lot of the communication was through email.”
Passarelli was instructed to create an energetic short video describing herself, along with why she is an important person.
“I was so surprised when they called me to say that I’d be on the show,” Passarelli said. “I felt a mixture of nerves and excitement.”
When Passarelli took her trip to L.A. in October, she was instructed not to tell anyone.
“I had to shut down my business for that time being but couldn’t tell anyone why, not even my mom,” Passarelli said.
However, she was allowed to bring one assistant.
“Although it was my first trip to L.A. it definitely wasn’t a vacation,” Passarelli said. “I felt like the competition had already begun once we landed there.”
Passarelli and her assistant was in L.A. from October 27 through October 30 filming the episode on one day and doing side interviews and photo shoots the rest of the time.
“The experience was surreal,” Passarelli said. “Stepping onto the stage for the first time was overwhelming. During the competition, when the clock starts to run, your nerves go away because you get so into things and know that the pressure is on to get the cake done.”
Like everyone else, Passarelli has to wait to see the episode airs on March 28 at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.
Recently, Passarelli began to advertise the show via social media.
“I’m hoping that my appearance on Cake Wars is going to really help me expand my business,” she said.
Although Passarelli already gets a lot of repeating and happy customers, she continues to advertise in many local papers, on social media and through traditional word of mouth.
She started Denise Makes Cakes, an online-only ordering custom cake shop, in 2011.
“We don’t have a store front as of yet but that definitely is something in the works,” Passarelli said. “We work out of a small commercial kitchen here in Queens and deliver every cake.”
Most of her business is based on birthday, wedding and celebration cakes. However, she does do custom cupcakes, cookies, cake pops and more.