The Bronx will be well-represented when the fifth season of Food Network’s “Spring Baking Championship: Easter” airs on Monday. Representing the Boogie Down will be Pelham Bay native Brittany Lombardi who hopes to dazzle the Food Network judges with her showstopping French and Italian cakes, that are accented by artful design and a lifelong passion for baking.
“Ever since I was a little girl, growing up in a big Italian family, I was surrounded by food,” Lombardi told the Bronx Times. “I vividly remember sitting on the counter being a taste tester for both my father and grandmother. Food was always a part of my life, and as I got older I always had an interest in learning what my family was cooking. When I was in high school, I fell in love with art and eventually wanted to pursue a career in that industry.”
Lombardi’s passion for artistry originally seemed prime for a career as an artist, but she said she was discouraged and told that she would never make it in the art world while in high school, so she needed to find new outlets for her creativity.
Instead, Lombardi found a home in Rhode Island’s Johnson & Wales University’s Baking & Pastry degree program, where she said she was able to showcase her skills as both an artist and culinary creator. That prowess led her to ply her craft under NYC’s top pastry chefs, including jobs at Chef Bobby Flay’s Restaurant Gato, and the Times Square-New York Marriott Marquis, where she officially incorporated her business Little Cake Baker in 2019.
And those experiences actually earned her an appearance on Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship” in October 2019. While she didn’t win that culinary competition, she comes back to the Food Network stage in 2022 as a more experienced competitor.
“Being on the set of Food Network is a one of a kind experience,” she said. “It’s like no other environment you’ve been in before and it could be quite intimidating at first. Having multiple cameras on you at all times while baking in a kitchen you’ve never been in before could sometimes get the best of you.”
The past year and a half has been a wild ride for the 30-year-old Bronx native. During the pandemic in 2020, Lombari was laid off from her gig at the New York Marriott Marquis — one of 852 workers that were axed by the hotel in March — but that setback served as her impetus to begin the process of opening her own physical storefront in Westchester County, the location of which is unconfirmed at this time.
“(When) I was laid off from my full-time job, it forced me to decide if I wanted to find another job working at another company, or take a leap of faith and start the process of opening up my first storefront,” she said. “This process has been a huge learning experience for me, I have always wanted to have my own bakery and I knew this was the time to start.”
Seasoned by her first go-round on “Halloween Baking Championship” and the pressure of television, the Little Cake Baker learned to “tune out” the cameras and do what she does best: bake.
And this time, she’s in it to win it.
“Being that this is my second time on Food Network, I do feel that I had an advantage on the other contestants,” Lombardi said. “Compared to my first experience, this time around I was much calmer and didn’t overthink what I was making. I had a plan and stuck with it; I did what I was comfortable and good at to showcase my best work possible. I’ve learned to remain calm, take your time and don’t overthink — you’re here for a reason.”