The Truth About LeeAnn Tolentino From Spring Baking Championship, Season 7

Los Angeles pastry chef LeeAnn Tolentino had already accomplished so much in her profession, but TV wasn't one of them. So when the Food Network asked her if she wanted to compete in season seven of Spring Baking Championship, she decided to take the challenge on.

"Why not add it to my resume of things I've done?" Tolentino told LRM Online in a video interview. "It's totally a fun experience."

Fun, but very different from what the chef was familiar with. Tolentino attended culinary school, but her real education came at the acclaimed Bouchon in Beverly Hills. She worked there almost eight years, rising to the rank of pastry chef in Bouchon's wholesale bakery (via LRM Online). "That's where I learned a lot of the things that I know — the fundamentals," Tolentino said.

Sadly, Thomas Keller's Bouchon closed in 2017, due to an overly expensive lease with the restaurant's landlord, the city of Beverly Hills (via Eater Los Angeles). That would have been about the time Tolentino left Bouchon, although it wasn't clear whether she lost her job because the restaurant shut down. Whatever the case, she landed quite nicely at her next gig, working for world-famous chef Dominique Ansel as executive pastry chef at his new bakery, in the outdoor LA mall, The Grove.

"That was a huge challenge because for you guys that know where The Grove is, that's obviously like a tourist destination, locals, holidays are crazy," Tolentino said in her interview. "Our bakery was extremely busy."

LeeAnn Tolentino overcame TV jitters to appear on Spring Baking Championship

LeeAnn Tolentino's stint at Dominique Ansel's bakery ended with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The famous eatery has since closed permanently (via Eater Los Angeles). Tolentino now works in pastry research and development, "more on the scientific, fun, creative side," she said in the video.

But for fans of Spring Baking Championship, Tolentino will be known as one of 11 contestants on season seven of the Food Network show. Given that she's already performed at the highest level in some of the most popular high-end bakeries in Los Angeles, it's no surprise that Tolentino's biggest challenge was adjusting to the demands of television. "I've done a lot of events with movies and companies like that but never, 'You're the star of it,' or 'You're in it,'" Tolentino said to LRM Online. All the lights, cameras, and action can be a distraction and take even the most successful chef out of her zone. "You kind of mentally have to try to create that zone while being on camera," she said.

"I was afraid to try to be on TV," Tolentino went on to say. "I'm a little shy sometimes when it comes to that kind of stuff, so I totally overcame that." To find out how far Tolentino advanced in her quest for Spring Baking Championship's $25,000 prize, you'll need to tune in to the Food Network Monday evenings. The season seven premiere was Feb. 22.