Dayton-area culinary instructor competes on Food Network’s ‘Halloween Baking Championship’

Credit: Rob Pryce

Credit: Rob Pryce

Centerville resident Chad Conklin, a culinary instructor at Marshall High School in Middletown, was a contestant on Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship.”

Host John Henson invited 12 bakers to Henson & Sons Carnival to impress judges Carla Hall, Stephanie Boswell and Zac Young in hopes of being crowned Halloween Baking Champion.

Conklin, a Michigan native, came to Ohio to help launch Rosaria’s On Third Street in Perrysburg, where he eventually became executive pastry chef. In February, Conklin said a scout for Food Network reached out to him via his Instagram page, created by photographer Katie Wagner, and by the end of March he was filming the show in California.

“The overall production made me realize that even in my baking and pastry, I need to up the production,” Conklin said. “What can I do to take this to the next level like they do?”

Conklin admitted he was out of his comfort zone in the competition. He is used to creating very intricate, detailed desserts that are time consuming. On the show, he only had two hours.

“It was hard for me to adjust going from what I do in a kitchen to this big production,” Conklin said.

Cake decorating is not his forte, so he focused on making sure his desserts were baked to perfection. The judges compliments “meant the world” to him, Conklin said.

Credit: Rob Pryce

Credit: Rob Pryce

On Monday night, the second episode of the season aired on Food Network. Conklin said he left towards the end of the show because he was too sick to continue.

He applauded all of the other contestants who stuck through the competition because “it’s not what you envision it’s going to be.”

Conklin is looking forward to all the opportunities that being featured on the baking competition will bring.

“I’m looking to do a restaurant in Cincinnati,” he said. “I’m hoping some of this exposure will help make that happen.”

In the meantime, he plans to continue teaching at Marshall High School, a school that features vocational programs for those “who have been failed by traditional high schools,” according to the school’s website.

“I never dropped out, but I wasn’t a good high school student,” Conklin said. “It took one teacher in my vocational drafting class to tell me... ‘You’re really good at this, this could take you places.’ And that type of encouragement changed the trajectory of my life.”

He hopes to implement change in his students’ lives and open their eyes to the different possibilities in the culinary world.

To keep up with Conklin’s next steps, visit his Instagram page (@theperilouspastrychef).

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