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Victory Is Sweet for Casey Shiller

June 29, 2011

Casey Shiller with Cindy Hess and Myrtle Dorsey  
Casey Shiller, left, is joined by Cindy Hess, center, Forest Park president, and Myrtle Dorsey,
STLCC's new chancellor, at a watch party for Shiller's appearance on Food Network's
"Cupcake Wars" that aired June 28. Shiller and Dana Holland captured the grand prize of
$10,000 for their spaced-theme cupcakes.


























Chef Casey Shiller has won the war!


Shiller, the coordinator of the baking and pastry arts program at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park and director of baking and pastry at Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Cafe, teamed with Chef Dana Holland of Jilly’s to capture the grand prize on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” episode that aired June 28.


Shiller and Holland created four space-themed cupcakes in the episode titled “The Final Frontier,” defeating three other teams to capture the $10,000 prize. Their creations were served at a VIP party at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, Calif., in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United States’ first manned space flight. Shiller and Holland served up “Island in the Sun” (pineapple-mango), “Meringue-a-Tang (tangerine gel), “Space Monkey” (banana, toffee, dulce de leche, caramel swirl buttercream) and Raspberry Fizzion (chocolate raspberry). The winning cupcakes now are on sale at Jilly’s, 8509 Delmar in University City, Mo.


“For the taste challenge, we did nothing in advance,” Shiller said. “The ingredients inspired by the sun really just jumped right out with the brightness. Pineapple and mango are two flavors that go so well together. We knew that was the way to go, and it was an awesome cupcake. It was great to hear the judges’ feedback and they seemed to really enjoy them.”


Each week on "Cupcake Wars," four of the country’s top cupcake bakers face off in three elimination challenges until only one decorator remains. The sweet prize is $10,000 and the opportunity to showcase their cupcakes at the winning gig. Candace Nelson, owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes, and Florian Bellanger, chef and co-owner of online macaroon company MadMac, serve as permanent judges with a third rotating judge each week. Justin Willman hosts.


Shiller and Holland were chosen to participate in “Cupcake Wars” after submitting an audition tape. The twosome actually taped the episode early in May. Keeping the results a secret posed quite a challenge for both.


“That was the most difficult thing we’ve ever done,” Shiller said. “None of our staff could know, either. We not only had to keep our extended family in the dark, but also the people we work with every day. At the watch party, we celebrated and said there are no losers when you make your national television debut. We had to prepare everyone to go home unhappy, and fortunately, that didn’t happen.”

At Forest Park, Shiller, an assistant professor in hospitality studies, teaches classes in baking, pastry, chocolates and confectionary art. Shiller was named Forest Park's Teacher of the Year in 2010. This year, he received the Missouri Community College Association’s Excellence in Teaching Award and the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development’s Excellence Award. Shiller graduated with honors from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., with a bachelor's degree in baking and pastry arts.

Shiller’s culinary career includes stints at the Trump Plaza Hotel-Casino, Trump Taj Mahal Hotel-Casino and the Trump World’s Fair Hotel-Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.; the Sagamore Resort near Lake George, N.Y.; the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island near Jacksonville, Fla.; Ristorante Cantare, in Chicago, Ill.; the Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., and the Boeing Leadership Center in St. Louis.

A St. Louis native, Shiller is an active member of the American Culinary Federation, the U.S. Pastry Alliance and the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Foundation. He also serves on the executive board of the Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis. Shiller serves as a national judge for the Skills USA Commercial Baking Competition, and serves as an adjudicator for many local, state and national culinary competitions.