Locals who have appeared on Food Network share their experiences

Credit: Rob Pryce

Credit: Rob Pryce

In the last four months, four people from the Dayton region have competed on Food Network.

From two chefs to a culinary instructor and sugar artist, here’s what each had to say about their experience.

Chad Conklin 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” that aired in September.

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 2023, 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 2023 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.

Becky Beverly on Food Network’s ‘Holiday Wars’

Credit: Food Network

Credit: Food Network

Dayton resident Becky Beverly, a mom of four and the owner of Icing On Top — Becky’s Cakes, was a contestant on Food Network’s “Holiday Wars” that aired in November.

“I learned that I’m much more capable than I ever dreamed I could be,” Beverly said. “I pushed the limits on my skills, I definitely took risks, and you’ll have to see if they pay off.”

Beverly’s team, The Blitzen Bakers, consisted of Aaron Davis of Arizona and Nayara Ranieri of Utah. The Blitzen Bakers faced off against eight other teams in a series of festive challenges.

This was not the first time Beverly was contacted by a casting agency for Food Network. In 2021, the agency reached out to her via social media, but she couldn’t go because of the time commitment. When the agency reached out again earlier this year, she was ready for the opportunity. Filming took place in August in Utah.

Beverly is known for her expertise in sugar art and buttercream cake decorating. She started Icing On Top — Becky’s Cakes about six years ago with encouragement from her neighbor. Beverly is now a dedicated cake-decorating instructor who teaches classes from her home and via YouTube.

Dana Downs and Matt Klum on Food Network’s ‘SuperChef Grudge Match’

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo

Dayton restaurant owner and chef Dana Downs competed against chef Matt Klum, her former employee, on Food Network’s “SuperChef Grudge Match” that aired in December.

On “SuperChef Grudge Match,” host Darnell “Superchef” Ferguson invites chefs from across the United States “to settle personal and professional disputes with their foes in a one round, one dish, winner-takes-all heavyweight battle,” according to Food Network’s website.

Prior to working together, Downs and Klum always had a little bit of a rivalry. Both chefs recalled meeting after the Dayton Business Journal hosted a Dayton’s Best Chef competition in 2012. Downs ended up coming out on top with Klum placing third. At that time, he was the executive chef at Coco’s Bistro.

Four years later, Klum started working for Downs as chef de cuisine at Park City Club, a restaurant Downs once owned across from the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering. Downs ended up letting him go in 2018 when she closed the restaurant. He said she “cut the cord unexpectedly,” and Downs admitted they didn’t talk for a while. Downs continued to operate Roost Modern Italian in Dayton’s Oregon District.

The two filmed “SuperChef Grudge Match” in June at Warner Bros. Studios in California after going through a lengthy interview process. They both said the show helped them reconnect and settle their “grudge.”

Dana Downs on Food Network’s ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’

About a week later, Downs appeared on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games.”

In this episode, “Guy Fieri invites four chefs to break the world shopping speed record as they grab everything they’ll need to make two complete meals in a single four-minute shop. To make things even more twisted, the chefs must grab a ‘must-use’ red light special ingredient mid-shop,” the website said. “After the chefs cook a weeknight favorite, Guy insists they make an upscale dinner with what they have left, plus one more item from a designated aisle chosen at random.”

Downs filmed this episode in February 2023 prior to the filming of “SuperChef Grudge Match.”

“It was great,” Downs said. “It was terrifying and so much fun at the same time.”

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