Meet the Competitors of Spring Baking Championship

Get to know the bakers competing for a chance to win the $50,000 prize.

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Meet the Bakers

Eight bakers — a mix of professional, amateur and self-taught — have come from across the country to compete and prove their skills, all for a chance at winning the grand prize and the championship title.

Andy Chlebana — Plainfield, Ill.

Andy attended the Culinary Institute of America before working at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago and The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Fla., and in Washington, D.C. This competitive baker was named the American Culinary Federation's National Pastry Chef of the Year (2008) and one of Dessert Professional's Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America (2013). He is a culinary arts professor at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill.

Chris Taylor — Atlanta

Chris holds a Ph.D. in epidemiology but he's been a home baking enthusiast for more than 10 years. Since 2011 he's earned more than 200 awards from competing in baking contests at the local, regional, state and national levels.

Damiano Carrara — Moorpark, Calif.

Originally from Lucca, Italy, Damiano and his brother Massimiliano left for California to follow their dreams to open an Italian pasticceria. They've since expanded their operations and now run pastry shops in Moorpark and Agoura Hills, Calif. Damiano's passion is creating quality products using the finest ingredients, and making customers feel a part of his family.

Dwayne Ingraham — Oxford, Miss.

Born into a family of cooks in Louisiana, Dwayne attended the New England Culinary Institute and went on to work at The Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Fla., before moving to Las Vegas. There he helped open the Encore's Switch Steak. He then moved on to Michael Mina's Seablue at the MGM Grand. Dwayne is currently the corporate pastry chef for City Grocery Restaurant Group in his hometown.

Juliana Evans — Orlando, Fla.

Even as a homemaker and stay-at-home mom, Juliana finds time to spare for her passion, baking. She loves teaching her four daughters how to bake, and enjoys sharing her treats with family and friends, which led to the opening of her own food truck, Graciously Sweet. She also has competed in many baking contests and runs her own blog.

Kristine de la Cruz Los Angeles

Kristine is the owner of Crème Caramel LA, a Los Angeles-based dessert shop specializing in traditional recipes with a Filipino twist. This self-taught baker took her passion for baking and built a business around her favorite Filipino dessert, leche flan. She wants to spread the word on Filipino eats.

Sandy Hunter — Chicago

After going to school for theater, Sandy found her real passion was baking. After earning a degree in baking and pastry from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, she went on to work at The Art Institute of Chicago. In a few years she became the catering pastry chef there, later leaving to run a kosher bakery. For the past four years she has been at Sweet Sensations Pastry.

Simone Faure — St. Louis

After culinary school Simone worked at The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, and then became executive pastry chef at the hotel's St. Louis location. Inspired by her French husband, Simone found a love for pastry, naming her St. Louis shop after the couple's favorite, chouquette. Simone's work has been highlighted in American Way Magazine, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

More Spring Baking Championship

Go behind the scenes of the series with photo galleries, video highlights and interviews with the bakers.

See More : Spring Baking Championship