Local Baker Wins $50K in “Cupcake War” Championship

Kevin VanDeraa, owner of Cupcake in Minneapolis, won a $50,000 prize for taking first place during the championship series of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and the money will fund an expansion of his business.

The owner of a local cupcake shop caught the national spotlight this weekend as he reigned supreme in a televised championship “cupcake war.”

Kevin VanDeraa, owner of Minneapolis bakery Cupcake, was crowned the winner on Sunday’s finale of the “Cupcake Champions” series—an all-star competition between past winners of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars television program.

The “champions” series featured 16 former winners in a bake-off for a $50,000 prize—and it marked VanDeraa’s fourth appearance on the program. He appeared on Cupcake Wars last year but didn’t win, returned this past April and was victorious, and was then asked to return for the championship series’ qualifying round.

VanDeraa advanced past the qualifying “champions” episode, during which he created cupcakes based on the theme of the television show Glee. (Check out the recipe for VanDeraa’s winning “Anti-Bullying Dodge Ball Cupcakes,” which feature peanut butter and jelly, here.)

During Sunday’s championship episode, VanDeraa worked his way through two initial rounds and then won the final challenge, which involved creating a 1,000-cupcake display that drew inspiration from Food Network celebrities. VanDeraa’s winning concoctions included carrot cake cupcakes with spiked frosting meant to resemble the hair of Guy Fieri and s’more-flavored cupcakes topped with graham cracker campfires that were inspired by grill-master Bobby Flay, among others.

VanDeraa hosted a viewing party for the episode on Sunday night at the New Century Theatre in Minneapolis.

He told Twin Cities Business on Monday that he intends to open a new Cupcake location on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue this fall, and his $50,000 prize will go toward that project. “It comes at a great time,” he said.

VanDeraa said he’s also begun discussions with the Mall of America in Bloomington, where he plans to open a third location, although those plans are still in the “infancy stage.” VanDeraa is considering expanding his existing Minneapolis bakery and café, too.

In addition to the $50,000 prize, the Food Network show has provided significant exposure for Cupcake: VanDeraa said sales skyrocketed at his store following his initial Cupcake Wars win in April, and “it’s a mad house down there today.”