With the nicknames "The Sugar Daddy" and "King of Cakes," it's obvious that Delaware loves Chef Dana Herbert. Even though he already had his own bakery in Bear, called Desserts by Dana, the talented chef didn't become a worldwide baking sensation until he won the first season of TLC's Cake Boss: Next Great Baker back in 2011 — which awarded him a new car, $50,000 and an apprenticeship at Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. With fantastic recipes featured in many different publications, including JustLuxe, Chef Herbert has appeared on countless television programs and has created cakes for some of the world's biggest names (like Oprah Winfrey, Ice Cube and Jill Biden).
As if his schedule hasn't been full enough since his reality TV show win, Herbert is next gearing up to break the world record for the largest wedding cake this October in Las Vegas at the International Baking Industry Exposition hosted by Buddy Valastro (host of Cake Boss).
With an early love for cooking inspired by his grandmother, Herbert's love of food developed into an academic career. He first went to the University of Delaware and finished with a Bachelor's Degree in Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management, and next moved on to Johnson and Wales University to complete a second Bachelor's in Culinary Arts. It was during his last year of culinary school that he started noticing the pastry students. "I guess you could say it was the art that kind of drew me in, so to speak, and the physical baking aspect came after that," recalls Herbert. Following his newfound passion for baking, Herbert also added an Associates of Arts in Pastry to his list of degrees.
While going to culinary school certainly isn't necessary for everyone, Herbert gives academia credit for showing him the fundamentals. "Everybody has a different path in life; I think for me personally, that's just the path that God put me on and I think it's helped me a lot," he says. "It was good in showing me that baking is more of a science. Sometimes in culinary you can just wing in, where in baking if you're off, you're off. You can't always fix it."
After his win was announced to the world he found himself on a train to Hoboken to Carlo's Bakery to start filming for his apprenticeship the very next day. "Life's just a little different, people recognize you and want pictures and autographs. It's different," he says. "I try to use it as positively as possible by inspiring the youth and do the best I can with it."
Considering he's known for his sweets, I definitely had to know about his favorite dessert recipe, the one that never fails to impress. "If we're talking killer desserts that always gets them…I do this caramelized apple French toast with bacon, almond-lace cookie and bacon ice cream. Always works," he laughs.