August 15, 2012
Could Roseville cake maker be TLC's "Next Great Baker?"

The final casting for season 3 of TLC's "Next Great Baker" has just about been confirmed, with contestants around the country who will battle it out baking style for cash and prizes. 12 finalists have made the cut, but the show is looking for a 13th contestant to round-out its "baker's dozen."

Chris Luna of Roseville is among three bakers who's in the hunt for that final spot, but he'll need your help to make it on the show, which is hosted by Buddy Valastro a.k.a. the "Cake Boss" himself. It'll all come down to voting, and an online ballot can be cast here.

Luna, 29, has a different career trajectory than many of the "Next Great Baker" would-bes. He's not a trained pastry chef and works by day in ad sales. He started baking cakes four years ago, right before he got married and said he wanted to bake his own wedding cake. His wife nixed that idea, but Luna ended up making a wedding cake not long after for some friends that was a hit.

Since then, Luna spends most weekends baking cakes of all different shapes and sizes. One creation looks just like a roasted pig and meant to be served at a luau. Another cake looks like a rainbow trout with metallic-like coloring. He credits his time in the Eagle Scouts along with a knack for being a handyman for helping his manual skills.

"I do a lot of sculpted cakes," said Luna. "I have a longtime history in art: sculpting, air brush painting, drawing. From having those skills I was able to just do it. It's kind of a sculpting thing once the cake gets made."

Still, Luna would face a tough competition pool of experienced bakers and pastry business owners. Contestants face weekly challenges and eliminations, with the winner getting a shot to work with the Cake Boss at Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. Luna looks forward to showing the competition what he's got.

"I take challenges with stride and love figuring out how to do something in the quickest and most creative way," said Luna. "I have a different way of thinking about things and I think that'll give me a competitive edge. I can fix anything in the house. I could do electronics or pyrotechnics on a cake if I had to."

Look for the upcoming season of "Next Great Baker" to air in November. If you want to vote for Luna to be on the show, click on this link. Voting ends on Sunday night at 11:59 p.m.

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