Food Network show gives Denver baker and drag queen Zac Mercer/Miss Carrie a chance at the “Halloween Baking Championship”

Denver pastry chef Zac Mercer has survived the first round of Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship,” although not without some blood loss.

The first episode of Season 8, which began airing on Monday, Sept. 12 on Food Network and streaming on Discovery+, found Mercer trying to impress judges Stephanie Boswell, Carla Hall and Zac Young with “devilishly delicious desserts (to) earn the title of Halloween Baking Champion and an all-expense trip to the 10 most haunted hotels in America.”

Mercer is also a drag performer from Colorado who works under the name Miss Carrie. He owns a small bakery (the name of which was not immediately available from a publicist) that “merges the worlds of entertaining drag shows and cooking classes,” according to Food Network.

Fortunately, Mercer squeezed through the first, “supersized” round with a delicious “blood spatter” cake that got kudos for its burnt-honey flavors — but was docked when it was “disemboweled” for judges, letting its strawberry marshmallow ooze out. It needed a bit more work on its texture, although its convincingly visceral appearance was 180 degrees from its overall deliciousness, judges said.

Mercer responded that he’s worked in haunted houses since he was 15, and that he uses his special-effects experience every day in his job. (We’d love to see a photorealistic heart cake, but we’ll take what we can get!)

Denver’s Zac Mercer, far right in the last row, is working hard to impress judges in Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship,” which began airing on Monday, Sept. 12. The show is hosted by John Henson (center, front). (Provided by Food Network)

The show is hosted by John Henson, the former host of “Talk Soup” and co-host of “Wipeout” (no relation to famous puppeteer Jim Henson), and appropriately takes place in a Hotel Henson set. There, competitors are holed up for the show’s eight-week duration, with new episodes scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19, Sept. 26, and beyond.

Denver-based contestant Zac Mercer poses for a promotional portrait on the set of
Denver-based contestant Zac Mercer poses for a promotional portrait on the set of “Halloween Baking Championship,” Season 8. Mercer is a Denver-based baker who also works under the drag queen moniker of Miss Carrie. (Provided by Food Network)

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