Florida baker recreates iconic Lion King scene


PORT ST. LUCIE – Will Michelle Leckenbusch be named Queen of the Jungle?

The Port St. Lucie baker and owner of Cakes by Michelle will be featured in a new series on Disney + called “Foodtastic”, recreating an iconic scene from “The Lion King”. The episode will air on December 15.

Leckenbusch and two teammates have to turn the classic Disney movie and its characters into a massive candy concoction, competing against two other teams for the chance to win a unique Disney Trading Pin and, of course, bragging rights.

“I saw it as a way to form a team and create a stunning piece,” said Leckenbusch, 43, a home baker specializing in novelties and wedding cakes. “I am so proud of my whole team. We did a great job.”

Baker Michelle Leckenbusch, of Port St. Lucie, trained for her appearance on Disney + "Foodtastic" by making a crispy fondant made from sweets and a chocolate head "The Lion King" Zazu character.  The episode featuring Leckenbusch and his team of two other contestants premieres December 15 on Disney +.

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Leckenbusch has been a professional pastry chef for about 15 years, and this was her first appearance in a television competition, she said. Another baker and friend encouraged her to sign up for “Foodtastic”, and she thought it would be a great opportunity to challenge herself and improve her skills.

Baker Michelle Leckenbusch of Port St. Lucie freezes cupcakes as she works from her home on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, in Port St. Lucie.  Leckenbusch, specializing in novelty and wedding cakes, appeared on the Disney + show "Foodtastic", aired on December 15.

She flew to Los Angeles and filmed the show in February, she said, adding that it was difficult to hide the result from friends and family for nearly a year.

The biggest challenge has been working alongside other people as a team, as she’s used to cooking solo, she said. Together, the three had to design, cook, and assemble an 8-foot-by-8-foot exhibit of a scene from the adult life of the character Simba.

Port St. Lucie pastry chef Michelle Leckenbusch on Disney + TV show "Foodtastic," broadcast on December 15, 2021.

The team worked with a handful of culinary and culinary mediums, including fruits and vegetables, to recreate part of the film on the song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”.

She was the baker primarily responsible for building the character of Zazu, who stood about 1.5 feet tall. Simba, also featured on the screen, was nearly 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

“The end result was definitely my favorite part,” she said. “We’ve had weeks of planning, you think it all over, but when you get your hands on it it was amazing to see it all fall into place.”

Leckenbusch is hosting a party with her friends and family on December 17, she said.

Disney + is a subscription streaming service that launched about two years ago.

Catie Wegman is TCPalm’s community and real estate reporter. You can follow Catie on Twitter @Catie_Wegman, on Facebook @ catiewegman1 and email him [email protected]

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