Sugar Loaf chef to bake off on TV

Laura Vreeland competes in the Home Chef Showdown, June 24

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  • Photo, Live Well Network Laura Vreeland of Warwick

  • Photo, Live Well Network Vreeland tackles the grill to create a winning dessert while host Chef Ryan Scott watches.

  • Photo, Live Well Network Vreeland poses with the host (Chef Ryan Scott) and judges Duff Goldman (Ace of Cakes) and Margo True (Food Editor of Sunset Magazine).

  • Photo provided Laura's Sweets Specialty Bake Shoppe in Sugar Loaf.

  • Photo, Diane Bollen of Dragonfly Studios in Warwick The Vreeland family.

Where to watch

Catch Home Chef Showdown in the Warwick area on Sunday, June 22 at 8 p.m., and continues on Monday, June 23 at 8:30 p.m. and Tuesday, June 24 at 8:30 p.m. on the following channels:
Over the Air: 10.3 and 19.3
Comcast: VT- 307
Fairpoint Communications: NY- 270
Mid-Hudson Cablevision: NY- 195
Midtel Cable TV Inc: NY- 196
Princetown Cable Princetown: NY- 79, 107, 112
Time Warner: 1241
Verizon FiOS: NY- 466

A home baker for seven years, Laura Vreeland is getting her 15 minutes of fame as she bakes off in a dessert showdown in California.

The Live Well Network will premiere a special three-episode cook-off series called "Home Chef Showdown." Vreeland — owner of Laura's Sweets Specialty Bake Shoppe in Sugar Loaf — will compete against three other chefs for the best summer dessert.

The series will air Sunday, June 22 at 8 p.m., and continues on Monday, June 23 at 8:30 p.m. and Tuesday, June 24 at 8:30 p.m.

Baking off
"I applied and after an extensive selection process and interview process I was lucky enough to be chosen. I felt at that point, it was the greatest thing that ever happened," Vreeland said. "I had never been to California, it was my first time out there."

Live Well paid for Vreeland to fly out to California for the week to compete and film the episode.

"The experience was just wonderful from beginning to end," Vreeland said. "At my age at 48, I was really going to live it up so I rented a convertible... We shot for two days really so I had many days for myself. I stayed in San Francisco and drove the coast to Carmel."

Hosted by Chef Ryan Scott each episode of the three-part special series features three home chefs from across the country as they compete for best appetizer, grilled meal, and dessert.

The dishes are judged by a panel of culinary personalities Duff Goldman (Ace of Cakes), Jamika Pessoa (The Next Food Network Star), Chris Koetke (host of Live Well Network’s Let’s Dish), and Margo True (Food Editor of Sunset Magazine). In each episode, the home chefs compete both for the title of winner of their food category, as well as a $1,000 gift card to Cost Plus World Market.

"Winning the competition or not," Vreeland said. "I feel as though I had already won when I was chosen to compete."

Vreeland could not disclose too much about the competition but did say one of the twists was that the grill was her only heat source to cook a dessert.

"I had never made a dessert on the grill in my life," Vreeland said. "It was a little tricky."

Additionally, Vreeland says that the contestants did not know what the ingredients were prior to the challenge and had no time to prepare.

"There was a ton of pressure," Vreeland said. "I’ve heard that when they lift the dome to find out what's under people will say they already know what's under it. — Absolutely not, they tell you nothing, there is no time to prepare. You are only given a standard pantry — which is different to everybody. We basically walked on set and began. No recipes. But it was so much fun. I met the other competitors who were hysterical, funny, great people. It was a wonderful experience."

A home baker

Vreeland began baking 25 years ago when her first daughter, Gianna was born.

"Baking is my passion. It's what I love to do," said Vreeland. "I learned everything from family members. I am completely untrained, I have never taken a class. I learned everything from the school of hard knocks, I guess you could say."

Taking her baking passion one step further, seven years ago Vreeland began to sell her pastry products out of her home in Warwick to the community and to local eateries such as the Copper Bottom in Florida, N.Y.

Having much success with baking, it was always Vreeland's and her sister Maria Malara's dream to open a restaurant together. Malara got pregnant at 41 and she could no longer continue to work as a bartender. Malara approached Vreeland about changing gears and finally following their dream.

The sisters took the plunge two years ago and opened Laura's Sweets Specialty Bake Shoppe in Sugar Loaf.

"I am very proud to say all of our products are all natural and made from scratch," Vreeland said. "We crack every egg and don't use chemicals."

A dream that has finally flourished and taking center stage on television, Vreeland feels very grateful.

"We did this all," Vreeland said, "with blood, sweat and tears."

Laura's Sweets Specialty Bake Shoppe is located at 62 Wood Road in Sugar Loaf. Hours are Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information contact 845-610-5200 or or

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