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Cherry Hill resident whipping up seasonal delights

Mamtora’s culinary journey lands him on new season of Food Network program.

It’s an understatement to say that life has lately been a whirlwind for Cherry Hill’s Anirudh Mamtora. In fewer than three years, he’s gone from adjusting to a new life in the United States to cable-network fame.  

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Mamtora, an internationally trained pastry chef, made his television debut on Sept. 13 as a contestant on the new season of Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship.” The weekly series, which debuted in 2015, pits against each other contestants who craft seasonal treats with $25,000 and a spot in Food Network magazine on the line. 

Mamtora’s path to stardom began in his native India, where Mamtora took to cooking from the age of 7. He used time after school and before his parents came home from work to try his hand at some small meals. 

“They encouraged me as I went along. As I grew, I started experimenting on my own and learning things from books. By age 12, I was cooking a variety of full fledged meals,” Mamtora  revealed during a conversation with the Sun on Sept. 20. 

A decision to take up pastry crafting began almost a decade ago, during a process that  accompanied college graduation. To complete his requirements, Mamtora had to complete an internship – which just so happened to take him to the south of France to study under renowned dessert chefs.  

The merit-based scholarship and exchange program landed Mamtora in the city of Nimes back in 2009. There he began to work at the renowned Hotel Vatel and Spa, just a stone’s throw from the Ecole Hoteliere Vatel Nimes, a school specializing in hospitality management. He labored and learned for four months, picking up tips and tricks from the best of the best in the French culinary tradition. 

But the itch to expand his palette allowed for bigger and better adventures. Mamtora ended up working for Royal Caribbean starting in 2014, having reached an age when he wanted to push his limits, explore and travel while working as a pastry chef.  

“I worked on small and large ships for the next three years,” he recalled. “Went to 32 different countries and worked with people of 65 different nationalities, along with 370 people just on the kitchen crews.”

Mamtora moved onto dry land a couple years ago, studying cake making at The French Pastry School in downtown Chicago. He didn’t know it at the time, but it was the move he needed to get noticed. The school periodically receives inquiries from different networks whose talent scouts are looking for contestants on various cooking shows. One of Mamtora’s teachers picked up on some creative work, and passed along his name for consideration. 

“I got a call from Food Network, and I hesitated because I was new to the country,” he explained. “The scout gave me a nice motivational speech, how he thought it was good for me to make a mark, to showcase my talents. That was what sold me.” 

What followed earlier this year was the predictable Zoom meetings and photo exchanges, with a twist: Mamtora was eventually required to hold an online baking session. Then, after another month and a half of back and forth with the network, he received that call. 

“I still cannot believe it,” he marveled. 

Filming for the season began in the spring, bridging April and May. Now underway, viewers can expect about eight to 10 episodes. Shooting the shows, and making the food he noted, was relatively easy. Waiting all this time and keeping secrets about the results is more difficult.  

“Since I was young, I wanted to create edible art. Being a pastry chef was the only discipline that combined my love of art and skill for cooking,” Mamtora noted. “Unfortunately, it’s the one with the shortest lifespan.”

To find out how and when to watch Mamtora this season, visit: https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/halloween-baking-championship.


Former radio broadcaster, hockey writer, Current: main beat reporter for Haddonfield, Cherry Hill and points beyond.

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