MIAMI (VINnews/SandyEller) – A self-taught kosher custom cake designer from Hollywood, Florida found herself in a sweet position after being tapped to compete on Food Network’s six episode Candy Land series.
It was towards the end of last winter when 34 year old Miriam Adar was first recruited by Food Network for the cable television show that had 20 contestants on five teams facing culinary challenges on a set modeled after the game Candy Land. The life-sized mockup of the iconic game, which has sold 55 million copies over the past 72 years, features recreations of five areas on the Candy Land board: Gumdrop Mountain, Lollipop Woods, Chocolate Mountain, Lemon Lime Springs and Peppermint Forest. In each episode, teams were tasked with making a unique creation using elements from the colorful, sugar-laden set.
Adar has more than 12,000 followers on her Instagram page which shows pictures of her realistic looking creations including a guitar, a Patek Philippe watched nestled in a wooden box and even a canister of Lysol wipes. The mother of three admitted that she was shocked to receive the email invitation to apply for the show.
“They told me that a talent scout found me on Instagram,” Adar told VIN News. “I feel very lucky. I know that this doesn’t happen to everybody.”
Adar began the application process which, because of the pandemic, involved Zoom interviews. She told Candy Land producers from the very start that she was unable to do any work on Shabbos which turned out to be the competition’s one off day. Adar was accepted for the show and headed to Los Angeles in August, with all twenty contestants undergoing mandatory five day quarantines in their hotel suites and multiple COVID tests, which were repeated every other day during the three weeks of filming.
Walking onto the set for the first time was a surreal experience, with contestants awed by the massive displays created by a team of more than 120 people using a massive stockpile of sugary ingredients including over 100 pounds of buttercream, 650 pounds of candy, 170 pounds of chocolate and more than a thousand lollipops. While other contestants sampled the goodies to their hearts’ content, Adar satisfied her sweet tooth by snacking on mints, whose wrappers were clearly marked with the kashrus certification of the Orthodox Union.
Each team’s cake and sugar artists on each team used their talents in a variety of ways, with Adar creating the face of a mythical candy creature that won the show’s debut episode and making three clown dolls on her team’s peppermint merry go round that took first place in episode three. Given that she wasn’t working in a kosher environment, there were occasions when Adar had to think out of the box.
“There was one time where I had to bake a cake and I had a teammate do all of the tasting elements,” said Adar. “He was a pastry chef and I trusted him even more than I would have trusted myself to get the flavors right if I could have tasted it.”
While getting kosher food delivered to her hotel suite was a simple matter, spending Shabbos alone in a hotel room was the most difficult part of the Candy Land experience for Adar.
“You are completely out of your element and it was like spending Shabbos in the wilderness,” recalled Adar. “It is hard to understand what that is like. I also felt bad that my teammates were busy prepping for Sunday and brainstorming and I wasn’t able to be involved in that but they were all very understanding.”
Adar baked her first masterpiece seven years ago when her oldest daughter, Ayala, turned four, turning to YouTube to learn how to make a princess cake. She was one of the few contestants in the competition who had no professional training or experience. One of 11 children who grew up in Lakewood, Adar said that most of her family has seen the three episodes of Candy Land that have aired so far, including her parents, who now live in Jerusalem’s Old City. Her brother who is currently studying at the Mir Yeshiva hasn’t been watching the show, but has been excited to get regular updates on the competition.
Adar and her yellow teammates have impressed the judges so far, with two teams already eliminated from the competition. The grand finale will air on December 20th with the winning team taking home a $25,000 prize, but Adar isn’t able to share any information on the upcoming installments of the show.
“My kids are very excited and their friends and teachers are watching,” said Adar. “They can’t wait to see who won.”