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Legendary Locals: TLC's "Ultimate Cake Off" Star Satisfies RSM's Sweet Tooth
by: Debbie L. Sklar
"A beautiful thing is never perfect!" says Beth.

The 31-year-old is not only a senior cake designer for Cinderella Cakes in Rancho Santa Margarita, but she is also a recent winner in TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off.

“It was an incredible experience and definitely the highlight of my career, thus far,” she notes of the win.

Her winning team consisted of herself, Enrique Villagomez (another decorator from Cinderella cakes), Amy Stack (her sister, also an artist), and Christy Platt (a friend who makes elaborate cakes,) Ayala says.

“My team worked really hard and fought through all of the stress and long nights to bring home the victory to Cinderella Cakes,” Ayala says.

But cake making was never on Ayala’s list of career moves, believe it or not.

“Like a lot of children, I wanted to be an astronaut. I had absolutely no knack for science, but I was extremely creative,” she says. “When I was young, I loved to draw and paint. I knew at a very young age that I had an artistic ability. In junior high, I convinced my parents to let me paint murals all over my bedroom walls. I also remember drawing ‘fake tattoos’ all over my friends.”

No longer in junior high school, she says became a competitor on the TLC show in a round about way, actually.

“I spent 6 months studying art history in NYC, while there, I met a fabulous cake artist who had competed in many events,” she recalls. “When I moved back to California, she asked me to assist her in the first season of TLC's Ultimate Cake Off. When TLC was casting for season two, she gave them my name and they asked me if I would like to audition. I sent in my audition tape and they ended up selecting me to be a contestant.”

She’ll also be the first to say that she has a great job.

“I have a fun job that allows me to be a part of people’s very special life events,” she says. “The best part is that even on the worst days, I still get to play with food and come home covered in edible glitter.”

However, there are some challenges to baking cakes all day.

“The most challenging part is coordinating with clients on design. You want your vision to align with theirs and you don't always see eye-to-eye,” she mentions.

But for aspiring cake artists, she does have some advice, and that’s the simple fact that they should stay creative.

“Anything creative that you can get your hands on -- painting, sculpting, drawing, etc. -- will help prepare you and give you a solid foundation for cake art,” she says.

Her personal mentor?

“I love Margaret Braun's work. She is a legend in the cake world that has a very distinct and beautifully handcrafted style,” she shares.

Married to Dave for 5 years, Ayala says she does eat cake daily and that her favorite flavors are carrot cake, coconut cake and chocolate cake.

She has a Bachelor's degree in studio art from Cal State Fullerton, and did start working on a Master's degree in Art History but never completed it.

“I have no formal culinary training; I learned how to bake on the job,” she says.

So, what makes her cakes so special and ones that are capable of winning a competition?

“I believe that what makes them special is my attention to detail and my translation of fine arts practices into an edible medium definitely sets them apart,” she says. “My motto is: ‘a beautiful thing is never perfect!’

Debbie L. Sklar is a 20+year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. Sklar may be reached via e-mail at

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