Dana Herbert, known as the “King of Cakes,” is familiar to TLC fans as a winner of the Next Great Baker. Since being crowned in 2011, the owner of Desserts by Dana has become a familiar face on popular baking shows from Cake Boss, to Wedding Cake Wars, to Ultimate Cake Off.
Dana’s stunning wedding cakes, sugar sculptures, custom cakes, and miniature desserts are nothing short of inspiring (a few images are featured here). I recently caught up with Dana to learn more about his journey from hobby baker to household name, and to get a few vital “insider tips” for home baking success as the sweetest of all holidays – Valentine’s Day – fast approaches!
How did you get your start as a pastry chef and baker?
I was influenced by my grandmother. She could really burn in the kitchen. She made excellent savory and baked goods. Her flavor was always amazing. From crab cakes and omelets, to cookies, jams and jellies, my grandmother Annabelle could make any meal memorable, no matter how simple.
What was it like to compete on (and win!) Cake Boss: Next Great Baker?
Competing on Cake Boss: Next Great Baker was amazing. It was incredibly difficult in that we filmed a lot with very little rest. It really let you know what you were capable of in short amounts of time. Being on a show like that, you had already WON. It’s just a matter of how you viewed it. You met other bakers that you may not have met otherwise, you got pushed to new levels, and you were able to showcase your brand.
Now that you’ve gone on to appear on a number of other cooking shows including Cake Boss, Wedding Cake Wars and Ultimate Cake Off, what have you learned about competitive baking?
Be mindful that the competitions are difficult, but if you dive into it, it can be very rewarding. Train hard and be yourself. It’s funny these days… I turn down more shows than I am on due to prior commitments!
You appear so poised on television. Have you ever faced a true “baking disaster?”
I can say that if you haven’t faced a baking disaster, you haven’t baked yet! I remember a delivery driver accidentally destroyed a cake… I mean it was unrecognizable. I was on the way to an awards ceremony when I got the call. Luckily, everyone was at the shop still working late. Two of us spent five hours on that cake. Collectively, five of us rebuilt that cake in an hour and a half.
What prompted your decision to open a shop in 2014? And, what might be next?
I wanted a shop that, at the time, was different than the others – on another level, pushing the area to be better. We wanted to fill a missing niche in Delaware.
I currently have my own show on DETV Comcast 28 at 11am on Mondays. It’s called the CHEF DANA COOKING SHOW. My future plans include some new TV shows and helping other chefs and talent get to the next level.
What have been some of your most memorable creations?
For Jill Biden’s charity we did a golf bag for an outing. My most memorable creations are a life size car, hanging chandelier cake, and a cake we did for ICE CUBE.
Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching. What should home baking enthusiasts remember?
Keep your flavors decadent and classic for Valentine’s Day… with a little twist. Classic takes you back to the beautiful memories that you had with food as a kid.
Learn from Dana!
Dana conducts virtual classes on Mondays at 7 pm for what he calls DATE NIGHT and on Sundays at 3 pm for LITTLE CHEFS. Click for links to Dana Herbert’s Virtual Classes. Private virtual sessions for corporations and individuals are also available by request.
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PHOTOS: Original images used with permission by Dana Herbert, Desserts by Dana. Not for reproduction without prior authorization.
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