Flourishing bakers have returned to the fourth season on TLC’s Next Great Baker with the Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro, including two local cake creators, Team Tan: Meredith Gulfman and Don “The Cake Don” Donneruno of Taste of Home Bakery in North Bellmore. Gulfman and Donneruno are the only team representing New York, competing against 18 other hopefuls from across the country.
“Four years ago, I called my friend [Don] to help me with a cake I was making because I knew I couldn’t do it,” Gulfman, of Westbury, said. “He never touched a cake nor really wanted to.” She said she had Don in mind for her cake project because of his artistic talents. “From that day on he became known as ‘The Cake Don’ and he has become an incredible cake artist.”
Gulfman and Donneruno have worked independently on cakes together for the past three years.
“I was a huge fan of the first three seasons of the show and the fact that this season was teams of two, it was a no-brainer,” said Donneruno of East Northport, originally from Whitestone. “Asking Meredith to do the show with me was my way of saying thank you to her for getting me involved in cake decorating.”
The Long Island cake duo trudged through a long auditioning process of submitting audition videos and then live interviews at Carlo’s Bakery headquarters in Lackawanna, NJ, before receiving the phone call from the show with news that they had been selected from thousands of applicants to compete this season.
“I know it is going to be such an amazing learning experience as far as baking and cake decorating goes,” said Gulfman. “I am looking forward to going on this journey with my best friend and seeing where it winds up taking us. I am doing it because it is something that Don and I can only do together, and it is a once in a lifetime experience that no one should pass up.”
“My great-grandparents owned a bakery in Brooklyn in the 50s, so my grandpa used to bake with me all the time when I was little,” said Gulfman. “I have always loved it; as I got older I just kept on doing it more and more.” Gulfman is a teacher in Merrick, but her hobby and passion is cake baking.
“The Cake Don” Donneruno shared, “If you do what you love, and do it with passion; people will really dig it.” He added, “Local New York inspiration dates back for me to when I was a teenager growing up in Queens and taking the 7 train from Flushing to Manhattan and seeing all the amazing graffiti that was being done in the early ’80s by amazing artists that were finding new ways to express themselves; it became the foundation for my love of art, and fueled my desire to have large amounts of people see my creations.”