When Alicia Wolding joined Datz as the new executive pastry chef last year her hair was rainbow — pretty much the whole ROY G BIV spectrum in cascading tresses. More recently, it’s bright purple, somewhere between iris and lilac. This is the color you’ll see if you watch the four MTV Meme Cakes segments she has appeared in, including one in honor of Chris Pratt’s birthday in which she makes a Dinosaur-Us-Rex chicken and waffle birthday cake.
If you want to catch the rainbow version, you’re going to have to watch the Netflix original series Sugar Rush that debuts July 13. Because of confidentiality agreements, she can’t say much about how she did, or even what the show challenges are. But she did reveal a few tidbits: It’s a dessert competition show, with Candace Nelson, Adriano Zumbo and Hunter March as judges.
"It’s very time-involved challenges. It is a lot more than viewers are expecting, a whole new show not like anything else out there," Wolding, 24, said. "It’s so true to its name — it truly is a sugar rush. It might make you sweat."
Originally from Detroit, Wolding started baking young, at 6. She began cake work at 8, her mom throwing Barbie cake-decorating parties for her (remember those cakes with the Barbie doll stuck in the middle with a lavishly iced hoop skirt made of cake?).
"I feel like watching Emeril Live in middle school made me think I could do television. So, I started cooking with my dad. In high school I decided I wanted to go the pastry route."
She started at Morley Chocolate Factory in the Detroit area then moved on to cupcake shops, working up to decorating cakes. Hating the snow, she relocated to Florida a couple years ago and worked at Small Cakes in Brandon and Bakery Melange in Westchase before landing the gig at Datz and sister bakery Dough.
Her big break, it turns out, was Instagram. MTV found her there (@thegirlwiththewhisktattoo), reached out and a couple weeks later showed up in Tampa to film four episodes that air on Tuesdays. Similarly, executives for the Netflix series sought her out because of her social media presence. After a series of Skype interviews she flew to Los Angeles in September for a week of filming. Morning calls were at 5 a.m. and days ran until 10 p.m., but Wolding was thrilled with the process.
"I put my heart into what I created, and it really represented who I am as a pastry chef."
The irony? Her fiancé David McCall, who works at the new 18 Bagels in Tampa, was a competitor on another episode. We’ll have to watch to find out whether the two Tampa contenders met with sweet success.