Richard Ruskell Bio

Richard Ruskell is a judge on Cake Wars.

Photo by: Emile Wamsteker ©2016, Food Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Emile Wamsteker, 2016, Food Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Richard Ruskell is a judge on Cake Wars.

Currently the executive pastry chef for UCLA (Go, Bruins!), Richard Ruskell started his career in New York City. A graduate of one of the first classes at the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center), he was appointed the chef patissier at the Phoenician, a 4-star 5-diamond resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he created desserts for the award-winning Mary Elaine’s restaurant.

While in Arizona he opened his pastry shop, Pastry Maxine, catering to the finest hotels in the area and winning every "Best of ... " award the local newspapers could give. Food & Wine magazine declared his brownie the best they had ever tasted.

Richard also taught at the New England Culinary Institute. Waking up at 4 a.m., he made his way through the crisp Vermont air to teach bread production. On a particular snowy morning, with about 3 feet of snow on the ground, he received a phone call and was asked if he’d like to open a luxury hotel in Laguna Beach, Calif. And although he thinks the leaves turning color in the fall cannot be equaled, the pull of warmer weather drew him to sunny Southern California.

It was during his time at The Montage Hotel in Southern California that Richard really started flexing his culinary muscles with chocolate and cake artistry. He created many pieces for such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé and Jay Z, U2, Shakira, Meryl Streep, and many others. He created the 50th anniversary cake for Los Angeles Magazine. Being the "ultimate fan" of the soap opera All My Children, Richard created a huge chocolate display and cake for the show's last taping. He brought it to the studio, addressed the cast and loved every minute. Keeping Up With the Kardashians also commissioned him to create the engagement party cake for Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.

Richard has won numerous awards for his pastry work. His team took first place in sugar art at the National Team Pastry Championship. He has been named, twice, to the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America list. He has also been listed as one of the Top 10 Cake Artists and one of the top chocolatiers in the country. He has appeared on many Food Network shows, including Food Network Challenge, Sugar Dome, Halloween War and Last Cake Standing; he has won every one.

In his spare time, when he has it, Richard teaches cake decorating, pastry and chocolate. He and his husband are in the process of restoring a 1912 California bungalow in a historic Los Angeles neighborhood, where they live with their bull terrier, Zoey.

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Jonathan Bennett Bio

Before his breakout role as Aaron Samuels in the hit movie Mean Girls, Jonathan Bennett launched his career on the small screen. After getting his start starring in the Emmy Award-winning series All My Children, Jonathan appeared on Law & Order: SVU, Smallville and Veronica Mars. In addition to his work on television, he has starred in many leading motion pictures, including Love Wrecked, The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, Cheaper by the Dozen and National Lampoon's Van Wilder: Freshman Year. He added executive producer to his resume with the films Authors Anonymous, Pawn and Submerged, in which he also starred. Recently he garnered national attention as a competitor on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, where he won "Fan Favorite." Jonathan currently serves as host of the Food Network series Cake Wars.

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Richard Blais Bio

Most recognizable as the winner of Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars, Richard Blais has played an influential role in hospitality for the last 15 years. He began his career, as so many young aspiring chefs do, as the "poissonnier" at McDonald's. It was here that he first dabbled in deconstruction in cuisine, serving Filet-O-Fish sandwiches sans top bun. His developing passion for food and the service industry led Richard to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. As an ambitious student, he spent time between semesters studying at the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., under renowned Chef Thomas Keller and alongside then-rising stars Grant Achatz and Eric Ziebold. Upon graduating from the CIA in 1998, Richard ventured to New York for the opportunity to work with Chef Daniel Boulud at his famous flagship, Restaurant Daniel. Richard then followed his professional compass to Roses, Spain, where he completed a brief stage at El Bulli with culinary wizard Ferran Adrià. In 2000 Richard relocated to Atlanta to oversee a local seafood concept. His wildly creative approach to cooking and cuisine led to the establishment of Trail Blais, a forward-thinking culinary company that has consulted on, designed and operated some of Atlanta's most-popular eateries, including multiple outposts of Flip Burger Boutique and HD-1. He recently launched The Spence, a restaurant concept in midtown Atlanta, and opened Juniper & Ivy, in San Diego, where he offers a refined approach to American cuisine and showcases the seasonal and local ingredients of California. In Richard's debut cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate, he reveals a simplified approach to adventurous cooking by sharing new flavor combinations and textures to reinvent home cooks' classic dishes. Each of the 125 recipes is straightforward enough to make at home, but for those who want to try using liquid nitrogen or a sous-vide machine, Richard offers fun variations on his recipes that add another level of excitement in the kitchen. Try This at Home was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in 2014 in the Cookbook: General Cooking category. In December 2013 Richard appeared as the host of a brand-new television program entitled Cook Your Ass Off. The show, which aired on the HLN network, is a transformational culinary contest that focuses on the health struggles of everyday people. Talented chef contestants are pitted against each other in a three-round competition to transform daily indulgences into healthy and delicious meals. Richard has also appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Live! with Kelly and Michael, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as well as in numerous publications, including The New York Times, InStyle and Food & Wine magazine.

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