Foodtastic Judge Benny Rivera Explains How To Bring Food Art To Life - Exclusive

Food competition shows may be a dime a dozen these days, but one of Disney's newest streaming series is totally turning the tables on traditional food shows of today. Chances are, you won't walk away with any particular cravings, but "Foodtastic" will certainly leave you awe-inspired. The show features teams of food artists competing to create intricate, over-the-top, all around mind-boggling works of art, all made entirely out of food. Each episode centers around a different Disney movie, and on top of their technical and creative skills, the teams are also judged on how well their art can tell a story – in keeping with the theme of course.

Mashed got some inside details on the glorified food fights from one of the show's food experts and judges, celebrity cake artist Benny Rivera. "The actual competition lasts for 16's a very intense competition, and you're going to see it through their faces, the stress that they feel," he told Mashed. Rivera knows first hand. He's built a reputation for his masterful, life-like cake creations at his New York City bakery, City Cakes, and he's also got experience competing, meaning knows exactly what kind of pressure the teams are under, and what they need to do to make (edible) magic. "As a judge now, it's an advantage for me because I've been on both sides, so I know the stress that they're going through," he told Mashed.

In an exclusive interview, Rivera gave us all the details on "Foodtastic," which is now available to stream on Disney+. The experienced judge and competitor also shared insights on exactly what it takes to bring food to art to life.

The key to mastering food art is planning and practice, according to Benny Rivera

When it comes to judging edible creations on "Foodtastic," chef Benny Rivera is all about the technical details. "I had to make sure that if the contestants are going to work with chocolate, they do it with the proper temperature," he explained to Mashed. "If they're going to build something with watermelons, they have to build a structure support system that is able to hold the weight, all the pieces that they're going to build. All those technical elements I'm kind of keeping an eye on."  That's because Rivera is an expert in the nuts and bolts of creating food art from the ground up, and he knows what it takes to be successful. 

First and foremost, Rivera says you can't just wing it when it comes to good food art. "I think the key important part of this is just to plan and organize the work that you're going to do." And when he says plan, he means really plan, down to the details. Food art takes hours of meticulous, detailed work at times, and the best way to stay on top of things is to have a roadmap, according to Rivera: "From hour number one, hour number two, all the way until 16 hours, so what are you expecting to cover and do on each specific hour?"

At the end of the day, though, Rivera says the only surefire way to master food art is to gain "experience in the field. It's something that you gain with the years working and competing too...the ability and the experience to work with all those different mediums through the years."

Rivera says you can find inspiration anywhere

While it requires some serious baking and sculpting skills to become a master of food art, you'll have nothing to bring to life without a whole lot of imagination as well. Luckily, when it comes to sources of food art inspiration, Benny Rivera says the world is your oyster (pun intended). For Rivera, anything and everything has the potential to become spectacular edible art, if you just change the way you look at things. 

"I always see everything in food art. In cake, in's just like elements that you have all around you," he told Mashed, adding, "if I go to a store and I see a bunch of fabrics I immediately think, okay how am I going to translate that design into a sugar concept, or into a cake, or into a food art." That seems like a pretty sweet way to see the world if you ask us.

All episodes of "FOODTASTIC" are now streaming on Disney+.