Sprinkles, sour belts and fondant galore!

The normally quiet corner of the Works shopping center in El Segundo was transformed into a bustling, sweet wonderland July 10, as a brand new Duff’s Cakemix studio opened its doors for the first time to host a Kids’ Cake Decorating Contest.

And the most exciting part?

Duff Goldman of Food Network baking fame was on hand to help judge.

“There’s a lot on the line,” said Goldman, who owns the Duff’s Cakemix franchise which boasts three other do-it-yourself cake decorating studios in West Hollywood, Pasadena and Tarzana. “You can usually tell whoever is having the most fun because you can see it in their cake. That’s probably who’s going to win.”

Forty children, aged 4 to 17,  were each given a mini-cake to decorate using everything from stencil tools, tiaras and waffle cones to frosting, gummy bears and jelly beans—not to mention every color of fondant and frosting known to man.

“We’re looking for their creativity and best efforts,” said Deirdre Duncan, the studio’s manager who judged the contest alongside Goldman and his Food Network co-star Geof Manthorne. “They get to see this kind of stuff all the time. I get to be the fresh eyes.”

But, judging the colorful and tasty entries would be no easy task, even for the seasoned judges.

“It’s going to be really challenging,” said Manthorne as he watched the children busily layering their cakes with delicious decoration. “I think we’re just going to see a lot of wild things today.” 

And the winner is…

After the hour-long contest, the judges announced three winners, each of whom will receive the prize of a complimentary cake-decorating birthday party, according to the company’s CEO Scott Dilloff.

Winners included:

  • 3rd place: Macey Rothenberg, 6, of Redondo Beach, who created a “Duff-alo” cake inspired by Goldman’s favorite animal and a tattoo he got for his wife. 

  • 2nd place: Ada Valladares, 13, of El Segundo, who molded fondant sheep figurines by hand to top her green cake.

  • 1st place: Frankie Goffman, 10, of Newport Beach, who created a “Lion King” themed cake complete with a nature scene and several animals.

Dilloff said the competition was just the start of many fun days to come in the new studio.  

“We just thought it’d be a really exciting way to launch in the community,” Dilloff explained, noting the contest was meant to emulate those on TV. 

Dilloff added that Duff’s Cakemix—which allows guests to select a pre-made baked treat to decorate ranging in price from $18 for two cupcake to $48 for a full 6-inch cake—has been looking for a potential South Bay location for three years.

“We finally found it right here,” he said. “The community has such great energy, tons of families and we feel like people are just really eager to have this creative experience.” 

South Bay cake decorators are invited to host parties, fundraisers, private events or just walk-in for a day of creative fun in the new studio at 710 Allied Way, which is now officially open to the public.

And for those nervous about decorating, Goldman advised bakers of all ages to just keep at it. 

“Every cake, you get a little bit better,” he said. 

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