POIPU — Kauai’s own chef Orly Yadao was an anchor on the team that shared the grand prize of $50,000 for earning the winning spot of the Food Network’s “Halloween Wars,” Season 8, last month.
“The team had a cake master from Florida, a pumpkin master from Canada, and I was the sugar master,” Yadao said. “The Food Network assigned us to the team. It was very hard because we never worked together before and we were from all over, even the time zones were kinky.”
Yadao said they all came together ahead of the initial taping in Los Angeles.
“This was the hardest thing I have ever done,” Yadao said. “We met, prepped and taped the following day. It was like that for two full weeks. We went out at 6 a.m. and didn’t get back until past 11 p.m. Then, we had to get ready for the next taping — decide on a theme and get ready to prep.”
One of the winning designs was spotted by Jody Kjeldsen of the Poipu Beach Resort Association.
“It was a clown display with huge balloons,” Kjeldsen said.
That was memorable, Yadao said.
“The balloon was the biggest the Food Network has had on its set,” Yadao said. “And yet, the hardest one to make was the sword that was also the biggest one they’ve had on the set.”
Yadao, who is anxiously awaiting the completion of his Orly’s Patisserie in the Hokulei Shopping Village, said he had previously earned a winner’s spot at the Food Network on the “Sugar Dome: Dangers of the Deep” in 2013.
“That was easy compared to ‘Halloween Wars,’” Yadao said. “We only worked for four days and it was done. ‘Halloween War’s went on for two weeks. We started with six teams, and we were still there as the teams were eliminated. Two weeks of long days — prep, tape, prep, tape — in the end we lost sight of the goal. We were almost dead, crawling on the floor. We just wanted it done with.”
Yadao has served in top hotels on Kauai and Las Vegas.
“I like doing this kind of work,” Yadao said. “As long as the shop is successful, I’ll continue doing this.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.