For over two decades, Chef Toni Lynn Dickinson has been teaching the next generation of pastry chefs, chocolatiers, cake decorators, bakers and more at ICC to excel in their professions. Her pastry creations, both in and out of the kitchen are well-thought out, flawlessly executed and leave a lasting impression for years to come. Just take it from some of her former students—many shared in comments on our recent Instagram posts that she was “fun to learn from,” and a “fantastic teacher.”
In 2019, Chef Toni competed on Netflix’s hit show Sugar Rush Christmas where bakers compete against time, and each other, to win $10,000 and the ultimate bragging rights. Bakers compete in three different rounds: cupcakes, confections and cakes, each inspired by a different theme. As the clock ticks, the competition heats up!
In Chef Toni’s episode, she competed against 3 other teams with her teammate Diane Fehder. Diane, a graduate of ICC’s Professional Pastry Arts program and former student of Chef Toni’s, remarked that she was “originally approached to apply for the show and asked to find a partner.” Having previously competed on Sugar Dome—where she took home first place—she shared, “I think the producers sought me out because of my previous television experience.” In considering a partner for this competition, Diane knew that she wanted to ask Chef Toni because of her dedication, work ethic and over all time management—after all, Chef Toni was one of the instructors that taught Diane these skills in the first place!
“[Chef Toni] is one of the best chefs I’ve ever known. Anyone that attends ICC would know that,” Diane shared. “She is a walking culinary encyclopedia and is beyond generous with her knowledge. Behind the scenes while filming, she schooled all the other contestants (in a nurturing way) about the pastry arts, even the production staff.” It’s clear that Chef Toni’s passion for teaching cannot be contained, even under the pressure of a competition!
During each round of their Sugar Rush competition, Chef Toni and Chef Diane executed beautiful, delicious and ambitious creations that wowed the judges. In the first, they created not one, but three different cupcakes for the judges to taste—all with a fruitcake batter as the base, but with subtle flavor variations like chocolate, walnuts & cherry; pear, ginger & almond; and cranberry & pecan. For the second round, they created a cake doughnut with sweet potato mousseline and a rich caramel sauce. For their final round, Chef Toni and Diane blew the judges away with their gingerbread house and spiced cake with grand marnier, modeled after Santa’s workshop. Their gingerbread house featured many colorful decorations to discover, like elves with their tools and toys for the children.
It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who knows Chef Toni and Chef Diane, not only did they WIN their episode of Sugar Rush, but they were the first team to ever win all THREE rounds on a Sugar Rush episode. In celebration of their win, Chef Toni held a demonstration at ICC with current and former students, guests, and friends in attendance. During the demonstration, she gave the audience an inside look at what it takes to create a competition-winning gingerbread house!
Check out the gingerbread house that Chef Toni and some of her students created during the demonstration below, and find some of her master gingerbread tips here.