ABC's The Taste Features Local Cake Designer Jay Qualls



Last summer, casting directors from ABC’s The Taste paid a visit to Nashville. Several lucky Bites readers — including Trish Mathisen of Nutrisha catering — got VIP passes for the audition, but didn’t called upon for the next step. Carlos Davis of Riffs Catering did move forward to have the celebrity judges taste his food, but wasn’t chosen (their loss!). However, one Middle Tennessean did win a spot in the competition: "cake designer" to the stars, Jay Qualls.

Though officially from Murfreesboro, Jay Qualls Cakes is located in Nashville, and Qualls has produced wedding cakes for numerous country music stars including Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride and Hillary Scott. During last week's season premiere episode, which showed contestants' auditions, Qualls shared his personal story of weight gain and loss and coming to terms with his sexuality. The glimpse we got of his personality indicates he’ll be fun to watch.

Qualls previously competed on a Cake Boss spinoff, Next Great Baker (placing fourth), but he prepared a savory dish, a ginger pork dumpling to impress the Taste judges. However, his skill with cakes was probably a key factor in being chosen by three of the four judges to join their team, since pastry is something many chefs and home cooks tend not to practice. Of the judges who offered him a spot, Qualls chose to join Nigella Lawson’s team.

The Taste airs Thursdays at 7 p.m. on ABC, and this week's episode is the beginning of the real competition. You can follow Jay Qualls on Twitter and Facebook for some behind-the-scenes commentary and other news and learn more about his cakes on the company’s website.

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