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TLC's 'Next Great Baker' Hides Death of Contestant

TLC's 'Next Great Baker' Hides Death of Contestant



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Wesley Durden, a contestant and former paratrooper who was deployed to Iraq, died in late October

At the end of this week's Next Great Baker, TLC anounced with an "In Memoriam" note that contestant and Iraq War veteran Wesley Durden had died. The network released the news after an episode when Durden, 28, was eliminated from Next Great Baker.

Reuters reports that Durden died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Oct. 24. Many viewers, however, are outraged that the network kept airing episodes while keeping silent about Durden's death.

"They did throw a card up at the end, but this still seems like a series of bad decisions to me and wildly insensitive to the guy's family and friends," one writer at Tucson Weekly wrote. Viewers have taken to Twitter to express dismay and sorrow.

Later, TLC posted a statement on Facebook, saying, "TLC extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Sgt. Wesley Durden, who died October 24. He will be warmly remembered by the cast and crew of NEXT GREAT BAKER."

Wesley Durden's mother, however, doesn't seem to harbor hard feelings toward the show. “I’m thankful for the show. I believe the show helped keep him alive,” Donna Durden said to The Daily News.

The Daily Byte is a regular column dedicated to covering interesting food news and trends across the country. Click here for previous columns.


Smith: He takes the cake – all 600 pounds of it – to Queen Mary

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

The crew of The Queen Mary take a break after moving a 15 feet 600 pounds cake.

Marcelo Alvarez adds some finishing touches to the 600-pound cake made for the Queen Mary celebration.

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas gets set to hide a pin of the Queen Mary in the 80th anniversary cake. The person who found this in their piece of cake won the grand prize at Friday's festivities aboard the ocean liner.

Jose Barajas gives one of the pieces of the 80th anniversary cake to Dan McCue at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, left, shares a laugh with Commodore Everette Hoard, right, of the Queen Mary, as they get set to move 600 pounds of cake.

Jose Barajas assembles the 80th anniversary cake at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Barajas says it took 10 days to make, and it could serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, center, helps The Queen Mary crew move half of a 15 feet 600 pounds cake into The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds of cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

LA MESA &ndash His forehead sweaty from the oven heat, his shirt dusted with flour and his fingernails crusty with frosting, Jose Barajas was a little nervous about his big boat sinking before its maiden voyage.

His story takes the cake, all 600 pounds of it.

Barajas, 28, a former cake artist contestant in season four of the TLC&rsquos &ldquoNext Great Baker,&rdquo had a few minutes Wednesday morning between oven timer beeps to talk about baking his biggest cake to date: a 15-foot, mostly edible replica of the Queen Mary for her 80th anniversary celebration.

Kids, don&rsquot try this at home with 200 boxes of Duncan Hines.

Two days before Friday&rsquos festivities and that afternoon&rsquos ceremonial cutting, Barajas felt as though he might as well have been drowning in vanilla batter.

He needed his own life preserver. His mind rattled with Titanic thoughts. He planned on pulling an all-nighter to get everything ready.

There isn&rsquot much you can pre-make,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoYou need to have the cake stay as fresh and moist as possible, and you have to worry about everything settling or sinking out of shape the longer it sits.&rdquo

At this moment, Barajas needed to sit.

It was 94 degrees outside on El Cajon Boulevard but not that much cooler inside M&M Patisserie, where it was hot enough to light the cigarette of the smoking woman tattooed on the right side of Barajas&rsquo neck.

The kitchen was library quiet. One apron-wearing, hair-netted woman sat at a long table cutting out individual black, nickel-sized bits of frosting to represent the ship&rsquos 600 portholes. Another assistant counted the 164 rectangular windows. A third rolled out the ship&rsquos trim, a long string of faded, red fondant icing.

The air held tension. It also held flour that, beneath the fluorescent lights, put a white haze on everything in Barajas&rsquo sight. Or, maybe, he was just toast. The burnt kind.

&ldquoThe biggest thing I&rsquod ever done before was a 4-foot hamburger on the show,&rdquo said Barajas, who has been baking and decorating for a decade.

&ldquoThis,&rdquo he said, sighing, pointing to the 15-foot plywood, rolling stage for the cake, &ldquois a whole different beast of a birthday cake.&rdquo

Three weeks ago, Barajas got a call from &ldquoNext Great Baker&rdquo judge Bobbie Lloyd, the chief baking officer of the famed Manhattan-based Magnolia Bakery. The Queen Mary party planners needed a boatload of cake to feed 1,200 people and they called Lloyd, who recommended Barajas.

&ldquoYeah, this wasn&rsquot the typical kid&rsquos birthday where you just put a picture on a sheet cake and call it a day,&rdquo Barajas said, sitting while worrying about his batter rising.

&ldquoI don&rsquot do that anymore just custom, sculpted and tiered cake designs,&rdquo he added.

For this massive undertaking, he had to dock someplace larger than his Chula Vista home cake studio. So he teamed with M&M Patisserie&rsquos owners, Marcelo and Maria Alvarez, to use their kitchen and its gigantic oven, which can bake 16 sheet cakes at a time.

Barajas spent one week studying the details of what was once the world&rsquos most grand ocean liner. He took a historian-guided tour. He pored over Queen Mary photos from books and the Internet. He closely studied a white, plastic scale model.

He counted every window, porthole, flag, deck chair and lifeboat. He made notes about the fencing, the funnels (smokestacks), the decks, the pools.

&ldquoThe Queen Mary is intimidating, but it&rsquos gorgeous and elegant,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI understand the passion for this ship. So we wanted to do it as realistic as possible, as much as sugar would allow.&rdquo

He wrote out a recipe for white chocolate butter cream and vanilla cake with seedless raspberry filling. He went with a rich but classic taste, something legendary Queen Mary passengers such as Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill would have wanted to devour.

He used 100 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar and several hundred more pounds of rolled-out, hand-modeled and food-colored fondant icing and gum paste.

&ldquoDid you know that the hull of the Queen Mary is black? I thought it was blue,&rdquo said Barajas, who acknowledges having no sea legs.

He doesn&rsquot even eat cake &ndash &ldquojust for quality control,&rdquo he said, giving his abs a pound with his fist before rising to get back to work.

&ldquoThe (cake) delivery is the worst part,&rdquo he said, shaking his head. &ldquoWe&rsquoll need to first get it into a refrigerated truck, drive it (to Long Beach) by taking six different freeways, and get it on board without it breaking in pieces.&rdquo

The maiden voyage of Barajas&rsquo cake was smooth sailing. He put the finishing touches on his Queen Mary while on the Queen Mary at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The biggest cake of Barajas&rsquo baking career took three weeks to plan, four hectic days to make, shake and bake. It then took a few seconds to cut and a couple hours to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle of people&rsquos bellies.

&ldquoI&rsquom going to take a vacation after this massive cake,&rdquo Barajas said, floating, fresh from a 20-minute nap in the 36 hours prior to the Friday birthday party. &ldquoI&rsquom not sure what I&rsquoll do to celebrate.&rdquo

Maybe he&rsquoll take a cruise. Or maybe he, too, can retire at the Port of Long Beach.


Smith: He takes the cake – all 600 pounds of it – to Queen Mary

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

The crew of The Queen Mary take a break after moving a 15 feet 600 pounds cake.

Marcelo Alvarez adds some finishing touches to the 600-pound cake made for the Queen Mary celebration.

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas gets set to hide a pin of the Queen Mary in the 80th anniversary cake. The person who found this in their piece of cake won the grand prize at Friday's festivities aboard the ocean liner.

Jose Barajas gives one of the pieces of the 80th anniversary cake to Dan McCue at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, left, shares a laugh with Commodore Everette Hoard, right, of the Queen Mary, as they get set to move 600 pounds of cake.

Jose Barajas assembles the 80th anniversary cake at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Barajas says it took 10 days to make, and it could serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, center, helps The Queen Mary crew move half of a 15 feet 600 pounds cake into The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds of cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

LA MESA &ndash His forehead sweaty from the oven heat, his shirt dusted with flour and his fingernails crusty with frosting, Jose Barajas was a little nervous about his big boat sinking before its maiden voyage.

His story takes the cake, all 600 pounds of it.

Barajas, 28, a former cake artist contestant in season four of the TLC&rsquos &ldquoNext Great Baker,&rdquo had a few minutes Wednesday morning between oven timer beeps to talk about baking his biggest cake to date: a 15-foot, mostly edible replica of the Queen Mary for her 80th anniversary celebration.

Kids, don&rsquot try this at home with 200 boxes of Duncan Hines.

Two days before Friday&rsquos festivities and that afternoon&rsquos ceremonial cutting, Barajas felt as though he might as well have been drowning in vanilla batter.

He needed his own life preserver. His mind rattled with Titanic thoughts. He planned on pulling an all-nighter to get everything ready.

There isn&rsquot much you can pre-make,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoYou need to have the cake stay as fresh and moist as possible, and you have to worry about everything settling or sinking out of shape the longer it sits.&rdquo

At this moment, Barajas needed to sit.

It was 94 degrees outside on El Cajon Boulevard but not that much cooler inside M&M Patisserie, where it was hot enough to light the cigarette of the smoking woman tattooed on the right side of Barajas&rsquo neck.

The kitchen was library quiet. One apron-wearing, hair-netted woman sat at a long table cutting out individual black, nickel-sized bits of frosting to represent the ship&rsquos 600 portholes. Another assistant counted the 164 rectangular windows. A third rolled out the ship&rsquos trim, a long string of faded, red fondant icing.

The air held tension. It also held flour that, beneath the fluorescent lights, put a white haze on everything in Barajas&rsquo sight. Or, maybe, he was just toast. The burnt kind.

&ldquoThe biggest thing I&rsquod ever done before was a 4-foot hamburger on the show,&rdquo said Barajas, who has been baking and decorating for a decade.

&ldquoThis,&rdquo he said, sighing, pointing to the 15-foot plywood, rolling stage for the cake, &ldquois a whole different beast of a birthday cake.&rdquo

Three weeks ago, Barajas got a call from &ldquoNext Great Baker&rdquo judge Bobbie Lloyd, the chief baking officer of the famed Manhattan-based Magnolia Bakery. The Queen Mary party planners needed a boatload of cake to feed 1,200 people and they called Lloyd, who recommended Barajas.

&ldquoYeah, this wasn&rsquot the typical kid&rsquos birthday where you just put a picture on a sheet cake and call it a day,&rdquo Barajas said, sitting while worrying about his batter rising.

&ldquoI don&rsquot do that anymore just custom, sculpted and tiered cake designs,&rdquo he added.

For this massive undertaking, he had to dock someplace larger than his Chula Vista home cake studio. So he teamed with M&M Patisserie&rsquos owners, Marcelo and Maria Alvarez, to use their kitchen and its gigantic oven, which can bake 16 sheet cakes at a time.

Barajas spent one week studying the details of what was once the world&rsquos most grand ocean liner. He took a historian-guided tour. He pored over Queen Mary photos from books and the Internet. He closely studied a white, plastic scale model.

He counted every window, porthole, flag, deck chair and lifeboat. He made notes about the fencing, the funnels (smokestacks), the decks, the pools.

&ldquoThe Queen Mary is intimidating, but it&rsquos gorgeous and elegant,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI understand the passion for this ship. So we wanted to do it as realistic as possible, as much as sugar would allow.&rdquo

He wrote out a recipe for white chocolate butter cream and vanilla cake with seedless raspberry filling. He went with a rich but classic taste, something legendary Queen Mary passengers such as Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill would have wanted to devour.

He used 100 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar and several hundred more pounds of rolled-out, hand-modeled and food-colored fondant icing and gum paste.

&ldquoDid you know that the hull of the Queen Mary is black? I thought it was blue,&rdquo said Barajas, who acknowledges having no sea legs.

He doesn&rsquot even eat cake &ndash &ldquojust for quality control,&rdquo he said, giving his abs a pound with his fist before rising to get back to work.

&ldquoThe (cake) delivery is the worst part,&rdquo he said, shaking his head. &ldquoWe&rsquoll need to first get it into a refrigerated truck, drive it (to Long Beach) by taking six different freeways, and get it on board without it breaking in pieces.&rdquo

The maiden voyage of Barajas&rsquo cake was smooth sailing. He put the finishing touches on his Queen Mary while on the Queen Mary at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The biggest cake of Barajas&rsquo baking career took three weeks to plan, four hectic days to make, shake and bake. It then took a few seconds to cut and a couple hours to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle of people&rsquos bellies.

&ldquoI&rsquom going to take a vacation after this massive cake,&rdquo Barajas said, floating, fresh from a 20-minute nap in the 36 hours prior to the Friday birthday party. &ldquoI&rsquom not sure what I&rsquoll do to celebrate.&rdquo

Maybe he&rsquoll take a cruise. Or maybe he, too, can retire at the Port of Long Beach.


Smith: He takes the cake – all 600 pounds of it – to Queen Mary

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

The crew of The Queen Mary take a break after moving a 15 feet 600 pounds cake.

Marcelo Alvarez adds some finishing touches to the 600-pound cake made for the Queen Mary celebration.

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas gets set to hide a pin of the Queen Mary in the 80th anniversary cake. The person who found this in their piece of cake won the grand prize at Friday's festivities aboard the ocean liner.

Jose Barajas gives one of the pieces of the 80th anniversary cake to Dan McCue at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, left, shares a laugh with Commodore Everette Hoard, right, of the Queen Mary, as they get set to move 600 pounds of cake.

Jose Barajas assembles the 80th anniversary cake at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Barajas says it took 10 days to make, and it could serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, center, helps The Queen Mary crew move half of a 15 feet 600 pounds cake into The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds of cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

LA MESA &ndash His forehead sweaty from the oven heat, his shirt dusted with flour and his fingernails crusty with frosting, Jose Barajas was a little nervous about his big boat sinking before its maiden voyage.

His story takes the cake, all 600 pounds of it.

Barajas, 28, a former cake artist contestant in season four of the TLC&rsquos &ldquoNext Great Baker,&rdquo had a few minutes Wednesday morning between oven timer beeps to talk about baking his biggest cake to date: a 15-foot, mostly edible replica of the Queen Mary for her 80th anniversary celebration.

Kids, don&rsquot try this at home with 200 boxes of Duncan Hines.

Two days before Friday&rsquos festivities and that afternoon&rsquos ceremonial cutting, Barajas felt as though he might as well have been drowning in vanilla batter.

He needed his own life preserver. His mind rattled with Titanic thoughts. He planned on pulling an all-nighter to get everything ready.

There isn&rsquot much you can pre-make,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoYou need to have the cake stay as fresh and moist as possible, and you have to worry about everything settling or sinking out of shape the longer it sits.&rdquo

At this moment, Barajas needed to sit.

It was 94 degrees outside on El Cajon Boulevard but not that much cooler inside M&M Patisserie, where it was hot enough to light the cigarette of the smoking woman tattooed on the right side of Barajas&rsquo neck.

The kitchen was library quiet. One apron-wearing, hair-netted woman sat at a long table cutting out individual black, nickel-sized bits of frosting to represent the ship&rsquos 600 portholes. Another assistant counted the 164 rectangular windows. A third rolled out the ship&rsquos trim, a long string of faded, red fondant icing.

The air held tension. It also held flour that, beneath the fluorescent lights, put a white haze on everything in Barajas&rsquo sight. Or, maybe, he was just toast. The burnt kind.

&ldquoThe biggest thing I&rsquod ever done before was a 4-foot hamburger on the show,&rdquo said Barajas, who has been baking and decorating for a decade.

&ldquoThis,&rdquo he said, sighing, pointing to the 15-foot plywood, rolling stage for the cake, &ldquois a whole different beast of a birthday cake.&rdquo

Three weeks ago, Barajas got a call from &ldquoNext Great Baker&rdquo judge Bobbie Lloyd, the chief baking officer of the famed Manhattan-based Magnolia Bakery. The Queen Mary party planners needed a boatload of cake to feed 1,200 people and they called Lloyd, who recommended Barajas.

&ldquoYeah, this wasn&rsquot the typical kid&rsquos birthday where you just put a picture on a sheet cake and call it a day,&rdquo Barajas said, sitting while worrying about his batter rising.

&ldquoI don&rsquot do that anymore just custom, sculpted and tiered cake designs,&rdquo he added.

For this massive undertaking, he had to dock someplace larger than his Chula Vista home cake studio. So he teamed with M&M Patisserie&rsquos owners, Marcelo and Maria Alvarez, to use their kitchen and its gigantic oven, which can bake 16 sheet cakes at a time.

Barajas spent one week studying the details of what was once the world&rsquos most grand ocean liner. He took a historian-guided tour. He pored over Queen Mary photos from books and the Internet. He closely studied a white, plastic scale model.

He counted every window, porthole, flag, deck chair and lifeboat. He made notes about the fencing, the funnels (smokestacks), the decks, the pools.

&ldquoThe Queen Mary is intimidating, but it&rsquos gorgeous and elegant,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI understand the passion for this ship. So we wanted to do it as realistic as possible, as much as sugar would allow.&rdquo

He wrote out a recipe for white chocolate butter cream and vanilla cake with seedless raspberry filling. He went with a rich but classic taste, something legendary Queen Mary passengers such as Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill would have wanted to devour.

He used 100 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar and several hundred more pounds of rolled-out, hand-modeled and food-colored fondant icing and gum paste.

&ldquoDid you know that the hull of the Queen Mary is black? I thought it was blue,&rdquo said Barajas, who acknowledges having no sea legs.

He doesn&rsquot even eat cake &ndash &ldquojust for quality control,&rdquo he said, giving his abs a pound with his fist before rising to get back to work.

&ldquoThe (cake) delivery is the worst part,&rdquo he said, shaking his head. &ldquoWe&rsquoll need to first get it into a refrigerated truck, drive it (to Long Beach) by taking six different freeways, and get it on board without it breaking in pieces.&rdquo

The maiden voyage of Barajas&rsquo cake was smooth sailing. He put the finishing touches on his Queen Mary while on the Queen Mary at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The biggest cake of Barajas&rsquo baking career took three weeks to plan, four hectic days to make, shake and bake. It then took a few seconds to cut and a couple hours to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle of people&rsquos bellies.

&ldquoI&rsquom going to take a vacation after this massive cake,&rdquo Barajas said, floating, fresh from a 20-minute nap in the 36 hours prior to the Friday birthday party. &ldquoI&rsquom not sure what I&rsquoll do to celebrate.&rdquo

Maybe he&rsquoll take a cruise. Or maybe he, too, can retire at the Port of Long Beach.


Smith: He takes the cake – all 600 pounds of it – to Queen Mary

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

The crew of The Queen Mary take a break after moving a 15 feet 600 pounds cake.

Marcelo Alvarez adds some finishing touches to the 600-pound cake made for the Queen Mary celebration.

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas gets set to hide a pin of the Queen Mary in the 80th anniversary cake. The person who found this in their piece of cake won the grand prize at Friday's festivities aboard the ocean liner.

Jose Barajas gives one of the pieces of the 80th anniversary cake to Dan McCue at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, left, shares a laugh with Commodore Everette Hoard, right, of the Queen Mary, as they get set to move 600 pounds of cake.

Jose Barajas assembles the 80th anniversary cake at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Barajas says it took 10 days to make, and it could serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, center, helps The Queen Mary crew move half of a 15 feet 600 pounds cake into The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds of cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

LA MESA &ndash His forehead sweaty from the oven heat, his shirt dusted with flour and his fingernails crusty with frosting, Jose Barajas was a little nervous about his big boat sinking before its maiden voyage.

His story takes the cake, all 600 pounds of it.

Barajas, 28, a former cake artist contestant in season four of the TLC&rsquos &ldquoNext Great Baker,&rdquo had a few minutes Wednesday morning between oven timer beeps to talk about baking his biggest cake to date: a 15-foot, mostly edible replica of the Queen Mary for her 80th anniversary celebration.

Kids, don&rsquot try this at home with 200 boxes of Duncan Hines.

Two days before Friday&rsquos festivities and that afternoon&rsquos ceremonial cutting, Barajas felt as though he might as well have been drowning in vanilla batter.

He needed his own life preserver. His mind rattled with Titanic thoughts. He planned on pulling an all-nighter to get everything ready.

There isn&rsquot much you can pre-make,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoYou need to have the cake stay as fresh and moist as possible, and you have to worry about everything settling or sinking out of shape the longer it sits.&rdquo

At this moment, Barajas needed to sit.

It was 94 degrees outside on El Cajon Boulevard but not that much cooler inside M&M Patisserie, where it was hot enough to light the cigarette of the smoking woman tattooed on the right side of Barajas&rsquo neck.

The kitchen was library quiet. One apron-wearing, hair-netted woman sat at a long table cutting out individual black, nickel-sized bits of frosting to represent the ship&rsquos 600 portholes. Another assistant counted the 164 rectangular windows. A third rolled out the ship&rsquos trim, a long string of faded, red fondant icing.

The air held tension. It also held flour that, beneath the fluorescent lights, put a white haze on everything in Barajas&rsquo sight. Or, maybe, he was just toast. The burnt kind.

&ldquoThe biggest thing I&rsquod ever done before was a 4-foot hamburger on the show,&rdquo said Barajas, who has been baking and decorating for a decade.

&ldquoThis,&rdquo he said, sighing, pointing to the 15-foot plywood, rolling stage for the cake, &ldquois a whole different beast of a birthday cake.&rdquo

Three weeks ago, Barajas got a call from &ldquoNext Great Baker&rdquo judge Bobbie Lloyd, the chief baking officer of the famed Manhattan-based Magnolia Bakery. The Queen Mary party planners needed a boatload of cake to feed 1,200 people and they called Lloyd, who recommended Barajas.

&ldquoYeah, this wasn&rsquot the typical kid&rsquos birthday where you just put a picture on a sheet cake and call it a day,&rdquo Barajas said, sitting while worrying about his batter rising.

&ldquoI don&rsquot do that anymore just custom, sculpted and tiered cake designs,&rdquo he added.

For this massive undertaking, he had to dock someplace larger than his Chula Vista home cake studio. So he teamed with M&M Patisserie&rsquos owners, Marcelo and Maria Alvarez, to use their kitchen and its gigantic oven, which can bake 16 sheet cakes at a time.

Barajas spent one week studying the details of what was once the world&rsquos most grand ocean liner. He took a historian-guided tour. He pored over Queen Mary photos from books and the Internet. He closely studied a white, plastic scale model.

He counted every window, porthole, flag, deck chair and lifeboat. He made notes about the fencing, the funnels (smokestacks), the decks, the pools.

&ldquoThe Queen Mary is intimidating, but it&rsquos gorgeous and elegant,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI understand the passion for this ship. So we wanted to do it as realistic as possible, as much as sugar would allow.&rdquo

He wrote out a recipe for white chocolate butter cream and vanilla cake with seedless raspberry filling. He went with a rich but classic taste, something legendary Queen Mary passengers such as Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill would have wanted to devour.

He used 100 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar and several hundred more pounds of rolled-out, hand-modeled and food-colored fondant icing and gum paste.

&ldquoDid you know that the hull of the Queen Mary is black? I thought it was blue,&rdquo said Barajas, who acknowledges having no sea legs.

He doesn&rsquot even eat cake &ndash &ldquojust for quality control,&rdquo he said, giving his abs a pound with his fist before rising to get back to work.

&ldquoThe (cake) delivery is the worst part,&rdquo he said, shaking his head. &ldquoWe&rsquoll need to first get it into a refrigerated truck, drive it (to Long Beach) by taking six different freeways, and get it on board without it breaking in pieces.&rdquo

The maiden voyage of Barajas&rsquo cake was smooth sailing. He put the finishing touches on his Queen Mary while on the Queen Mary at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The biggest cake of Barajas&rsquo baking career took three weeks to plan, four hectic days to make, shake and bake. It then took a few seconds to cut and a couple hours to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle of people&rsquos bellies.

&ldquoI&rsquom going to take a vacation after this massive cake,&rdquo Barajas said, floating, fresh from a 20-minute nap in the 36 hours prior to the Friday birthday party. &ldquoI&rsquom not sure what I&rsquoll do to celebrate.&rdquo

Maybe he&rsquoll take a cruise. Or maybe he, too, can retire at the Port of Long Beach.


Smith: He takes the cake – all 600 pounds of it – to Queen Mary

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

The crew of The Queen Mary take a break after moving a 15 feet 600 pounds cake.

Marcelo Alvarez adds some finishing touches to the 600-pound cake made for the Queen Mary celebration.

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas gets set to hide a pin of the Queen Mary in the 80th anniversary cake. The person who found this in their piece of cake won the grand prize at Friday's festivities aboard the ocean liner.

Jose Barajas gives one of the pieces of the 80th anniversary cake to Dan McCue at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, left, shares a laugh with Commodore Everette Hoard, right, of the Queen Mary, as they get set to move 600 pounds of cake.

Jose Barajas assembles the 80th anniversary cake at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Barajas says it took 10 days to make, and it could serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, center, helps The Queen Mary crew move half of a 15 feet 600 pounds cake into The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds of cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

LA MESA &ndash His forehead sweaty from the oven heat, his shirt dusted with flour and his fingernails crusty with frosting, Jose Barajas was a little nervous about his big boat sinking before its maiden voyage.

His story takes the cake, all 600 pounds of it.

Barajas, 28, a former cake artist contestant in season four of the TLC&rsquos &ldquoNext Great Baker,&rdquo had a few minutes Wednesday morning between oven timer beeps to talk about baking his biggest cake to date: a 15-foot, mostly edible replica of the Queen Mary for her 80th anniversary celebration.

Kids, don&rsquot try this at home with 200 boxes of Duncan Hines.

Two days before Friday&rsquos festivities and that afternoon&rsquos ceremonial cutting, Barajas felt as though he might as well have been drowning in vanilla batter.

He needed his own life preserver. His mind rattled with Titanic thoughts. He planned on pulling an all-nighter to get everything ready.

There isn&rsquot much you can pre-make,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoYou need to have the cake stay as fresh and moist as possible, and you have to worry about everything settling or sinking out of shape the longer it sits.&rdquo

At this moment, Barajas needed to sit.

It was 94 degrees outside on El Cajon Boulevard but not that much cooler inside M&M Patisserie, where it was hot enough to light the cigarette of the smoking woman tattooed on the right side of Barajas&rsquo neck.

The kitchen was library quiet. One apron-wearing, hair-netted woman sat at a long table cutting out individual black, nickel-sized bits of frosting to represent the ship&rsquos 600 portholes. Another assistant counted the 164 rectangular windows. A third rolled out the ship&rsquos trim, a long string of faded, red fondant icing.

The air held tension. It also held flour that, beneath the fluorescent lights, put a white haze on everything in Barajas&rsquo sight. Or, maybe, he was just toast. The burnt kind.

&ldquoThe biggest thing I&rsquod ever done before was a 4-foot hamburger on the show,&rdquo said Barajas, who has been baking and decorating for a decade.

&ldquoThis,&rdquo he said, sighing, pointing to the 15-foot plywood, rolling stage for the cake, &ldquois a whole different beast of a birthday cake.&rdquo

Three weeks ago, Barajas got a call from &ldquoNext Great Baker&rdquo judge Bobbie Lloyd, the chief baking officer of the famed Manhattan-based Magnolia Bakery. The Queen Mary party planners needed a boatload of cake to feed 1,200 people and they called Lloyd, who recommended Barajas.

&ldquoYeah, this wasn&rsquot the typical kid&rsquos birthday where you just put a picture on a sheet cake and call it a day,&rdquo Barajas said, sitting while worrying about his batter rising.

&ldquoI don&rsquot do that anymore just custom, sculpted and tiered cake designs,&rdquo he added.

For this massive undertaking, he had to dock someplace larger than his Chula Vista home cake studio. So he teamed with M&M Patisserie&rsquos owners, Marcelo and Maria Alvarez, to use their kitchen and its gigantic oven, which can bake 16 sheet cakes at a time.

Barajas spent one week studying the details of what was once the world&rsquos most grand ocean liner. He took a historian-guided tour. He pored over Queen Mary photos from books and the Internet. He closely studied a white, plastic scale model.

He counted every window, porthole, flag, deck chair and lifeboat. He made notes about the fencing, the funnels (smokestacks), the decks, the pools.

&ldquoThe Queen Mary is intimidating, but it&rsquos gorgeous and elegant,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI understand the passion for this ship. So we wanted to do it as realistic as possible, as much as sugar would allow.&rdquo

He wrote out a recipe for white chocolate butter cream and vanilla cake with seedless raspberry filling. He went with a rich but classic taste, something legendary Queen Mary passengers such as Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill would have wanted to devour.

He used 100 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar and several hundred more pounds of rolled-out, hand-modeled and food-colored fondant icing and gum paste.

&ldquoDid you know that the hull of the Queen Mary is black? I thought it was blue,&rdquo said Barajas, who acknowledges having no sea legs.

He doesn&rsquot even eat cake &ndash &ldquojust for quality control,&rdquo he said, giving his abs a pound with his fist before rising to get back to work.

&ldquoThe (cake) delivery is the worst part,&rdquo he said, shaking his head. &ldquoWe&rsquoll need to first get it into a refrigerated truck, drive it (to Long Beach) by taking six different freeways, and get it on board without it breaking in pieces.&rdquo

The maiden voyage of Barajas&rsquo cake was smooth sailing. He put the finishing touches on his Queen Mary while on the Queen Mary at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The biggest cake of Barajas&rsquo baking career took three weeks to plan, four hectic days to make, shake and bake. It then took a few seconds to cut and a couple hours to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle of people&rsquos bellies.

&ldquoI&rsquom going to take a vacation after this massive cake,&rdquo Barajas said, floating, fresh from a 20-minute nap in the 36 hours prior to the Friday birthday party. &ldquoI&rsquom not sure what I&rsquoll do to celebrate.&rdquo

Maybe he&rsquoll take a cruise. Or maybe he, too, can retire at the Port of Long Beach.


Smith: He takes the cake – all 600 pounds of it – to Queen Mary

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

The crew of The Queen Mary take a break after moving a 15 feet 600 pounds cake.

Marcelo Alvarez adds some finishing touches to the 600-pound cake made for the Queen Mary celebration.

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas gets set to hide a pin of the Queen Mary in the 80th anniversary cake. The person who found this in their piece of cake won the grand prize at Friday's festivities aboard the ocean liner.

Jose Barajas gives one of the pieces of the 80th anniversary cake to Dan McCue at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, left, shares a laugh with Commodore Everette Hoard, right, of the Queen Mary, as they get set to move 600 pounds of cake.

Jose Barajas assembles the 80th anniversary cake at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Barajas says it took 10 days to make, and it could serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, center, helps The Queen Mary crew move half of a 15 feet 600 pounds cake into The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds of cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

LA MESA &ndash His forehead sweaty from the oven heat, his shirt dusted with flour and his fingernails crusty with frosting, Jose Barajas was a little nervous about his big boat sinking before its maiden voyage.

His story takes the cake, all 600 pounds of it.

Barajas, 28, a former cake artist contestant in season four of the TLC&rsquos &ldquoNext Great Baker,&rdquo had a few minutes Wednesday morning between oven timer beeps to talk about baking his biggest cake to date: a 15-foot, mostly edible replica of the Queen Mary for her 80th anniversary celebration.

Kids, don&rsquot try this at home with 200 boxes of Duncan Hines.

Two days before Friday&rsquos festivities and that afternoon&rsquos ceremonial cutting, Barajas felt as though he might as well have been drowning in vanilla batter.

He needed his own life preserver. His mind rattled with Titanic thoughts. He planned on pulling an all-nighter to get everything ready.

There isn&rsquot much you can pre-make,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoYou need to have the cake stay as fresh and moist as possible, and you have to worry about everything settling or sinking out of shape the longer it sits.&rdquo

At this moment, Barajas needed to sit.

It was 94 degrees outside on El Cajon Boulevard but not that much cooler inside M&M Patisserie, where it was hot enough to light the cigarette of the smoking woman tattooed on the right side of Barajas&rsquo neck.

The kitchen was library quiet. One apron-wearing, hair-netted woman sat at a long table cutting out individual black, nickel-sized bits of frosting to represent the ship&rsquos 600 portholes. Another assistant counted the 164 rectangular windows. A third rolled out the ship&rsquos trim, a long string of faded, red fondant icing.

The air held tension. It also held flour that, beneath the fluorescent lights, put a white haze on everything in Barajas&rsquo sight. Or, maybe, he was just toast. The burnt kind.

&ldquoThe biggest thing I&rsquod ever done before was a 4-foot hamburger on the show,&rdquo said Barajas, who has been baking and decorating for a decade.

&ldquoThis,&rdquo he said, sighing, pointing to the 15-foot plywood, rolling stage for the cake, &ldquois a whole different beast of a birthday cake.&rdquo

Three weeks ago, Barajas got a call from &ldquoNext Great Baker&rdquo judge Bobbie Lloyd, the chief baking officer of the famed Manhattan-based Magnolia Bakery. The Queen Mary party planners needed a boatload of cake to feed 1,200 people and they called Lloyd, who recommended Barajas.

&ldquoYeah, this wasn&rsquot the typical kid&rsquos birthday where you just put a picture on a sheet cake and call it a day,&rdquo Barajas said, sitting while worrying about his batter rising.

&ldquoI don&rsquot do that anymore just custom, sculpted and tiered cake designs,&rdquo he added.

For this massive undertaking, he had to dock someplace larger than his Chula Vista home cake studio. So he teamed with M&M Patisserie&rsquos owners, Marcelo and Maria Alvarez, to use their kitchen and its gigantic oven, which can bake 16 sheet cakes at a time.

Barajas spent one week studying the details of what was once the world&rsquos most grand ocean liner. He took a historian-guided tour. He pored over Queen Mary photos from books and the Internet. He closely studied a white, plastic scale model.

He counted every window, porthole, flag, deck chair and lifeboat. He made notes about the fencing, the funnels (smokestacks), the decks, the pools.

&ldquoThe Queen Mary is intimidating, but it&rsquos gorgeous and elegant,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI understand the passion for this ship. So we wanted to do it as realistic as possible, as much as sugar would allow.&rdquo

He wrote out a recipe for white chocolate butter cream and vanilla cake with seedless raspberry filling. He went with a rich but classic taste, something legendary Queen Mary passengers such as Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill would have wanted to devour.

He used 100 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar and several hundred more pounds of rolled-out, hand-modeled and food-colored fondant icing and gum paste.

&ldquoDid you know that the hull of the Queen Mary is black? I thought it was blue,&rdquo said Barajas, who acknowledges having no sea legs.

He doesn&rsquot even eat cake &ndash &ldquojust for quality control,&rdquo he said, giving his abs a pound with his fist before rising to get back to work.

&ldquoThe (cake) delivery is the worst part,&rdquo he said, shaking his head. &ldquoWe&rsquoll need to first get it into a refrigerated truck, drive it (to Long Beach) by taking six different freeways, and get it on board without it breaking in pieces.&rdquo

The maiden voyage of Barajas&rsquo cake was smooth sailing. He put the finishing touches on his Queen Mary while on the Queen Mary at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The biggest cake of Barajas&rsquo baking career took three weeks to plan, four hectic days to make, shake and bake. It then took a few seconds to cut and a couple hours to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle of people&rsquos bellies.

&ldquoI&rsquom going to take a vacation after this massive cake,&rdquo Barajas said, floating, fresh from a 20-minute nap in the 36 hours prior to the Friday birthday party. &ldquoI&rsquom not sure what I&rsquoll do to celebrate.&rdquo

Maybe he&rsquoll take a cruise. Or maybe he, too, can retire at the Port of Long Beach.


Smith: He takes the cake – all 600 pounds of it – to Queen Mary

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

The crew of The Queen Mary take a break after moving a 15 feet 600 pounds cake.

Marcelo Alvarez adds some finishing touches to the 600-pound cake made for the Queen Mary celebration.

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas gets set to hide a pin of the Queen Mary in the 80th anniversary cake. The person who found this in their piece of cake won the grand prize at Friday's festivities aboard the ocean liner.

Jose Barajas gives one of the pieces of the 80th anniversary cake to Dan McCue at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, left, shares a laugh with Commodore Everette Hoard, right, of the Queen Mary, as they get set to move 600 pounds of cake.

Jose Barajas assembles the 80th anniversary cake at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Barajas says it took 10 days to make, and it could serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, center, helps The Queen Mary crew move half of a 15 feet 600 pounds cake into The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds of cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

LA MESA &ndash His forehead sweaty from the oven heat, his shirt dusted with flour and his fingernails crusty with frosting, Jose Barajas was a little nervous about his big boat sinking before its maiden voyage.

His story takes the cake, all 600 pounds of it.

Barajas, 28, a former cake artist contestant in season four of the TLC&rsquos &ldquoNext Great Baker,&rdquo had a few minutes Wednesday morning between oven timer beeps to talk about baking his biggest cake to date: a 15-foot, mostly edible replica of the Queen Mary for her 80th anniversary celebration.

Kids, don&rsquot try this at home with 200 boxes of Duncan Hines.

Two days before Friday&rsquos festivities and that afternoon&rsquos ceremonial cutting, Barajas felt as though he might as well have been drowning in vanilla batter.

He needed his own life preserver. His mind rattled with Titanic thoughts. He planned on pulling an all-nighter to get everything ready.

There isn&rsquot much you can pre-make,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoYou need to have the cake stay as fresh and moist as possible, and you have to worry about everything settling or sinking out of shape the longer it sits.&rdquo

At this moment, Barajas needed to sit.

It was 94 degrees outside on El Cajon Boulevard but not that much cooler inside M&M Patisserie, where it was hot enough to light the cigarette of the smoking woman tattooed on the right side of Barajas&rsquo neck.

The kitchen was library quiet. One apron-wearing, hair-netted woman sat at a long table cutting out individual black, nickel-sized bits of frosting to represent the ship&rsquos 600 portholes. Another assistant counted the 164 rectangular windows. A third rolled out the ship&rsquos trim, a long string of faded, red fondant icing.

The air held tension. It also held flour that, beneath the fluorescent lights, put a white haze on everything in Barajas&rsquo sight. Or, maybe, he was just toast. The burnt kind.

&ldquoThe biggest thing I&rsquod ever done before was a 4-foot hamburger on the show,&rdquo said Barajas, who has been baking and decorating for a decade.

&ldquoThis,&rdquo he said, sighing, pointing to the 15-foot plywood, rolling stage for the cake, &ldquois a whole different beast of a birthday cake.&rdquo

Three weeks ago, Barajas got a call from &ldquoNext Great Baker&rdquo judge Bobbie Lloyd, the chief baking officer of the famed Manhattan-based Magnolia Bakery. The Queen Mary party planners needed a boatload of cake to feed 1,200 people and they called Lloyd, who recommended Barajas.

&ldquoYeah, this wasn&rsquot the typical kid&rsquos birthday where you just put a picture on a sheet cake and call it a day,&rdquo Barajas said, sitting while worrying about his batter rising.

&ldquoI don&rsquot do that anymore just custom, sculpted and tiered cake designs,&rdquo he added.

For this massive undertaking, he had to dock someplace larger than his Chula Vista home cake studio. So he teamed with M&M Patisserie&rsquos owners, Marcelo and Maria Alvarez, to use their kitchen and its gigantic oven, which can bake 16 sheet cakes at a time.

Barajas spent one week studying the details of what was once the world&rsquos most grand ocean liner. He took a historian-guided tour. He pored over Queen Mary photos from books and the Internet. He closely studied a white, plastic scale model.

He counted every window, porthole, flag, deck chair and lifeboat. He made notes about the fencing, the funnels (smokestacks), the decks, the pools.

&ldquoThe Queen Mary is intimidating, but it&rsquos gorgeous and elegant,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI understand the passion for this ship. So we wanted to do it as realistic as possible, as much as sugar would allow.&rdquo

He wrote out a recipe for white chocolate butter cream and vanilla cake with seedless raspberry filling. He went with a rich but classic taste, something legendary Queen Mary passengers such as Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill would have wanted to devour.

He used 100 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar and several hundred more pounds of rolled-out, hand-modeled and food-colored fondant icing and gum paste.

&ldquoDid you know that the hull of the Queen Mary is black? I thought it was blue,&rdquo said Barajas, who acknowledges having no sea legs.

He doesn&rsquot even eat cake &ndash &ldquojust for quality control,&rdquo he said, giving his abs a pound with his fist before rising to get back to work.

&ldquoThe (cake) delivery is the worst part,&rdquo he said, shaking his head. &ldquoWe&rsquoll need to first get it into a refrigerated truck, drive it (to Long Beach) by taking six different freeways, and get it on board without it breaking in pieces.&rdquo

The maiden voyage of Barajas&rsquo cake was smooth sailing. He put the finishing touches on his Queen Mary while on the Queen Mary at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The biggest cake of Barajas&rsquo baking career took three weeks to plan, four hectic days to make, shake and bake. It then took a few seconds to cut and a couple hours to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle of people&rsquos bellies.

&ldquoI&rsquom going to take a vacation after this massive cake,&rdquo Barajas said, floating, fresh from a 20-minute nap in the 36 hours prior to the Friday birthday party. &ldquoI&rsquom not sure what I&rsquoll do to celebrate.&rdquo

Maybe he&rsquoll take a cruise. Or maybe he, too, can retire at the Port of Long Beach.


Smith: He takes the cake – all 600 pounds of it – to Queen Mary

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

The crew of The Queen Mary take a break after moving a 15 feet 600 pounds cake.

Marcelo Alvarez adds some finishing touches to the 600-pound cake made for the Queen Mary celebration.

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas gets set to hide a pin of the Queen Mary in the 80th anniversary cake. The person who found this in their piece of cake won the grand prize at Friday's festivities aboard the ocean liner.

Jose Barajas gives one of the pieces of the 80th anniversary cake to Dan McCue at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, left, shares a laugh with Commodore Everette Hoard, right, of the Queen Mary, as they get set to move 600 pounds of cake.

Jose Barajas assembles the 80th anniversary cake at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Barajas says it took 10 days to make, and it could serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, center, helps The Queen Mary crew move half of a 15 feet 600 pounds cake into The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds of cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

LA MESA &ndash His forehead sweaty from the oven heat, his shirt dusted with flour and his fingernails crusty with frosting, Jose Barajas was a little nervous about his big boat sinking before its maiden voyage.

His story takes the cake, all 600 pounds of it.

Barajas, 28, a former cake artist contestant in season four of the TLC&rsquos &ldquoNext Great Baker,&rdquo had a few minutes Wednesday morning between oven timer beeps to talk about baking his biggest cake to date: a 15-foot, mostly edible replica of the Queen Mary for her 80th anniversary celebration.

Kids, don&rsquot try this at home with 200 boxes of Duncan Hines.

Two days before Friday&rsquos festivities and that afternoon&rsquos ceremonial cutting, Barajas felt as though he might as well have been drowning in vanilla batter.

He needed his own life preserver. His mind rattled with Titanic thoughts. He planned on pulling an all-nighter to get everything ready.

There isn&rsquot much you can pre-make,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoYou need to have the cake stay as fresh and moist as possible, and you have to worry about everything settling or sinking out of shape the longer it sits.&rdquo

At this moment, Barajas needed to sit.

It was 94 degrees outside on El Cajon Boulevard but not that much cooler inside M&M Patisserie, where it was hot enough to light the cigarette of the smoking woman tattooed on the right side of Barajas&rsquo neck.

The kitchen was library quiet. One apron-wearing, hair-netted woman sat at a long table cutting out individual black, nickel-sized bits of frosting to represent the ship&rsquos 600 portholes. Another assistant counted the 164 rectangular windows. A third rolled out the ship&rsquos trim, a long string of faded, red fondant icing.

The air held tension. It also held flour that, beneath the fluorescent lights, put a white haze on everything in Barajas&rsquo sight. Or, maybe, he was just toast. The burnt kind.

&ldquoThe biggest thing I&rsquod ever done before was a 4-foot hamburger on the show,&rdquo said Barajas, who has been baking and decorating for a decade.

&ldquoThis,&rdquo he said, sighing, pointing to the 15-foot plywood, rolling stage for the cake, &ldquois a whole different beast of a birthday cake.&rdquo

Three weeks ago, Barajas got a call from &ldquoNext Great Baker&rdquo judge Bobbie Lloyd, the chief baking officer of the famed Manhattan-based Magnolia Bakery. The Queen Mary party planners needed a boatload of cake to feed 1,200 people and they called Lloyd, who recommended Barajas.

&ldquoYeah, this wasn&rsquot the typical kid&rsquos birthday where you just put a picture on a sheet cake and call it a day,&rdquo Barajas said, sitting while worrying about his batter rising.

&ldquoI don&rsquot do that anymore just custom, sculpted and tiered cake designs,&rdquo he added.

For this massive undertaking, he had to dock someplace larger than his Chula Vista home cake studio. So he teamed with M&M Patisserie&rsquos owners, Marcelo and Maria Alvarez, to use their kitchen and its gigantic oven, which can bake 16 sheet cakes at a time.

Barajas spent one week studying the details of what was once the world&rsquos most grand ocean liner. He took a historian-guided tour. He pored over Queen Mary photos from books and the Internet. He closely studied a white, plastic scale model.

He counted every window, porthole, flag, deck chair and lifeboat. He made notes about the fencing, the funnels (smokestacks), the decks, the pools.

&ldquoThe Queen Mary is intimidating, but it&rsquos gorgeous and elegant,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI understand the passion for this ship. So we wanted to do it as realistic as possible, as much as sugar would allow.&rdquo

He wrote out a recipe for white chocolate butter cream and vanilla cake with seedless raspberry filling. He went with a rich but classic taste, something legendary Queen Mary passengers such as Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill would have wanted to devour.

He used 100 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar and several hundred more pounds of rolled-out, hand-modeled and food-colored fondant icing and gum paste.

&ldquoDid you know that the hull of the Queen Mary is black? I thought it was blue,&rdquo said Barajas, who acknowledges having no sea legs.

He doesn&rsquot even eat cake &ndash &ldquojust for quality control,&rdquo he said, giving his abs a pound with his fist before rising to get back to work.

&ldquoThe (cake) delivery is the worst part,&rdquo he said, shaking his head. &ldquoWe&rsquoll need to first get it into a refrigerated truck, drive it (to Long Beach) by taking six different freeways, and get it on board without it breaking in pieces.&rdquo

The maiden voyage of Barajas&rsquo cake was smooth sailing. He put the finishing touches on his Queen Mary while on the Queen Mary at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The biggest cake of Barajas&rsquo baking career took three weeks to plan, four hectic days to make, shake and bake. It then took a few seconds to cut and a couple hours to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle of people&rsquos bellies.

&ldquoI&rsquom going to take a vacation after this massive cake,&rdquo Barajas said, floating, fresh from a 20-minute nap in the 36 hours prior to the Friday birthday party. &ldquoI&rsquom not sure what I&rsquoll do to celebrate.&rdquo

Maybe he&rsquoll take a cruise. Or maybe he, too, can retire at the Port of Long Beach.


Smith: He takes the cake – all 600 pounds of it – to Queen Mary

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

The crew of The Queen Mary take a break after moving a 15 feet 600 pounds cake.

Marcelo Alvarez adds some finishing touches to the 600-pound cake made for the Queen Mary celebration.

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas gets set to hide a pin of the Queen Mary in the 80th anniversary cake. The person who found this in their piece of cake won the grand prize at Friday's festivities aboard the ocean liner.

Jose Barajas gives one of the pieces of the 80th anniversary cake to Dan McCue at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, left, shares a laugh with Commodore Everette Hoard, right, of the Queen Mary, as they get set to move 600 pounds of cake.

Jose Barajas assembles the 80th anniversary cake at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Barajas says it took 10 days to make, and it could serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, center, helps The Queen Mary crew move half of a 15 feet 600 pounds cake into The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds of cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

LA MESA &ndash His forehead sweaty from the oven heat, his shirt dusted with flour and his fingernails crusty with frosting, Jose Barajas was a little nervous about his big boat sinking before its maiden voyage.

His story takes the cake, all 600 pounds of it.

Barajas, 28, a former cake artist contestant in season four of the TLC&rsquos &ldquoNext Great Baker,&rdquo had a few minutes Wednesday morning between oven timer beeps to talk about baking his biggest cake to date: a 15-foot, mostly edible replica of the Queen Mary for her 80th anniversary celebration.

Kids, don&rsquot try this at home with 200 boxes of Duncan Hines.

Two days before Friday&rsquos festivities and that afternoon&rsquos ceremonial cutting, Barajas felt as though he might as well have been drowning in vanilla batter.

He needed his own life preserver. His mind rattled with Titanic thoughts. He planned on pulling an all-nighter to get everything ready.

There isn&rsquot much you can pre-make,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoYou need to have the cake stay as fresh and moist as possible, and you have to worry about everything settling or sinking out of shape the longer it sits.&rdquo

At this moment, Barajas needed to sit.

It was 94 degrees outside on El Cajon Boulevard but not that much cooler inside M&M Patisserie, where it was hot enough to light the cigarette of the smoking woman tattooed on the right side of Barajas&rsquo neck.

The kitchen was library quiet. One apron-wearing, hair-netted woman sat at a long table cutting out individual black, nickel-sized bits of frosting to represent the ship&rsquos 600 portholes. Another assistant counted the 164 rectangular windows. A third rolled out the ship&rsquos trim, a long string of faded, red fondant icing.

The air held tension. It also held flour that, beneath the fluorescent lights, put a white haze on everything in Barajas&rsquo sight. Or, maybe, he was just toast. The burnt kind.

&ldquoThe biggest thing I&rsquod ever done before was a 4-foot hamburger on the show,&rdquo said Barajas, who has been baking and decorating for a decade.

&ldquoThis,&rdquo he said, sighing, pointing to the 15-foot plywood, rolling stage for the cake, &ldquois a whole different beast of a birthday cake.&rdquo

Three weeks ago, Barajas got a call from &ldquoNext Great Baker&rdquo judge Bobbie Lloyd, the chief baking officer of the famed Manhattan-based Magnolia Bakery. The Queen Mary party planners needed a boatload of cake to feed 1,200 people and they called Lloyd, who recommended Barajas.

&ldquoYeah, this wasn&rsquot the typical kid&rsquos birthday where you just put a picture on a sheet cake and call it a day,&rdquo Barajas said, sitting while worrying about his batter rising.

&ldquoI don&rsquot do that anymore just custom, sculpted and tiered cake designs,&rdquo he added.

For this massive undertaking, he had to dock someplace larger than his Chula Vista home cake studio. So he teamed with M&M Patisserie&rsquos owners, Marcelo and Maria Alvarez, to use their kitchen and its gigantic oven, which can bake 16 sheet cakes at a time.

Barajas spent one week studying the details of what was once the world&rsquos most grand ocean liner. He took a historian-guided tour. He pored over Queen Mary photos from books and the Internet. He closely studied a white, plastic scale model.

He counted every window, porthole, flag, deck chair and lifeboat. He made notes about the fencing, the funnels (smokestacks), the decks, the pools.

&ldquoThe Queen Mary is intimidating, but it&rsquos gorgeous and elegant,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI understand the passion for this ship. So we wanted to do it as realistic as possible, as much as sugar would allow.&rdquo

He wrote out a recipe for white chocolate butter cream and vanilla cake with seedless raspberry filling. He went with a rich but classic taste, something legendary Queen Mary passengers such as Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill would have wanted to devour.

He used 100 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar and several hundred more pounds of rolled-out, hand-modeled and food-colored fondant icing and gum paste.

&ldquoDid you know that the hull of the Queen Mary is black? I thought it was blue,&rdquo said Barajas, who acknowledges having no sea legs.

He doesn&rsquot even eat cake &ndash &ldquojust for quality control,&rdquo he said, giving his abs a pound with his fist before rising to get back to work.

&ldquoThe (cake) delivery is the worst part,&rdquo he said, shaking his head. &ldquoWe&rsquoll need to first get it into a refrigerated truck, drive it (to Long Beach) by taking six different freeways, and get it on board without it breaking in pieces.&rdquo

The maiden voyage of Barajas&rsquo cake was smooth sailing. He put the finishing touches on his Queen Mary while on the Queen Mary at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The biggest cake of Barajas&rsquo baking career took three weeks to plan, four hectic days to make, shake and bake. It then took a few seconds to cut and a couple hours to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle of people&rsquos bellies.

&ldquoI&rsquom going to take a vacation after this massive cake,&rdquo Barajas said, floating, fresh from a 20-minute nap in the 36 hours prior to the Friday birthday party. &ldquoI&rsquom not sure what I&rsquoll do to celebrate.&rdquo

Maybe he&rsquoll take a cruise. Or maybe he, too, can retire at the Port of Long Beach.


Smith: He takes the cake – all 600 pounds of it – to Queen Mary

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

The crew of The Queen Mary take a break after moving a 15 feet 600 pounds cake.

Marcelo Alvarez adds some finishing touches to the 600-pound cake made for the Queen Mary celebration.

Mmm…Cakes' Jose Barajas starts to assemble the 80th anniversary cake at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas gets set to hide a pin of the Queen Mary in the 80th anniversary cake. The person who found this in their piece of cake won the grand prize at Friday's festivities aboard the ocean liner.

Jose Barajas gives one of the pieces of the 80th anniversary cake to Dan McCue at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, left, shares a laugh with Commodore Everette Hoard, right, of the Queen Mary, as they get set to move 600 pounds of cake.

Jose Barajas assembles the 80th anniversary cake at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Barajas says it took 10 days to make, and it could serve up to 1,200 people.

Jose Barajas, center, helps The Queen Mary crew move half of a 15 feet 600 pounds cake into The Queen Mary in Long Beach on Thursday. Barajas says it took 10 days of work to make this 15 feet 600 pounds of cake which can serve up to 1,200 people.

LA MESA &ndash His forehead sweaty from the oven heat, his shirt dusted with flour and his fingernails crusty with frosting, Jose Barajas was a little nervous about his big boat sinking before its maiden voyage.

His story takes the cake, all 600 pounds of it.

Barajas, 28, a former cake artist contestant in season four of the TLC&rsquos &ldquoNext Great Baker,&rdquo had a few minutes Wednesday morning between oven timer beeps to talk about baking his biggest cake to date: a 15-foot, mostly edible replica of the Queen Mary for her 80th anniversary celebration.

Kids, don&rsquot try this at home with 200 boxes of Duncan Hines.

Two days before Friday&rsquos festivities and that afternoon&rsquos ceremonial cutting, Barajas felt as though he might as well have been drowning in vanilla batter.

He needed his own life preserver. His mind rattled with Titanic thoughts. He planned on pulling an all-nighter to get everything ready.

There isn&rsquot much you can pre-make,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoYou need to have the cake stay as fresh and moist as possible, and you have to worry about everything settling or sinking out of shape the longer it sits.&rdquo

At this moment, Barajas needed to sit.

It was 94 degrees outside on El Cajon Boulevard but not that much cooler inside M&M Patisserie, where it was hot enough to light the cigarette of the smoking woman tattooed on the right side of Barajas&rsquo neck.

The kitchen was library quiet. One apron-wearing, hair-netted woman sat at a long table cutting out individual black, nickel-sized bits of frosting to represent the ship&rsquos 600 portholes. Another assistant counted the 164 rectangular windows. A third rolled out the ship&rsquos trim, a long string of faded, red fondant icing.

The air held tension. It also held flour that, beneath the fluorescent lights, put a white haze on everything in Barajas&rsquo sight. Or, maybe, he was just toast. The burnt kind.

&ldquoThe biggest thing I&rsquod ever done before was a 4-foot hamburger on the show,&rdquo said Barajas, who has been baking and decorating for a decade.

&ldquoThis,&rdquo he said, sighing, pointing to the 15-foot plywood, rolling stage for the cake, &ldquois a whole different beast of a birthday cake.&rdquo

Three weeks ago, Barajas got a call from &ldquoNext Great Baker&rdquo judge Bobbie Lloyd, the chief baking officer of the famed Manhattan-based Magnolia Bakery. The Queen Mary party planners needed a boatload of cake to feed 1,200 people and they called Lloyd, who recommended Barajas.

&ldquoYeah, this wasn&rsquot the typical kid&rsquos birthday where you just put a picture on a sheet cake and call it a day,&rdquo Barajas said, sitting while worrying about his batter rising.

&ldquoI don&rsquot do that anymore just custom, sculpted and tiered cake designs,&rdquo he added.

For this massive undertaking, he had to dock someplace larger than his Chula Vista home cake studio. So he teamed with M&M Patisserie&rsquos owners, Marcelo and Maria Alvarez, to use their kitchen and its gigantic oven, which can bake 16 sheet cakes at a time.

Barajas spent one week studying the details of what was once the world&rsquos most grand ocean liner. He took a historian-guided tour. He pored over Queen Mary photos from books and the Internet. He closely studied a white, plastic scale model.

He counted every window, porthole, flag, deck chair and lifeboat. He made notes about the fencing, the funnels (smokestacks), the decks, the pools.

&ldquoThe Queen Mary is intimidating, but it&rsquos gorgeous and elegant,&rdquo he said. &ldquoI understand the passion for this ship. So we wanted to do it as realistic as possible, as much as sugar would allow.&rdquo

He wrote out a recipe for white chocolate butter cream and vanilla cake with seedless raspberry filling. He went with a rich but classic taste, something legendary Queen Mary passengers such as Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill would have wanted to devour.

He used 100 pounds of flour, 100 pounds of sugar and several hundred more pounds of rolled-out, hand-modeled and food-colored fondant icing and gum paste.

&ldquoDid you know that the hull of the Queen Mary is black? I thought it was blue,&rdquo said Barajas, who acknowledges having no sea legs.

He doesn&rsquot even eat cake &ndash &ldquojust for quality control,&rdquo he said, giving his abs a pound with his fist before rising to get back to work.

&ldquoThe (cake) delivery is the worst part,&rdquo he said, shaking his head. &ldquoWe&rsquoll need to first get it into a refrigerated truck, drive it (to Long Beach) by taking six different freeways, and get it on board without it breaking in pieces.&rdquo

The maiden voyage of Barajas&rsquo cake was smooth sailing. He put the finishing touches on his Queen Mary while on the Queen Mary at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

The biggest cake of Barajas&rsquo baking career took three weeks to plan, four hectic days to make, shake and bake. It then took a few seconds to cut and a couple hours to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle of people&rsquos bellies.

&ldquoI&rsquom going to take a vacation after this massive cake,&rdquo Barajas said, floating, fresh from a 20-minute nap in the 36 hours prior to the Friday birthday party. &ldquoI&rsquom not sure what I&rsquoll do to celebrate.&rdquo

Maybe he&rsquoll take a cruise. Or maybe he, too, can retire at the Port of Long Beach.


Watch the video: Mixing Business with Baking I Cake Boss: Next Great Baker (August 2022).