Chef Paula Dances with the Stars

Ordinarily on a Tuesday evening you’ll find me glued to “Dancing with the Stars.” But this past Tuesday night, I was dancing with the stars at the Food Network’s red carpet premier party for “Have Cake, Will Travel” which will air on Tuesdays at 9PM. 

This new comedy docu-reality show stars Ashley Vicos, the Southern blonde bombshell dubbed “the reigning queen of the cake decorating world” and her motley team, as they create amazing 3-D cakes around the country in rented kitchens, not from the familiar confines of their own culinary space in Georgia. Dennis, the Too-Personal Assistant, Erin, the All-Purpose Intern, and Mary, the Salty Sugar Artist round out the cast.

The launch party hosted by Eric Vega of was promoted as a 5-hour event held at Arena Ballroom on W. 41st in NYC. Guests of note included the cast and production crew, assorted 20-something girls, male and female Marines, and a John Travolta “Saturday Night Fever” lookalike. The invitation indicated that network execs, agents, and folks from fashion and film would also be attending.

When Michael and I arrived, the party was in full swing, and Ashley graciously posed for photos, gave out milk chocolate lip-shaped candies (lips are a prominent part of her logo design for Sweet Ashley’s, her cake studio), introduced 2 of her episodes  projected onto 2 jumbo screens, and danced the night away until her stiletto heels came off. The pilot episode showed Ashley and her team whipping up an amazing cake for the Harlem Globetrotter’s 85th Anniversary. The second episode highlighted a Mardi Gras design that brought Ashley back to her stomping grounds in New Orleans. Her three daughters and family members were there to greet this single mom for her homecoming.

Our early photos of the event show me “near” Ashley thanks to Michael’s photographic talents. Later photos actually show Ashley and I huddling together for pics taken by a myriad of photographers as well as dancing together. Check out photos (83 & 84) of me posing and dancing with Ashley.

I wished her good luck with the show, told her about my passion for teaching kids to cook, and gave her my business card that had 3 whimsical cupcakes on it. I mentioned that I really admire her decision to do her cake designs remotely. Since I travel every weekend to different towns, different kitchens or partner locations, I know first-hand how much organization and pre-planning is necessary to pull off events. Ashley was taken by what I had to say, and told me that she began cooking at the age of 5, and got her start in making cakes by using her Easy-Bake Oven.

After our few special moments together, Ashley announced that it wouldn’t be a party without cake. While it wasn’t one of her masterpieces, our bounty consisted of assorted pastries from a local bakery placed on the bar. Some of the standout items for me included a giant cannoli with delicious cannoli filling and individual mini cannoli shells for scooping out the cream. That cannoli and the tender pignoli cookies that melted in your mouth took the cake for me. Michael was partial to the rainbow cookies and chocolate mousse pastry.

After sampling the yummy desserts, we hung out on the dance floor, and checked out the rest of the club. The décor included clusters of red balloons with a mini mirror ball attached as a weight a la the mirror ball trophy from “Dancing with the Stars.” So, now my evening’s entertainment came full circle. Me, a dance floor, a mirror ball, and some stars to mingle with. Next Tuesday, it’s back to sweats and watching a Viennese waltz. After this experience, I’d love to be savoring some Viennese pastries, too. Oh well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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