Joshua John Russell is a pastry chef and cake designer from Atlanta, GA. He graduated in 2002 from Johnson and Wales University and started his career as a pastry chef at the famous Grove Park Inn in Ashville, NC. Joshua made a name for himself appearing on 15 episodes of Food Network Challenge (winning 5) and all 6 episodes of Last Cake Standing as well as local media and TV outlets. In 2015, Joshua was named one of the top ten cake designers in North America by Dessert Professional Magazine. You can catch Joshua in the Amazon Prime series titled Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge, premiering December 13. For more information about Joshua, check out youvebeendesserted.com or follow Joshua on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
If you could go back and tell your past self about where you are at today, what would surprise you the most?
I’m going to show my age here, but the social media aspect of everything. And from a young age of seven when I stole my sister’s Easy Bake Oven, I kind of always knew that I wanted to somehow combine art because I was always very artistic, very good at art, with food. My father taught me how to cook and my grandmother, they were very, very good cooks, but I just didn’t want to be on a line cooking for the rest of my life.
I wanted to create art out of everything, and so always wanted my own show. Of course, a lot of chefs do, and it ended up happening on YouTube and then also competitions on Food Network, guest judging spots, now judging and under contract with Amazon. So I don’t think I ever saw that for my life just because it didn’t exist when I came out of culinary school. When I came out of culinary school, that’s when chefs became rock stars.
That’s when really Emeril Lagasse and all those chefs that sort of paved the way for people like me started really getting popular on Food Network. And so I guess yeah, I kind of got what I wanted, but in a much different way.
Yeah, definitely. Chefs are the rock stars now. Even at a local level, you see the name of the chef on the restaurant when you walk in…
Especially, yes, chef-driven restaurants like that and people now you follow chefs, like they do their favorite band.
You briefly touched on it, I want to hear more about this Amazon Prime show you have coming out.
We filmed it in May and I’ve done lots of guest judging spots. I guest judged on the show, Nailed It. I guest judged on a lot of Food Network stuff, a couple shows for Hulu and a lot of those shows besides Nailed It only sort of lasted one season, and so I get asked a lot to judge and for me, it has to be the right fit.
So I say no a lot, but this one came across my desk, per se, of my work bench and I love Dr. Seuss and it’s also Amazon or Prime Video’s first cooking competition show. So that was very enticing to be on the forefront of that and the money they put behind it and the set. I had to go through multiple rounds of auditions. I had actually worked with Tamera Housley before on a Hulu show, so that felt comfortable.
But yeah, it was the first time I was like, I have to get this part. Otherwise, it was always like, eh, if I get it fine, if I don’t, whatever.
And usually I would get to the very end and they would pick the other person and then they would just have me slide in, guest judge. But this one, yeah I got to the very end of casting. They even flew me out to Los Angeles and I quarantined for three days in a hotel room while people came in and put clothes on me and measured them and tailored them. And it was bizarre. But yeah, that first day on set, I was like, yep, this is the right fit for me. So it was fantastic and I’m really excited to see how it turned out.
That’s great. And it comes out Tuesday, December 13th?
The 13th. Yeah. And honestly, I don’t know how it’s going to drop. I don’t know if they’re going to dump the whole thing or if they’re going to do it episodically because they haven’t told me yet. We’re getting close. So yeah, I’m just going to wait and see. But it was such a great experience and yeah, more to come with Amazon. My YouTube show, You’ve Been Desserted. Me and the boys on the show together, Amazon asked us to do all their digital marketing for it. So we did sort of a short YouTube video that matches each of the episodes, so those will roll out as well. So I’m all wrapped up in Amazon right now.
What’s your favorite type of content to produce?
Just because it’s so easy and silly, TikTok for sure. And it scares me that it might be going away because I really enjoy it. But I do this series on TikTok where I talk about things in the grocery store and I sort of altered my voice. And I started on TikTok just doing pastry things, very short videos of, they call it dancy hands where it’s just showing my hands in music and people enjoyed it. And then one of my videos went super viral, I think it has 17 million views now. And it was because people underneath were fighting in the comments and I’m like, just let it go, let them fight. I don’t care. It’s good for us. And then I started this series that people really enjoy. That’s really fun because it’s easy. But You’ve Been Desserted, that’s my baby, my YouTube show. Most of our fans are kids and I’m not a father myself, but I have three nephews and a niece and I spoil them and I love children.
I don’t know that I’ll have any of my own, and maybe this is just my way of being a dad, just entertaining kids. But I get so many DMs and emails from parents who say, you’re the best digital babysitter ever. Because they can just start the show. We have like 100 episodes and the kids will watch it because we’re just silly and funny and we come up with this fantastical treat at the end, which they like seeing. But I think it’s just the lightheartedness of the show. We’re kind of like Pee-wee’s Playhouse meets a baking show. So that’s probably the thing I’m most proud of. TikTok is the most fun just because it’s just so silly.
What’s on tap for next year? 2023 will be here before we know it. What do you have going on?
I’m under contract with Amazon for three seasons, so there will be definitely another season of the Dr. Seuss’s Baking Challenge. We’re going to move forward with You’ve Been Desserted on YouTube for sure, but we just hired a new agency and they are looking to sort of wrap an idea up into a bow as they call it, and try to sell it to a network. So hopefully we can move from YouTube to a streaming service, but I don’t think we’ll ever be off YouTube.
I think that will just turn into something else because we really enjoy doing YouTube videos. We get to do whatever we want. No one can tell us what to do or what not to do. We listen to our fans. So yeah, next year it’s kind of a big question mark, but it’s all really good stuff, if that makes sense.
If one cake trend could disappear forever, which would you choose?
Oh man, there’s so many I hate. Not hate. I think that it’s just, yeah there are some that are kind of overdone. The geo thing was fun. I was in it with everybody else. I did a lot of those. I think that’s sort of teetering on, it’s about time to be done with that. Yeah. For a while there was the farm to table naked cakes, which I hated because I don’t get to be artistic as I want to. Once a cake is covered in buttercream or fondant and it’s completely white or whatever color, that’s your canvas. But when you have to stop halfway through and just put flowers on a cake, it’s so boring. It’s good for money, it’s easy. So yeah, that one for sure. Trying to think of what else drives me insane. I think maybe those two for sure. Yeah, I’m going to pick those two, geod and then the salt naked cake vibe. Let’s go back to super elaborate cakes. That’s what I like to do. Lots of piping and flowers and sculpted things and let me show my art.
Note: Influencer Spotlight interviews are edited for time and clarity.
Andrew is the Head of Client Services for Intellifluence and has a background in communications. He is committed to helping brands get the most out of their campaigns and is the co-host of the Influencer Spotlight series.