Duke student's "Simpsons" skills wins $10K on "Food Network Challenge"

Staff writerNovember 2, 2009 

Duke Law student Andrew Blumberg showed off his "Simpsons" expertise on last night's "Food Network Challenge," and helped cake decorator BethAnn Goldberg earn the $10,000 grand prize. 

Andrew, who was introduced on the show as being from Arlington, Texas (no Duke shout out!), was one of four Simpsons Super Fans chosen to compete along with serious cake decorators to craft the ultimate "Simpsons Mystery Cake."

Andrew and BethAnn were assigned a Bart Simpson cake, with instructions to play off the classic Simpsons episode, "Last Tap Dance in Springfield."

The cake masters and super fans were surprised by special judge Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson. Smith asked each team a trivia question based on their assigned episode, and they were required to incorporate the answer to that question into the theme of their cake.

Blumberg's team was asked for the name of Lisa's dance teacher in the "Last Tap Dance in Springfield" episode. BethAnn looked like a deer in headlights, but Andrew saved the day. 

"Little Vicki," he answered cooly. When Yeardley said yes, but it was actually Miss Vicki, Andrew recited dialogue from the episode in which the dance teacher was called both "Miss" and "Little" Vicki. 

Yeardley cracked up, clearly impressed with Andrew's recall.

"I'm finally getting to use my only marketable skill," the second-year law student said, "which is Simpsons knowledge."

For the Little/Miss Vicki angle, Andrew and BethAnn decide to include Lisa's tap shoes on the Bart cake.

BethAnn noted that Andrew displayed "mad skills" at making the lollipops and candy for the cake. But one early issue for the team seemed to be that Bart's head was a little out of proportion. Yeardley pointed out to the other judges before the cake was even finished that his forehead was not quite high enough.

But the finished product looked awesome. BethAnn said she thought it was the absolute best she could have done that day, and Andrew was equally pleased.

"If you took a picture of our cake and sent it back in time to me a week ago and said do you think there's any way you could have a hand in making something like this, I would have laughed in your face."

And Andrew certainly had more fun than the contestant from New York who said he felt like he was in the middle of "Mommie Dearest" a few times with no nonsense decorator Julie Durkee.

In the end, none of the cakes were perfect, but all of the cakes were extraordinary.

The judges noted that Bart's head was a bit "lumpy and bumpy," and Yeardley told them that since Bart is the most marketed of the Simpson's characters, he had to be exactly right. Then she hit them with the forehead news. It was "a bit short," she said, but added that there was "tremendous detail" on the cake.

In declaring Andrew and BethAnn the winners, Yeardley acknowledged that while the scale of Bart's head was a bit off, BethAnn got the colors right and the feel of the show right, and captured the spirit of the characters.

"As a Simpsons Super Fan, this was such an amazing experience," Andrew said on the show. "To get to use 20 years worth of Simpsons knowledge to actually do something. The fact that I was able to do help produce something that turned out as great as our cake did is just amazing to me."

Andrew told us later that while technically, BethAnn was the winner of the $10,000, she was kind enough to share a portion with him.

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