About the Host and Judges
Montreal-based Josh Elkin is widely known for his unique take on food, and his unusual talent for turning edible dishes into surreal works of art. Many of his masterpieces such as The Poutine Tornado, Chicken Wing of Thrones and Breakfast Jenga have gone viral, appearing prominently on sites like Buzzfeed and Reddit. Josh’s creations consistently blend creativity, humour and feats of engineering that truly need to be seen to be believed.
In 2010, Elkin joined Epic Meal Time at its infancy stage, a web series showcasing indulgent recipes, which today has over 7 million subscribers. Josh has appeared on the series alongside celebrities including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Oliver, and DeadMau5. Following its success, the Epic Meal Time gang launched a follow-up culinary web competition series, Epic Chef, and later added to their repertoire an instructional cooking web series, Handle It. Moving from the web into television, Josh appeared as a regular cast member in the series Epic Meal Empire on FYI TV. Adding author to his resume, Josh co-wrote an Epic Meal Time cookbook with Harley Morenstein (a.k.a. The Sauce Boss), allowing fans to make their own epic meals.
If anyone knows how to make the impossible possible in the kitchen, it’s Josh Elkin, so it’s no surprise he’s ready to take on the challenge of becoming the ringleader of Food Network Canada’s Sugar Showdown.
Duff has been cooking since the age of four, when his mom caught him in the kitchen swinging around a meat cleaver while watching Chef Tell on TV. It was no surprise when this young enthusiasm lead to a life devoted to culinary pursuits including many roles in front of the camera, beginning with his hit show Ace of Cakes which aired for 10 seasons. Following Ace of Cakes, Duff has gone on to host and appear on a variety of shows, including The Baking Challenge Series, Guilty Pleasures, Cutthroat Kitchen, Sugar High, Donut Showdown, Rachel vs. Guy: Kids, and the Emmy-winning Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Off camera, Duff is the proud owner of his own business, Charm City Cakes. What began as a small operation out of his own home with two assistants grew to include many employees, including many whose culinary backgrounds weren’t as pastry chefs. He hired experienced painters, architects, and sculptors as Charm City Cakes grew its reputation for the most imaginative, unusual creations which rely on the use of tools like blow torches, grinders and drills.
Serious about his sweets, Duff is ready to be tough on the Sugar Showdown competitors.
After several years modeling for some of the world’s top designers, and becoming the first British black model to grace the cover of Elle US, Lorraine Pascale enrolled to study for the Leith’s Diploma of Food and Wine and never looked back. Her talent for baking triumphed, and she soon worked in some of the most renowned kitchens in the world, including Petrus, The Mandarin Oriental, Gilgamesh and The Wolseley, later starting a bakery making cakes and cupcakes.
A long held dream was realized with the debut of Lorraine’s first primetime series, Baking Made Easy, on BBC Two. An accompanying book launched alongside the show and shot straight to the top of Amazon’s Food & Drink bestsellers list. Her second series Home Cooking Made Easy and an accompanying book later followed. She has since gone on to sell nearly 1 million books and host more television series for the BBC.
Her success in each challenge she has taken on means she understands the hard work and dedication Sugar Showdown’s competitors will need to bring to the table.
On the cutting edge of both the artisanal food revival and the food truck revolution, Zane is a savvy entrepreneur who knows delicious when he tastes it. Heralded as one of the saviors of the classic Jewish deli by The New York Times and Gourmet Magazine, Zane’s eponymous deli, Caplansky’s Delicatessen, has garnered a lot of attention.
Passionate about classic delis since his childhood, Zane launched Caplansky's Deli in 2008. A rabid fanbase and media fanfare followed, along with Toronto's first modern food truck. Ever the entrepreneur, he launched his deli brand with four flavours of mustard and “Deli King” beer. Continuing his expansion,Caplansky opened two franchises at Pearson International Airport. His newest restaurant is a bbq joint, Baju BBQ.
Zane’s guest appearances include Food Network’s Eat St., Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives as well as You Gotta Eat Here!. A judge on Donut Showdown and Food Truck Face Off, he has even taken 3 trips through CBC’s Dragon’s Den and now hosts a weekly radio show called “Let’s Eat with Zane Caplansky” on Toronto’s Newstalk 1010.
His sweet tooth is ready to take a trip back into the judge’s seat for Sugar Showdown.
Chef Elizabeth Falkner is one of the culinary world's most recognizable chefs. For more than twenty years, she wowed the San Francisco/Bay Area with her desserts. In 2006, Bon Appetit named her “Pastry Chef of the Year” and three years prior, hailed her as one of “America's 10 Top Pastry Chefs.” In 2005, she was nominated for “Pastry Chef of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation
Her passion for culinary competition is evident in her many television credits. Falkner has competed on multiple culinary competition series including Food Network’s Next Iron Chef, Redemption, Iron Chef America and Next Iron Chef, Super Chefs, in which she was a finalist and runner up. She has been a three-time competitor on Food Network's Challenge, as well as a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. In addition to competing, Falkner also has acted as judge on several network shows including Bravo's Top Chef Just Desserts, Top Chef Masters and Top Chef.
Elizabeth is also a noted author. Her first cookbook, Demolition Desserts (2007) was a finalist for IACP's Julia Child Best First Cookbook award in 2008. Cooking Off the Clock, her second book, was released August 2012.
Having honed her skills as a judge on Donut Showdown, Elizabeth’s serious chops in the world of pastry, along with her experience on culinary competition series herself is sure to lead the Sugar Showdown competitors to pull out all the stops to wow her.
Jeff Mahin is a chef and the creative force behind Stella Barra Pizzeria (Santa Monica, Hollywood, Chicago, Washington, DC), Summer House Santa Monica (Chicago, North Bethesda, MD), Do-Rite Donuts (Chicago), and M Street Kitchen (Santa Monica). By 30 years old, Jeff had accumulated several industry accolades including Zagat’s "30 under 30" list in 2012, Forbes’ "30-under-30" list of hospitality industry up-and-comers in 2012, Restaurant Hospitality's “13 Chef's to Watch in 2013” and StarChefs’ “2014 Los Angeles Rising Star Restaurateur”.
The oldest son of a scientist and engineer, Jeff’s natural talent and instinct when he was young was channeled into constructing and deconstructing whatever foods he touched within his family's kitchen. This lead to his professional training at the California Culinary Academy. Jeff has had experience working in prestigious kitchens around the country from Nobu in New York City to San Francisco's Millennium. In 2006, he became a laboratory assistant at the three-star Michelin rated restaurant, The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, England under chef/owner Heston Blumenthal.
Jeff was a finalist on ABC’s The Taste in its premier season. A judge from Donut Showdown’s second season, Jeff’s kitchen credentials will serve him well in weighing in on Sugar Showdown’s crop of talented competitors.
British best selling author, television host and chef, Harry Eastwood first came to the public’s attention in 2007, when she hosted the internationally popular series, Cook Yourself Thin.
In Harry’s best selling first solo book, Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache she explored the daring concept of making lower calorie, gluten free cakes... that are secretly made from vegetables. She has written two more books: The Skinny French Kitchen and A Salad For All Seasons. Her fourth book, Steak & Silk, in which she goes back to her original passion for all things meat and butchery, is due out in Spring 2016. Harry’s engaging, imaginative and unusual approach to food is what she is famous for.
Her baking expertise and passion for chocolate (she even keeps an emergency stash in the car!) will come in handy as she steps into the judge’s seat on Sugar Showdown.
Chef Maggie McKeown was born and raised in Toronto, and studied at the University of Toronto before graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York. Her outgoing personality and clever way with words led her to the world of television, where she has appeared as an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, a regular host on W Network’s The Right Fit as well as her most recognizable turn as a Culinary Mentor on the Food Network.
Her experience as Senior Food Specialist and National Spokesperson for Kraft Canada gives her a unique edge as both a food and marketing expert. She's also developed a keen eye for culinary talent as co-owner and Executive Chef of Great Cooks Canada's leading independent cooking school. She has developed hundreds of recipes for food companies and has contributed to What's Cooking, Canada's largest food magazine, in addition to Wine Tidings and other publications
She was a judge on two seasons of Food Network Canada’s Donut Showdown, and is excited to return as a judge for the first season of Sugar Showdown.
Formerly a financial planner, Sharone Hakman left the corporate world to follow his true love for food by pursuing a career as a chef. His standout performance on Fox’s hit show Master Chef ignited a new vision for Sharone’s aspirations in the culinary world.
Now, a highly acclaimed chef, founder of Hak’s BBQ, a global barbecue sauce brand, dedicated family man and active lifestyle enthusiast, LA-based Sharone puts as much love into his food as he does into his zest for life. His celebrity clientele and international television success has not steered Sharone away from who he is: a man who creates love and passion through his food.
Having been through the competition series experience himself, Sharone is sure to know how the competitors feel as they step up to the kitchen on Sugar Showdown.
Elizabeth Chambers is a successful entrepreneur, journalist and co-owner of San Antonio’s wildly popular BIRD Bakery. Elizabeth has served as judge on several Food Network shows and is known for her correspondence and hosting roles with E! News, CNBC and a variety of shows on NBC, CBS and FOX.
Along with her journalism career, Elizabeth has a love for baking, which began at an early age. Learning from her grandmother, who owned an incredibly successful catering company, and her mother, who opened a health food shop, Elizabeth realized that there was a lack of bakeries that fit her standards for a delicious home-baked treat. With this the idea for BIRD Bakery was born.
Elizabeth’s family heritage in the food industry and proven chops as a baker and entrepreneur will give her a unique perspective on the judging panel of Sugar Showdown.
Eddie Jackson, The Next Food Network Star (Season 11) winner, has created the perfect combination of two of his greatest passions: food and fitness! After retiring from the NFL, he took the time off from the countless hours of practice to spend with his friends and family and the easiest way to bring everyone together was food.
Eddie always felt at home on the field and even more so in the kitchen. Whether being taught family recipes by his dad or grandma, or coming up with his own culinary creations influenced by his travels in the NFL, he knew it was his way to share his love. After making it to top six on MasterChef (Season 4), he returned home even more pumped to share his food love with the masses and he launched his own food truck, the Caribbean Grill. Now he’s able to share his food creations on an even larger scale on his latest TV endeavor, Kids BBQ Championship.
Yolanda Gampp is a self-taught cake artist who has been mastering her craft for the past 18 years. Today she’s host of one of the fastest growing baking channels on Youtube: How To Cake It. In just 18 months How To Cake It has gained over two million subscribers and 18 million monthly views. Her fans love to tune-in and watch her create everything, from a human brain to a watermelon, out of cake.
A former star of the hit Food Network Canada show Sugar Stars, Yolanda has been featured on several daytime magazine-style TV programs. Her high-profile clients include George R.R. Martin, Jordan Knight and Rihanna. With an Instagram audience of 1.3 million, and growing, Yolanda continues to capture people’s imaginations with her work, inspiring them to get creative with baking!
Laura Vitale moved to the United States when she was 12 years old. As a teenager, she developed her love for cooking from her Italian grandmother, learning many of the recipes for classic Italian dishes over the phone. She began working in her father's restaurants in her teens, but after they closed in 2008, she wanted to find a new way to continue to share her passion for cooking. In 2010, Laura began a new phase of her culinary career when she started her internet cooking series Laura in the Kitchen. The series quickly became a hit and now boasts an audience of several million, making Laura a well-known name in the cooking community.
Brazil’s most famous baking sensation, Raiza Costa, is a television host, producer and internet contributor with her wildly popular channel Dulce Delight.
Cooking from a young age, Raiza learned all she could about food and cuisine from books and online before opening her first catering company at age 17! She followed up her degree in Fine Arts from the Belas Artes School in Sao Paolo, Brazil, with a move to New York City to study French Culinary Arts. Soon after came Dulce Delight, the first Youtube channel dedicated only to pastries. Raiza’s original style and South American flair caught the eye of Jamie Oliver who invited her to appear on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube. Currently, Raiza hosts and directs her own daily TV show from Brooklyn, which airs in Brazil.