The runner up of Is It Cake? on Netflix is from Toronto
You may know by now that the runner up of Netflix's new baking illusion show Is It Cake? is from Toronto, but what you might not realize is that she's also a full-time educator.
In case you haven't binged the entire first season of the new show by now, contestants on Is It Cake? compete by baking cakes that look just like real life objects, trying to fool a set of judges.
The runner up of the entire competition was April Julian, who created an impressive vintage sewing machine out of nothing more than cake that the judges actually thought was real. She was narrowly beaten out by Andrew Fuller of Iowa, who made a realistic suitcase cake to take home the $50,000 grand prize.
Julian didn't go home empty-handed either, though, winning thousands of dollars along the way in her journey on the show.
She's mostly self-taught and first started cake decorating in 2007, but has also taken a few classes at local George Brown College. It's fitting she wound up on a food show, as food TV was a big part of her initial inspiration.
"Whether it was woodworking or painting or baking, I've loved working with my hands and using my creativity since I was a child," Julian tells blogTO.
"I caught the famous Food Network chef Ron Ben Israel on the Martha Stewart Show making a sugar orchid for a wedding cake. I wrote to him to ask where I could learn this craft and he was kind enough to write back. He said he loved Toronto and directed me to some resources."
Not only does Julian work full time as the Director of Education for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, she's also the mom of a two-year-old toddler.
"I can function at a high level on very little sleep," says Julian. "Once she's in bed, I get to throw on an apron and let my creative side take over. It can be exhausting but it also gives me a mental break from the seriousness of my day job."
When she was a toddler herself, Julian actually immigrated to Toronto with her family from the Philippines. Though her family eventually moved out to the suburbs, Julian moved back to the city and has been here for about 12 years, loving how you can sample foods from different countries so easily here.
"The culture of Toronto is such that people from all different backgrounds are not just open to trying those cuisines, they actively seek out those new flavours and cultural experiences," says Julian.
"I think this is incredibly freeing in terms of allowing me to infuse my Filipino culture into my flavours like I did on the show with my duck cake, where I filled layers of vanilla bean cake with coconut Italian meringue buttercream, mango coulis and white chocolate crispearls."
She doesn't fully get why a big U.S. production company would want a "random Canadian woman" with barely any following to compete in an American cast, but she wanted to draw on her Filipino background to be someone viewers could root for.
"I wanted to represent both my homelands, Canada and the Philippines, as best I could on this international platform," says Julian. "Like, 'oh wow, I got invited to the cool kids party,' so I wanted to prove to everyone that I could hold my own in that arena."
And hold her own she did, with the prize money to show for it. Though she's treating her husband who took care of their toddler while she was filming to a few gifts, she's planning on saving and/or investing most of her winnings.
She's also not planning on leaving her job, but she's open to future opportunities that may come out of this experience, and dreams of one day being on Great Canadian Baking Show or even judging a baking competition herself.
Perhaps obviously, she's seen an uptick in followers on social media as well as requests for cakes, and anyone interested in working with her can get in touch with her through her social media or website.
"If you would have told me I was going to be on Netflix's number one TV show in the U.S. and Canada, and in the top 10 in several countries around the world, I would have told you you should probably go lie down and call your doctor," says Julian.
"Everything about being a part of this show still makes me want to pinch myself, but being in the finale and the runner up was just, pardon the pun, icing on the cake."
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