Yale Dining head baker Keri Logan put her skills to the test when she competed in the Food Network hit competition television show “Bakers vs. Fakers” last December.
Hosted by celebrity chef Buddy Valastro — also known as the “Cake Boss” — the show pits two amateur and two professional bakers against one another in a battle for fame and $10,000. On the strength of her maple bacon crush, Logan advanced to the final round, though she ultimately did not win.
According to Logan, she and her children watch a similar show, “Cooks vs. Cons,” and her children had repeatedly asked her to enter a televised culinary contest. When Logan saw that there would be a baking spinoff of the cooking show, she applied online.
The episode, which aired on March 8, is called “Doughnut Dilemma.” In the first round, four chefs make doughnuts and incorporate a mystery ingredient: potato chips. Logan prepared a cake doughnut with potato chips in the batter and in the topping, using many different ingredients and flavors, including maple, bacon, peanut butter and chocolate.
“In my whole pastry career, I might have made a doughnut once in culinary school,” Logan said. “But doughnuts are my son’s favorite food of all time, so I knew from that moment that I was supposed to be there. I was like, this is a sign — I’m out of my comfort zone, but I need to pull it together.”
At one point during the show, Logan turned to the camera and said that when she is in the kitchen, it is “organized chaos” that always comes together to form a beautiful masterpiece.
The show was filmed in Hoboken, New Jersey the day before Yale’s annual holiday dinner, which, as Logan explained, is a very busy and stressful time for Yale Dining. Although there was a lot of work that needed to be done at Yale, Logan said she received “so much support from upper management.”
Logan added that because the Yale Dining community is so close, the hardest part of the experience was that she was unable to tell many coworkers what she was doing before the finally show aired.
“Keri told me she would be on [the show] but that she didn’t know when,” said Yale baker Rusty Hamilton, who has worked beside Logan in the Yale bake shop for four and a half years. “That was the only information she was allowed to tell us, but she did let us know when the show was on.”
As Logan had to film the day before the holiday dinner, Hamilton explained she put everything in place and stayed late the night before she left to make sure the team would succeed.
Logan said that after her fellow bakers watched the show, many of them told her that she should have won and joked that she “got robbed.” Logan told the News that she was proud nonetheless to have appeared on the show’s first round.
“My wife and I watched it the night it aired,” Hamilton said. “The girl who won didn’t even make a doughnut, she made a bundt cake — anyone can make that. The stuff Keri made was amazing.”
In the second round, the remaining bakers could bake anything they wanted with the mystery ingredient: yogurt. Logan chose a recipe that Yale Dining uses frequently, in which soy milk is substituted with yogurt.
On a typical day at Yale, the bake shop prepares one breakfast, two lunch and one dinner item, in addition to all catered and retail baked goods. This past week alone, Logan said the shop baked 141 dozen chocolate chip cookies, 32 half sheets of brownies, 20 pans of pudding and 50 dozen muffins.
“Had it not been for [Yale], I don’t think I would have felt comfortable,” she said. “This place prepared me for large-scale production in time constraints.”
Logan’s experience at Yale was interesting to many of the television producers and judges she met, because many schools do not have bake shops.
While many students had not watched the episode, they expressed admiration for Logan and the work of Yale’s bakers. Matan Cutler ’20 told the News that Logan’s appearance on the show was evidence of the passion of Yale Dining chefs.
And while Logan said her work at Yale made her feel more comfortable competing on the show, the high-stress experience on “Bakers vs. Fakers” has also made her feel more capable in Yale’s kitchens.
“I’ve been here 14 and a half years. I do this every day, but there are days when you’re unsure of yourself … If I can do that — aired in front of millions of people, with a guy on the table in front of me holding a camera in front of my face — I know I can be successful here,” Logan said.
Logan added that she hopes to compete in more televised competitions in the future. She recently applied to, and is waiting to hear back from, the Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship.” She has also inspired other Yale chefs to pursue similar contests: One Yale chef is currently waiting to hear back from the popular cooking competition show “Chopped.”