Anthony Valerio loves baking cakes, but he hasn’t always had the time or kitchen space to whip his passion into a career. A New Jersey native, he moved to Los Angeles seven years ago to work as a trial consultant for attorneys and he baked in his aunt’s Pasadena kitchen on the side for friends.

He got a lucky break last year when he was accepted on Food Network baking competition show “Cupcake Wars” with his aunt Vandy Altounian. They faced three other teams, but in the end they came out on top.

Encouraged by that success, Valerio and Altounian in January opened Wonderland Custom Cakes in Pasadena to sell their cupcakes and custom cakes.

After a few months in business, the family-owned cupcake business was invited to return to “Cupcake Wars,” this time in the show’s season finale against three other returning champions. The episode, where bakers competed for the chance to serve Fourth of July-themed cupcakes at a USO gala, was scheduled to air July 1.

He couldn’t disclose who won, but did acknowledge: “We’re really excited about the outcome. … And we’re hoping it brings us to an even higher level. We want multiple stores and to give Wonderland the name it deserves.”

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