On TV Cooking Competitions and Croquembouches

Sinaí Vespie is executive pastry chef for Campus Dining at Notre Dame—although dessert fans around the country know her as the winner of season 6 of the Halloween Baking Championship, which aired this past fall on Food Network.

And if you’re thinking it’s pretty cool for a university to have the winner of a reality cooking competition on its culinary team, then you have a lot in common with the makers of this podcast.

Sinaí began her career as a junior sous chef at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. She then moved to the Sweet Treats Cakery in Tampa before serving as pastry chef at the Tampa Marriott Waterside. She joined us from just outside her kitchen at Notre Dame, which is the closest we’ve gotten to brunch in a long, long time.

We used this opportunity to ask her about both the particulars of the Halloween Baking Championship—from the cursed croquembouche to the spooky challenge themes, including when she had to figure out how to depict a prank on a floating cake—as well as the demands of competing on a TV cooking show more generally. As you’d suspect, that took on some entirely new dimensions during the pandemic.

*Photo credit: Rob Pryce/Food Network*

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About the Podcast:

“With a Side of Knowledge” is a podcast produced at the University of Notre Dame. It features interviews with fascinating people from both Notre Dame and elsewhere that take place over brunch—or if we’re really in a pinch, coffee.

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February 18, 2021

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