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Knoxville's Sarah Ono Jones Wins Food Network's 'Halloween Wars'

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Knoxville's Sarah Ono Jones Wins Food Network's 'Halloween Wars'

Article excerpt

Knoxville cake artist Sarah Ono Jones and her teammates on Food Network's "Halloween Wars" took home $50,000 in prize money after winning the series of competitions that make up the four-episode series Sunday night. The employee of Magpies Cakes served on a three- member team called Black Magic with pumpkin carver Gabriel Vinas and sugar artist Jeff Ontiveros. They competed against four other teams, facing two Halloween-themed culinary challenges on each of four episodes, with one team eliminated weekly. Team Black Magic made it to the finale, vying for the win against Team Psychotic Misfits, as they created nightmare-themed works in the final episode.

Here's what Jones had to say about her experience.

How did it feel when team Black Magic won the first small scare challenge on the first episode?

It felt great. I was a little worried about how sloppy the devil face looked because I had never sculpted so fast in my life. I had to keep reminding myself that the small scare is a 45-minute challenge. Normally, I would take more time to make sure proportions are correct and airbrush with more precision. The devil is in the details!

Despite having extra help in two of the challenges, your team failed to win either of the five-hour challenges. How did that affect the team mentally?

Of course we wanted to win a Spine Chiller; however, we didn't let it get us down. I really admired all the winning pieces. Our team listened to what the judges had to say and used that advice to help us in the next challenge.

Your individual work was praised throughout the competition, but some of your teammates were singled out with negative comments by the judges. How difficult was that to hear and how was the criticism handled off set?

I think that any criticisms we took, we took knowingly and as a team. It's the nature of the beast when it comes to timed challenges. I don't think any of the teams were able to do their best work. Five hours may seem like a lot of time, but, it isn't when you are designing a huge cake/sugar/pumpkin display. If every team was able to take their time and finish every task they had set out to accomplish, then negative criticisms would probably be taken more to heart. There were things that we knew we didn't get a chance to finish -- for example, airbrushing, distressing, etc.

In the second episode's 5-hour-challenge, team Black Magic was given a scolding for not telling a cohesive story. How did that criticism influence any future creations?

We took each criticism and used it to better our next creation. We didn't get upset about any criticism or scolding. I think one of our strengths as a team is keeping a cool and level head.

Team Psychotic Misfits seemed to have dissension in the ranks. Did you feel like it was an adequate portrayal? Did that team's dissension affect the atmosphere in the room?

I didn't focus on what was happening in any other kitchen. The amount of talent on the other teams left me feeling intimidated, and I really had to keep my head in the game to keep myself from getting psyched out. However, there were times when we would hear bickering and banter coming from across the room.

Your team seemed to get along pretty well. Were there any behind the scene bickering or disagreements?

Well, there was an ongoing argument that haunted us throughout the competition. Gabriel was not a fan of Asian cuisine. Jeff and I love it. So, there were times when we would disagree on where to eat. However, we usually fixed that by grabbing something for Gabriel somewhere else and he would brown bag it at Chinese food restaurant. All joking aside, our team got along really well.

Were you happy with the way you and your teammates were portrayed?

Yes, I feel like Jeff and Gabriel are my brothers now. So, I don't like anyone criticizing them. …

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