Alumnus Dana Herbert talks about 'Next Great Baker' win
Dana Herbert


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3:25 p.m., Feb. 9, 2011----Life just got a little sweeter for Dana Herbert. The University of Delaware alumnus, whose work as owner and pastry chef of Desserts by Dana and head chef of the Delaware River and Bay Authority earned him the nickname “Sugar Daddy,” was recently named the winner of the TLC reality show Next Great Baker.

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Herbert, a 1998 graduate of the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, won the victory after beating two other finalists. The prize? A car, $50,000 and the chance to work with Buddy Valastro, head judge of Next Great Baker and star of the popular TLC show Cake Boss.

When Herbert first heard his name announced, he said his initial reaction was relief.

“When it came down to Megan and me I knew that she had just as good of a chance at winning as I did, so I was so relieved when Buddy announced my name as the winner,” says Herbert.

Herbert was chosen as one of 10 contestants on the show. Each week, he made it through progressively difficult challenges designed by Valastro to test the contestants' business sense and cake artistry.

“My favorite baker's challenge was the royal icing piping,” says Herbert. “I was in my own little world. My favorite elimination challenge' was the finale. That was my kind of challenge -- I was built for that type of challenge. My second favorite was the Christmas challenge. That was fun.”

Herbert says of his experience on Next Great Baker that he gained insight not only into the baking business but also about working with others.

“The greatest lesson I learned from my fellow contestants was teamwork,” says Herbert. “Allow them to shine with their God-given gifts and the team will go further. Be unselfish in your pursuit of excellence.”

Herbert also learned that in running a business you have to be part businessman, part artist. “You have to not only be able to make great things but also sell it well. You have to be multi-pronged.”

Although he was excited about the opportunity to work at Valastro's family business, Carlo's Bakery of Hoboken, N.J., Herbert will remain in Delaware.

“I am working there part-time but since I have my own bakery established here in Delaware and my wife and I are expecting our first child any day now, it was too difficult right now to move permanently to Carlo's Bakery.”

And as for the prize money, Herbert plans on putting it aside for his daughter's education.

The $50,000 was not all Herbert won on the show, though.

Herbert and his team won a Christmas cake challenge in one of the earlier episodes. Since Herbert was a big contributor to his team's win, when Valastro announced the team's reward of $10,000 he offered the entire prize to Herbert.

Herbert respectfully declined, though, and in a gesture that showed his belief in the importance of teamwork he opted to share the win with his team.

“Of course it was tempting to keep it!” he said. “But I knew my teammates deserved the prize money as much as I did and it only felt right splitting it with them.”

Article by Kathryn A. Marrone
Photo courtesy TLC/Heather Swanson