Local Pastry Chef Featured on Food Network’s ‘Candy Land’

Now that the Great British Baking Show has broken all of our hearts, there’s something so much sweeter to love: “Candy Land.”

Now that the Great British Baking Show has broken all of our hearts, there’s something so much sweeter to love: “Candy Land.”

The Food Network show hosted by actress Kristin Chenoweth features a life-size, edible version of the much-loved children’s board game including a peppermint forest, chocolate mountain, lollipop woods and a licorice swamp. Thousands of pounds of candy, chocolate ganache, fresh cookies and other goodies were a dreamy larder for the contestants. According to the Food Network website, the contestants must forage for ingredients to use in their sugar masterpieces they then present to the judges.

Local pastry chef and chocolatier Robert Nieto of Jackson Family Wines and Fleur Sauvage Chocolate has helped his team sail through the first two rounds as they created a chocolate bridge (complete with gumdrop troll) and a fantasy chocolate blimp with cocoa nib race cars.

Before the show began taping in Long Beach last August, Nieto had to quarantine for a week in a hotel, where he made the cocoa nib molds — just for fun — because, well, that’s what he does.

“With the chocolate, I was just in my element,” he said.

Nieto, who has competed internationally with the US Pastry Team, joined four other bakers to make up Team Pink on the six-episode series, which premiered Nov. 15. None knew each other before the contest.

“You just show up on set and it’s go time,” he said, acknowledging that the first challenge was the hardest as they figured out where each of them fit in. His other teammates are primarily cake bakers, while Nieto has a strong background in chocolate and sugar modeling.

Nieto can’t say what happens on the next “Candy Land” episode, but he will confess that he gets a chance to be team leader (at some point) and watchers are in for a sweet treat.

If you’re dying to taste one of Nieto’s gourmet chocolates, he’ll be at the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market and Windsor Farmers Market through December. Or try his incredible desserts as part of the Jackson Family Wines’ wine pairings at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens.

Other BiteClub News

Marla Bakery: One of Santa Rosa’s best-kept bakery secrets is popping up each Saturday throughout the month of December at Miracle Plum (208 Davis St., Santa Rosa, miracleplum.com) in Santa Rosa. Superstars of the SF bakery scene, Joe Wolf and Amy Brown, have moved to Sonoma County with their kids and are now bringing us their famous English muffins, bagels, pastries and bread starting Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You will want to get in on that breakfast action. They’ll also be doing pre-order pickups at their new Windsor bakery on Sundays for those in the know. Stay up to speed at marlabakery.com.