Q&A with Halloween Baking Championship Judge Damiano Carrara

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Damiano CarraraOn the new season of Halloween Baking Championship, expect to be blown away by the extremely creepy creations the bakers make, but even more than that, be ready for probably the scariest panel of judges you will ever see — and a host who’s not afraid to deliver some deadly news to eliminated bakers. Judges Carla Hall, Damiano Carrara and Sandra Lee will be dishing out critiques, while Jeff Dunham will be sending home the bakers who don’t meet the spooktacular criteria of the $25,000 competition show. Before you tune in for the premiere on Monday, Oct. 3 at 9|8c, hear from Damiano.

Damiano is a very successful baker of Italian specialties, and he’s also familiar with competitions. He competed in Spring Baking Championship, Season 1 and Food Network Star, Season 12. FN Dish recently caught up with him to chat about the holiday and the championship.

Do you have any desserts or treats that you bake for this spooky holiday? Do you sell them at your bakery?
Damiano Carrara: Orange croquembouche covered with black spiderweb (sugar). Yes, it is sold at Carrara Pastries.

What’s your favorite candy?
DC: Sour worms

What’s your favorite way of using up leftover holiday candy? Do you make any desserts out of them?
DC: Crush them and use them as a crunch inside a dessert — texture is everything. No, I do not [make desserts out of leftover candy], but I could.

What’s your favorite baking trick?
DC: Use a broken whisk to make spun sugar.

What Halloween character do you feel you’d have most in common with?
DC: If I had to choose, Mario — we are both Italian.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever had to bake? And by “scary” we mean something very difficult.
DC: A wedding cake

What is your favorite Halloween costume?
DC: Spider-Man

What do you usually give out to trick-or-treaters?
DC: Chocolate

What’s been your best and biggest baking success?
DC: Opening up my two pastry shops in California

What’s been your worst baking failure?
DC: Making vanilla custard the first time. That was not pretty.

What criteria do you go by when judging a Halloween dessert? How do you judge scary versus cutesy?
DC: I judge based on the complexity of the desserts, originality, if it met the challenge. I judge them the same — they are just the opposite.

What’s your best piece of advice for the Halloween bakers in the show?
DC: Push yourself, and don’t doubt yourself. Don’t give up without trying.

Watch the premiere of Halloween Baking Championship on Monday, Oct. 3 at 9|8c.

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