Best Baker in America, Season 3: Meet the Bakers

Get to know the nine world-class bakers competing for $25,000 and the title of Best Baker in America.

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Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Meet the Bakers

Yolanda Diaz, Joshua Livsey, Julie Franceschini, Eric Keppler, Edet Okon, Michael Russ II, Marian Mulero, Jeffrey De Leon, and Casey Renee are competing to win the title in Season 3 of Best Baker in America.

Casey Renee – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pastry Chef at Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Career highlights: She’s been a James Beard semi-finalist for the last two years and her restaurant was just named one of the best in Pittsburgh.

Her style: She calls her style trashy-fancy. "I have the training and techniques, but people want chocolate chip cookies and cake smashed into ice cream," says Casey.

Her dessert must-have: Edible glitter. She travels to a special store for sparkly sprays, paints and other embellishments.

Edet Okon – Houston, Texas

Freelance Cake Artist and Owner of Edet Okon

Career highlights: He baked the inaugural cake for the president of Nigeria and won a gold medal from the American Culinary Federation.

Favorite dessert: Bombes.

Favorite tool: An electronic cutter that allows him to cut intricate patterns, like lace, that he can then surround a cake with.

Eric Keppler – East Palo Alto, California

Executive Pastry Chef - Four Seasons Hotel - Silicon Valley - Palo Alto, CA

He believes: Pastry chefs are the unsung heroes of the culinary industry.

Odd baking habit: He names his dishes.

He’s best known for: Outrageous holiday dessert displays.

Favorite dessert to eat: After baking crazy desserts all day, what he really wants is cherry pie.

Jeffrey De Leon – Los Angeles

Pastry Chef Consultant

Career highlights: Winning fifth place in the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie and third at the Masters de la Boulangerie. Having his products chosen for Oprah’s favorite things.

Always on the menu: A s’mores dish.

Joshua Livsey - Boston, Massachusetts

Executive Pastry Chef at Harvest Restaurant - Cambridge, MA

His specialty: All types of pastry! He loves making wedding cakes, plated desserts, breakfast pastries, breads and more.

His strategy: To impress the judges with new and different ideas that are recognizable but unique.

Julie Franceschini – West Palm Beach

Executive Pastry Chef at Café Boulud West Palm Beach

Why she should win: She represents the American Dream. She’s different and she knows what she wants.

Background: Born in Corsica and studied pastry in Nice, France.

Why she loves her job: She works for Daniel Boulud where she combines the best of French pastry with a modern American touch.

Marian Mulero – Miami

Pastry Chef at Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove

Baking style: She loves to play with textures and temperatures.

Not just a job: Baking is an emotional experience and she loves the thrill of competition.

Michael Russ II –Oakland, CA

Executive Pastry Chef at The Wolf restaurant in Oakland, CA.

His attitude: Don’t let his baby face fool you. "I’ve got more experience and chops than any of these seasoned vets," says Michael.

Yolanda Diaz – Austin, TX

Executive Pastry Chef - Geraldine’s at Hotel Van Zandt

Baking style: Taking art and turning it into something edible. She specializes in using a variety of techniques and mix of savory and sweet flavors.

Most-unique dish: Her Corn Pop dessert is made with corn ice cream, candied jalapeno jelly, burnt marshmallow ice cream and caramel corn.