LAKEVIEW — A Lakeview bakery owner who competed in the Food Network’s annual Halloween Baking Championship placed second in the competition.
James Cox, baker and co-owner of Chicago Sugar Daddy Patisserie at 3243 N. Broadway, made it to the competition’s final episode, sharing second place with another baker.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” Cox said in an Instagram video posted after the finale. “I’ve earned friends for life and had an experience that will last a lifetime.”
Cox was among 12 bakers vying to win the championship, in which contestants are challenged to make Halloween-themed desserts that look good and taste delicious.
In the first episode, Cox created a creepy clown cake and a “tarot-misu.”
Throughout the season, fans of Chicago Sugar Daddy rallied behind Cox, cheering him on to win the competition.
“We may not have won, but having your support has been the greatest prize for me,” Cox said on Instagram.
Cox previously told Block Club he had been a fan of the Halloween Baking Championship for several years and applied repeatedly to no avail.
This year, a producer who saw Chicago Sugar Daddy’s Instagram account reached out and invited Cox to try again.
Cox, the only contestant representing Chicago, said it was surreal to bake for judges Carla Hall, Stephanie Boswell and Zac Young.
“I’ve never been starstruck in my life before,” Cox said.
Cox started baking when he was 12 years old and spent the next 20 years perfecting his craft. He previously worked at a country club, where he often had to bake full birthday cakes with two hours’ notice — something he said helped prepare him for the tight deadlines of the show.
Before filming, he spent weeks fine-tuning his baking abilities at the Lakeview bakery, he said.
“I went back to school by myself, for myself, in the shop,” Cox said. “I refreshed my memory on types of cakes and fillings and buttercreams and tart shells and pie fillings.”
In the process of practicing for and filming the show, Cox rediscovered a few techniques he plans to start using at Chicago Sugar Daddy, he said.
Cox told Block Club he enjoyed filming the championship so much that he’d love to compete in another baking competition, whether on the Food Network or elsewhere.
“This is just the beginning of all great things,” Cox wrote on Instagram.
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: