(SPOILER ALERT: The following post contains the results from the Season 3 finale of “Best Baker in America” on the Food Network. The episode has already aired on the East Coast):
The night began with three extraordinary contestants, but only one could get his just desserts and walk away with the esteemed title of “Best Baker in America.”
And so the Season 3 winner of the delectable Food Network series is … Hayward resident Eric Keppler!
Keppler, the executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley, beat out fellow finalists Jeffrey De Leon of Los Angeles and Boston’s Joshua Livsey to capture the crown. And the frosting on the cake? He collects a $25,000 prize.
The season started in May with nine professional bakers, and over the ensuing weeks the field was whittled down to three standouts. For the finale, host Scott Conant challenged Keppler, De Leon and Livsey to create four “grown-up” versions of a brownie sundae — in just two hours.
And if that wasn’t daunting enough, the Master Challenge had the trio making a “Happy Birthday USA” chocolate fireworks cake to celebrate the Fourth of July. The elaborately decorated cake for 100 people had to feature fireworks-themed chocolate and sugar decorations, three types of chocolate and two types of macarons with salty snacks as the featured ingredient.
Bakery owner Elizabeth Chambers joined judges Jason Smith and Marcela Valladolid to choose the winner.
Keppler, who has worked at the East Palo Alto hotel since 2011, is known for his outrageous holiday dessert displays and for bestowing names on his desserts. Developing a fan base that stretches throughout the Bay Area, he previously worked as a pastry chef in San Francisco for Austrian pastry chef Gerhard Michler, then became executive pastry chef for La Patisserie in Cupertino.
During a TV interview this morning on KTVU-Channel 2, Keppler spoke about the under-the-gun pressure he and his fellow contestants felt during the competition.
“I’m used to baking, obviously, but not necessarily under that kind of time crunch,” he said. “And those time crunches were crazy. They were really, really tight.”
As for his strategy, Keppler said, “I just tried to have a good time and be present. I love what I do and I just wanted to show that.”
Keppler’s local fans and co-workers at the Four Seasons surely what they saw. Many of them gathered at the hotel for a special watch party.