Wedding cake designer Jay Qualls may not have won the competition television series he recently competed in, but he accomplished what he wanted.
The owner of Murfreesboro-based Maples Wedding Cakes made steps towards becoming a television star and learned about the television industry while competing on the show that concluded Jan. 24.
Qualls is hoping to stretch this fame longer than 15 minutes.
Qualls was one of 10 contestants who competed in the spin-off of TLC hit show Cake Boss. Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, of Carlo’s Bakery in New Jersey searched for the best rising baker in the business in the eight week competition elimination series Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, which premiered Dec. 6.
“Everyone Monday night we would get together with friends and family to wait and see how it was edited,” Qualls said.
Qualls was worried from the beginning about the way the show would be edited and the way he would be portrayed on the small screen.
Overall, Qualls said he was happy with the way he appeared in the show.
He said he was shown as confident in his craft.
But, he doesn’t think his full personality shined through.
“The situations were so stressful and so intense I couldn’t let loose and just have fun,” Qualls said.
He said the competition was grueling.
Contestants competed from as early as 5:30 a.m. to as late as 1 a.m. The workspace was hot and contestants had to compete within tight time constraints.
“The environment was not conducive to decorating cakes,” Qualls said. “The cakes that came out of that are a miracle.”
But, what was it like competing with the other contestants?
Qualls said many of the contestants didn’t have much experience decorating cakes. Actually, the show didn’t require any culinary experience so contestants were widely varied on their skill level.
“What I tried to do was friend everyone so I could get close enough to them so I knew how to react to every situation,” he said. Qualls was prepared to play the actual game but a social game as well.
Contestants seemed to respect Qualls and his skills in the kitchen.
“There were situations where you were at your wits end and you had to push through,” he said. “For the most part everyone was nice and kind and caring. I have made friends for life, I think. They are really really great people.”
Qualls said the best moment on the show was winning the wedding cake challenge.
“If there is one thing I know it is wedding cakes,” he said.
The remaining six contestants competed in two teams of three and were challenged with creating a cake in six hours that met the needs of a specific client.
Teams were stunned when the cakes they worked so hard to create were dumped off the top of a building and destroyed.
Valastro then gave the teams four hours to create the cake again.
Qualls’ team’s cake turned out even better the second time around and was selected by the bride to win the competition.
Qualls said he did not go into the competition expecting to win.
“I am proud of what I achieved on there,” he said.
Qualls appeared on seven of eight episodes. He was eliminated on a challenge for Chevrolet where the remaining contestants had to create a cake featuring the new car the Cruze.
Qualls did feel he was judged too harshly on that challenge and that changes in the game caused him to go home early.
Getting into the box truck after being eliminated was the most humiliating experience, he said. Whenever contestants were eliminated they were driven off the show in a large truck.
Qualls said it took a lot of coercing to get him in the truck.
Competing on the show validated Qualls’ skills, he said. It gives him more credibility to consult, teach and give presentations.
His fans have doubled on Facebook and Twitter, and Qualls thinks more doors will open to him from having competed on the show.
Qualls’ cakes had already received national attention with cakes having been featured in publications like Martha Stewart Weddings, Bridal Guide, People and recently Southern Living Weddings.
Now he is concentrating on a few projects he couldn’t speak about yet and on getting a studio open in Nashville where he can meet with more brides.