Baking and Pastry grad Jess Eddy ’18 a contestant on Food Network’s ‘Halloween Baking Championship’
Season 5 premiere set for Monday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. (CST)
(Photo courtesy of Food Network)
Baker Jess Eddy received a random phone call one day from someone claiming to be with Food Network, and the caller asked if she might be interested in participating in a holiday-themed show.
She was skeptic.
“I really thought it was a prank call. I thought, ‘yeah, right, someone from Food Network is calling me.’ But I called back, we talked further, and it was legit!” said Eddy, a 2018 alumna of Waukesha County Technical College’s Baking and Pastry Management program and owner of Jess E’s Cakes and Donuts LLC in Hartland, Wis.
Generally, contestants apply to be on a show, but Food Network staffers found images of Eddy’s cakes and desserts on social media, liked her style and tracked her down.
From there, the excitement grew, and the steps to formally being selected as a contestant on the network’s “Halloween Baking Championship” moved fast. There were phone conversations and rounds of interviews via Skype, followed by Eddy creating spooky, scary test desserts (within a set timeframe and under specific guidelines) and then explaining to producers in detail the process involved in making them.
Soon after, the baker and mom of three was officially chosen as one of eight contestants from the United States and Canada to participate in the show’s fifth season. The “Halloween Baking Championship” premieres Monday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. (CST) on Food Network and features host John Henson with judges Carla Hall, Katie Lee and Zac Young. Contestants will vie for the $25,000 grand prize and the chance to be featured in Food Network Magazine.
To be a part of the show has been an incredible opportunity for Eddy, and she credits her education at WCTC with helping her get there.
“This was really a-once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said. “All that school training has helped me well. My experience at WCTC – with the organization and planning and critical life skills -- are what helped me get on the show,” she said.
In taping the first episode, contestants completed two dessert heats: one themed “Skeletons in the Closet” and the other, “Monsters Under the Bed.” The challenges also gave Eddy a chance to work with two of her favorite flavors: devil’s chocolate and blood orange – apropos ingredients for a Halloween-themed show.
Challenges move fast, Eddy said, and they keep the bakers on their toes.
“It’s very on the spot. It’s as intense as it looks on TV,” she said, noting that while the contestants were on their dessert path, the judges would throw them a curveball to incorporate something new into their creations. “Sometimes, I wasn’t even sure what my end game was going to be. Bakers are planners. Every single one of us was out of our comfort zone,” she said.
The experience has helped her grow personally and professionally, Eddy said.
“Within a few hours (the bakers) became lifelong friends. We’ve stayed in touch, and I talk to them every day,” she said. “I think, too, I really learned a lot about myself and I want to go in different directions,” she said of her baking business. “I think any opportunity people can take to grow outside their comfort zone – they should take it!”
The Season 5 premiere of Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship” is set for Monday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. (CST), with additional episodes Sept. 30, Oct. 7, Oct. 14, Oct. 21 and the finale Oct. 28. Additionally, a digital companion series, “Halloween Baking Championship: Extra Sweet,” will detail behind-the-scenes work including transforming the judges into Halloween character, setting up the pantry and building the set. www.foodnetwork.com/shows