A magical culinary introduction


With cameras watching their every move and the clock ticking down faster and faster, Isabella Santiago and her partner hurried to finish their cake in Disney’s new show, “Disney Magic Bake-off.”
In preparation for this moment, the Diamond Bar High School student had been sketching designs and baking cakes every week for the past three months with family friend and partner, Diana Dira. They were chosen to participate in the show, hosted by Disney Channel stars Dara Reneé and Issac Ryan Brown, after partaking in a tryout process where they had to submit images of their previous baked creations. In the competition, the duo practiced baking and designing a cake of the assigned theme “Big City Greens”– a Disney Channel cartoon.
Pulled into the show by Dira, an avid baker whose dad scored them an audition, Santiago had no prior experience with baking. However, Santiago had always wanted to learn to bake, and, because of her extensive knowledge and interest in other Disney shows, she took the opportunity to join Dira on the show.
During the competition, the three teams had a few rules to follow throughout the episode. Not only did the cake have to be square-shaped, but it had to have an iconic city landscape commonly shown in the cartoon adventure series. For their design, Santiago and Dira took inspiration from the episode, “Gridlock”, where the cartoon family’s road trip was interrupted by deer.
“We kinda interpreted that as our own because when we were on a road trip, we kinda got gridlocked in the same place because of bison,” Santiago said.
Although Santiago and Dira did not win, they were later told by producers off-screen, that her team was extremely close to victory. Their loss was due to a lack of time, leaving them to decorate the cake with only some of the characters that they planned on making.
“When you’re on set and have all these lights pointed at you, and all these cameras, it’s very stressful,” Santiago said. “You could just see the timer ticking down.”
Despite this, Santiago and Dira still created a presentable cake, relying on one another’s skill sets. Good friends, Dira and Santiago worked well together and were familiar with each other’s skills and weaknesses, allowing them to produce a strong product. Santiago specialized in the designs, successfully creating a three-dimensional model of Cricket Green— the main character of “Big City Greens,” while Dira simultaneously focused on making a delicious orange cake base with chocolate-orange frosting for their final product.
Although the competition was stressful for Santiago, she still looks back at the experience with a positive mindset. She not only had the opportunity to hang out with hosts, Reneé and Brown, whom she admired, but she can say that she starred in a Disney Channel show.
About four months after they participated in the June competition, their episode was released Oct. 15, on the Disney Now App; Disney Plus also plans to release the episode soon.
“So excited to say that me and my friend Diana are going to be on [Disney Channel’s] newest baking competition,” Santiago said on an Instagram post. “Keep a look out for us.”