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Melissa Zunich: Champion of champions

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Photo courtesy of Melissa Zunich After winning Cake Wars in late 2015, Melissa Zunich and Sunny Hintze returned to again capture the top prize in a champions showdown.

Melissa Zunich, winner of Food Network Channel's Cake Wars in 2016, made a return appearance with cousin Sunny Hintze to compete in an "All Champs" episode of Cake Wars.

Pokémon was the theme of the March 19 episode which featured four teams of returning bakers.

Zunich, the self-taught owner of Sweet Cheeks Cakery in Delta, demonstrated once again her creativity, attention to detail and ability to work under pressure. Her cake was chosen to be the centerpiece of a party celebrating Pikachu and the rest of Pokémon.

Melissa has been in the cake business just a short time, so competing against culinary school graduates and bakers with much more experience was definitely daunting.

Melissa chose as her assistant her cousin, Sunny Hintze. Melissa calls her a "cake genius" who has a business of her own in Salt Lake City called Sunny Day Cakes.

Baking has been a hobby of Melissa's since she was a young girl. Her mother owned the only restaurant in her hometown of Nucla, and that's where she practiced. Through trial and error, she developed a range of cake decorating techniques that wowed the judges in her return appearance on Cake Wars.

Melissa says the experience has given her more confidence. "I was definitely scared, and thinking I was in over my head. I didn't believe I would come out on top," she said after her January 2016 win.

It still doesn't seem possible, she says, that a young mother who bakes cakes out of her house in Delta, Colo., could win Cake Wars.

"It's so cool to be able to represent our small town," she said.

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