ASTORIA — A longtime Queens resident and chef is competing to take home a $25,000 prize in a Halloween-themed baking contest airing on the Food Network this month.
Rudy Martinez, of Astoria, is one of several contestants squaring off on the "Halloween Baking Championship" in which bakers from across the country are challenged each week to create tasty-yet-terrifying desserts.
"It's a lot of fun," said Martinez, 45, who has lived in Astoria for 18 years and says his baking is influenced by the neighborhood's diversity.
"There's so many different kinds of cuisines, it does make it into the way that I bake," he said, saying he likes to experiment with different flavors. "The influence of the neighborhood ethnic ingredients and seasonal local fruits and vegetables."
Originally from California, Martinez got into baking when he first moved to New York and didn't have a television. He started making sweet treats as a way to relax. His desserts have gotten rave reviews from friends and co-workers, he said.
"People were giving me feedback and sort of enjoyed what I did. It sort of kept snowballing and snowballing," he said.
"Halloween Baking Championship" premiered early this month on Food Network and is hosted by former "Top Chef" winner Richard Blais, with an episode airing each Monday until the finale on Oct. 26.
Each week features a different challenge for the contestants — in the first episode, they had to create a baked good that looked like a classic Halloween costume — with one participant sent home at the end of the episode.
"It was fun to sort of think on your feet," said Martinez, who's still in the running so far.
For more information and to watch clips of the show, visit Food Network's website.