By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Sep 09, 2021 at 2:01 PM

A new season of “Halloween Wars” is slated to premiere on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. CST on the Food Network and Discovery+. 

The season will feature paranormal investigator Zak Bagans, who has spent the last 15 years probing some of the scariest supernatural encounters ever recorded. 

But it will also showcase the spine-tinglingly amazing work of local pastry chef Travis Martinez, owner of  Sugar Studio LLC and co-owner of Binary: Games, Food & Spirits in West Allis.

Martinez, whose work has included local posts at The Pfister Hotel and Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, as well as posts with Norwegian Cruise Lines in Hawaii and Caesar’s Palace and JinJu Chocolates in Las Vegas, is no stranger to the Food Network. In fact, he competed on the inaugural season of “Cake Wars Christmas.” 

This time, Martinez will be sharing his expertise as a member of Team Green, one of eight “Halloween Wars” teams composed of expert cake and sugar artists.

Competing teams on
Teams for "Halloween Wars": Martinez pictured on far right (Photo: Food Network)

“It was really fun to show off some of the skills that people here don’t really see on a regular basis,” notes Martinez. “I was able to focus on chocolate and some finer sugar work. But I also really got to hone in on flavors, which was both fun and super challenging. In the end, I got to pull out a lot of skills from my old dusty collection. Overall, it was so fun to rep Milwaukee.”

During the season, the teams will take inspiration from Bagans’ collection of dangerous and mysterious artifacts displayed in his Haunted Museum in Las Vegas to create intricate and bone-chilling creations with the hope of winning over judges including award-winning cake decorator Shinmin Li, and chefs and cookbook authors Aarti Sequeira and Eddie Jackson for the chance to earn $25,000.

Martinez says that folks who’ve watched “Halloween Wars” in the past might be surprised by the way they filmed the new season.

“It’s really worth watching,” he says. “The entire season features so many really talented artists, and it was really cool to work on projects inspired by Bagans. The themes were a bit darker than in seasons past.” 

Martinez says he’s just as excited about the special “Road to Halloween Wars” which will broadcast right before the inaugural “Halloween Wars” episode on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m.. It documents the terrifyingly talented skills each competitor brought to the proverbial table to be selected for the one-of-a-kind Halloween-themed competition. 

“We shot a bunch of footage here at Binary,” he says, “As well in a park with some of our LARPing friends. Overall it was pretty cool.”

Locally, you can find Martinez at Binary, as well as every Saturday at the Tosa Farmers Market, where he sells his Sugar Studio cookies, brownies, cobblers, crisps and coffee cakes.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.