In her almost seven years in New Orleans, Ruby Bloch has gone from restaurant hostess to business owner.
Along the way, the New Jersey native learned the art of pastry making under the tutelage of Coquette restaurant's first pastry chef, Zachary Miller.
Many mounds of dough later, viewers can catch Bloch in action when she and nine other bakers from across the country square off on the new season of Food Network's "Spring Baking Championship" starting Monday night.
The winner of the competition will take home $50,000.
"I was super nervous going into it and pretty much the entire experience I was nervous, but I had a really great time and so many fun things came out of it," Bloch, 28, says of her first TV competition. "Just meeting other pastry chefs from around the country who do such interesting things. It was a really exciting experience."
Shot in a New Orleans production studio from late August to early September, Bloch explains that each episode is divided into pre-heat and main heat challenges.
The winner of the shorter pre-heat challenge gets an advantage in the main heat. Then judges Duff Goldman, Nancy Fuller and Lorraine Pascale determine a winner and send home the baker with the least favorite dish.
Though she's an accomplished pastry chef, Bloch had to bake quite a few pastries that were new to her.
"I was nervous about it, but because I hadn't done it before, I didn't have high expectations," she says. "I was like, OK, I just have to rely on my inner knowledge and kind of pastry sensibilities and just wing it, you know."
With the time clock always ticking, Bloch says her biggest challenge was making sure to prioritize really well.
"We're on a time crunch and you really have to make quick decisions on what's important, what's not as important and trying to get things to look as beautiful as you can in that time, too."
Getting feedback from judges so prominent in the pastry world was a plus, Bloch says.
"I loved all the constructive criticism, the positive remarks, it was really informative to get people with that type of experience, that type of clout," she says. "I'm really happy with how everything went, and just so grateful for the opportunity that I got to be on it."
Bloch had honed her pastry skills at Sweet Olive, SoBou, Le Foret, Sylvain, Cavan and Meauxbar, before striking out on her own in January.
Her Salt & Light Pastry Co. "curates" and delivers custom-made desserts of all types.
"I basically try to make things that match what people's vision for it is," she says. "It's really custom stuff because it's based on the specific individual and the event, kind of anything they had in mind."
From her signature airy, pastel-colored macarons to her decadent chocolate tarts, response to her new venture has been incredible, Bloch says.
"I haven't done any marketing campaigns or anything like that. I've just focused on building the business from within, and I've been getting so much business just by word of mouth, and it's been really awesome to see that," she says. "I'm excited to see what happens when I get to the stage where I want to really promote and seek out additional business.
"I think that one of my strengths is using ingredients and techniques that you might normally find in savory cooking but that can really be applied to pastry to make it unique and a lit bit more unexpected."
'Spring Baking Championship'
WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday
CHANNEL: Food Network (cable Channel 53 in Baton Rouge and Lafayette), (cable Channel 67 in New Orleans)