Australian chef and frequent television host Curtis Stone tried Joyelle Scavone's rum cakes last year, but apparently they are still on his mind.
He even thinks they are one of the best things he's ever eaten.
Stone will tout Scavone's ScRUMptious gourmet rum cakes as his pick for "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on an upcoming segment of the show on the Food Network. The network was in Altoona on Monday, shooting footage at Scavone's husband's restaurant, Anthony's Pizza and Grill, on Fourth Street in Altoona.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Camera operator/producer Rebecca Roberts (left) and camera assistant Maureen Morrison photograph the scRUMptious signature Butterfinger gourmet rum cake for the Food Network Monday at Anthony’s Pizza and Grill on Fourth Street in Altoona.
Each episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," going into its sixth season, includes eight selections from culinary hosts and chefs that focus on a theme, such as guilty pleasures or burgers.
The theme of the episode, which will air in November or December, is "Season's Eatings," or holiday food that can be shipped as a gift, said Rebecca Roberts, Food Network producer.
Stone, who wasn't able to attend Monday's shooting due to other commitments, first had Scavone's rum cakes in May 2010 when he hosted a cooking show during the Taste of the Alleghenies food show in Altoona. Scavone said she didn't see Stone try them, but she received a call about two months ago from Food Network producers telling her that he had recommended her Butterfinger rum cake.
"I can't believe it," Scavone, 32, of Duncansville said. "I never anticipated after all this time he would remember my cake."
The rum cakes also attracted the attention of Food Network star Paula Deen's sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen, who awarded Scavone second place in the Signature Dessert Contest at the Taste of the Alleghenies show.
Scavone, who ships boxes of her rum cakes to Paula Deen on occasion, said that she first started making them about three years ago at the request of a customer. She started with a hazelnut flavored one, and has since expanded to lemon drop, Butterfinger, Godiva chocolate, spiced egg nog and bananas Foster, which she said is her number one seller.
She said what distinguishes her rum cakes from traditional ones is that in addition to rum, she adds different flavors of liqueur. In the Butterfinger rum cake, for example, she adds butterscotch liqueur, slathers the top with chocolate icing and sprinkles it with bits of chopped Butterfinger candies.
The cakes weigh about a pound, can feed two to four people and cost $10.
Soha Shanoudy, 44 of Hollidaysburg, who was having lunch at Anthony's with her daughters during the filming, raved about the rum cakes.
"It's so moist," she said. "It melts in your mouth. I could eat a whole one myself."
Her daughter Sarah, 17, said her favorite is the lemon drop.
"The flavors really come out," she said.
Scavone shipped two boxes of rum cakes to California, where Roberts interviewed Stone about why he thinks the cakes are the best holiday treat. His interview will be complemented by the footage Roberts shot on Monday.
The three-person camera crew spent about five hours at the restaurant, meticulously filming various shots of the Butterfinger rum cake, the interior and exterior of the restaurant and Scavone preparing cakes. Roberts said that the goal is to shoot as much variety as possible.
The rum cakes were placed on wooden boards attached to the camera to be carried around the restaurant, imitating a waitress carrying them. As they were placed before people, they exclaimed things like "delicious," "yum" and "my favorite."
Roberts said that about five hours of footage will be condensed to three to four minutes that viewers will see.
"It's a really fun show where we can travel and try all these great foods from these great chefs," Roberts said.
Anthony Scavone, 36, has been running his restaurant, which is popular for New York-style pizza, for about five years. His wife sells her rum cakes during November and December but hopes to be able to make them available all year.
Joyelle Scavone said that during the holiday season, she sells most of her rum cakes to those who want them shipped across the country.
"Maybe eventually I can do more with them," she said.
For more information about purchasing the rum cakes, call 942-9200.