Flip on the Food Network on Monday night, and you'll see some familiar faces scrambling around a deserted amusement park and trying to create a scary, Halloween-themed sculpture made out of chocolate. It's all part of the fun on Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey's After Dark, a food competition show that features a joint appearance by Lyndsy Velasquez, the former executive pastry chef at The Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, and Amy McBride, the hotel's former pastry supervisor.
Velasquez and McBride are no strangers to the Food Network. In 2018, Velasquez (whose name then was Lyndsy McDonald) won the top prize on the channel's Halloween Baking Championship, and last year, McBride competed on Halloween Wars.
For Chocolate Meltdown, the two teamed up to create a "scary sci-fi" sculpture made from chocolate. The show is filmed at night inside Hersheypark, the chocolate-themed theme park located in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Velasquez and McBride's episode was filmed a year ago, so that the park would be decorated for Halloween during filming.
Velasquez met McBride when McBride was just 12 years old. At the time, Velasquez was running Pastries by Design, a bakery in Lakewood Ranch, and McBride began taking classes there.
"I started inventing new classes so she would have something to take," says Velasquez, who calls McBride "the most naturally talented pastry chef I’ve ever seen."
Velasquez later hired McBride at Pastries by Design and, after selling the business, at The Ritz-Carlton, where the two earned a reputation for their insane, over-the-top gingerbread creations every holiday season. Both lost their jobs at the hotel because of a downturn in business caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. McBride is currently working as a cake artist in Georgia, while Velasquez works for a company that designs and builds commercial kitchens.
Velasquez says the experience of competing on television can be exhausting, but also a blast. "The fact that we were in a theme park was a whole lot of fun," says Velasquez. "I've never had to ride a thrill ride and then make a chocolate sculpture."
Velasquez and McBride's episode of Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey's After Dark airs at 10 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 4. Velasquez is hosting a watch party at R.J. Gator's, 6100 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, from 9 to 11 p.m.