SALT LAKE CITY — An edible Salt Lake City and County Building? How about a life-size Nutcracker good enough to eat? Or, maybe best of all, a replica of the Osmond family's 150-year-old log cabin, all built out of cookies?
All of these and many more are part of the new Cooking Channel show "Holiday Cookie Builds" premiering on Friday, Nov. 9, featuring Utah natives and master bakers Brenda Nibley and Alisha Nuttall.
Nibley is no stranger to baking — she owns her own gingerbread architecture business Ginger Giddy where she makes personalized gingerbread kits and custom houses out of her kitchen. And nor is she a stranger to Cooking Channel audiences; she previously appeared in the first season of “Crazy Cookie Builds” before returning for this seasonal version with newcomer Alisha Nuttall.
Nuttall discovered her love of baking in a high school home-economic class and, after working with food for 10 years at Chili’s and baking for family and friends, decided she wanted to take her baking more seriously.
“My sister said, 'You should do cupcakes. They’re becoming pretty big,' and I thought, 'Oh, I should,'” Nuttall told the Deseret News.
Quickly after realizing her love of cupcakes, Nuttall spent about five years baking them out of her home before she decided to audition for the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” She made it on the show, but got knocked out after the first round. However, a few years later she was invited back for the seventh season and won a revenge episode.
“My husband never wanted a cupcake shop and I told him 'If we win, you have to promise me we can get a cupcake shop,' … and we won,” Nuttall said.
Nuttall has run her successful bakery, Cravings Alisha’s Cupcakes, in Pleasant Grove for the past six years.
With Nibley on board for another "Cookie Builds" season, Nuttall finally agreed to work on “Holiday Cookie Builds” after ignoring the networks emails thinking they were "a scam,” she recalled.
Nuttall described “Holiday Cookie Builds” as similar to “Cake Boss” where the bakers meet with clients and discuss what type of build they want, the theme and their budget.
“(Viewers can expect to see) the chaotic life of a baker and the real craziness that happens in the bakery,” Nuttall said.
“Food is just so hard to predict, you never know what’s going to happen … sometimes the creations aren’t what you expect — sometimes it turns out better or worse than predicted.”
While Nibley takes on the role of concept designer — imagining the design in her head and putting it on paper — Nuttall is involved with the actual building and baking of the cookie builds.
“Most people don’t want to eat the (cookie build). Because it’s such a nice creation, they want to keep it for a while, so (I) was in charge of making (clients) an actual dessert they could eat,” Nuttall said.Comment on this story
Though Nuttall acknowledged long, exhausting hours while filming the show and the occasional tiffs between bakers, in the end, she said the experience was well worth it.
“I’ve never done anything this big before — working with so many talented bakers (was amazing). It’s unbelievable what you can do with cookies. I would love to do it again and hopefully it’ll be a good show that people will want to watch.”
"Holiday Cookie Build" airs on the Cooking Channel starting Friday, Nov. 9, 8 p.m. MST.