Bob Lombardi is back on the Food Network.
The Spokane Community College culinary arts instructor appears in the first episode of the third season of “Halloween Wars,” which premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday.
Throughout the hour-long episode, five teams of three – a pumpkin carver, cake decorator and sugar artist – create themed displays.
One team will be eliminated each episode.
Lombardi, the only Pacific Northwest contestant, won’t say whether he makes it past that first “Zombie Prom” round. But he was the challenge champion in the first episode of the show “Sugar Dome,” which aired last November.
In “Sugar Dome,” Lombardi, an award-winning chef and sugar artist, and two other teammates – a cake expert and animatronics professional – took top prize in the “Dragon’s Tail” challenge, winning $15,000, sugar-sculpting molds and 75 pounds of super-refined, professional-grade sugar.
In “Halloween Wars,” the grand prize is $50,000.
The biggest challenge in both competitions?
“The clock starts running, and it runs fast,” said Lombardi, 56 and a 30-year instructor at SCC.
The Food Network invited Lombardi to be on “Halloween Wars” after his showing on “Sugar Dome.”
“I really enjoy competition,” Lombardi said.
Participating in both shows – as well as other competitions through the American Culinary Federation – help build credibility with his students, he said. And, “I feel, as an instructor, credibility in a classroom” – or kitchen – “is big.”
In addition to teaching at SCC, Lombardi has served as the corporate chef at Black Rock Development since 2000.
He’s a member of the American Culinary Federation as well as its American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of ACF. He’s also an ACF-certified executive chef, pastry chef and culinary educator.
The judges for this season of “Halloween Wars,” hosted by Justin Willman of “Cupcake Wars,” are expert cake decorator Shinmin Li and Emmy-nominated make-up artist Brian Kinney.
Rotating guest celebrity judges include Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels; actor Tony Todd, best known for the title role in the horror film “Candyman;” and actor Derek Mears, who played Jason in the 2009 reimagining of “Friday the 13th.”
Scream queen Danielle Harris, who played Annie Bracket in Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” and “Halloween 2,” is the celebrity judge on the first episode, which was filmed in Los Angeles last December.
“Here I am, gearing up for Christmas and having to switch gears to Halloween, which is my favorite holiday,” said Lombardi, noting that filming so far in advance felt a little weird.
But, he said, he would be up for competing again.
This season of “Halloween Wars” has four episodes, which were filmed by Super Delicious, the same independent television production company that shot the first, and so far only, season of “Sugar Dome.”
“Hopefully, there will be a second season,” Lombardi said.