Set your TV to record "Cake Wars" 9 p.m Monday, Oct. 17 on the Food Network. That's when New Rochelle baker Jaclyn Dinko will be on, along with Natasha Jagopat from Bake My Day NYC.
Dinko, who owns Cake'D OUT Creations, said she's still pinching herself that the event happened at all.
The mom of two said, from the moment the show first aired, friends and family hounded her, telling her she had to be on. "I wasn't sure I was ready," she explained. "After all, the people who have been on the show are my teachers and cake idols!"
Despite the fact that she couldn't imagine competing against the artists that have inspired her, Dinko, a self-taught baker, sent in her application.
She was in shock, to say the least, when she got a response.
Her goal, she said, was to inspire someone else to try. She chose Jagopat to fly with her to Los Angeles and the rest is cake history.
Pretty amazing for someone who just started baking five years ago. Dinko, a registered nurse, started baking while on maternity leave with her twins. She began with cupcakes, taking her grandmother's dessert recipes and turning them into cupcake flavors like pineapple coconut, Italian rainbow cookie, cannoli, and peanut butter cup.
Next, came cakes.
"I fell in love and found what I feel is my true calling," she said.
Soon after, she enrolled in classes with some of the top artists in the industry.
While classic party and wedding cakes are now something she does a lot of, her speciality is elaborate, detailed fondant cakes. "I absolutely love sculpting and creating figures," said Dinko.
She also bakes dream cakes for families affected by childhood illnesses, through a non-profit called Icing Smiles. And, she donates cakes and baked goods locally, as well as annually to "Cupcakes for a Cure" held at The Westchester and benefiting the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.
"I'm a cancer survivor and a nurse...so being able to give back, help others, and bake a difference is one of the main reasons I love what I do," said Dinko.
And, If all goes according to plan, she hopes to spread the love more with her own cake studio, ideally in the New Rochelle area (she is presently shopping for places). Her goal is to have a space to sell her cupcakes and cakes, but also teach kids and adults how to make their own desserts and cakes. (She presently teaches private and group lessons, along with teaching children's baking classes at Annas Treehouse in New Rochelle.)
"I was born and raised here and I've received so much support from our community," she said. "I would love to do this not just for me, but for all of New Ro."
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