This weekend, watch a Cornell invasive species expert extend her knowledge to pastry making. Holly Menninger, senior extension associate and coordinator of the Invasive Species Research Institute in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will appear as a guest judge on the reality show Food Network Challenge: Monster Bug Cakes, on Sunday, Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the Food Network.
On the show, professional pastry chefs will compete to make a 3-foot, insect-shaped cake – complete with a moveable part – for a $10,000 prize.
With no previous experience or knowledge about the technical aspects of cake construction and decoration, it was Menninger’s job as guest judge to evaluate the entomological authenticity of the pieces, she explained.
“Did the bug have the right number of legs? Were body parts – like wings and legs – in the right place? Did the contestant capture the real essence of the bug in their cake? Of course, I was also able to judge the cake’s overall aesthetics,” she said.
Menninger learned about the show through colleagues in the University of Maryland Entomology Department – her Ph.D. home.
– Anne Ju